Apr

9

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter

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 Amazon.co.uk.

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.

Mar

19

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Lowa Uplander Boots

Lowa Uplander boots

I have owned my uplanders for about five months now and feel that I have used them enough to review them. Before I start I have copied Lowa’s description of the boot;

They are 10″ high and made from premium leather and lined with Gore-Tex for complete protection. Stable Vibram Vialta rubber outsole combined with bi-injection special performance PU midsole developed by Lowa, in partnership with world leader in sole design Vibram. Full-length plastic stabilisers between the midsole and the outsole provide excellent ankle support and torsion control over rocky terrain.

After some extensive searching for new footwear I eventually decided to try the Lowa Uplander. I have owned Lowa boots before and after reading many on-line reviews, they were the only brand with an unblemished record for the type of boot I wanted. With the exception of my ice climbing scarpa’s these are the most expensive boots I have owned to date. My nearest stockist was the Bushcraft Store, and they retail there at £169.95p. I personally found the Bushcraft Store a pleasure to deal with, they ordered in a size 10 ½ for me just in case a 10 didn’t fit and their e-mail responses were prompt and helpful. I felt the hours drive was worth while as I like to try on my footwear, I have learnt to my cost when you send boots back, it is a lot more than the original postage.

I wanted a boot for hunting, bushcraft, and general countryside use. I have a preference for military style boots, I feel more comfortable with the support that comes with the higher boot. When combined with a Gore-Tex lining it is also useful for shallow wading and boggy ground. Most of the boots I looked at were far too rigid and clumsy for my liking. The uplander offers good support combined with a soft flexible feel, which I wanted for sneaking up on people and wildlife. For those who have worn various military boots they are like a desert boot designed for rough ground with a Gore-Tex lining. Through out the winter I have worn the boots in the woods and fields of Kent and Sussex, and on three trips to Exmoor. They have performed well in various ground and weather conditions. From steep rocky ascents and descents, peat bog, muddy paths, open moorland, rough pathways, rain, ice, rocks, sleet, sand, and mud so far nothing seems to phase them. I have slipped on wet rock but I feel that is not the end of the world, as from my climbing days I know this is a hazard even with mountaineering boots.

I waded many rivers and streams in Exmoor to test the Gore-Tex lining, I went up to approx. 8” depth, in fast flowing shallow water. I also stood in one stream for about 10 minutes to give them a good soaking, so far dry feet. I have had cold feet on occasion whilst deer stalking, however I was not producing much heat due to the static / slow movement associated with this type of hunting. Whilst distance walking on Exmoor my feet were like toast, even though the boots were soaked and muddy. To date I am pleased with my choice, which is good if you remember the cost! I intend to use the boots all year round, some might not get on with Gore-Tex in the summer but it doesn’t bother me personally.

Jan

5

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Staying on the right side of the Law!!

When teaching I use a couple of different knives, both fixed blades (a mora & homemade stick tang) carried in a neck sheath. They get used for carving, campcraft & food preparation and cover pretty much all of my needs in a bushcraft environment.

That is fine when in camp, but what about the rest of the time?

There are always times when you need a something to cut with, opening packages, cutting string, foraging fruits, leaves or fungi and sometimes just to whittle something to pass the time. These are to time when you need an “everyday carry” (or EDC for short). A small folding blade that you have with you at all times.

For more years than I care to remember, I have always carried a small belt pouch containing a Leatherman Wave, a Ferro rod & small torch. This would go everywhere with me and would provide me with a range of tools for use in all manner of scenarios.

Then someone questioned whether or not a Leatherman is legal to carry? The blades are locking (and the law does not see that as a “legal-carry”). So I started looking around for a more “traditional” pocket knife that would be legal to have in my pocket virtually everywhere. To meet these requirements my chosen knife would need to have a non-locking blade that is less than three inches in length.

