Browncoats Unite!

Browncoats Unite!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gathered Some...

Birch bark today from a snag in my Grandpa's woods.

Growing on the snag were about a dozen of these shrooms:

Some friends tell me that the shrooms could be either tinder fungus, birch polypore, or razor strop fungus which can be used as a strop compound, or a plaster for cuts. The birch bark is great stuff, it's got natural combustible oils in it that touch off really easily, even when wet.

Billy Cans...

Or cooking vessels made of big and small coffee cans and heavy gauge copper wire.

I know they look awful but I'm sure they'd work all right...I need to season em first though.

Antler Bone Needle...

A few nights ago I made an antler-bone needle by carving a tine down really fine and then boring a hole through it using an awl held in the flame of a candle.
Man what a task!
I'll bet those old precolumbian Indian women were always saying "now I wish there was a better way to make needles!"
A pic:

I think it's kinda cool but it needs to be a bit smaller/pointier.
Whaddaya think?

ETA: I've since learned that there's easier ways to make needles, by breaking open leg bones and such. Perhaps I'll try to find a carcass since I don't have a permit this year...

Tinder Tubes...

I made some of those little tinder tubes!
Made em out of some scraps of copper tubing from the basement junk pile.
They're pretty small...and I'm afraid I don't have the right type of rope. Might try to find some jute soon...
A pic:

What do you think?

ETA: I've since cut two of them down a notch so it's easier to feed the cordage through it.

Kwila Wood Puukko Sheath...

Hey all,
I've been working on some stuff this Break including a Kwila wood Puukko sheath. Kwila wood is a hard, resiny wood from SE Asia, we brought this piece back with us from PNG when I was little. This particular board had had all the sap migrate from one half to the other, so my finished product will be bicolored.
Some pics of the process:Right about now it's sitting in my buddy Al's woodshop with the glue drying. Then we will bevel it, sand it, stain it, and I will wrap it with some sisal or jute and then soak that with glue.
Update to follow...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hatchet Project Part Tres...

Just finished sanding away at my hatchet some more. This time I enlisted the help of a vibrating-type sander (speedy!:)
A pic of the polished bit reflecting light from the ceiling lamp:
What do you think?
I think it still needs more work...especially on the weird edges.
I also want to rehandle it...time for a trip to the hardware store!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Knife Kits...

Hey all,
At the suggestion of a friend, I put together a couple of "knife survival kits" that attach to the sheaths with cut-up inner tube, like so:
In the kit on the kukri I have:
Aquamira Frontier Water Straw
Aquatabs Purification Tablets, 9 ct.
Proforce Commando Saw
1 of my homemade rustic firesteels (shown below)
1 quart-size ziplock baggie
Approx. 10-15ft OD Green Paracord in a Chris Reeve Coil configuration.

In the kit on the belt knife I have:
Aquatabs, 10ct.
1 quart size ziplock baggie
Approx. 10 ft. OD Green Paracord in a Chris Reeve Coil configuration.
Pretty cool, eh?

Firesteels (only one of these is on the kukri kit):

I think all of these items could come in handy...and best of all, I can use the innertube as a firestarter! (Not EPA approved, lol)...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Gifts (shh...;)...

For my Dad, cousin-in-law, and myself, I ordered three ferrocerium rods from Survival Topics (Christmas Specials rock!:) and added antler and cord. All three came with strikers, so I didn't have to cut up old hacksaw blades.
A pic of the finished product:
Pretty nice, eh?
I thought it'd make a nice gift for both of them (and myself of course;)

Project Hatchet Revisited...

Hey All,
I'm back at home for the time being, so I've got a chance to work on some projects, including that of the hatchet sort.
I realized that I needed to spruce the rest of this baby up, not just the edge, so here's what I did:
  • First I sanded it off for a long while using progressively finer-grit sandpaper.
  • Then I used Naval Jelly to remove the rest of the rustiness.
  • After that I kept on sanding it. It still needs to have the rest of the red paint removed, perhaps I will soak it in vinegar like a friend suggested.

A pic:
It's much better than it looks, however it still has some discoloration from the red paint, so I'll continue to work on that and then report back later.

Haversack/Possibles Bag Update 4...

Hey All,
I'm back and I'm happy to report that I have upped the cool-factor on my bag.
I've replaced the cloth and leather-insert strap with some heavy-duty cotton webbing. It has a quick-release buckle and two brass keepers.

A pic:
What do you think?
I think the keepers are too tight; I may need to replace them with plastic ladderlock buckles...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Made a net...

Just made my first net the other night, it's kinda cool except for the fact that the bottom edge is sort of ragged, perhaps I'll make another:)

Nets like this can be used to trap birds and small animals, especially when weighted or rigged to a snare device. This one's made of 550 cord with the guts still in. All I did was tie long, doubled-up strands perpendicular to the top strand utilizing lark's head knots, and tying opposing strands together from side to side in simple overhand knots.
What do you think?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Haversack/Possibles Bag Update 2...

