Monday, April 30, 2012

My Axes

My refurbished axes 2 My refurbished axes 4 My refurbished axes

Here is the last post for tools and such that I have refurbished in the last year. For those of you who come here to see my art. Worry naught, I will be posting some new stuff shortly.

About a year ago I decide I needed an axe.

I have a fire pit in my back yard but nothing to process wood with. So I put it out to the universe. I says "Hey universe, I need and axe." Well ask and you shall receive. My father-in-law just happens to have a couple of of old axes he can spare me.

As anyone who cares to spend the time researching knows some of the best hand tools in the world are made in Sweden. You can get affordable yet well made stuff like Mora's, or you can get boutique stuff like the Gransfors Bruks axes. Now I can not justify paying the price it costs to get one of these axes. They are hand forged and of great quality. Maybe when I'm fifty and a bit more financially stable I can get myself one. But the truth is I don't imagine I will need to. As it turns out the axes that my father-in-law provided are both of Swedish make. HB of Sweden (Hults Bruk) has been making axes for about 300 years. If I take decent enough care of these axes I should be able to pass them along to my children when they are old enough.

That is the great thing about refurbishing old tools. They just don't make them like that anymore. It sounds cliche, but it is true. In an era of forced obsolescence companies won't produce something for under 80 dollars that will last. So the best option is to find tools that were expensive 40-50 years ago, buy'em cheap clean the rust off sharpen them up and blammo you have a quality tool that will last another lifetime.

The axes you see pictures of here are my felling axe (large), my Scandinavian style forest axe (medium), and my hatchet (small).

This ends the bulk of a lot of personal projects I've had doing, so it may be some time before I post any more craft stuff. In the mean time I will be posting more artwork and that sort of thing.

Stay golden Pony Boys and Girls.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mora Knives and Nature

Mora's and Hatchet 2
My camping knives.

 Mora Clipper
My Mora Clipper.

Frost Mora from the 50s with custom sheath
My vintage Mora with birch handle.

Around the same time I developed my interest in archery I started to watch the series Survivorman. I know this series finished quite some time ago, but I don't have cable so you would be surprised how many television shows I have not watched. However I got a hold of the 3 seasons, and man it opened up a whole new world to me. It rekindled the interest I have in the wilderness and the skills I need to survive and be comfortable in nature. Les Stroud (Survivorman) focuses on extreme situations but because I worship his show and what he does I have come across some other individuals who have inspired me to maintain and learn more about nature and how to experience it in a safe and respectful manner. Ray Mears is another individual who I watch and respect greatly. He is a British survival expert who focuses a bit more on Bushcraft (the skills needed to live comfortably in nature). The third individual is Dave Canterbury a survival expert who focuses on North American frontier style living, which includes archery, black powder rifles and self reliance skills. He has a vast youtube library where he shows you a plethora of skills for free.

The pictures I have posted are of my camping knives. When I got interested in doing some outdoor camping activities all these experts (Les, Ray and Dave) agree a knife is essential for anybody trying to practice primitive or survival skills. I chose to get a Mora knife which is a wonderful brand made in Sweden. They are very tough and reliable and very affordable. You can pick one up from MEC or Lee Valley for under $20 dollars.

The Mora Clipper is my main camping knife it has a synthetic handle and a synthetic sheath. I have beaten the living bejeezus out of it and it is still sharp and functional. 

The second knife is one my father-in-law gave to me, it used to be his when he was a kid. It is also a Mora which bodes well for the craftsmanship of the company (the knife is roughly 40 years old). It was pretty dull and beat up when I got it but I sharpened it, sanded and oiled the handle and made a moulded sheath that holds the knife using friction. Meaning that I do not need a strap to make sure the knife doesn't fall out of the sheath if inverted. It was my fist attempt at this kind of sheath and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. As per my father-in-laws request, I will hold onto this until my daughter is old enough to use a knife and give it to her as her first camping knife.

Well enough of my nature/knife nerd-out. Thanks for stopping by I hope some of you find the time to get out and enjoy some of the natural spaces you have at your disposal. I know I will.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Well Bow Me Down!

Lilly's first bow
Jute twine bow handle
Primitive kids bows
Primitive kids bows 2
Primitive kids bows 5
Primitive kids bows 4

A couple of weeks ago I constructed my very first fully functional bow.

This is the culmination of a year or more of obsession. About a year ago I was doing some research on the Plains of Abraham. While researching the look of a french musket on youtube I noticed on the suggestion sidebar that there was a video on the English longbow. This set off a chain of events that has led me to purchase a longbow and recurve bow in the last year.

On top of taking up archery, I have developed a healthy amount of knowledge of how to make my own primitive bow. Now, all the knowledge I have is theory gained from reading books like "The Traditional Bowyers Bible" volume one and two, "Bows and Arrows of the Native Americans" and a heap of youtube videos. I have to admit that without youtube my ability to understand what I have been reading would have been greatly limited, but fortunately for me that was not the case and the information so generously provided by people around the world has allowed me to successfully construct this bow.

In truth it is not a bow for me. It is a bow for my daughter who is two and a half years old. Wah... wah... waaaaaaa....

Before you are too disappointed, let me tell you this is one heck of a bow. It has truly exceeded my expectations and has given me the confidence to continue and build larger bows.

It is made from what I believe to be poplar. I cut it about 4 years ago to make a walking stick and it had been seasoning in my parents garage for all that time . The other day I was over for the afternoon and had some spare time so I grabbed a hatchet and an Opinel knife and went to town on the wood. All in all it probably took me about 5 hours to figure everything out and get it shaped up. I then wrapped the handle with jute twine and used waxed nylon cord to make the string.

Like I mentioned earlier, once I put a string on this thing I was not disappointed with its performance. I tested it out using plastic arrows with suction cup tips that belonged to a dollar store bow we bought for Lilly some time ago. Well let me assure you they all rest in pieces. This thing shot them so hard they literally shattered on impact when they hit the wall I was shooting them at.

Needless to say I'm holding off giving this bow to Lilly until she is older and I can build her some arrows that can withstand the bows power.

If you could have seen the grin on my face when I realized that this thing worked. So proud. I have already started on my next bow which is slightly longer than my first attempt. My first bow measured in at 36" and my next which is made from oak gathered from the riverbank is about 43" long.

In my haste I have already come up against some obstacles. Number one the wood is green and unseasoned. My fist bow was very easy to make because the wood had such a balanced strength to it due to the amount of time it was given to shed its moisture. The wood I am currently working with still has a fair amount of soft flex to it, and will need to dry longer before I put the finishing touches on it. If I can maintain my patience and not muck about with it too much, it should get stronger and easier to work with as time goes by.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Stay golden Bony Boys and Girls.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kayak Issue #40: Titanic Spread

Kayak: Introduction Spread

As I mentioned before I produced a two page spread for the most recent Issue of Kayak.

It is of the two otters (Teeka and Beau) exploring a shipwreck. I had a blast doing this though it does ad a bit of stress to designing the magazine as well as producing illustrations. But the truth of it is, it wasn't going to happen without the pressure. The illustration really didn't come together until I added the bubbles. Once those were added it really said "Hey, we're under water!" Which is great because prior to that the image looked like a bunch of fish with two otters floating in zero gravity.

I did the main illustration in illustrator with some colour correction and texture work in photoshop.