Archive for December, 2006

Dec 26 2006

Skin Pouch Update

Published by under Animal Materials

For eight days I have had the skins in the water along with the alder bark. I checked upon the skins today and turned them, as parts were not totally submerged before. The skins show yet no signs of having soaked up any tannin, no change in colour whatsoever. I am beginning to think my solution is too weak. The ear skins are thinner than the leg hides, so I will probably take them out of the solution to dry if they show signs of changing colour in another week or so.

If I find time, I may add more bark to the solution at a point over the next days.

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Dec 26 2006

A Break From Christmas

Published by under Foods

When I was out getting the elm for my bow yesterday there was a few other discoveries worth mentioning. I forgot my camera, so the only photo is staged.

I saw two ospreys (Pandion haliaetus). They frequent that area, scouring the river for salmon and trout. Quite majestetic birds.

For the first time I found great burdock (Arctium lappa). The seeds were destroyed, but now I know where to go to find them for replanting at home, where they are not found. Another plant (fern) I found is the Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare). It’s root is very sweet in taste and can be eaten raw like candy. In addition to it’s sweetness it has a slight licorice taste. Photo below.

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Dec 26 2006

Elm Bow Update

Published by under Plant Materials

The survival bow is fine, but I want one strong enough to bring down whatever I encounter. In this region the superior bow-wood is clearly elm (Ulmus glabra). There are however a few downsides to this wood. It is hard to find a properly straight bow-length piece and it has a seriously bad tendency to warp sideways. This has ruined several good bowstaves for me so, I hope this will not happen this time.

To reduce the risk of warping I will keep the bow-stave oiled and to dry it as slowly as possible, it will be seasoned outside. Also, cutting the wood in winter, when the sap is down, will hopefully help too. The bow will be worked green to it’s near-finished dimentions and then dried.

I found a very good stave yesterday, it’s quite remarkably straight for being elm and has smooth bark, which I have found to indicate good wood qualities. Coarse bark almost invariably means thin growth rings. It was cut down with an antler axe

After using the same axe to cut it to a more managable length, which is still much longer than the finished bow will be, it was split. To make sure that a major knot did not end up in on the back of a limb, the antler wedge was hammered through the knot to start the split.

I decided to split free the thick end first. When it comes to splitting wood, there are a few handy tricks:
– Hammer in wooden wedges from both sides, that will reduce the risk of the split running off to one side.
– Use a fork in a tree to guide the crack if it starts to run off to one side. Put a little more pressure to the thick side to get the crack bak in the middle.
– If you meet resistance at a point, use an antler wedge to drive through whatever is budging.

First below: Pounding in wedges from both sides.
Second below: Guiding the split with a tree fork.

The best half was chosen and an approximate outline written on the belly side (inside) with charcoal. To measure the middle point of the bow, make one of the bark strips as long as the bow, fold it over and you have half the lenght of the bow. Photo is of the two halves, of which the left one was chosen.

The antler axe proved ineffective for removing wood from sides of the bow, so I ended up with a combination of chopping with a core of flint and splitting in the budging places with the antler wedge. This stage is far from finished, and I will probably continue this work today.

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Dec 23 2006

Bone and Antler Arrow Points

Published by under Animal Materials

Finished two points the other day. One are made of reindeer antler and the other of sheep bone. They are narrow because of these materials’ inferior sharpness and I will not use them for anything over the size of roe deer or perhaps reindeer due to the probable lack of bleeding qualities.

Have anyone tried making Plains Indian style arrow points from hardened hide or sinew? Just for a curiousity I tried that once. My results were far from satisfying, so if someone has an idea on how it was done, please tell me.

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Dec 23 2006

Antler Axe Repairs

Published by under Animal Materials

Antler axes work wonderfully when sharp. A newly sharpened axe chops down wrist thick trees in short order. But they don’t keep their edge very well. Also there is the risk of more major chipping and splitting, making labourious repairs neccesary.

My double edged antler axe has one edge that is too weak, even after a recent major reparation it has now cracked and chipped again. The other edge holds up well, but I have decided to rework this axe into a tranchet axe as soon as I get hold some decent sized good flaking stone for the bit. This photo shows the too thin wall of hard material on the right side, which is the bit. If you look closely you may also see that the edge has cracked and chipped.

Another development on this front is that the big antler axe on this photo finally has been ground to a usable bevel, even if it still is a little broad.

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