Author Archives: Leon Andrews

General Update

Well this year we new there would be some changes, we didn’t know quite how many though. We’ve worked Forgewood for quite a few years now, but this year we will also be working another 2 (Abbotstone and Inwood) sites as well during the summer. Neil has been busy writing the programs for the sites, getting the sites ready with Luke and doing all of the admin associated with it.

Due to a number of factors (time being a major one), Leon has been restructuring the Website, under the products page the cutlery and clothing sections have been removed. Neil wasn’t getting the time to make the clothing and Leon wasn’t getting the time to make the knives. On the knives front it also didn’t help that Fallkniven announced that they would no longer be producing blade blanks.

Leon has also included an Astore on the website, it has subsections that cover many aspects of bushcraft and survival and the equipment that is used. We don’t provide the goods in the Astore, they are provided by

Leon’s also been looking into tomahawks and thinks he may have found an alternative here

This year we also hope to be able to provide Hultafors tools for purchase on site and on the website. We’ll get some reviews up as soon as we can.

Laplander or Opinel??

Over the years I have used a number of different folding saws, some of which were branded, others that were made by mystery companies and others still which were just plain cheap and nasty. The three main saws that I use are made by Opinel or by Bahco.

When bushcraft started to become popular the Bahco Laplander became very much the flavour of the month, with certain TV personalities giving it their backing and even talking about it in their books. The question being did it really deserve this level of recognition.

The Laplander Folding Saw has got a few nice touches about it, the blade is easily changed and is a reasonable cost here in the UK. The Saw itself isn’t going to break the bank when it comes to purchasing it. When it comes to safety the saw locks open or closed which is a reasonable safety consideration.As a friend once pointed out you wouldn’t want to reach into a side pouch just to meet the teeth of your saw.

The laplander (Bahco 396 LAP) is a good cutting tool, the XT blade is designed as a multipurpose blade for cutting green wood, seasoned wood, bone and even plastics. There are seven teeth per inch over a 7.5 inch (190mm) long blade. The handle is approx 9 inches (230mm) long, the combined overall length is 405mm and the saw weighs in at 200 grams so the saw is good and light.
Although the blade is hardpointed it’s quite flexible and will bend, this is not a bad thing as you can always bend it back. The cutting action is both ways, it cuts on both the push and the draw / pull stroke. In action it is a good efficient tool that cuts reasonably quickly, it doesn’t however provide the cleanest of cuts and this is due to nothing more than the tooth pattern of the saw.

The Opinel, well I say the Opinel, but there are two of them, the No’12 and the No’18.

The Opinel No’18 Folding Saw is closer in size to the Laplander saw, it locks, but it only locks open. This can be rectified by tightening the bolt and nut that hold the blade in position. The lock is effective enough even though it’s a very simple system which also makes the system easy to fix if it should be broken.
The handle is made of beech which is both aesthetically pleasing as well as being warm in the hand. The blades are replaceable, but the cost is prohibitive (it cost nearly as much to buy a new saw in the UK should you break a blade). The blade length is approx 180mm (just under 7.5 inches), the handle length is approx 9 inches (I have seen measurements of both 220 and 230mm) and the weight is around 200 grams.
So as far as specs are concerned the two saws are clearly very much the same (I can’t find a stated TPI for this tool). The tooth pattern on the Opinel is totally different to that of the Laplander, infact it resembles the tooth pattern to be found on the Silky Arborist saws, it cuts only on the draw cut, but it cuts very quickly and very cleanly (I have split blocks of Ebony to be used for knife scales with one of these saws).
The channel that the saw cuts is narrower than that of the Laplander, but it cuts as quickly if not slightly quicker than the laplander. The teeth are large, sharp and run side by side in offset pairs.

The Opinel No’12 has a 120mm blade, it has a locking collar that allows the blade to be locked both open and closed in the same way as the Opinel lock knives. The tooth pattern is exactly the same as that used on the No’18. It’s a nice little pocket saw, it won’t cut through the same diameter as the larger No’18, but it’s portable / pocket sized in a way that the other two saws aren’t. The downside to this saw is that there is no facility to change the blade and it’s still quite expensive.