Here's the bag's latest rebirth:

After having a belt sewn into its strap and being dyed with RIT Concentrated Dark Brown Dye.

I think it looks a tad more manly now:)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Improvised slingshot, made it for my cousins we're going to visit for Thanksgiving.

I think they'll like it...

Willow Bow Part Zwei

Ja I looked up the German word for "two", lol.
Here's a pic of my completed willow bow--now with decoration!

What do you think?

Man I'm really enjoying this new hobby...

Aquatabs! (review)...

Hey, I just did a video testing and review of Aquatabs, a non-FDA-approved water-purification tablet product.
Found em on Ebay for $10, but they're not approved for use in the US so I wanted to be sure they worked before I rely on em in a bad situation.
Here's the vid!



Monday, November 24, 2008

Willow Bow...

Hey all,
Just made a willow bow the other night for to use in my group project for my OT Prophets class...we're doing a video titled "Selected Scenes from the Life of Elisha" and this is one of my contributions to the video...unfortunately we didn't get to do the scene where it would be used, but I did carry it around so it got some screen time.

I left the bark on the front to help keep it from splitting as I've read that willow is indeed a poor choice for bows...
I think it would be OK for small game, provided I straighten the arrows and fletch them for accuracy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Possibles Bag/Haversack Update 1...

Hey All,
I'm back, I'm bad, and I'm rockin' a sweet-looking haversack made by my own hands.
I recently dyed it with a single package of RIT dye. I may, however, go and get another package to darken the color:

Comments and Criticisms welcomed alike!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hemlock Tea...

A couple of weeks ago I made some hemlock tea (not poison hemlock silly!). Made it over a fire in the woods.
It wasn't bad at all. I looked up "hemlock tea" and search results indicate it was used (back in the day) to prevent or cure scurvy, as an astringent, as a diuretic, and when concentrated, as a method of curing abcesses in the nether regions.
I saw Michel Blomgren's videos and in them he makes spruce needle tea, says it has some sugar in it. I wonder if hemlock needles have sugars...


Possibles Bag/Satchel/Haversack...

There's a certain satisfaction to be found in making one's own gear.
This is my homemade haversack/possibles bag. I made it out of a used dropcloth.
All I did was double it up, double it up again, sew it up, add some finishing touches, and that was that. I intend to dye it dark brown with some RIT dye once I can get my hands on some.

Some pics:

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BOB (Bugout Bag)...

This is my current bugout bag that I keep in my room at college. In addition to the standard longer-term supplies (lots of batteries, some food, etc) it also contains much of my camping gear, so whenever some friends and I camp out during breaks I just sort through it and take what I need, and leave the rest packed up.

The bag is one I got from Cabelas a few years back, a German Military Mountain Rucksack...very handy if you only need a small pack. It's really very decent, though I don't particularly like the shortness of the padded portion of the straps--which of course is why I pimped it

Some pics:

When I was adding webbing to make it more comfy:

Looks crappy but feels much better on the shoulders now.

Loaded up:

I have a pretty-well-preserved 1961-era Field Pack that I found at the Giant Church Yard Sale at home with some stuff in it for the parents:

And also a couple of others that could double as a Go bag in a pinch.

My favorite smallish bag is either my Maratac Bailout Bag:

Or perhaps an Eagle Active Shooter bag that I use for a med kit, got it on the cheap (this is a pic of the cordwrap I did on it):

Someday I hope to have either a TADGear, Kifaru, Eagle, or maybe one of those original frameless rucks, I've heard they're REALLY comfy...but a bit on the expensive side.

Woods Bed...

Here's a pic of the woods bed I made last night but ended up wimping out on.

I should've brought my mummy bag, and taken my meds...then I could've fallen asleep. I did however, make a fire with dryer lint and a firesteel--that was cool

Some things I will do differently next time:

1. Take my pills--they knock me out.
2. Bring another blanket, and my poncho to wrap up in. Vapor barriers help on cold nights.
3. Build the fire closer to the tarp--mainly I didn't want to catch sparks on the nylon.
4. Use more hemlock boughs...I didn't want to cut a whole ton of live stuff. Next time I will though. More boughs= More insulation.
5. Stretch the tarp out more--it was sagging a great deal.
6. LEAVE HOME EARLIER (before dark)...this time I went up around 5pm, and it's been getting darker faster now.

All told I'm happy with the setup. Thankfully I was close enough to walk home before 9:30pm.

Salix Alba (Willow Bark) Medicinal Uses...

