Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Monday, 26 December 2011

Thought on survival

What you imagine will happen is often not the same as what will happen. Get out for some dirt time

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Monday, 19 December 2011

Close your eyes if your nervous


I know this guy is an expert but still you cant help feel yourself getting nervous watching him. One slip with that razor sharp blade and a finger would be gone or femoral artery severed. Amazing skill really.



Santa is bringing me something all the way from Finland with the help of my Finnish Friend Mikko.

It is pointy and apprently indestructible. UPS say it is due on Tuesday.

Oh i do like getting parcels in the post.

All will be revealed soon enough.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Passing on some skills


There is a great pleasure in passing on knowledge. In fact you allways learn something yourself.

In teaching we learn,

A few pics form a recent course I helped run.

Monday, 5 December 2011

A good set of tools for general bushcraft

Hi all,

After many years of searching I have finally found a good balance of tools to take out to the woods. This is my personal choice for the reason listed.

General purpose knife for battoning, butchering rough, carving etc - Fallkniven F1. Robust, easy to sharpen, excellent in wet conditions. Great at splitting wood, impossible to break really (although if there is a chance of breaking your blade you are using it incorrectly I say)

Fine detail and carving knife – Mora 106. A splendid little knife which punches well above its weight, very versatile and easy to sharpen and maintain, best of all cheap as chips. I carry it on a piece of paracord around my neck where it is always accessible. Also functions as a back up in case you lose your main knife. I have modified the sheath to keep the handle tighter by heating and stretching it a bit. I also shaved the handle a bit thinner which makes it sit much more securely indeed.

Saw- Bacho Laplander. The bushcraft standard and hard to beat really. You can do all sorts with a saw like this and its use is a skill like everything else. Go out and use it for a day as your sole tool and you will realise how good it is.

Axe- Fiskars camp axe. 23 inch one. A very surprising medium sized axe which can do a lot of work and is comfortable to use. Sharpens easily to a razor finish. An axe is a very useful tool. It is well worth learning how to use one properly. You can do most jobs with your axe from felling a tree to carving the beginning of a spoon before you need your knife. An axe makes processing wood a lot easier. Split wood burns better than rounds and catches faster. You can also make feather sticks. SO a fire from start to finish is easy with an axe and alot less work than a knife.

And that is it.

Of course if you have a base camp a bow saw comes into it own too and is really just a bigger version of the Laplander in terms of utility. I really like the bacho ones for quality.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Knives in use


I allways like to see good knives in actual use.

Here is a nice picture I found of a swedish soldier with a Mora 2000 attached to her webbing. Interesting indeed. I cant help but like them, they are weird but they are really good. I wonder has she ever used it.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Pin oak

This is a pic of a leaf against the sky. Very sitinctive liaf indeed.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Blackthorn sloe

I see there are still some leaves and sloes on the Blackthorns. they are quite edible now as the tannins have been withdrawn. However it usually takes a frost to set them totally right.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

F1 sheath modification

Hi all,

Recently I have found myself grabbing the F1 when heading out.

It is a splendid knife with a huge fan base.

The knife comes with a choice of sheaths.

I have the fully closable leather one and the zytell one.

The zytell version features a little catch which holds the knife in place. Of course there is also a clasp to secure it too.

Recently it has not been as tight as I would like so I have added something.

A strong rubber ring which keeps the catch tight. Now the knife cannot jump out of the sheath if un clasped which is handy if you are using it a lot and don't want to keep pressing the clasp closed everytime.


Saturday, 19 November 2011


Just noticed that there is a mora knife shown on ikea packaging as a do open with a knife logo.

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Friday, 18 November 2011

The Victorinox Forester folding knife.

The Victorinox Forester folding knife.

I bought this a few years ago and have carried it with me ever since during work hours.

The knife features a large locking blade. There is also a saw, screw driver, can opener and awl. There is the usual tooth pick and tweezers within the handle too.

The knife is comfortable in the hand and has a good strong lock.

The blade of the knife, which is stainless steel, is quite thick and has the typical Swiss army knife bevel. It is straightforward to sharpen on a DC3 and can be quickly brought up to hair shaving sharp.

The saw is excellent and perfect for pruning jobs making traps whatever. It is also excellent for using with a fire steel being hardened steel and sharp backed. The trick is gripping it in a such a way as to avoid it closing on your fingers. I sometimes put some bark in my hand to protect it from the teeth.

