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Groomsman Gifts: Helle Viking Knife Blanks

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Last year with the help of a friend I had purchased Helle Viking Knife blanks from Ragweed Forge to make into groomsman gifts for a commission. We visited Dixon’s Muzzleloading Shop to pick-up gun stock scraps of tiger maple for the handles and scraps of leather to make into sheaths.

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We shaped the handles and hand sanded with 220 grit on the wood and 400 at grit on the bolster edge.

We then raised the grain on the wood 3x. The process was the apply water to the wood with fingers, use a propane torch to rapidly dry the wood to raise the grain and rub the wood smooth again with 0000 steel wool.

Next the Aquafortis acid stain was applied with a dauber to all handles. The torch was used to oxidize the stain and the heat turned the wood reddish brown. This was started at the bolster because the brass acts as a heat sink and a yellow ring will form at the wood below the bolster if not enough heat is applied.

The torch heat was then passed over the whole handle with just enough heat to make the stain oxidize. If the wood became scorched it could be rubbed out with steel wool. The heat was passed over gently trying to remove any sections with a yellow cast so all was oxidized.

This process was done again starting with a second coat of stain.

The acid was finally neutralized with a mix of 8oz water and couple teaspoons of baking soda, all applied with a dauber. A light bubbling action resulted.

With the wood still warm, it was rubbed with 0000 steel wool and boiled linseed oil. This allowed the oil to soak in and also remove any scorching while bringing up the grain and highlighting the beautiful striations within the wood.

More coats of boiled linseed oil were applied over the next few days allowing the wood to absorb as much as possible.

The knife handles were left to dry before finally packaging in brown grocery paper with a Ballistol wipe and care instructions and wrapped with jute string.

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24 Wild Foraged Autumn Ingredients Cooked over a Campfire

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I was challenged in a friendly competition to put my naturalist knowledge into action and make my best possible meal in an Autumn Foraging, Fishing, Hunting and Camping scenario. Recognizing that native people must have eaten over a 100 different wild foods in a year, a more varied diet than many or most of us today, I wanted to try and incorporate as many foods as I could possible find in this truly local meal.
I was able to create a menu composed of 24 fresh and local wild crafted ingredients (18 plants, 2 mushrooms, 4 animals).

Animals: Trout, Deer, Squirrel, Bear (lard)
Plants: Stinging Wood Nettle, Lambs Quarters, Onion Grass, Wild Apple, Autumn Olive, White Pine, Mixed Acorn, Black Walnut, Wintergreen, Sweet Fern, Sweet Birch, Spice Bush, Sassafrass, Garlic Mustard, Wild Leek, Staghorn Sumac, Juniper Berries, Fox Grape (water)
Fungus: Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods

The meal has been cooked over a split oak wood fire that was lit with a white pine bow drill friction fire.  Bear grease was used as the cooking oil.

AUTUMN BUSHCRAFT FORAGING MENU 

Salad & Soup (Served with a Sweet Fern Tea)

Nettle, Lambs Quarters, Onion Grass, Garlic Mustard, Crab Apple with an Autumn Olive Drizzle
Wild Foraged Autumn Salad (3)

Mixed Wild Mushroom (Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods), Stinging Wood Nettle and Rice Soup
Wild Foraged Autumn Soup (4)

 

Entrée (Served with White Pine Tea)
Roasted Trout with Wild Leeks, Chives and a Staghorn Sumac Spice
Wild Foraged Trout, Hen of the Woods, Chives Meal with Sumac Seed Spice (5)

Venison Heart, Hen of the Woods and Wild Leeks flavored with dried Spicebush Berries
Wild Foraged Autumn Meal, Venison, Nettle, Leek

Squirrel stuffed with Autumn Olive, Juniper Berries, Wild Apple and Stinging Nettle surrounded by Hen and Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms. (Bacon Wrapped and covered in tinfoil and cooked in the coals)
Squirrel stuffed with Wild Foraged Edibles

Desert (Served with Tripple S Tea made of Sweetbirch, Spicebush & Sassafrass)
Acorn Bannock Tart made with Black Walnuts and Grape Vine water. Topped with Wild Apple, Fox Grape and Autumn Olive fruit.
Wild Foraged Autumn Bannock Tart Dessert

 

Part 1: Wild Foraging Harvest

Part 2: Wild Foraged Feast

 

 

New Specials added Seasonally!

Foragers Spice Kit aka The Spice of Life: Spicebush Berries dried and chopped finely, Sweet Fern dried and powdered, Mountain Mint dried and powdered, Wild Ginger dried and powdered or infused into oil, Sumac Seed Heads, Garlic Mustard Seeds, Bay Berry Leaves and Seeds, Juniper berries.

 

 

Evaluation

  • Well it sure would have been easier to do this with a team!  The gathering of ingredients took exploration in multiple habitats and would surely be collected throughout the seasons and not necessarily in a hurry for one specific meal.
  • The changing of the seasons made collection a challenge as well as competing with wildlife and the changing appearance and growing location of plants. Focusing on lower elevations and wetlands allowed for the harvesting of certain species that would otherwise be too far gone at higher elevations or north facing slopes.
  • The biggest help was familiarity with local habitats that reduced the gamble of trying to find specific plants and made for easier and faster acquisition.
  • Survival needs are often discussed to include Shelter, Water, Fire and Food in that progression.  However, once you have the top three of four priorities met the majority of your time will be spent on food gathering.
  • The easiest of ingredients to find were mushrooms, nettles, acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts. I could have spent the majority of my time gathering and processing nuts in one general location (while simultaneously fishing) and happened upon a few other ingredients along the way.  This would have been the most calorie efficient way to go. 

Leave a reply below and let me know what you think!

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