Archive for February, 2007

Feb 14 2007

Taking a Break

Published by under Uncategorized

I am ashamed to say this, but there will be no posts on this blog for a longer period of time. Currently I am juggeling too many balls at the same time. Writing quality material for the blog takes a lot of time, so I am downprioritizing it for the moment.

Hopefully in some time, I’ll return with a lot of fresh material, possibly also from the expedition to Hitra. Maybe even a book by the turn of the year.

My best regards to you all.
Torjus

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Feb 13 2007

Evenk Berry Picker Update

Published by under Plant Materials

Two years ago, I made a makeshift Evenk berry picker when out in a woods, inspired by an article on a Swedish site and later also by Ray Mears in a tv-series. I was surprised by it’s efficiency, but the workmanship didn’t hold up for long.

I have been thinking about making a new one for a long time, even gathered the bark and the spruce root, but it wasn’t until there recently was announced a berry picker contest on bcuk that I got the neccesary kick in the behind.

What I have done yet is to gather the materials and to make the rim. This was done quite a while ago, this summer. The rim is of willow and could with advantage have been of another, more sturdy material, but in the very far north that is one of the few materials available. The willow is so weak in that after it had been split and thinned, I wrapped the opposite half on as a support. The bark is strong, taking away the strain on the back and the opposite half evened out the compression.

Compression fractures developed in one place, and that place was straightened with boiled water. To keep it firm until it dried, I bound down a bone piece with some rawhide.

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Feb 12 2007

On the Use of Antler Axes

Published by under Animal Materials

The last half year or so, I have only used antler axes, no metal whatsoever. During this time I have made quite a few observations on them. Compared to stone axes, antler axes have mainly two advantages:

  • Ease of construction (softer material, “axe shaped”)
  • Ease of repair (softer material, can be repaired by scraping with flakes)

Their major disadvantage is that they dull more quickly. On a newly sharpened antler and a stone axe, there is however no difference in sharpness. If there is, I would say it goes in the favour of the antler axe. Below: Flattening a piece with a diagonal antler axe.

There are primarily two styles of edges on these axes, the diagonal edge, the elk(US: moose) axe and the hafted slab. As antler normally has a pith, the first and third options are normally the only ones possible. That especially accounts for red deer antler, which has a very extensive pith.

The diagonally edged axe is quite quick to make. The fixed direction on the edge makes it very suitable for wood working, but not for heavy duty chopping. For small trees it works fine, but if you have to lean into the blow, you risk splitting or chipping the antler towards it’s weakest direction, making repair a monumental task.

The elk axe is a much more stable axe, it is ground to a centered bevel like a standard metal axe and is therefore good for heavy duty chopping. This axe is as a general rule only possible to make out of elk antler, due to it being solid and extremely hard near the base. The superior weight of the elk antler also adds into the equation. Due to it’s hardness and the sheer amounts of materials that needs to be removed, making this type of axe is a major undertaking. My elk axe is under remake, I will try to remember to post the appropriate pictures when it is finished.

The slab type I have limited experience with, I just made a quick one this fall and it didn’t hold up for too long. This type lacks the weight of the former ones, but the narrow blade offers even greater precision and better cutting ability.

Hitting rocks is total death on bits, whether it is antler or stone, though even more so with stone. A way to avoid this is to make high stumps, that keeps the edge as far away from the ground and the rocks as possible.

The good ratio between hardness and flexibility is what makes antler such a good material for axes. Flexibility is completely lacking in stone and makes chipping more likely. However flexible, red deer antler (or degraded reindeer and elk antler) is on the margins of what is usable, it is too soft I feel and the extensive pith makes it prone to splitting. Use top grade reindeer or elk antler if you can get it. It is most likely that I will continue to use antler axes in the future, they arn’t as good as metal, but then again nothing is.

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Feb 11 2007

Willow Basket

Published by under Plant Materials

Willow is very fast growing tree. That makes the wood weak, but the strong bark keeps an integrity to it. Harvest the red shoots, they are usually the best ones. The shoots that are still red has a large pith, but the bark is strong, so that they can be folded without breaking.

Harvest in winter, when the sap is down, the shoots seems to be less brittle then and their water content is lower. But still, dry them before you use them, to avoid the baskets becoming loose. It is better to reconstitute them afterwards, before using them. That wasn’t neccesary with these shoots though, as they were so strong. When harvesting, there is no need for tools, the easiest method is just to rip them off the trunk with your hands.

To start the weaving, overlap four willows like on the photo. But four will not do it. It has to be an uneven number, otherwise the weave will end on the same place and that will not make a basket.

When you feel the gaps between the spaces become unmanagable, add in an even number of new strands. If you add in an uneven number, the result will be even and will not work (Said differently: Not 5+5=10, but 5+4=9.). Cut off all of the ends on the inside, as that will be hard to do on the finished basket.

When you have the size of the bottom you want, bend up the strands and tie them together in the top to keep them like that. Start weawing upwards. It is messy in the start, but if you are careful to keep the weave tight it will become progressively easier as you move upwards.

Weave it as high as you want it. When the top has become stable on it’s own, you can release it in the top, that will make further weaving easier. Splice on the outside, as trimming later on the inside will difficult.

Cut off the tops at a good lenght. Make them pointy, that will make tucking them back into the weave easier. Tuck them back over into the neighbouring strand.

Finally, trim off all the ends and the basket is finished.

4 responses so far

Feb 08 2007

Changes on Course Dates

Published by under Uncategorized

Some changes have been made on the course schedule for 2008. No courses with bookings have been changed.

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