Rehandling A Mora Clipper Knife

You’re not a bushcrafter unless you’ve owned a Mora knife.

I’ve had mine sometime, which I mainly use for carving since it has a thin blade and a sharp point.

However, I thought I might put a new handle on it, something a bit more evocative and a bit more bushcrafty. A local pet shop sells pieces of deer antler as dog chews but some pieces would make great tool handles. So I went through what they had and bought the most appropriate pieces.

The piece I am going to use on this project is the one in the middle.

So, the first thing to do is to protect the blade. I wrapped it in thick tape. Then get the old handle off. A quick whizz with the Dremel and it was soon off. You can see how short the tang on the Mora Clipper is – it can’t be much more than 2″ long.

Next thing is to clean the tang and give it a degrease with some meths. I also gave it a bit of a scratch so the glue would have something to bite into. Set that aside to dry and then take the new handle and mark it up before cutting the slot for the new handle.

I then took a drill bit the same diameter as the tickness of the blade and then drilled into the bone the same depth as the length of the tang. I did this several times to make a rough slot. To join the holes so the blade goes in I had an old screwdriver, very narrow, which I sharpened and used as a chisel. After a bit of work, and test fitting, the blade eventually went into the slot. Of course, you want this as tight as you can get it.

Don’t worry about how neat it looks – I’m going to add a bolster to keep things looking smart. The bolster I used was made from a piece of sheet brass. I made a butt for the handle from a 1p coin I sanded down, and then drilled a hole in the coin so I could attach it to the handle using a stainless steel nail.

It was all glued together using epoxy resin. I let gloops of it go down into the hole for the tang, slipped the bolster over the blade, and then put the blade in. I put a smear of resin on the butt and then tapped in the nail/coin. The force from the tapping was also enough to sink the blade deep into the hole. Then you leave it for 24 hours to set. Here it is before tidying up

I profiled the handle by chamferring the edges around the top. I used a grinding disc in the Dremel to shape the coin butt-plate. Then I used sanding discs on the chamfered bone and on the metal fittings. Then I went over to the polishing discs and finally a cloth mop with a bit of toothpaste (as a fine-grade polish) to bring the metal bits to life.

Here’s some final pictures of it. I gave the handle and blade a bit of oil to bring the colour out. The curved nature of the handle means it sits really nicely in the palm. Putting a new handle on an old tool is a great way of giving a new lease of life to an old friend.

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Campfire Cooking

I thought I’d put together a film of a few recipes that you can make when out in the woods.

There’s three different recipes, and each is cooked differently, so you can vary your cooking depending on how inventive you’re feeling or how much time you have.

They all have one thing in common, though – they’re dead easy to do!

 

Making Clay Pots

On a whim I decided I wanted to make some pots.

It has proved to be a very interesting and valuable experiment that has taught me a great deal.

I did cheat in getting the clay. Instead of dredging some from a local river and then having to clean it and purify it I took the easy option and went and bought some from Hobbycraft instead.

Anyway.

The first dilemma was in adding temper to the clay. I was unsure of how much to add. I did some research but all advice said more or less the same thing – it depends on the clay and what you want the pot for. Some clay needs more temper than other clay. And pots that will be used for cooking will need more temper due to frequent temperature changes. The recommendation was to use temper that had hard edges so it ‘clung’ to the clay better. Some sands are made of smooth particles and may not be best to use. I used some modellers ballast.

So, how much temper to add? Between 20-30% seems like the best advice, but be warned you may need a little more or a little less, depending (see above). So I went with that kind of ratio. Once all mixed up I rolled the clay into a sausage about half-inch thick and coiled it up into a simple pinch pot.

Pot1

I used wet fingers and a wet ruler to smooth it out and shape it reasonably well. I didn’t spend too much time making it pretty since this first pot was going to be an experiment and could well crack and fall apart when it came to firing.

With the pot made I put it in the airing cupboard where the boiler is so it could dry overnight.

Next day I got a fire going, let it burn well to build up a good bed of coals, and then added the pot. You can see it here, beneath the coals.

Pot2

It was at this point that I realised I had no idea how long to fire it for! I seemed to recall from school, and from TV programmes like Time Team, that pots stay in the kiln for ‘hours’. So that’s what I went for. I kept the fire up for an hour, and then let it cool down in its own time; which meant it spent another hour and half in the hot embers. At the end of that time here’s what it looked like:

Pot3

All was looking good!

Pot4

Once it had cooled enough to pick up I could see that some of the clay around the edge had crumbled.

Pot5

I think this may have something to do with the amount of temper – too much can leave the pot brittle and crumbly. It was otherwise integral and firing had hardened the clay. 

