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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Hultafors HY20 axe Disappointment.

We all know Hultafors produce some decent knives, they're rough, ready and cheap, though often poorly finished with uneven grinds and in need of a touch up. However I've heared good things about their axes so I decided to take the plunge and went for the HY20, probably similar in size to the GB Scandinavian forest axe. It arrived in good time from the superb service of Heinnies and I took it out of the box for a quick look over.

First thing I noticed was the poor finish on the head, it had been badly ground to shape leaving seriously large grind marks and a very uneven edge profile

Looking closer at the edge showed a massive burr that had been left on with no signs of it having been taken to a finished edge, even the burr was uneven proving the grind was anything but neat.

The face of the axe has been covered in a silver lacquer and I always thought this was the natural steel colour but obviously not, I tend to believe that a paint job on a hand made item is there to hide something and not to embellish it.

next disappointment was the profile of the edge, the heel of the head has been seriously ground away leaving a very distorted looking profile, not that it is unusable but just disappointing for what is supposed to be a handmade item, it doesn't look like the craftsman has put much care and consideration into the product.

Here you can see just how much of the heel has been ground away and also the grind marks left during manufacture.

Now all these niggles do not render the axe unusable just maybe a little disappointing. I've often heard that Hults Bruks is good competition for Gransfors Bruks but after seeing this tool in the flesh I'd have to disagree.

For the price it's a decent enough tool and will do what it's supposed to but if you want quality in fit and finish you'll need to spend more than twice the price of this axe for a Gransfors, is it worth it? Well only you can decide that.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Himalayan Balsam Snack

I don't like invasive species of plants particularly ones that tend to take over, I have little time for them unless they are particularly useful, like bamboo, but generally they are anathema to me.
One that I really dislike is Himalayan Balsam, it grows everwhere even through the cracks in the pavement, but we can get our own back in a small way.. eat the seeds.

The seed pods of these plants pop, scattering the seeds over a fair distance so you have to be careful harvesting the seeds, not to shake the bush and thus help it propagate. Gently cup your hands round the pods and gently squeeze, when the pods are ripe they will pop in your hand

you can see here the tear drop shaped pods and the curls after they have popped to disperse their seeds

It doesn't take long to gather a handful and they are very tasty indeed and make a great wild food snack and they taste a little like pumpkin seeds. It's a good way to get your own back on this plant and get some wild food at the same time.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Fire with Spruce Resin Candles.

In coniferous forests it can be hard to find tinder but it shouldn't be hard to light a fire.

Find a tree with lots of readily available resin
get a few dry sticks and rub them in the resin to form a coating at one end, a spruce candle.
if you can add more resin do that, and align the sticks so that the resin is all in the center

scrape your ferro rod gently and gather a pile of the scrapings in the middle of the resin, once you've got a decent pile strike the rod onto the pile to ignite the scrapings
it may take one or two goes but once you get experienced at it you can do it first time most of the time.

once the resin is burning well you can move the sticks around like little candles or pile them in an area where you intend to have your fire and just add the kindling.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Smile for the Camera!

We did an event at the weekend at the end of which we had to pose for a professional photographer to get our pictures taken for publicity for a particular nationwide organisation, I don't particularly relish getting my picture taken, as I'm sure you can tell...
doesn't look staged at all does it? Lol.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Rush Brush

There are times when a small brush comes in handy for sweeping flour off the griddle or for basting a haunch or even sweeping some ground and this is a simple little item to make.

Cut a handful of soft (field) rush and have a little nettle cordage to hand to bind them

Bind them tight around the thick end of the rush, it doesn't have to be neat, just functional

Trim the top into a dome so it doesn't stick into your hands and cut the brush end to the desired length

and once it's complete you have a very versatile and efficient little brush for many different tasks.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Chanterelle's on a stick.

It's a great time to find one of the nicest types of fungi out there, relatively easy to identify and tasty to boot. Chanterelles.
they are easy to i.d. with their egg yolk yellow colour and a very mild, slightly sweet smell
but the false gills, looking more like folds or wrinkles than traditional mushroom gills, are a give away as to the fact you've found a chanterelle, (though just exactly what sub species of chanterelle is a different matter!)
I'm not one for fancy recipes, preferring to actually taste the mushroom itself rather than a whole mishmash, so make a skewer, slice the 'shroom, impale it and roast it over the fire, it starts to release it's juices quickly and once slightly crisp just eat..
one mushroom that tends to have a few more calories than most fungi, but to be honest as a survival food, you're not going to get a huge amount of calories from fungi.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Obama on Bear Grylls

Look who's appearing on the Running Wild show with Bare Gyrls, I could go into a diatribe about this but I'll leave others to do that. I don't often like to report or comment on the politics surrounding bushcraft and survival I'll leave that to others, but this is getting beyond the pale..
there are plenty of google links out there, but here's one from the BBC here