Willow bark contains salicylic acid. It was one of the first pain relievers, noted by Hippocrates for its medicinal uses. It can be harvested from pretty much any willow as far as I know, but don't quote me on that. As always, consult your field guide or an herbalist to ensure that your trees are safe to use.
Willow bark should not be given to children as it can contribute to Reye's syndrome, just like aspirin can.
Here's the tea recipe:

"General dosing guidelines for willow bark are as follows:

* Dried herb (used to make tea): boil 1 to 2 tsp of dried bark in 8 oz of water and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes; let steep for 1 hour; drink 3 to 4 cups daily"

It can also be boiled and used as a poultice by binding it with a cravat bandage against the wound, wart, or affected muscle group.

This is an anti-inflammatory as well as a pain reliever, so it is also good for treating fevers. In that case, take it orally as a tea.

Here's one place I got my info from:

And another:

As always, use only when needed, and don't take in excess. Just because it's an herb doesn't mean it's "just food"! My aunt made the mistake of believing that herbs are not drugs, and paid the price. The combination of her stomach cancer and the effects on her kidneys from taking too many herbal remedies ended in her demise. Remember that herbs are what modern drugs are made from in many cases...

I hope you find this useful.

Flint and Steel Review...

A "review" of my new flint and steel kit--every kit shipped by Vern's Flint and Steel is tested to make sure it will work (not like you can make one that doesn't work lol).



My favorite firestarting material is, hands-down, punkwood.
My father showed it to me one day when I was young; we were taking a long walk through my grandpa's woods (I think we were deer hunting) and we came upon a gargantuan downed pine or hemlock.

Without pause, he took out a knife and began digging at the rotten snag. Within a minute he reached in and pulled out a section of pulpy, rotten, sap-impregnated, red-colored wood refuse.

"Punk." he stated.
"Punk?" I echoed. "Me?"
"This stuff. It's great for starting a fire, even in a steady cold rain. If you are lost, in a pine or hemlock woods, look for this stuff. Try to find a standing or snagged, rotten log and then dig in. It'll be waiting for you."

Eight or ten years later, last weekend, I pulled out my pocketknife and cut a wedge of dead hemlock from a standing deadwood. A few seconds later I had a ziplock baggie full of the good stuff--ready for my next camping adventure or firebuilding emergency.

When all else fails--Look for punk.

ETA: I've been told that hemlock isn't the best choice for punkwood, rather, it's best to look for pine, spruce, or hardwood snags.

Shotshell Candle...

This is something my Great Grandpa taught me, he said he used to carry one in his pocket while hunting to more easily start a fire in the woods.
All it is is a 16 gauge shotshell, the old cardboard type. These may be hard to find depending on where you live and who you know, but look around.

Then you melt wax and a wick and drip it inside. This one I didn't do right, I just took a small candle, carved it down, and shoved it inside. If I had had the time and materials I would've done it right, but alas, it was not to be.

My Great Grandpa used to slip the 16 gauge candle inside a plastic 10-gauge shell to keep it dry and protected, but I don't think I have any 10ga shells. But it's worth a shot!
The beauty of this is that as the candle burns down, so can the waxed cardboard shell; it won't melt like plastic and burn your hands or smell bad.


New Youtubing...

I've started making home videos on preparedness and bushcrafting skills and gear.
In this episode I show my personal go bag, this is the kit I'd take if I couldn't carry my entire BOB off with me. (Very lightweight satchel).
One thing I did not mention was that I would very likely bring a bottle of water along as well if possible; I find it's better to take water to start with than to try to purify it on the run, since dehydration is a big killer (perhaps the biggest) next to hypothermia.
Sorry for the poor overall quality; there's not much light in these rooms and I don't have a great voice. The next one will be better produced; I'll probably do it outside next time.


Hatchet Project...

A while back I fixed up an old hatchet.
Years before I'd put it on a new handle, but it needed some serious work, so I got out the bastard file and took it down to the basement and got to work.

This is what resulted:

I added the handle wrap by boring holes through the handle with a brace and bit (time consuming but couldn't find the cordless drill).

Thanks for looking!

Ditty Bags/Stuff Sacks

Found a couple of pairs of pants lying about in the college Flats' laundry room, nobody to claim them so I took em and made some stuff sacks out of em.

Waxed Cotton Thread, Army-issue.
1 Glow End
1 regular cord end
2 cordlocks
2 plastic coathangers (for the two on the left).

If I could do em over I'd do the one on the far left correctly, seems I forgot to turn it inside out before I began sewing so it looks goofy.
I used the cut-up coathangers to stiffen the bottoms of the two sacks on the left, seemed like a good idea, not so sure. I figured it'd be easier to put stuff in, and it would give it structure. I'll let you know how they work out.

Thanks for looking,

ETA: I recently removed the coathanger pieces from both bags and made another, bigger one from the remaining pant leg. I'm quite happy with them:)

New Interests...

Hey all,
I'm starting to get interested in Bushcraft/Primitive Living/Preparedness skills, techniques and the like.
This is my new blog on that topic. Most of the posts in the next few weeks will be copied from my posts on the BushcraftUSA forums.