The blade of the awl can also be used to strike a steel when not being used for making holes.

Over all a very useful high quality knife.

Just one issue which is the tip of the main blade which is virtually useless being so obtuse. It needs to be a bit pointier I think for finer work, the grind is also a bit iffy at the tip too. I am toying with the idea of grinding it into shape.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

This is a great little tree which is very common in hedge rows. It is a very useful resource.


This tree has an edible berry which can persist through the winter if the birds don’t eat them first. The pip is hard and should be discarded. The young leaves are also edible. Hawthorn thickets are a great place to trap, as rabbits feel safe in them. You can make fishing hooks, harpoon points from the green thorns, the dead ones are too brittle to be of use. Good for throwing sticks too.


The hawthorn burns very well when seasoned and created nice embers for cooking. You can usually find a lot of kindling branches under the crown, still attached, dead and dry. The wood is hard and dense and has been used for walking sticks and cudgels/priests. The wood has quite short fibres so is not good in flex.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Ash for bushcraft

Ash (Fraxinus excelcior)

This is a tree that nearly everyone will know. The pale grey bark, which breaks into fissures as it matures is distinctive but not as much as the black buds.
The leaves are compound with the leaflets have serrated edges.


This tree has a number of interesting features. The inner bark was ground for flour in times of emergency as were the keys. The keys have also been pickled when green. I have found that if you get a green key and break it open the tiny green bit inside tastes quite fresh. The tree will support insects, which you might gather for food.


The Ash is a fantastic resource for the bushcrafter. The wood is second to none for hunting weapons which require impact resistance. The fibres are long which make it good bow wood. The wood is used to make hurls and hockey sticks. The bark can be peeled in large sheets when the sap is rising and can be used to make containers by folding. It can also be used as a splint for a broken arm or leg. The young growth can be used as a withe. If you make a long shaving with a knife it can be used for simple bindings.
Ash splits and bends very well, one of the best and makes fantastic feather sticks.
The wood can be soaked and the rings separated to make strips for baskets.
Ash supports a very useful Fungi called King Alfred’s Cakes which, when dry will catch a cold spark and smoulder very very hot. A fantastic resource.


A compress of the bruised leaves can be used for wounds. The sap can be used for wounds and for stomach problems. The tree has been used a lot through history. The best use I have read about was to heal children with hernia’s.
A young sapling was split to form a hoop while still planted and alive, the child passed through and then it was re-bound and allowed to grow on. Interesting.

The bushcraft uses of Oak

This is the start of a little series on some of the more useful aspects of our native trees in Ireland. The profiles will be updated as I learn more. I am not interested in copying and pasting something from Wikipedia but want to present things that I have learned through personal experience and learning.

Pendunculate and Sessile Oak

Oaks, Sessile and Pendunculate, are two of our native trees here in Ireland.
To the bushcrafter they are very useful indeed.


Acorns are the primary source of food coming from the oak. Like all parts of the Oak Acorns are very high in Tannins. Tannin does not taste very nice and must be removed from the acorns. This can be achieved by leeching in a stream or by boiling with multiple changes of water over a number of hours. The tannin free Acorns can then be dried and ground up for flour or roasted and ground up for a coffee type substitute. This is quite labour intensive but when you consider the amount that can be gathered very quickly in a bumper year then the expenditure is worth it.

It is worth noting that sometimes acorns have so little tannins that they can be prepared straight away. This is dependent on species and weather, ground conditions and all sorts of things that a survivor couldn’t really know. The best way to tell is to roast one and taste it.

The other aspect of food is that an Oak is a tree which supports hundreds of insect species. Woodlice can be gathered easily and can be found under dead bark. I have found them to taste different depending on what tree they are found on. Very high in protein though I suspect if you eat a lot you might get a bit irritated with their indigestible shells. Acorns also attract squirrels and birds, as do the insects. So with a throwing stick (made from oak) you never know what you will end up with.


Oak supplies a wealth of materials. The very dense wood which is ideal for throwing sticks, digging sticks, anything where strength is important. The wood is impact resistant and because of the tannin content is quite resistant to decay.
The inner bark of a dead branch can be scrapped up and used for a very good tinder.
The leaves are one of the last to rot on the forest floor so are excellent for debris huts and when dry as tinder.
The epicormical growth which comes off the main stem Is great for improvised cord/ withies. The roots can also be used for this.
The wood burns very well and creates good heat and embers. This makes it ideal for cooking.