Over the last 18 months I have been trying out several knives that fit these requirements. Each have there own merits and drawbacks but all are excellent EDC’s.

First up – the ROUGH RIDER WHITTLER.

P1000232

A very traditional looking pocket knife that is made in China from 440 Stainless Steel and is a bargain at less than £10! It has three blades (two small whittling type blades & a larger main blade), brass type bolsters with plastic tortoiseshell inlays. The factory bevels & blade profiles do leave a lot to be desired and take quite a lot of work to sort out, but it is worth the effort. What you end up with is a superb little “gentleman’s pocket knife”, that is great for peeling fruit, cutting string and, of course, whittling! The size does limit its usefulness at times and the narrow handle can be a little uncomfortable – but for the money it is brilliant.

Next on the list – the BOKER XS.

P1000868

A very different looking knife to the Rough-Rider. All black with a pocket clip, G10 type handle and a “thumb-stud”, this looks far more “tactical” and nothing like a gentleman’s pocket knife. The blade is a little over 3inches, but the cutting edge is less (and that is what the law is interested in). The blade is fairly broad and has a “hollow-grind” , the thumb stud allows it to be opened with one hand, which is excellent in some circumstances. The blade clicks into place with a good solid feel. It is a very utilitarian knife, not particularly well suited to any one task. It can be used for food prep and even to make reasonable feather sticks. The handle is not very comfortable in prolonged use however.

It also looks very “tactical” which can be a disadvantage at times (especially with the great british public being so “phobic” when it comes to knives).

Finally is the BOAR EDC from the Bushcraft Store.

P1000637

This knife comes with a choice of handle materials, either black Micarta or Curly Birch. The non-locking blade is made  from 12C27 stainless steel and has a “scandi-grind” and is a spear-point design. Essentially this is a folding bushcraft knife that has been well designed. It doesn’t have a nail groove on the blade which is a little disappointing and makes it slightly tricky to open if it is wet, but that is the only real fault I can find with it. The handle is comfortable to use and a good size, being oval shaped it is fairly secure to hold too. The blade geometry works well, not too broad or too narrow its suited to most tasks. The steel type is excellent and it holds a very good, while also resisting staining & corrosion. The scandi-grind makes it easy to sharpen and is very well suited to working with wood. The slip-joint feels good & solid when you open the knife out too.

I have used this little knife a lot, its made pot hangers & feather sticks, skinned game, carved various trinkets, etc, etc, and it never disappoints. Of the three knives this is the one I reach for most often. It also looks fairly non-threatening, so I’m happy to carry it in most situations.

I hope anyone looking to get a new Every Day Carry will find the above in some way useful.

Atb

Neil

Dec

21

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Sign!

Tracking is a vast subject and is not all about following the footprints in the sand.  I am not a tracker, I class myself as track aware.  The following is true and the ground conditions were 60% easy / 40% moderate, there was no ground I considered hard to track over.

In the summer of 1992 whilst working with my battalions reconnaissance platoon, we took part in a three week exercise acting as an enemy force for D Squadron 22 SAS.  The training was in Scotland, and was predominately forestry with some small areas of open heathland.  Our mission was to protect a RAF operational radar site and communications mast.  D Squadrons mission was to observe us for a minimum of ten days, then destroy the radar and mast sites.  Eight men were based at the mast site with the remaining twenty-two at the radar site.

 

We used to send out four-man clearance patrols both day and night at random times.  We worked on a rough time scale of one hour for every five hundred metres we wanted to cover.  When you are looking for sign of your enemy whilst moving tactically, you don’t want to be in a hurry.  Sometimes we would patrol slower, the ground and situation dictates your speed.  In my four-man team I was lead scout, on two separate occasions I found discarded kit that had been misplaced by the enemy.  With out going into great detail, both items were cleared for VOIED’s ( booby traps)  The first item was a used foil boil in the bag, it had been rolled up and taped together.   My deduction was that it came out of the soldier’s kit by accident, as there were areas of flattened grass where four men and their kit had been. Lesson one: always clear your areas, BUT, maybe it was dark and torches are generally not an option.  The second item was a right angle torch, this was found in a drainage ditch on the approach road to the radar site.  The proximity of the find led me to deduct that an enemy soldier had crawled up the ditch in order to close target recce our gate defences, in order to see if a “David Stirling raid” was an option. Lesson two: secure your kit, BUT, **** happens.

