Aug 07 2021

Three Gorgeous Dams

Did you get the pun?

There is a local mountain area where the majority of the lakes are too shallow for fish to survive during the winter. When out hunting it is always good to have a secondary source of food. Three lakes in a row used to have fish, but they went extinct during the acid rain of the 70s and 80s, which coincided with the beaver leaving and the old dams gradually bursting. To remedy this we have replanted small populations of trout and replaced the beaver dams with handmade ones. Hopefully the populations will survive the winter and start multiplying.

Two dams are made out of rocks and moss only. The third one we also used a couple of logs. Two were made on the same day and did not fill up yet. One was made before and is now full. In cooperation with Jonathan Ridgeon (jonsbushcraft).

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Mar 04 2021

New Birch Skis

These skis are loosely based on a find from Reinheimen in Norway. They are of birch (Betula pubescens) and may or may not have had fur on the underside. I opted for not using fur as of yet, although I might add that at a later point as is does provide a lot of traction and reduces speed downhill.

The bindings area is where the skis deviate most from the original. The front portion is a rectangular on these skis, and pointed on the original. The hole on mine are also rectangular, due to being chiseled out, whereas the originals might have been carved out with a knife and are more eye shaped. The holes on the originals are probably also a bit more roomy as I could not wrap the withie part (also birch) around twice, which would have made the binding stronger. The buckskin bindings have been threaded through the hole and pegs rammed in in order for the fit to be tight.

Snow conditions are currently pretty horrible as the snow is crusty, wears a lot on the skis and is dangerously fast. The Saami had specialised skis for such conditions, which I might make at a later time. These skis are harder to use than modern skis as they are not completely fixed onto your foot, however with some practice I think it will not be an issue.

I will probably make another pair of these at some point and actually make a tutorial about how to do it.

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Feb 28 2021

Splitting Planks 5: Hewing the Boards

When you have split your log, whichever method you want to use, by high likelihood you have to hew the planks, maybe both to thin and straighten them. There might be the rare tree which will split true right away, but hewing still gives a nicer finish.

The log used in this tutorial was not particularly straight splitting and I ended up cutting some of the end off to avoid taking out the spiral all the way. Also, it had a few large knots, which can be pretty annoying.

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First stage is to start taking out the twist as much as you can on one side. Since it will not matter to my intended project if the planks taper a lot, I took most off at the top end first.

After I had a reasonably straight line chopped there, I estimated how much I had to take out on the other side to straighten the inside of the board. This can be done very accurately with string and a weight, but I did not go through that trouble and simply went by eye measurement. I ended up with a very slight twist in the plank, but that should not really be a dealbreaker in this case.

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When both sides were straightened enough I chopped away the centre, being careful to not new a hollow and preferably not make it convex either. The plank was smoothed a fair bit through pushing the axe instead of chopping as it gives more control. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) is very soft and will generally be very easy to shape through pushing. More so with fresh wood than dry wood.

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When I was satisfied with what will become the inside of the building, I started chopping out a line on either side of the board to mark out about 1.5 inch thickness over the whole plank.

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Next the remaining ridge was chopped into in short intervals and the pieces split off.

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Final hewing is then done to remove the roughness and create an acceptably smooth surface. For my project, this side will not be visible on the building and I did a rougher job than on the inside.

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The whole process takes about 3 hours, depending on length of the board and how straight it is.

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Feb 28 2021

Splitting Planks 4: End Splitting

There are several methods for splitting logs for planks and this is probably the simplest one. It requires very straight splitting material if you are going to get long pieces, since you will have to take out the twist with the axe afterwards. For shorter boards it can be very twisted and it still will not matter much. An advantage with this method is that it if the material is very straight splitting you can get several boards out of one length.

A bit about the wood. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) splits best from the top end. Norway spruce (Picea abies) splits best from the base end. Why it is like that I don’t know, but it is certainly the case.

The first part of the process after felling the tree and sectioning it into a desirable length is to use the axe and a mallet to drive in the axe in a straight through the pith. This is done to crack the wood enough to insert the birch wedges.

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The birch wedges are then driven in as far as you can, which should already cause a very significant split. On shorter pieces it might be enough to split the entire length.

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Further splitting is achieved through driving more wedges into the side cracks that develop from the end split. You can do it from only one side, but often it is better to do it from both sides.

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When it has split through you are ready to hew the pieces, which will be shown in the next tutorial. If the piece is particularly straight splitting you can split it again, which will give you an extra board and less work in hewing the original piece. Sometimes the outer piece will run off to the outside though and not follow the whole length. I always prioritise some additonal thickness on the inner piece, since it will be the wider and better board. This is to ensure that the split doesn’t run off towards the inside.

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This project was done in collaboration with Jon (http://jonsbushcraft.com/).

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Dec 11 2020

Whitefish Fishing 4: Salting the Fish

Published by under Foods

I sometimes dry whitefish, just like I do with trout. However, they are very oily and go rancid fast so I prefer to brine salt them. Stored this way they easily keep for half a year.

The process is pretty simple. I use a wooden barrel, since it is more hygienic than using plastic. Capping the barrel is not necessary unless transporting the barrel with the fish in. Make sure it is waterproof though. If it isn’t, soak it in water for a day or two and try again.

I always clean and scale the fish before doing this, although apparently one can do it without any preparations.

Start with sprinkling a layer of coarse salt at the bottom. I only ever use coarse sea salt because it is more easily handled and extremely cheap.

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Every fish gets some salt in the gut cavity and is laid opposite each other in the way shown, belly up.

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Between every layer of fish you add more salt and eventually also on the very top.

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After relatively short time, a lot of moisture will draw out of the fish and completely submerge them. Some people use weights, but I have never found that to be necessary.

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More layers can be added when available. I did not finish a complete layer on this particular batch, but added an arctic char and brown trout on top.

That is all there is to it. When you are going to use the fish for cooking they should be leached for 2 days in frequent changes of water or in a river like I do. I put them in a net-sack, anchored to a bush along the shore. This will allow for a lot of water exchange and quite thorough desalination. You don’t want to oversoak the fish, experience has shown 2 days to be just right. If oversoaked, the fish will get extremely bland, if undersoaked it will be too salty.

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