Sunday, 21 June 2020

Salmon Skin Leather Powered Bowdrill

My Youtube Version of my exertions

Since first making salmon skin leather I've had some of the more obvious projects in mind such as pouches and sheaths, but I also had an eye on trying making some cordage to power a bowdrill to get an ember.

 I made two sorts of cordage, one was a strip like a thong and the other was a twisted one which I initially left with some spare to reload and overcome a breakage but latterly I decided to double up for strength, I also fashioned a chunky loop one end to slide onto a bow.. I found myself with some time on my hands and decided to have a crack in the woods and took my camera along. 

I selected a trusty  bowdrill combination of Lime and Hazel for the set, it wasn't a session trying to do a set from scratch or whatever, it was simply an experiment with a view to seeing if salmon cordage could power a set to an ember. Note that there are two drills in the above picture, they are of slightly different diameters because I wanted to be prepared that if I tied the cordage in place and couldn't undo it to make adjustments I had two slightly sized options which may fit.

After a fair bit of fannying around I did the slide test to see that I had the drill locked in. If you can grab the drill and slide it up and down the bow string it isn't in tight enough.

I have to say I was a bit apprehensive and I let my stance and technique become a little tardy and I was rather tentative as I started bedding it in. However so far so good.

After cutting the notch to receive the ember I cut a forty five degree angle on the two bottom edges of the notch, this is something that is usually done in damper conditions but I'd already decied that even if and when I reached the point that I thought a viable ember had formed I was just going to keep going until I couldn't give any more so the potential excess powder had somewhere to go other than out.

And to the final action. I was pleased when I started to get copious dark powder and those satisfying wisps of smoke curling up the drill. You may recall the loop that I put into the twisted cordage, I narrowed the end of the bow to slip it on and drilled a hole at the other end to accomodate using a simple overhand which gave me a fat stopper knot, hence the fact that you can't see any cordage wrapped around the drill in the above picture.

You can also see a lighter area in the middle of the drill, even though it was tight at the start it did  have the occasional slip, I wonder if it's both due to it's slightly elastic nature and the fact that the drill bark, on closer inspection, was a bit smooth and shiny.

I have to say that I was pretty knackered by the time I threw in the towel.

But I'd got sustaining smoke-just. I reckon I must have generated the smallest ever amount of 130 degree viable dust that needed careful nuturing to get it to coalesce into a useable coal.

Having got to the stage where I had a proper coal it would have been silly not to see it out to a proper tinder bundle conclusion.

After a well earned and extended break/ breather for a brew, I can usually talk whilst bowdrilling but as I'd gone hell for leather I was puffing rather a lot, I started to look at the strip of leather setup. Having squeaked a result with the first combination I looked on this a something of a  free hit. The only changes I made was to use two limpit shells as a bearing block as opposed to a wooden one, and I abraded both drills a little to take away the smoothness a tad.

It didn't start particularly well as the cordage snapped near the handle end. I'd tied a small length onto the main piece as I figured the bit where I was holding the drill is unuseable cordage and extending it gave me more working length. 

I drilled a hole in the bow and just used the knot that joined the two pieces as an anchor. Bedding in was going well but then disaster struck and the cordage broke in the middle. I'd got my  answer, twisted cordage was the way forward on any subsequent attempt.

It wasn't the smoothest of bowdrilling sessions ever but having ticked it off I'm in a better position to make any further attempts a bit smoother with a bit of luck.

Suggested Further Reading:-

Bowdrill From Scratch

Bowdrill (Edited Version)

Firewood Bowdrill Sets

Dave Watson Friction Fire 1-2-1

Jason Ingamells bowdrill 1-2-1

Bowdrill From Scratch

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Bushcraft & Survival Skills Mag Article List (issues 76-100)

I have all the Bushcraft and Survival Skills magazine issues and it became harder and harder to find a specific article quickly. I therefore started out on a labour of love and listed the articles by issue. I've divided the blogs up into 25 issues per page with the article reference blog page for Issues 1-25 can be found hereissues 26-50 here and issues 51-75  here

issues 1-25  here26-50 here, 51-75  here.

 If you spot an error etc do let me know please.