 

Whilst on another clearance patrol I came across ground sign of a four man patrol.  We tracked them for approximately two kilometres down grass rides and through conifer plantations.  As I worked my way through a spruce plantation I spotted them laid up thirty metres ahead of me.  We shook out into a well rehearsed formation and “bumped” them, they did not return fire.  We then bugged out pretty sharpish, we rallied, then put in a snap ambush in case of supporting patrols in the area trying to follow up and hit back.  Nothing happened so we patrolled back to the radar site.  On all three of these occasions I / we were debriefed by the D Squadron Sgt Major.  We were congratulated for our “training kill” and he confirmed my deductions for the items of kit I found.  He promised that both soldiers would pay a heavy bar bill for there misdemeanours, along with a quite word in the ear.

 

The reason I wrote this is not to big up myself or my three mates, I wrote it to make a point.  Most people have heard of 22 SAS, so, even when your reputation proceeds you.  Even when you are highly trained and experienced.  Even when you go to great lengths to hide you’re passing. WE ALL LEAVE SIGN.

 

P.S.  They killed us with an air strike.

May

24

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

If Only……

IMG_0883IMG_0904IMG_0870We could get more blankets. Sadly we can’t and therefore we have stopped making our Blanket Smocks, which is a great shame as,a few weeks ago, we recieved this article that a satisfied user sent us.

Article for Jacket Green –Craft

Sometime ago while hanging out with my Bush Craft buddy Jed Yarnold in England I was given a Green-Craft blanket Smock to bring back to my home in Canada.
“Here take this back to Canada and tell me what you think of it,” he said as he generously handed me his jacket.
And so the jacket started its journey to the wilds of western Canada to start a journey of adventure, that I would expect its maker could not have forecasted, for this thick woollen garment.
I am an outdoor pursuits instructor in the Canadian Rockies I teach a lot of different outdoor skills from skiing to snowshoeing and hiking to mountain biking and more!
I specialize in Bushcraft and traditional living skills so I was anxious to try this jacket out within this area of my outdoor expertise.

The smocks first Journey was on snowshoes into the bush where I was conducting a lesson on setting snares to trap various fur bearing animals. The cold day of -25°C did not seem to phase this smocks thermal properties as it kept me remarkably warm. Its spacious kangaroo style pouch pocket and hand-warming pocket were perfect for temporarily placing my snares and tools, while weaving my way around the bush to place traps.

Hunting season rolled in so yet again here was the perfect opportunity to see what this jacket can do for my comfort level. It proved to be the perfect garment for sitting in a Tree stand (high chair in the UK) or nestling in the bush awaiting deer or elk. Although not exemplifying the now traditional disruptive camouflage pattern of different shades of green, and brown, it blended into the bush enough to confuse the various deer who came in extremely to my location.

To me one of the ultimate tests for an allegedly warm jacket is a day out Ice Fishing.
So off we went to “Spray Lakes” in the mountains a beautiful yet at times an in hospital place, this 21km long body of water is exposed to gale force winds that bring in bone chilling temperatures.
After drilling my holes in one meter thick ice I settled into my seat with a cup of tea and marmite sandwich (yes I am English). The wind drove itself into my back buffeting all the equipment I had placed around me, threatening to blow some of it away.
My Green-Craft kept me warm in its woollen cocoon creating a microclimate that maintained my core temperature at a very comfortable level, the day I was out temperatures dropped to -30°C. The hood I found offers the perfect cut that allows the wind to blow past my head and does not create a Ventura like negative effect that sucks it back onto your face. My smock has a generous cut that allows me to layer up underneath, and once again the hand warming pocket were excellent to stuff my gloved hands into the jackets glowing interior.
After 4 hours my friend who was me declared that he could not take the cold anymore and had to head back to the truck and home, he was dressed in modern Gore tex and various modern fibre insulative layers. I was chilly but still quite willing to stay out another hour or so.
This jacket was also used on several dog sled trips where I found that it was the perfect garment when standing on the back of a sled, travelling through cold inhospitable terrain.

