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

Monday, January 31, 2011

One Blanket Bed

Some folks prefer to sleep with a blanket or two instead of a sleeping bag because they're less confining and more flexible but they also have a bad habit of creeping up and/or uncovering body parts as well as allowing in cold air.

This tutorial is from a tile in Jaeger's "Wildwood Wisdom" and Jake is my sleeper.

The first thing you'll need is your blanket. For this tutorial, I chose my Wiggy's Poncho Liner as it was both nearby and approximately the right size for Jake.
Step 1: Lay out your blanket the wide way and lay down on the rightmost or leftmost 1/3.
Step 2: Bring the remaining width over and back across your body.
Step 3: Tuck the remaining 1/3 under your body making a double layer beneath.
Step 4: Tuck the bottom under your feet and sleep snugly all night.

Tomorrow, the two-blanket bed...

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Other Mears Knife

For those of you who want to get your hands on a Ray Mears knife but don't want to wait, there's the new green handled Mora 510 (one of my favorite knives) complete with the Mears logo.

The knife is scandi ground carbon steel that will take and hold a wicked edge. The green handle is barrel shaped and comfortable to use for hours without causing fatigue.

I really, really like my 510s and wish they hadn't been discontinued.

Unfortunately, they were. But now you can get them again from Ray Mears.

There's a bit of a premium to be paid for the logo and the green handle but there's also no other option and, compared to the Woodlore, it's a steal. :)

If I've piqued your interest, you can check out the knife here: Mears 510.

Like the Woodlore, this one will not get socked away. It'll be put to use just like the red handled 510s have.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, January 29, 2011


Well, here it is...the official Ray Mears Woodlore.

I really don't know what to say about it that isn't already known but there is definitely something special about this knife and I can certainly see why so many makers are doing "tribute" pieces.

The blade to handle ratio is just right.

The thickness is just right.

The handle shape is just right.

The overall length is just right. The blade length is just right.

It's comfortable in every grip (every one I use anyway...)

(Click for larger image)

Frankly, the only thing I might change about this knife is the handle material. As you may be able to make out in the pictures, the tang is slightly proud now that the scales have shrunk from the dry winter air. A synthetic like micarta or G10 wouldn't do that but they also don't have the same look and feel of old wood.

I'll tell you this much, dear readers, this knife won't look quite so pretty the next time you see it.

I have resisted cutting anything since it arrived because I had never gotten pictures of it fresh from the box. Now I've got 'em...

So, I've got my grail knife. It doesn't get any better than that does it?

Well, there may be another trick or two up my sleeve...including a knife I drew from scratch that should be out of heat treat and ready for finishing as you're reading this.

You know it's going to be good if a guy who has a BRAND NEW WOODLORE is anxiously awaiting its arrival. :)

Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 28, 2011

An Open Letter to Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

Yesterday you wrote:

alas our fearless leader has left us,,,,,thanks for all the good reads,,ive learned a lot from you cheers

in the comment section of a post.

That little bit of authorship seems to have given me the kick in the pants I needed to get moving forward again.

I have spent the entire day shooting pictures and putting things together for this blog and you'll begin seeing them tomorrow.

So I'd just like to say Thank You for the motivation to get back to doing what I've so enjoyed doing for almost 4 years now.

Now, on to the posting...

Thanks again,


Have You Ever Worn Out a Book?

I have.

It was Ellsworth Jaeger's "Wildwood Wisdom" and I just got a replacement copy from Amazon a few days ago.

The combination of information, easy to read illustrations, and price make it an unbeatable companion for anybody that loves the outdoors and the skills of bushcraft.

The book has been a source of information for projects from making Jake's Native American diorama (teepee layout) to the crooked knife handle and blade making instructions.

This is one of those books that is often overlooked in favor of Kochanski, Mears, Kephart, Sears, and others but it's certainly every bit as helpful and entertaining.

If you don't have a copy, get one. I think my replacement was about $9 from Amazon and it's brand new.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, January 27, 2011


This winter, more than any in recent memory, I've been sorely tempted to both get outdoors and enjoy the air and the cold and curl up inside and enjoy the warmth and comfort of the house.

I have been dramatically short on time (notice the 10-day lag since the last post?) and just can't seem to find the time to write up what I've been doing.

There hasn't been enough snow so far to do much shelter construction but the brutal cold has made it very difficult to allow the kids out for more than a few minutes at a time.

My cameras sit idle because my hands do not. Doing always conflicts with reporting which I discovered while doing "52 Weeks" so many years ago.

I find my days filled more with the mundane tasks of laundry, cooking, and picking up after the kids than I do with dreams of cold adventure...for now.

One day soon I will sit down and write up some of those adventures I have been able to have for you.

If only I could squeeze a few more hours into every day...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, January 17, 2011

A Discovery

This is probably old news to many of you but I just figured it out today.

You know how those stainless/aluminum/Titanium pots, cups, etc. come with stickers on them and sometimes those stickers don't come off very easily?

Well, this morning I was taking a sticker off my new 6-cup percolator from GSI and had lots of gummy residue and part of the sticker stuck on the side.

Burning in a new pot will often leave burned adhesive on the pot that still doesn't come off, using Goo Gone or one of the other citrus-based cleaners will work but requires a bit of scraping, and going to a Scotchbrite pad tends to leave the side of that brand new piece of gear with scratches.

But, if you can find the BLUE Scotchbrite pads, they will remove that adhesive without leaving the faintest mark on your new bit of kit. They appear to be tough enough to remove the crud that can often get left behind while being gentle enough to let me do the marring of the finish through use rather than over-aggressive scrubbing.

Now I have a 6-cup percolator that looks brand new, has no stickers on it, and has been cleaned and is finally ready to brew up that first cup of camp coffee.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Traditional or Technical

This is a quandry many of us face.

Laura and I are going skiing today and I find myself faced with the question of traditional wool clothing versus technical Gore-Tex, wicking materials, and more.

I lean toward wool just because I like the way it works, how it looks, and even how it smells (or doesn't smell once you've been working.)

Not surprisingly, I have enough kit to go in either direction and will probably not make a final decision until we're running out the door.

I'll have pictures and a write-up when we get home.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 14, 2011

Kudos to Crane's Country Store!

It's cold.

When it gets like this, I get in the mood for wool--Filson wool usually.

I went on a search for a new hat (Filson 025 Wool Packer Hat) and found Crane's Country Store and gave them a call.

While chatting with them, the discussion turned to the 10046 Yukon Cape Coat (a lighter version of the Mackinaw wool coat I have) and I gave them a look.

Sure enough, the price couldn't be beat, but the inventory was out of stock. Bummer.

No problem, they assured me. They'd place an order.

Here we are two weeks later and the package arrived a short while ago. Everything was perfect and I got just what I wanted and not what they had left on the shelf.

So, if you're out and about this weekend and see a dapper guy wearing a charcoal wool hat and slate plaid coat, it might just be me. :)

Thanks for reading,


EDIT: One more thing, both items are Made in the USA.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I've been gone again for a while. Sorry.

Where the time goes is still a mystery. It's not like I've got anything to show for my absence...

Anyway, I was just sharpening a pencil and realized that it's been years since I used a pencil sharpener other than the knife I had in my pocket.

It's a real pleasure to get a nice even cone using nothing but the eye, a sharp blade, and experience (muscle memory.)

With three kids under 10, I can tell you that I sharpen a lot of pencils. Thank goodness they haven't really wanted to move on to pens just yet.

If you're not currently sharpening with a pocket knife, give it a whirl. You may find it as enjoyable as I do.

Thanks for reading,