Issue 76

Tim Gent-Selecting a Wilderness Campsite
Chris Lundgregran-Elderberry Sauce/ Ketchup (Pontack)
Ian Nairn-Budget Biscuits
Lofty Wiseman-Thumbs
Julian Knight-What is Lyme Disease?
Charlie Portlock-Observing Fallow Deer Rut 
Woodcraft (John Rhyder) and Oak and Ash (Peter Fiennes) Book Reviews
Ben & Lois Orford-Making a Leather Axe Collar
Simon Curran-Chocolate Orange Muffins
Paul Harvey-Bread Making in a Dutch Oven
Paul Kirtley-Ten of the Best Berries to Forage
David Thompson-Interview With Andrew Thomas-Price
David McCrae-Skelf (When a Wood's Not Good)
Ben Abbott-Hobo Stove

Issue 77

Tim Gent-Making a fishing Handline
Chris Lundgregran-Sloe Wine
Christmas Gift Guide
Laura Bingham-Cycling Ireland at Eight Months Pregnant
Lofty Wiseman-Toe the Line
Extreme Wilderness Survival (Craig Caudill) and The Kindness of Strangers (Fearghal O'Nuallain) book reviews
Richard Harpham-Paddling Guide 2
Charlie Portlock-Personal Paradise
Ben & Lois Orford-Making a Quiver
Naomi Walmsley-Ochre & Beeswax Crayons
Ed Stafford-Survival Psychology
Paul Kirtley-Fire-Lighting in the Cold, Dark Months
Ian Nairn-Budget Poppy Handbag
Olivia Beardsmore-Coastal Survival (Survival Being the Operative Word!)
Ben Abbot-Tinder

Issue 78

Marc Cox-The Great Felling
Naomi  Walmsley-Cold Fingers, Hot Tea types of wild teas)
Torbjorn Selin-A New Year's Resolution
Laura Bingham-Oh What a Glorious Thing to Bee!
Humberto costa-My Life in Bushcraft
Woodland Workshop (Ben Law) and Adventures for a Lifetime (Ed Stafford) book review
Andrew Price-Oak Bark Tannery
Tim Gent-Goahti (Sami Home)
Ben & Lois Orford-Pocketknife Maintenance
Sub-Zero Bar (Recipe)
Lofty Wiseman-Practice What you are bad at
Ed Stafford-Survival Priorities:Water
The Bushcraft Quiz
Paul Kirtley-Lessons from Snow Walking in the Boreal pt I
Ian Nairn-Budget Anniversary Present (Tree of Life Pendant)
Richard Harpham- Paddling Guide 3
Ben Abbott-Paracord Belt Survival Kit

Issue 79

Andrew Price-Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup (Recipe)
Ben & Lois Orford-Puukko perfection
Tim Gent-Noonmark pt I
Torbjorn Selin-To Sweden's Roof and Back With My Daughter
Laura Bingham-Running the Essequibo
The Survival Manual (Jason Polley) and The Wilderness Cookbook (Phoebe Smith) Book Reviews
Nick Greenwood-Cedar Strip Canoe build pt I
Tim Gent-In Search of Ráskka
Mark Cox-Converting Trees to Timber
Fraser Christian-Cleaver Detox
Lofty Wiseman-Preparing for the Worst
Ed Stafford-Survival Priorities:Food
Paul Kirtley-Lessons from Snow Walking in the Boreal pt II
Ian Nairn-Budget Bespoke Woolen Bush Shirt
Richard Harpham-Skiing to the Edge Surviving and Travelling in Minus 70
Ben Abbot-GCSEs

Issue 80

Marc Cox-The Basic Tools of the Treewright
Torbjorn Selin-Every Vomit Outside the Life Raft is a Victory
Nick Greenwood-Cedar Strip Canoe build pt II
Laura Bingham-Women-Adventure and the Outdoors
Forest Craft (Richard Irwin) and Shinrin-Yoko-The art and Science of Forest-bathing (Dr Qing Li) Book Reviews
Megan Hine-Our World and Our Work
Tim Gent-The Ordnance Survey Map
Ben & Lois Orford-Spring is Here Chop Chop (a look at Hultafors axes)
James Dilley-Joining Two Worlds
Lofty Wiseman-The Beauty of Bushcraft
Ed Stafford-Survival Priorities:Fire
Paul Kirtley-Ten Medicinal Plants You Should Know-and Why pt I (the First Five)
Stuart Wedge-Clansman Fire Taking Control; of the Flame
Riochard Harpham-Mapping the North Seal River
Ian Nairn-Budget Bike Tyre Sole Moccasins