Tannin is an astringent, which means it contracts capillaries so can stop bleeding. Oak galls, which are the little round balls you sometimes find where acorns should be are full of tannin and can be crushed. The oak was traditionally used for all sorts of things where antiseptic action and slow wounds were involved. The bark is also good for diarrhoea in a decoction.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

CHeck it out.

Wildlife interaction before your eyes

Hi all,

I have been kind of quiet recently. Just doing the things nessecary for modern life I suppose.

I went for a walk in a local wood the other day. The sun was setting as I made my way up a steep bank over looking a small clear pond. The hazel leaves were droppping all around me.

I felt an urge to freeze and having learned long ago to trust ones instincts i did so.

Within a few seconds a young fox, still on the brown, dabbled side of red slipped from the undergrowth. He could smell me, because he frooze and scanned about. I was wearing dark green and standing in the shadow of an old Ash so was virtually invisable to him.

I watched him as he peered into the shadows, sniffing, his head casting about. I dont know how long he would have stood there because our nasal duel was interupted by the arrival of a wood Pigeon. I looked up at the grey flash as it alighted on a brach overhead and when i looked down the young fox had vanished.

Just to add to the fun at that exact moment a Sparrowhawk shot past and went for the Pigeon.
The pigeon escaped and the Hawk sat on the branch feeling sorry for himself until his sharp eyes noticed me and he was gone.

Quite an interesting little episode. i am often amazed at my ability to stumble across wildlife by being silent and keeping hidden.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Space jelly part 2

This is a Jelly fungus. Looks the same to me.

Space jelly

There was a mention of this on the news a few weeks ago and then suddenly a total media blackout!!

I found this on some waste ground. A firm greyish jelly.

I reckon it is something a fox puked up myself.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Shaggy ink cap

This is an interesting mushroom which is edible when young. As it matures and enlarges it disintegrates releasing it black inky gunk!.

It is very distinctive indeed.
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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Something to look forward too.

Hi all,

Very excited about something.

Myself and a few friends are being honoured by a visit from the legendary Mr Lord flint knapper master next year. I am looking forward to seeing the magic he works with our flint.

Can't wait....

More details shortly.
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Monday, 17 October 2011

The best time

Hi all,

One of the best times I find to go to the woods is during bad weather. Rain keeps away the majority and means you have the wood to yourself.


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Friday, 14 October 2011

Delicious, The birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum)

I found these while out wandering.
They all ways grow under older Birch groups and seem to like a bit of grass too. They are quite distinctive and one of the easier mushrooms to identify with pores under the cap not gills. This group is well worth learning as they are good eating.
Make sure you are 100% when picking mushrooms. If you have any doubt at all, leave it alone and go and study more.
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What killed this Pigeon?

Look closely and you will notice that only the breast meat is removed. Interesting.

Birds of prey like to remove the breast meat but this was in a very urban area. Must be a sparrowhawk or something.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hazel and Willow tray

This took 20 minutes and has a multitude of uses. Kneeler, tray for gutting a fish, fire fan, wind break.

Tutorial coming soon.
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Monday, 10 October 2011

A day with Welig crafts

Hi all,

Myself and Paul were lucky enough to meet a guy called Clive Lyttle of Welig crafts at a recent event.

Clive invited the NIBA to come for a course so we readily accepted.

Clive designed our course with bushcraft in mind but he couldnt help but inject some of the fantastic artistry he dispalys in his own basket in too. Of course  it was a pleasure to watch someone with his skill work.

The course was very practical and we quickly set to work selecting and splitting our inital sticks to form the base. Then we were shown the various techniques for forming the base and building up the sides. We only had the time to make a shallow basket each as beginners, but future course promised larger projects.

Clive was allways on hand to provide detailed instruction when someone went array, which was often, and he had infinite patience even when I managed to completely ignore what he had said and insert all of my inserts upside down.

Clive gave us a tour of his excellent site where he grows many types of willow and invited us back to camp in the future.

We managed to bring 9 members to the course so hopefully we will be able to pass on what we learned to the guys who didnt make it this time.

This course is highly reccommended.

A simple basket tray which clive showed us how to make in 10 minutes

Paul, Neil, Stuart and Anne hard at work

Starting out

My base with color contrast

Clive giving his experience

Gary happy at work

Neils base turned out the best in the group. Well done!!

Mine and Garys basket together

My finished basket with simple top border

The gang minus 2 camera shy girls