From my point of view as an owner of this saw I like it a lot and it gets carried on a regular basis especially when weight and space are a concern.

As a personal thing and what I carry for use by me, I tend to use an Opinel, if I am mobile then I use the No’12 and if I am working from a static location where I don’t have to carry all my kit on a daily basis then I’ll use the No’18. The Laplander is ideal for use when teaching as it is less likely to get damaged when being used by people who are not used to using handtools, it is also considerably cheaper to buy than the No’18 and the blade replacement is also cheaper.

The Armageddon Cookbook and Doomsday Kitchen


The Armageddon Cookbook and Doomsday Kitchen by Marcus Harrison.

It’s no secret that we at Green-Craft know Marcus. It was however a bit of a surprise when Marcus let me know there was a little something coming in the post.

A good few years ago at the Wilderness Gathering Marcus was chatting to us about a work in progress, it was quite a large undertaking to say the least, he wanted to cover aspects of wild food and cooking in a survival situation / environment, however it was not going to be just plant identification and a few recipes. It was to be a work covering many different aspects of food and cookery.

Well three months ago the book actually popped through the door. It didn’t take very long before I picked up the book for a “quick read”, however the book seemed to have a different idea and a quick read turned into a much longer and more in depth read. Marcus has gone far beyond any work that he has ever undertaken before.
Infact I believe that Marcus has covered more in this book than pretty much any other “in the field” cookery book. This book covers the psychological aspect of survival (which is both a good read and very honest), acquisition of food, plant identification, food prep, cooking methods and recipes.

Normally we find that wild food books cover straight forward weeds that we can eat, but Marcus has added in bits to do with trees and the use of some for food and some for making infusions for teas. We are all familiar with the normal sources of protien, but this book has covered insects, molluscs, fish, crustaceons, birds, mammals and he’s covered the seasonal availablity and environment that some of the food can be acquired. Some food will need to be stored and storage away from animals has also been covered. Preservation of food has also been a consideration.
Marcus has also addressed one other aspect that’s normally forgotten in books like this and that’s Water. He has covered water sources, harvesting, filtering and sterilisation. Improvised utensils have been included, cooking methods, jigs and ovens. You’ll find that Marcus has placed in a number of recipes, some of the names will make you chuckle and they’re meant to.

In Summary, The Armageddon Cookbook and Doomsday Kitchen is well written, it covers a lot of different aspects of wild food that aren’t normally covered. As a personal opinion I think that this book lends itself towards disaster relief, the psychological apsect and the decision making process are very relevant specifically to these situations. For people that have lost most everything, having to improvise the basics, this book contains the knowledge and ideas that you need.

98.6 Degrees

A good few years ago I was teaching at an event arranged by Bushcraft UK. At the event I met Mors Kochanski, a very nice and knowledgeable man who is probably considered by most to be the father of Modern Bushcraft. At the end of the event whilst chatting with Mors he presented me with with a book. 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

On the way home I started to read. Now this isn’t a large book, but it packs a lot of knowledge into the pages within the cover. The basic idea behind the book is that when your body core temperature alters by more than a certain level it has a drastic effect on how your body performs or doesn’t perform as the case may be. This was no new concept to me because of the environments that I had worked in, I had both seen and at times felt the effects myself.

This was the first time however that I am aware that a lay person had put together a book that actually listed / dealt with the potential hazards of core temperatutre change for people working in outdoor environments or having been caught in dangerous/survival situations. The book itself is actually all common sense and could potentially have been a very boring text of a clinical / medical nature. However what Cody Lundin has done is to interject some light humour both in the text and as diagrams (which I found very reminiscent of Elsworth Jaeger’s Wildwood Wisdom). It would appear that Cody has a sense of humour and of irony, actually a major requirement of a good survival instructor. The Book contains loads of well thought out hints and tips, suggested contents for a grab bag that doesn’t include the kitchen sink and as such is much more realistic.

98.6 degrees is a well balanced and thoughtout book. It has a small amount on small basic survival kits which don’t reqire a lowloader to shift them, it contains the odd story to back up the research and data that has been quoted by the author, all in all it’s a damned good read for anyone and not just people interested in the great outdoors

A long time coming

Well it’s been a long time since I posted last. I have been away for the better part of the last three months. I have been working at Forgewood, Bedgebury as well as working with Footsteps Of Discovery and the Military.

