American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2014

First off, Happy New Year!

I spent some time over the holidays thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2014 and re-starting this blog ranked high on the list. (Getting back to my hunting and fishing trips as well as time at the range too…)

I will try to make it a point to get at least one article a week posted up here if I can.

Life is still offering up plenty of distraction but making the writing a priority should help me maintain a bit more focus than in the past couple of seasons.

I have some new ideas, some old ideas, and would like to actually revisit some past locations/projects/tools just to give you an update.

After losing 75 pounds (yeah, crazy right?) my perspective has definitely changed in some areas.  :)

My head has definitely been stuck in the sand for the most part in the past 24 months or so but I'll get back up to speed on what the boys at JRE Industries are doing and what new developments Mike at Grindstone Cutlery has come up with since he's always tinkering with the way things are done and tweaking materials, construction, and processes to improve what he's doing.

I'm going to go back to the meat and potatoes of the blog--the hiking and photography.

Just not today…it's COLD out there and none of my warm clothing fits any more. :)

See you around soon.

Thanks for reading,



B

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Kuksa

My kuksa smells like coffee and coconut oil…

Where else but here would you ever hear such a thing? :)

The return to "bushcraft phase" means a return to some of the old bits of kit I have neglected in the past couple of years including my kuksa. It needed a bit of attention to bring it back to its former glory but a few coffees and some coconut oil have it back to where it should be in a day.

As a matter of fact, I pulled out a block of maple that I've had sitting around and started laying out another kuksa pattern and even started the first rough cuts on it yesterday.

I don't know when I'll find the time to sit down and work on it but having the first few saw cuts made will help keep me committed to the project.

I don't honestly know how long this "phase" will last but I figure I'll just ride the wave as long as I can and keep writing as long as I have things to write. Hopefully you'll come along for the ride.

Thanks for reading,


B

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Is the "Bushcraft Phase" Coming Back?

After a couple of very busy years with changing focus and effort, things might finally be starting to swing back toward the bushcraft skills and gear that got this blog started so long ago.

My attention lately has been drifting back to Zebra Billy Cans, Gransfors axes, Fallkniven cutlery, wool blankets, and even crooked knives. Just this morning I ordered a left-handed hook knife from Del Stubbs…

Maybe it's the weather; maybe it's the slightly more relaxed days now that cyclocross season (for me) is over. Whatever the reason, once you learn to do more in less time you can fill voids relatively easily.

I still don't have any grandiose plans to do anything spectacular but baby steps in the right direction are still getting me from here to there.

Heck, I've posted more to this blog this month than I have in the 4th Quarter of 2013 right?  :)

Thanks for reading,


B

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sharpening Obsessed

After years of learning how to freehand sharpen, I think I've finally got enough steps worked out that I can take a dull knife to razor sharp in a short amount of time but I still like to keep tweaking to see if I can do it faster, more efficiently, or just better.

The recent addition of the LED work light (the supernova blast in the corner) has really elevated the final steps when used in conjunction with the loupes. Edge inspection has leapt forward and polishing/refinement definitely has improved.

This may look like a mess to you but there are knives, strops, compounds, stones, loupes, and plenty of light. There are even a few Sharpies in a couple of colors because sometimes black just doesn't jump off the edge at me like blue or green can.

I am a diamond paste convert and find it really cuts fast and puts a high-polish on the super steels like nothing else I've ever tried. Even the 1-micron stuff cuts fast (relatively) and leaves a mirror edge even under magnification. The DMT Dia-Paste works really well and I'm going to try the paste from Graves someday soon.  I'm working on an idea that would use the coarse grit paste on leather earlier in the sharpening process to see if it speeds up or slows down the finished result.

I'm NOT a fan of edges that take a long time to refine and polish as most of my knives are used for rougher work like breaking down boxes, cutting up food, and opening packages and just don't deserve hours on the strop when a 600-grit edge is suitable for the majority of the tasks and takes very little time to complete.  Plus, I've talked about doing some professional sharpening in the past but I've found that I'm SLOW to get the work done and (Matt knows) I'm even slower to return the knives…sorry.

None of this really works with the convex edges but it could be adapted pretty easily.

The best part about using the diamonds is the ability to cut everything from 1095 to S35VN to 3V and M4.

Thanks for reading,


B

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Revisiting an Old Friend

After a text conversation with Mike of Grindstone Cutlery, I had to pull out an old friend and see what it was that made it such a favored tool.  The Fallkniven F1 has been my "go to" blade for a long time now and this one, my first, has seen plenty of wear and modification. 

 The handle fits my hand well, is thick enough without being too thick, and the rubber is tacky enough to be secure when wet but hard enough to be comfortable during extended use. The lanyard hole position has never been ideal but the low-profile paracord loop I use has never bothered me much.

I had actually forgotten that the handle ripped and had to be repaired once upon a time. The superglue fix has held up extremely well over time and is visible but not perceptible to the thumb during use. Dripping the glue in during the repair has also sealed tight the small gap between the handles and the tang.

Now that it's out, I think I may have to go get it dirty this weekend. It's about time...

Thanks for reading,


B


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

So Darned Busy

It's been weeks since I posted last. I mentioned that it was racing season and that brings with it plenty of work that's not on the normal menu.

There's travel on Saturdays and Sundays, bike cleaning and maintenance on Mondays, van cleaning Saturdays, Sundays, and Fridays, food and drink prep, packing, etc.

There's also time in the gym...lots and lots of time in the gym to get my body back together for another weekend of racing.

I got my first category upgrade since 1997 a week ago and now can race an additional race every time so I'm doing 2 a days instead of a single race.  They're also back to back so the increased workload is good for training.

The funny part about all of this is the amount of outdoor skills I use every week from knot tying to shelter construction to first aid (yeah, needed first aid a few times.)

Then my bike broke.  The carbon frame literally cracked through and now I have NO bike with 4 races coming up this weekend...stressed? Sure.

On an unrelated note: Billman at Grindstone Cutlery came up with a very clever axe head cover a while back and sent me one for each of my Gransfors axes and they fit great, look great, and are super secure.  He's working on some additional features I think but I'm not going to let that cat out of the bag just yet.  I'll see if I can come up with a picture or two for you though...

Thanks for reading,


B

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Racing Season

After nearly two years of riding myself back into shape the rubber has finally met the road and racing season (cyclocross racing specifically) has finally started.  My wife, 12 year old daughter, and I are racing Saturdays and Sundays every week until the end of November or so with a few races in December and maybe even one in January if we're lucky enough to make it that far.

What is cyclocross you ask? It's like a party with a little off-road bike racing in the middle and it's hopelessly addicting.

At my level the racing is 30-45 minutes of all-out racing followed by some beer. There can be hand-ups on the course (Twizzlers, donuts, s'mores, beer, whiskey, etc.) as well as obstacles like barriers and fly-overs or run-ups.  There is sand, mud, grass, and pavement sometimes.

I mention all of this because it will explain my absence from time to time for the next few months before we really dive back into this blog.  I'll be around and try to write from time to time but my energy is really focused on the kids and racing for a while now.  :)

Thanks for reading,


B