Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A walk in the woods...

Got out early this morning with my (almost) 4 year old son for a little walk.  We have a place not far from the house that is a couple hundred acres owned by the San Antonio River Authority.  They claim it will be turned into a park someday...for now its a great place for a morning of tramping through the woods.  I was hoping to harvest some prickly pear cactus fruit and a stalk from a sotol cactus.  I have heard the dry stalk from the sotol is great for making fire with friction so I want to give it a try for myself.  A few pictures from our walk...

Leaving the open trails we head into the thick cedars...long pants were a necessity for my little guy.  The tall grass is full of things with thorns, needles and stickers.

This area used to be ranch property long ago.  We stick to the animal trails that cut through the cedars and oaks.  If developed properly it should make for a nice park area.  Hopefully it takes the city another decade to get around to it.

And here was the find of the day.  Probably the largest shed I've ever found, especially for our little Texas hill country deer.  I've got a few special projects in mind for this one.

Generally for short day hikes I carry my Finnish gas mask bag.  I've added a shoulder strap pad from a Maxpediton pack and a loop on the side for a knife sheath.  Inside we have water bottles, a couple snacks, my usual PSK (which I'll detail in a later post) and of course my MP Woodsman.

My older son and I started clearing an area for a simple bush shelter last winter.  Most of it was still there including an area we spread strips of cedar bark over for my yellow lab (Mac) to lay on.  Much more comfortable then laying on a bed of rocks.

And finally the sotol cactus I had been in search of.  The stalk growing out of the center of this one was huge.  Close to two inches around toward the base, extending to about 10 feet in length.  Native people had many uses for this plant (commonly mistaken for a yucca).  The "heart" was dried, baked for up to 48 hours and made into an edible cake, apparently a good source of carbohydrates.  The sawtooth leaves are excellent for weaving and basket making.

Thanks for looking...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Woodsman's Pal Review

I recently picked up this Woodsman's Pal at a local gun show.  These tools have been around since WWII and were carried by our soldiers for clearing dense brush in the jungles.  They are a hefty tool and made in the USA (which i really like).  This particular model is the "Classic" and came with a thick leather sheath.  It weighs in at 25 oz which is considerably more then your average machete or kukri. But with a thicker blade they claim it's "The machete with the power of an axe".  I decided to see if that was true.

I started with some pieces of old cedar fence post and a couple 2x4s splitting them into kindling.  Cut through like butter...not even worth taking pictures.  So then i decided to move on to something a little more robust.  Grabbed a 5 inch round hunk of oak that has been laying in a brush pile for about a year.  This was by no means a sapling.  This oak is old, dry and hard as hell...here are the results...

Woodsman's Pal Classic with leather sheath

With very little effort the weight of the blade cut right into the oak.  You can see the sickle looking hook at the end of the blade intended for clearing vines and brush.

The handle is plenty long enough for large hands and wearing gloves.  The hardwood ash handle seems a little slippery at first.  Once you settle in and let your hand take advantage of the design of the handle its quite comfortable to swing.  I never felt like I was out of control if I wanted to swing with more force.  From the manufacturer it comes with a nylon lanyard which i swapped out for leather.

The photo below is after roughly 60 seconds.   The Pal chewed into this oak with ease. If not for the 98 degree heat out today i wouldn't have even broke a sweat.

 And after another couple minutes here is the final result.  The 1/8" thick carbon steel blade wasn't phased a bit.  Could I have been more efficient with one of my axes of similar size?  Probably.  But as a multi-purpose machete style tool the Woodsman Pal is extremely capable and can handle much more then just brush, vines and small branches.

They make a few different models of the Woodsman's Pal.  All reasonably priced for very well built tool that appears will be serving my family for long time.  For more information Woodsmans Pal's website

Thanks for looking...enjoy your weekend outdoors and God bless..

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leather Projects

You can view all my recent custom leather projects on my vendor forum at BCUSA: 

I really enjoy working with leather as a hobby.  Most of my work is custom to a specific item.  If someone wants a custom sheath I need the knife in hand to ensure a good fit and proper retention.  But now I'm also working on a few patterns for commonly carried knives so that I can put them up for trade or sale.  Here are a few unique pieces I have completed.  Your comments are always welcome!

Mask for my Norlund Hudson Bay axe

Wet-formed and hand stitched belt sheath

Belt sheath with fire steel loop

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

MP Woodsman

As you will come to find out I'm a bit of a knife collector.  I have been fascinated with edged tools for over 25 years.  It all started when I was barely 10 years old and my favorite uncle and I would spend weekends hitting garage sales.  We'd find knives of all kinds from junkers to collectables.  I didn't care, I was happy with whatever we found.  My uncle Cy was a WWII veteran and what I consider a true woodsman who spent decades living in the Alaskan bush with my aunt.  He could craft anything with his bare hands and a good knife.  My fondest childhood memories are their summer visits.  I still have boxes of old knives he and I would get at garage sales or ones he would bring down from Alaska.  We'd sit and clean the rust off and he'd teach me how to sharpen them.  There was a story behind each one it seemed.  I will never forget those days, never forget my uncle and rarely does a day pass where I'm not reminded of the times we had.  Miss you Uncle Cy....Semper Fi.

In my adult life my collecting of knives continues and like most little boys I can tell my two sons have the bug as well.  This is my latest aquisition.  It's called the Woodsman from maker Mathew Paul up in New York.  To date this is probably the finest blade I own.  It's a true work of art and a beast in the hand.  The handles are red oak, the steel is forged 3/16" 1095, 5 1/4" blade and brass hardware to finish it out.  Mathew Paul's work is second to none.  The sheath pictured is one of my creations.  My leather working skills are getting better and I have a new design for the Woodsman in the works.  For now it rides in this either on the belt or with a dangler.

You can learn more about MP Knives on his sub-forum at BCUSA:
MP Knives

Welcome to my fire

I hope to keep this blog alive and growing by sharing my love of the outdoors and the activities enjoyed with my family.  Feel free to comment and thank you for looking....welcome to my fire!