Issue 81

Marc Cox-Converting Trees to Timber: Hewing

Naomi  Walmsley-The Accidental Forager
Paul Donovan-Baobab-The Survivors Tree
Laura Bingham-Vegetable and Seed Saving
Survival For Beginners (Colin Towell)The Lost Book of Adventure (The Unknown Adventurer) Book Reviews
Megan Hine-Get Outdoors
Tim Gent-Noonmark pt II
Ben & Lois Orford-cutting edge (The Tormek T-4 Bushcraft Grinder)
Andrew Price-The Zelter Shelter Review
Lofty Wiseman-Tracking
Ed Stafford-Survival Priorities:Shelter
Paul Kirtley-Ten Medicinal Plants You Should Know-and Why pt II (the Other Five)
Torbjorn Selin-Knives and Youngsters
Richard Harpham-Big is Beautiful Fat Bike Adventure is Morocco
Ian Nairn-Budget Tool Roll

Issue 82

Ed Stafford-The Law of Attraction

Dave Watson-Bushcraft Basics The Bowdrill
Paul Donovan-Bush Hygiene
Laura Bingham-Anxiety and Taking the First Step
The Foragers Calendar (John Wright) & Outside: Discovering Animals & Outside: Exploring Nature (Maria Ana Peixe Dias & Ines Teixeira Do Rosario)  Book Review
Megan Hine-Expect the Unexpected
Tim Gent-Noonmark a Journey back to the Water pt II
Torbjorn Selin-Basic First Aid
Miranda Gent-Peg Loom Weaving-Peg Loom Weaving
Lofty Wiseman-School of Survival
Marc Cox-Reconstructing the Past Building a Saxon Dwelling pt I
John Rhyder-Cybertracker & Cybertracker Quiz
Steve Evison-Nearly Wild Camping
Richard Harpham-The 80:20 Rule of Sustainability
Ian Nairn-Budget Tinder Box Belt Pouch

Issue 83

Tim Gent-Sámpi Summer
Andrew Price-Bushcraft Basics Water Purification
Paul Donovan-Tampons and Condoms Handy Survival Aids
Laura Bingham-Getting an Adventure off the Ground
Stani Groeneweg-Lead by Example
Ed Stafford-Man, Woman, Child, Wild
Tim Gent-Sloe Gin
Dark Skies (Tiffany Francis) and How to Survive (John Hudson) Book Reviews
Torbjorn Selin-Respect the Cold
Lofty Wiseman-Map Reading
Marc Cox-Reconstructing the Past building a Saxon Dwelling pt II
Ben & Lois Orford-Chopping out a Chopping Board
Richard Harpham-Paddle Guide pt IV
Dr Peter Laight, Simon Hardie and Mark Cambridge-Making a Specialist Leather Knife Sheath

Issue 84

Megan Hine-Expeditions, From Beermat to Reality
Bruce Zawalsky-Bushcraft Basics Wooden Bushcraft and Survival Tools (Baton, Pounding Spike, Nub and Peg)
Paul Donovan-Should I shouldn't I? (Urine Consumption)
Steve Exison-Bushcrafts, Woodlands and Our Influence
Ben & Lois Orford-Salmon Skin Tinder Pouch
Torbjörn Selin-Hypothermia
Ed Stafford-Let me Entertain You
Laura Bingham-Children and Bushcraft
John Rhyder-Wildlife Trailing
Lofty Wiseman-Life is What you Make it
Man and horse (John Egenes) Book Review
Marc Cox-Mud Glorious Mud
Tim Gent-Wellies
Richard Harpham-Finding Your Peace in the Outdoors
Iain Nairn-Wax Canvassed Billy Pouch

Issue 85

Magan Hine-The Best Time for a New Beginning is Now
Dave Watson-Hand Drill
Paul Donovan-Natural Glue From Bolimba Tree Berries
Tim Gent-Old Skills Lost and Returned
George Thompson-Ray Mears Interview
Steve Stillwell-Survivalist Extrordinaire
Marc Cox-Three-legged Stool
The Sheltering Desert (Henno Martin) and Wonderous British Marine Life (Lou Luddington) Book Reviews
Laura Bingham-Expedition Tips
Ed Stafford-The Challenge to Keep Fit and Healthy
Lofty Wiseman-Knives
Mors Kochanski Obituary Piece
Paul Kirtely-In Search of Winter Greenery
John Rhyder-Ancient Sentinels
Andrew Price-Winter Survival Skillson the Hardangervidda
Ian Nairn-Bone Canoe Necklace