If you want a smock to help you through those chilly Bushcraft days sat around a fire in a cold -35°C, snowy dry climate, learning or crafting this is the one.
I am one of the few Wilderness Living Skill Instructors mentored and endorsed by Mors Kochanski.
Every year I attend a meet (the Rat Root Rendezvous) here in northern Alberta where many Canadian, and some US, Bush type dudes meet up and compare skills and challenge each other to a Black Powder rifle shoot off. Many of these experts, including Mors Kochanski, ask to try on my jacket and end up drooling over it offering me many things in trade for it; needless to say I still have it.

In summary I have found this smock to be perfect on cold days when one is involved in Country Style or Bushcraft type pursuits. It is a heavy jacket so not one that I would backpack around with me. Though of course when supported by a larger vehicle it is the perfect companion. I have stuffed it in my canoe, dog sled, truck or pulk which I take on ski trips or to carry gear when ice fishing or trapping. My main problem with this jacket is that my wife has claimed it and refuses to give it back!

Nov

15

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Tawit-Tawooooo

The first of my winter projects (this one ready for next years season) is ready to be revealed.
These little carvings are designed to be an easy item to craft, that gives a quick “result” that almost anyone could do.
The little fox is in Sycamore (but I think Alder would be a better colour), it proved not so easy and not a project for a beginner.
The owls are carved from Sycamore and a peice of seasoned Spruce. These are very easy and an ideal item for anyone with a few, basic, knife skills.
The idea for the branch for little the owl to sit on was not mine – I have someone special to thank for that inspiration.

Nov

8

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Autumn is here…winter will not be far behind

The last few weeks have seen us moving around through various patrs of southern England. As the time has passed so has the seasons and the weather that comes with them.

Lasts years summer was later than this years….if it happened at all. That said our autumn has been a classic so far…the colours, the temperatures…are all amazing
All the usual bounty is there – the nuts, the incredible fungi and the colours of the season. The nights are getting longer too and its a time to look for new campfire projects.
In the last few years my evenings around the fire have been spent carving my little “wood spirits”. They are lots of fun and make nice gifts for some of the really cool people I meet. I have also spent evenings sat around the fire showing friends how to carve them up.

Last week I was in the Cotswolds with Leon and some clients. In the evenings they would retire to their bell tents, sitting around their wood-burners, playing guitars, talking and eating in the warmth & light.
I prefer to sit outside (under the parachute) using the warmth & light of the campfire, but still being part of what I enjoy – the outdoors.
It was while sitting around the fire one evening I came up a couple of other campfire projects, something new & different. I’m really excited by these and have already started “tinkering & tweeking” with the basic idea.
This weekend I’m spending with someone special and we hope to get some time in the woods. I’m also hoping to get a chance to carve up my two new projects…….so watch this space

