Thursday, 22 January 2015

Pot hanger set up

I recently attended an outdoor photoshoot at Gilwell  near Chingford (which is the Scout Association's UK HQ) to help put some Scouts through a series of outdoor photos. It was surprising just how long it takes to get enough photographs of any given skill and as such a hastily made pot hanger set didn't get used and the Scouts didn't get to have a play. I had taken some pictures of each stage as I made it at home so I thought I may as well stick them on here with some blurb as this is a nice piece of camp craft.

This stage shows the start of the hook that hangs down from a pot hanger set. You need a sturdy length of branch from around a foot and a half to several feet and it is around the diameter  of a twenty pence coin but they can be thicker (and longer). It also has a branch sticking out at an angle to form the hook on which to hang a pot. Start by making an X shaped incision at the opposite end from the hook (and on the same side) about an inch or so down. I used a knife but actually prefer to cut using a saw. then cut shallow pieces of wood off from the bottom part of the X up to the V formed by the top part of the X, you'll need to angle the blade to achieve this. When done, carve a small notch at the base of the hooked part.


It's a bit easier to understand when you see a picture or two of the notches. You'll see that I've made two hangers and that one has a couple of notches in which allows for a variable height over the fire. You'll see the final notch cut at the base of the hooked part later.


Next to the actual pot hanger support. This will need to be a sturdy branch of roughly four feet or so long. Support the branch in your hand at about a thirty degree angle and let it go and you will often find that the stick will twist a little to rest in it's most natural postition, this means that it will be a more agreeable stick when you come to rely on it with your grub perched on the end! Try it two or three times with different starting positions. The cut is a variation on the pot hanger but you do it at the end. 


Once this is cut use your knife blade to drill a small depression in the centre near the edge as shown above, it's use will be shown later. You'll probably also need to shave the underside to form a blunt chisel so that the hanger sits comfortably although you can go about halfway through the pot hanger to form the point which will help it hang...I haven't with mine. Note that again there is a small notch carved at the base of the hooked part.


The final pieces are the support for the pole. I've gone for a forked stick and a hooked stake but you can equally use two forked sticks with the smaller one inverted at the end...It'll make sense when you see the setup pictures. One little tip for a forked stick which needs hammering into the ground...Try and find a fork that will be fit for purpose but has one of the forked branches fairly straight as the force of clubbing it into the ground travels down the length with less risk of breaking the fork and it allows more confident clubbing. Thanks to Jason Sears for that tip!

Now in it's simplest form you don't actually need the supports or hanger as a pot can just sit on the notched end if it doesn't need to be varied in height. Note that the handle is sitting in the notch formed in the hooked part. Also note that the end is simply pushed into the ground and you don't need me to tell you to make sure it's secure and not to overload it. A good tip is to use a length of wood similar in diameter to the support arm to bash into the ground to pre form the hole. 


And the classic pot hanger setup. To show that it is stable I've filled the Zebra billy with water in these pictures. Note that the hooked part of the pot hanger is engaged in the depression that was drilled earlier which allows gravity to hold pretty securely. 

And here it is in action.


  1. What a great little makeshift pot hanger. I personally am not very good at using my knife for cutting into branches, but in a camping or even survival situation it really could be beneficial to just know something like this. Hopefully this photo shoot was able to teach the scouts the skills the make a nifty hanger out their surroundings. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you. With knife cutting, just remember the mantra 'Think twice, cut once' whenever you use one and just practice, practice, practice. Works for me!