Obviously the magazine hasn't reached 100 issues yet but the blog page needed a title to align with the other article list blog pages (i
ssues 1-25 can be found hereand issues 26-50 can be viewed here  and 51-75  here

Monday, 20 April 2020

Wild Service Tree Through the Seasons

I've was lucky enough to have been asked do a handful of articles for the quarterly Bushcraft magazine a while ago and one of them was about the Wild Service Tree and appeared  in the Winter 2016/ 17 issue. Just for the record the others involved paracord, a 3 x 3 tarp tent and this jerky smoker.

There are some woods near me that have them in and it was one of them that became my 'homework' wood during my initial Tree and Plant Masterclass year so it's a tree that I am fond of, have researched and indeed a type of tree that a lot of folk just walk by. 

The Wild Service Tree (sorbus Torminalis) can be found in England and Wales and over most of Europe, and as the first part of the Latin name suggests it is related to Rowan and Whitebeam whilst the last part means 'good for colic'. It  is also a member of the Roasaeae (Rose) family and is a mature wood indicator.


The tree itself is of medium size and the younger bark has an  almost cherry-like look to it with clearly defined lenticels which gives way to a more fissured bark in older examples. 

In the Spring the hairless green buds appear and look a little bit like those of the Sycamore but appear individually on the branch whereas Sycamore buds are in pairs. 


As the buds split revealing the leaves, their unique profile comes into view. The pointed lobes start facing outwards at the stalk end and then curve ever inward to the terminal one. This gives the  leaf  a fairly unique shape, a sort of cross between a Hawthorn and a Maple and is very distinctive once you get your eye in when out and about.


The flower buds are borne on stalks and reveal clusters of pretty white flowers which have five petals with many stamens and bear a little bit of a resemblance to Hawthorn blossom.

As the flowers develop into Service berries or Chequers/ Checkers.  They start off a green colour and then mature to look like miniature kiwi fruit and end up a lovely russet brown colour and again have lenticels on them. The fruits have a certain astringency to them with a hint towards mincemeat in taste, but the traditional way of consuming them is to wait until they are almost beyond ripe (bletted). 

This is a picture of a Service berry cut in half, I was lucky to cut this in exactly right place. It's worth noting that the seeds do contain cyanide (like cherry stones) and should be discarded.


Wild Service trees are of course deciduous and shed their leaves in the Autumn. The leaves can range in colours from reds to lovely chestnut browns...

So what’s in a name? The name “service” probably comes from the Latin name “cerevisea” meaning ‘beer’ because the berries of a related tree were used to sweeten that drink and indeed chequeurs  have been used to make beer as well as flavour whisky too.  As previously mentioned Torminalis refers to colic - it was used in the past as a medicine for tummy ache. Remains of the berries have been found in prehistoric sites and they must have been a welcome harvest before other sources of sugar were available.

The Prime Minister's country retreat is thought to possibly be named after the berries and I wonder who many pubs are but are thought instead to be named after the board game with the same name?

I've got a lot of Wild Service Tree pictures that I couldn't squeeze into the blog so I've put them below as a mini gallery.

Suggested Links:-







Saturday, 18 April 2020

Loose Laces?

Two of knots listed that I tied in this Cub evening in the woods were the double slipped reef and double slipped granny knot of which the former is what you should be tying your shoes with.

Tie one bow as you would, and then do the next one but cross them over differently at the start, so if you go left over right first do the second one right over left. Once the bows are tied pull the bunny ears until they come through as a single length on both shoes.

So one will give you a reef knot having once been a double looped reef knot, this is of course the correct knot. If you look at the very first pucture you'll see the one bow sitting at an angle and the other lying across the show, the former is the granny knot and the latter the reef knot.

And the other one will give you an unstable granny knot from a looped granny knot. predictably, this is the one that will give you bother.

Here's a Youtube video showing the above.

Suggested further reading:-