Oct

17

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Green Cooking on the Trail

Wild Stoves Woodgas Stove

I had been thinking about how we impact on the world around us while practising our outdoor skills. We go into the outdoors to enjoy the natural world and it makes sense for us to minimise our impact on our surroundings while we are there. At the same time we still want to enjoy the certain things – crafting items from the materials we find around us and enjoying the wonders of the open fire and all that goes with it (the smell of the woodsmoke, the flickering flames, the moral boosting warmth and its versatility for cooking).
Our fire however, consumes large amounts of wood and can scar the ground. I’m sure we are all very careful to cover the traces of our fires and to only use the dead wood lying around on the woodland floor.
If we use a site on a regular basis then our woodlands resources can quickly dwindle without careful management, at Forgewood we use a fire-pan made from an old gas cylinder (fuelled by off-cuts from spoons and locally produced, sustainable charcoal) to keep our “brew-fire” going.
But what about when we are on the trail? We often visit the wilder areas of the UK, where these resources are at a premium and don’t want to leave any trace of our passing in these places of great beauty. Most people resort more conventional gas, multi-fuel or meths type stoves when travelling in wilderness areas. But even this has an impact in the form extra erosion because of the added weight that we are carrying.
I had often looked at some of the portable woodstoves on the market and thought what a great idea, the likes of the Bush-Buddy stoves and the one with a small electric fan in the base really appealed as I only had to carry my stove – the fuel could be gathered on the trail. The problem I found with these were they are expensive and not that easy to obtain.
A client of mine on a trip to Scotland, brought a Honey Stove along, which I was very impressed with. For our week in north-west Highlands virtually all his cooking was done on the stove and he fuelled with pine cones he picked up as he went along. This was the answer!
Then earlier this year I saw a new UK based company – Wildstoves (www.wildstoves.co.uk) based in Devon. This little company sells a range of woodburning stoves and related items.
One item that caught my eye was the Wild Woodgass Stove Mk2. This stove is aimed at the backpacking/bushcraft market, costs less than £50 and weighs in at 280gms. I purchased one and have used it throughout the summer, so its had a fairly good test ( I know it works well in the wet!). It is easy to use, very efficient (with the right fuel) and leaves nothing more than a small pile of very fine white ash no bigger than the palm of your hand.
Certainly for the £50 I think it was money well spent, and while not quite as fast as its more high-tec counterparts – it has a nice simplicity, and its nice to smell the woodsmoke and watch the flames flicker.

 

Oct

10

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter

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.

Feb

28

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter

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.

Jan

6

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter

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,

Green-Craft.

Dec

13

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter, Reviews

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.

Dec

10

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter

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.

Aug

2

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Dirty, Sexy,Things!!! & Being Busy!!!

Have’nt had a chance to get on here for a while as things have been so busy (it’s brilliant!).
First things first – it looks like the edition of Dirty Sexy Things (the one we were involved with the shooting of) is being screened on Monday night on E4 @ 10.00pm. Who knows what the finished article will be like, but it was lots of fun – and everyone was really nice.
We are running sessions at Forgewood campsite again this year and it has been reallly well recieved. August sees us at Bedgebury Camping too!
Both sites are featured in the “Cool Camping” guides and are really “chilled” (a great place for a great few days away, where you can have real fires and relax among the trees).
Well Leon & I both have our teaching boxes to check & re-pack ready for the weekend, so I must sign off.
Atb
Neil

This is where it all happens!

May

30

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Hippos, hedgerows & Facebook!

A while since I posted last I know!
The season started early for us (if it did actually stop at all!) and it has been reallly busy with lots of time in the woods.
The weather has been amazing and it has definately an effect on everyone.
As well as our regular clients the last few weeks has seen us working with fashion models (getting back to nature) in the woods for a tv production company, to some large groups of family campers at Forgewood campsite and this weekend just passed, the “Row Zambezi” team (survival skills, plus a dawn “hippo-attack”).
We have also set up a Facebook page, where people can post photos of time spent with us (its looking good- go have a look).

