Monday, November 25, 2013


Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Friday eve, about 8:45, my buddy Brian and I headed out of Springfield for his friends' cabin in Cape Fair, Missouri, just above Table Rock Lake. On cue, it started to freezing rain as we were pulling into the cabin. We had planned to tent camp behind the cabin about 300 yards, but the weather forced our hand and we opted for dry and thawed gear and moved inside.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Morning broke and we fixed a breakfast of cowboy coffee, thick cut bacon from Horrmann Meats in Springfield (which was awesome!), potatoes, scrambled eggs and homemade biscuits I baked before we left town.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

After breakfast, I got to test out a new pipe I got in the mail a week ago. It's a replica Dutch Gouda clay pipe from the colonial era. Somewhat brittle, I had to keep it in an old cigar box for travel. It smoked the "Morning Coffee" blend tobacco nicely. Being smaller than my Missouri Meerschaum "Country Gentleman" corncob, it held just the right amount of tobacco for a quick smoke before heading off to the hill behind the cabin for a day of cutting firewood.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

I got to test out the restored Norlund splitting axe. It performed very well, splitting some of the densest red oak we'd ever seen. Not all of it, some was so dense it required an eight-pound maul or chainsaw to work through.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

The first trunk section we got to, we sadly took out a few field mice huddled within. The mom scurried off, but her four babes didn't fare so well in the subfreezing morning temps.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

By about 2:30-3pm, we'd filled the trailer with red oak and we headed back to the cabin to fill our bellies again. Brian whipped up a couple of t-bone steaks with the rest of the bacon, potatoes and biscuits. We ate like kings for a second time before packing up and heading back to Springpatch, tired, a little sore and happy to have done an honest day of work and fun.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.

Cutting firewood in Cape Fair.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Flickr Sucks!

I've been using Flickr as a photo hosting site for years. I have thousands of photos on my Pro Account that I've been paying for for a long time. Back in the spring, I believe, Yahoo made a bunch of changes that ended up making the service nearly unusable. It's much harder to navigate, hogs bandwidth and has become a toilet for cell phone picture dumping. All replies to comments made by unhappy users seem to have been met with silence or a tough shit attitude.

And yesterday, they made it even more...

flickr is now even more suckyr

I'm not happy about it and I'm looking for an alternative. Jane, I want off this crazy thing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Hammer Back from the Dead

Breathing new life into another old tool.

A hammer back from the dead

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Throw an Arrow

I emailed this to a friend of mine earlier today and decided to make it a post. Last night I was reading from the book Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth skills, my wife was watching something girly on TV and I decided to step out in the garage and try what I was reading about.

how to throw an arrow really hard

To throw an arrow, take a piece of string 28" long and tie a granny knot 1/2" from one end. Wrap that end twice around the arrow about 16" from the tip (once if using a wetted leather thong), hitching it with the knot. Keeping tension on the string, wrap it several times around your index finger till its about 3" from the tip. Throw the arrow overhand like a baseball.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Leather Sheath

I finished the axe sheath last night. It's a partial cover sheath in a coffee color heavy thickness leather, sewn with a tan waxed thread similar to the artificial sinew we lashed our kayaks with a couple of winters ago. I used my Leatherman multitool as an awl to punch holes in the leather, after I had marked them by eye with a pencil. If you're careful and not much of a perfectionist, you can get by without all of the fancy leather working tools. I only needed one needle. For the first thread I'd stretch the hole with the awl, then push it through on its own stiffness. The second required a needle and pulling it through with a second smaller Columbia multitool.

I finished the sewing by running the thread back through the last three holes and double stitching them. Then cut the thread off at the base. I then went out to the garage and punched a hole in the wrapping tab I had cut, using a punch for a tarp grommet kit I had in a drawer. After that, I lashed a length of leather shoelace that matched the stitches to the tab using a lanyard hitch and called it good.

The leather sheath is done

An important thing to do when attempting something like this. Make a card stock or cardboard template first. I made mine from a manila envelope. Then trace the final template onto the backside of the leather. Make sure you flip your template over to get the right side you want up on the axe. I goofed on this, but it turns out i hadn't done my planning correct to begin with and my screw up worked out better in the crate box case. Color it a happy accident.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Axe Restoration Update

Making a simple carrying case/crate and a leather sheath. First time working with leather, it's pretty cool. I can see using the leftover pieces to maybe make a knife sheath later. My Leatherman multitool has needed one for over 15 years. Ever since my old yellow lab ate the last one.

axe crate box carrier

leather axe sheath

Now I know why they called it a Leatherman.

Now I know why they called it a Leatherman

Monday, November 4, 2013

Genuine Norlund Splitting Axe Update

Genuine Norlund splitting axe

Over the weekend I gave the axe head a vinegar bath, scrubbed the funk off, sanded it, filed it, sanded the new handle free of varnish, hung the head, filed some more, sharpened it with a puck stone and oiled the handle with Danish oil. Not sure I did it all correctly, but it's really sharp and pretty. Now I need to make a sheath or carrying case of some kind.

Genuine Norlund splitting axe

I also finished up my thumbstick hiking stick project. It has a hickory or sassafras shaft, likely a pine head, a copper pipe end for a ferrule and a glued seizing of hemp for the collar. I also burned rings around the length of it in six inch intervals to help gauge water depth when creek crossing.

Thumbstick hiking stick

A nicely productive project weekend, overall.