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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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20 Ingredients in an Altoids Tin Survival Kit

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As part of one of the skill sessions in my nature explorers wilderness and survival week camps we cover what might be included in your pack. I start with a modern camping backpack but extend the lesson by getting campers started on their own Altoids Survival Tin Kit. The skills taught during the week could work to minimize required essentials, nevertheless we encourage participants to always be prepared with redundancy.  The Altoids tin makes for an excellent light weight, compact kit that can hold enough critical essentials to help you should an emergency arise.  From the Native Americans to the Pioneers those venturing out have always carried essentials to help better their individual situation should a challenge arise. The modern REI hiker should be no exception.

Consider customizing ingredients in your Altoids Survival Tin Kit to fit your needs, style and preferences.  Some items may include:

Cutting tool, water tablets for purification, zip lock bags, 24 gauge snare wire, signal mirror, whistle, button compass, razor blades, medical tape, bandages, anti-diarrhea tablets, ibuprofen tablets, antibiotic, alcohol prep pad, picture (of family, friends or faith), List of notes (survival acronyms), sewing needle (magnetized),  safety pins, buttons, duct tape wrapped around pencil, waxed matches, braided fish line, hooks & weights, wire saw, cash, copy of photo identification and copy of important keys. Many of these items have multiple uses and should be practiced with for best potential outcomes should the need arise.

Take another step towards self-reliance and setup a Bug Out Bag or Box.  Some items may include:

Tarp, genuine 550 paracord, whistle, sodium iodide tablets (avoid radiation), containers for water boiling, food (snickers!), silver blanket, compass, cutting tool, bottle 2% tincture of iodine (water purification), wool blanket (still warm when wet), photo identification, house key, car key, ear plugs, head lamp, crank radio, Leatherman type multi-tool, flashlight, road flares, 24 gauge snare wire, razor blades, anti diarrhea tablets, sailing needle, 6 hour candles, pepper spray, weapon.

 

Spring in a Bottle, Water Filtration Demonstration

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You can demonstrate the process of water infiltrating down through soil layers by creating a “spring in a bottle”.  Water moves through diverse soil types in different ways but always with gravity, this takes place either on the surface or down-gradients under ground. If water cannot move downward any further it will flow along the impervious layer until it reaches a permeable layer.

To show this in action you can cut a two liter soda bottle four inches from the bottom and invert the top (turn it upside down) into the bottom (see photograph).  Include a small hole poked into the side towards the bottom of your layers to create the spring.  Place inside the inverted top different layers of sand, soil, clay and gravel.  You can also add grass, charcoal or other mediums that may be available to increase layers of runoff, filtration or absorption depending on the specifics of your lesson.   Add clean or dirty water to demonstrate the  “spring in a bottle” or dirty “polluted” water to demonstrate the filtration.

This lesson can also be used to demonstrate water filtration in an outdoor scenario. While it won’t remove bacteria it will clarify the water to make ready for secondary forms of chemical treatment. (See my full article in Issue 20 of Self Reliance Illustrated to learn more).

From This to That

Which layers were most permeable? most impermeable?

How well did the layers filter the water?

For more water related lessons check out the

Project Wet Curriculum and Activity Guide

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