I have recently trialled the Spyderco Tenacious, my initial thoughts on this little folding knife are that it’s a very good tool. The steel is very good and it’s handy for all things including food prep. It makes quite good feather sticks although it can be a little hard on the hands when making them.

It can be used for carving, but it’s not ideal with the depth of blade being a little bit of a disadvantage, it’s just that bit too deep. The grind has been slightly convexed due to being sharpened on a mouse matt (this was due to the secondary bevel that has been placed on the knife by Spyderco). The knife holds quite a good edge as well. All in al I am pretty happy with the Tenacious. It has exceeded my expectations so far, long may it continue.

We had quite a good time at Bedgebury when they hosted Dulwych college prep school for a day doing a few skills, it was also good to catch up with Manse for a day or two. Below are a couple of pictures of firstly myself chatting whilst the young ones practice knotting and the other of Manse as he teaches about shelter.

A lot has been Happening!!!

Well things have been rushing along at a rate of knots here. Neil is still running around arranging the coming years activities (A big thanks goes out to John at Forgewood), Neil’s been speaking with Luke and I about the subjects to be covered on our activities.
Luke has been working on packages to do with tracking and sign.
I have been off with Footsteps of Discovery to train the military, since then I’ve also had three visits to the dentist (having root canal treatment and a crown fitted). Thanks to Pavlin and Roxy (my Dentist and the Dental Assisstant) for a nice, relatively painless course of treatment. The date for the operation on the right knee came through and I’ve actually had the operation already, it happened on the tenth of February. Miraculously I was up and about without crutches within 48 hours (the last knee op that I had I was on crutches for six weeks, I had been dreading this one), I would like to make an open statement of thanks to all those that worked on my case at the Mount Stuart Hospital and the DARTS team.
I have also moved my telephone and TV provider from Sky to Virgin Media.
I have three reasons for doing this, firstly was cost. With Sky a lot of extras seemed to kick in after a while and some of these were ridiculous.
Secondly was broadband, in my area the BT telephone lines that Sky work on are deplorable and my internet connection was pants (which is big thing when I am working on websites).
Thirdly (last but not least), MURDOCH. I am afraid that Rupert Murdoch has an insidious hand along with his Newscorp International in Sky. If there was no other reason for moving that one alone justifies moving.
I heard that He is going to bring out the Sun on Sunday, well if someone offered it to me an I was desperate I would take it, everyone needs something to wipe their behind on.

The New Year Is In.

Happy New Year.

Well the new year is in and things are slowly getting under way.

Leon is steadily working on the feedback forum so that clients can ask questions or make suggestions. It won’t be too long before the forum is ready to be integrated fully into the rest of the website.

The forum is closed so you can only view it if you have registered with us, otherwise you get a page that shows the rules and regulations for the site. Currently the admin of the site is being run wholly by Leon, but Neil and Luke will be joining the site as administrators when they get a chance and their login details.

Neil is currently working his rear end off in the south east of the country whilst Leon is waiting to hear about the operation he’s getting on one of his knees (currently he only knows it will be in a two or three months time).

Leon is also going to be redoing the gallery, adding new pictures and creating folders to peruse through, this will be made a lot easier now that he’s finally got JAlbum sorted.

Leon is also looking forward to going away with Footsteps of Discovery towards the end of the month to teach the army again. It’ll be good to see Spanner, KP and the boys again.

We wish one and all a Happy New Year and hope that it brings all the good things you deserve,


Guy Stainthorp Custom Knives

Earlier this year I contacted Guy Stainthorp about making a knife, I originally asked about blade blanks, well you’ll never know if you don’t ask, before being politely informed that he doesn’t make blade blanks.

The commission that I wanted Guy to take on was actually a copy of another knife with a few modifications made to it. This is going to end up sounding like a review of both knives, however this is just my opinion.

To explain I own a Benchmade BM210 “Activator”, the general idea behind the knife is actually not bad, however in my opinion it’s let down by a number of it’s features.