I decided to break the pot up to inspect the fabric and make up of the pot and clay. When making it I had wondered  if the clay ‘sausages’ would knit together and become one, or if it would dry out and break along the sausage rolls. But no. The clay had fused and homogenised with no sign of how the pot had been made. The pot wasn’t as hard to break as I thought. I could easily snap it with my hands.

Here’s a close up of the clay so you can see the make up of the material. You can see the temper grains quite clearly.

Pot6

Although the pot didn’t come out 100% complete I had still learnt a lot from the experiment and think I know where and why things went wrong. So, in that respect, it was a success.

Nimblewill Nomad Camping Stove

I’ve been asked by one or two people about the Nimblewill Nomad stove. It’s a homemade alternative to the Honey Stove (not sure which came out first – I discovered the Nimblewill stove about three years ago, before I had heard of the Honey Stove).

So I thought I’d make a video about it so you can see it in action and decide for yourself if it’s something you’d like to have a go at making (and why wouldn’t you!?).

Review: The Little Book of Whittling

OK, so this will be a review of ‘The Little Book of Whittling’ by Chris Lubkemann (Fox Chapel Publishing ISBN 9781565232747).

This 97 page book is just a tad larger than A5 in size and has colour illustrations throughout. It will fit just nicely in a pack if you’re out for the day.

The book is subtitled ‘Passing time on the trail, on the porch, and under the stars’ and that sums up the appeal of this great book – it is redolent of times past, of a solitary afternoon in the woods, of simple and uncomplicated fun.

Inside you will find several projects – from carving animal heads to that great staple of bushcrafters everywhere: carving a spoon! But it is much more than that. The book starts with how to care for your knife and how to properly sharpen it. It then goes on to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different woods. Even more, interspersed througout the text are boxed entries on such things as ‘Methods of Starting a Fire Without A Match’, ‘Common Types of Tracks’, ‘Trail Snacks’, and many more.

There are eighteen projects in total. Each is clearly introduced, with step-by-step colour photographs, as well as a ‘Materials’ section. It is hard to see how Lubkemann could have made it any clearer. Each is written in a simple and straightforward manner – not so much ‘instructions’ as an informal chat. That’s the great appeal of this book; you feel like you’re being talked through it all by a kindly friend than just simple cold instructions. The writer’s idiosyncracies and character run throughout the whole book and just taking it out of your bag and flicking through it is enough to soothe the soul.

However, if this book was just a book of whittling projects that would be enough. But it is more. Because what it is also doing is teaching you knife control. By doing these projects you will learn a number of useful knife cuts and how to handle your knife with precision and control.

I’ve had a go at some of them myself. I went out for a ride on my bike – ham salad sarnies and bottle of water in my bag, with The Little Book of Whittling and a small penknife:

(There’s a story behind this knife. I’ve had it about 20 years or so now. My dad was a prison officer and one day he saw an inmate acting furtively. He thought he saw a knife. He challenged the inmate about it, who denied he had a knife. ‘Right,’ said my dad, ‘you have a choice – either you can stop being a prat and give the knife to me and that will be an end to it; or else I will call help and your cell will be checked, we’ll find the knife and, if you’re lucky, you’ll lose your next parole hearing and any privileges you have; or, if you’re unlucky, you’ll have this incident entered on your records, be put in solitary, and have your sentence lengthened. What do you want to do?’

The inmate handed over the knife. And my dad gave it to me.)

I spent the afternoon sat on some logs beneath one of my favourite sit-trees and did two of the projects – a song bird and  a leaping fish. You can judge if they were any good.

After I was done I thought I’d leave them where they were for someone else to discover and wonder at what they were doing there.

The Little Book of Whittling can be ordered from any high street book shop, or online at Amazon. To my mind it should be every part of the bushcrafter’s library as much as Ray’s ‘Essential Bushcraft’.

How To Make A Leather Pouch

Winter is a time for making, repairing and adapting kit. So here’s a vid I did on how to make a wet formed leather pouch.

 

Spoon Carving

Here’s a spoon carving film for you –

Out And About, And A Woodland Chair!

I went out for a walk on the North Downs today, and made a chair so I didn’t get a wet bum.

Here it is:

 

How To Make A Meths Stove

Here’s a video I did on how to make a meths stove from an aluminium bottle.

Stoves

I’ve got all modern: I’ve made a Youtube video!

This is my first, and I made the mistake of leaving the mic on the camera on. So sorry about all the wind buffetting. I’ll turn it off next time.

Well, not much for me to say, I’ll let the (lack of) quality of the film speak for itself:

 

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