It has G10 scales which are wafer thin, This is not very comfortable for me. My hands are not huge they are about normal size and I can’t quite get a really good grip of the knife.

The full flat grind has a huge secondary bevel that means that unless you want to spend a hell of a long time on a diamond stone grinding away (the original BM210 was made in S30V even though it is now available in D2 as well) you’ll never get this thing truly flat, so you end up with a knife which has a cutting edge which is convexed.

The BM210 itself is quite a pretty little knife so Benchmade have given it a full grain leather sheath, unfortunately it’s a butt ugly pancake of leather. I also do leather work and if I turned out something that looked like that I would be embarrassed to sell it.

So what I wanted was a knife made from a steel that I would like (there’s nothing wrong with S30V, I just prefer other steels to it), so we went with RWL34. The knife had to have the same profile as the activator, however I wanted a Scandinavian Grind placed on the knife as I do a fair amount of wood working. The scales were to be replaced with Black Micarta and were to be a bit thicker than the original ones as I like something that I can grip and last but not least it was to have Kydex sheath that had the facility for me to wear it neck carry or on a belt if required.

Guy Stainthorp Knife

The picture Guy sent to me

I took receipt of the knife just before going off to teach the Army Pre Selection Survival Training with Footsteps Of Discovery so here are my initial impressions of the knife.

The knife when used for small game prep is very good, the slightly larger handle allows me to grip it tightly and maintain control even if it’s covered in slime. When carving for prolonged periods the slightly larger handle means it’s less tiring for my hand in use.

The Scandi Grind bevels allow me to carve very good precise feather sticks, it also allows a great deal of control and fine work when carving trap triggers.

When the knife arrived it was shaving sharp, it hasn’t been sharpened yet because the edge retention is very good, it’s only been used for making feather sticks, carving pot hangers, cutting string, carving trap triggers, a bit of splitting and skinning bunnies for three days. It is still however shaving sharp even though I battened it through a knot in some of the sticks I was splitting.

The Kydex sheath has a very secure lockup, it’s small, elegant, lightweight and easy to clean should I forget and place a blood and gut smeared knife back into it by accident. Before this there was probably only one person I would have gone to for a Kydex sheath and that would have been Chris Claycomb. Guy’s work is up there with Chris’s.

These are my initial observations on the knife, however I must say that I am pretty much delighted with the knife and with Guy’s “Can Do” sort of attitude.

After a few more months I’ll post an update to say how it’s faired over time along with some photos of it in use and what it’s capable of.

A quick update

Well I’ve been relatively busy, from working with private clients through to working with the Freshmen Course IT Department at the University of Wales it’s been pretty good. Recently I got back from working with the Army Pre Selection Course run out of Duchy College. Generally they’re a good bunch, but I think they’ll have a bit of a shock if they get into training. When I got back I had to go see the doc as I have problems with my right knee, I have to arrange some x-rays.

Beyond that it’s coming up on Christmas and I am running around like a looney trying to get everything sorted prior to the 24th.

Looking forward to my brother getting down here and also to the new year, hopefully this year was a pre-cursor of things to come and I’ll be a fair bit more busy than even this year.

Looking like I am going to be a little busy.

Well things have been changing over the last year or so. I currently have a certain amount of leatherwork, some teaching and the dreaded changes to the site are due.

The leatherwork is not really a problem, I keep my clients informed and let them know if the delays will be longer than stated in the terms and conditions (this is due to other work constraints and some family matters). The teaching is great and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

The website on the other hand is always one of those things that makes me cringe. Neil has asked for certain things to be done, new web pages added, old web pages removed and de-registered from the search engines and a change of fonts. It doesn’t initially sound like a lot, but effectively it will involve changes to every single web page on the website.

I am not complaining as I have agreed that some of the changes need to be done, I just dread having to do them.

There are also certain things that need to be done to the gallery (we’ve been talking about categories being introduced along with reviewing and adding pictures).

Beyond that I keep checking Al Marconi’s website, he was saying that he was looking at releasing a new album, so I am keeping my ear to the net and at the moment I am looking after my Mum’s German Spitz “Banshee” who is a little madame at times, but she is also exceptionally cute 😀