Dec

28

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Tracks,trails & disappearing snow

Well we got out together for a walk (Leon is in Devon & I’m normally in Kent), the festive season has taken me to Devon to spend time with my family (the usual – eat too much – drink too much, the same as everyone else over Christmas).
When we meet up we normally head for the moors – either the open tops and wild expanses of the north or south moors or a wander into one of the many wooded valleys.
The moors today was a place of crumbling atmospheres, the mist was clinging heavily to the ground and so we came off the tops and headed for the woods, a place that time seems to have forgotten.
The moss hangs from the trees and clings to the rocks like an expensive carpet.
The melt from the snow had caused the river to rise to almost deafening levels.
The focus of our day was one of the most elusive residents of the valley – the otter.
On certain parts of the river the local otters live and if you choose your time and look in the right places, then you can see plenty of evidence that the population is healthy and still as secretive as ever.

Dec

19

By Neil

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Categories: General Website Chatter

No Snow…..

Just had another few days out teaching bushcraft.
Excitedly I had checked the forecasts for the week (snow in northern Britian and cold).
I packed accordingly – plently of layers, my new homemade underblanket for the hammock (and my snow shovel just in case!!).
Well it was cold …. and very wet. Just keeping the students warmer than the bunnies they were preparing was a battle. My down-time between groups was spent sawing and splitting fire wood.
My usual carving by the fireside in the evening was modified to short bursts, stopping to re-warm my hands by the fire.
The only snow I saw was just starting to fall as I arrived home!
But hey the holidays are on the way so maybe a night in a quinze will still happen.
Here are a couple of photos of some more carving (but this one is for me!!)

Nov

21

By Neil

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Me Time…….

This year ……. where has it gone?

It has been a busy year, I seem to have been on jobs everywhere! Scotland, Cornwall, Wales and just about everywhere in between.

But now things start to wind down a little and I get to spend some time in the woods (we spend most of our time in the woods, I know, but normally we have clients along and our focus is on them). So at this time of year is when you get a chance to try new things, experiment with new recipes or learn new skills.

I got up  early, packed my daysack, called in to see a client for a job for next year and then headed for a little patch of local woodland that is always quiet. Under my arm I carried a freshly cut log of Alder that I had picked up on a job ealier in the week.

So what shall I make?…….Another spoon? (I have hundreds!!!)……A Kuksa?………Then I remembered……..the festive season is approaching (one of the joys of not having a regular tv – I’m not bombarded with Xmas adverts from the end of September onwards!).

So here are a couple of pictures of what I made…..

Sep

26

By Leon Andrews

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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 😀

Banshee

Sep

22

By hallsenna

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Top quality product and service

Leon

Just received the bag you made for my wife, and the quality is outstanding and an excellent example of the work you produce. Once again many thanks for delivering exactly what was wanted!

regards

Neil

Sep

21

By Leon Andrews

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A Quick Rant

A while ago I got a netbook through Amazon, it’s been a very impressive piece of kit, to the point that when my Brother’s laptop died I actually recommended a netbook to him.
Due to one reason or another Neil didn’t have a lot of disposable income, so I had a good dig around to see what I could find for him.
What I found was a company called Laptops Direct, now if they had proved to be any good I would have placed a link into the blog for them, but since they turned out to be pretty awful then I would rather have skewers placed through my thumbs than drive any business their way.
Some of you may know that I am a qualified computer engineer, so Neil’s opinion is swayed by mine when it comes to matters computing.

Neil had a look through a number of items that they had to offer from an internet cafe, then phoned me to find out my opinion. My opinion was that what they had to offer and what he had to spend the best bet would be an Asus EeePc 1005HA. Neil wrote it down and phoned them up. Asked that they deliver to one of his places of work (we Sub-contract), which is what they did.
They did send Neil e-mail’s to say that they would be delivering, not that it did him any good as he couldn’t pick them up, he had a dead laptop hence he had phoned the order through.
The day arrived and they delivered, Neil opened the package when he got home and proceeded to plug in the unit and get everything sorted.

I should point out that Neil’s main reason for buying a netbook is so that he can use his email, beyond that a little surfing and printing out invoices are the main things that computers are used for with Neil, although he has some music on his system as well as photo’s. Neil has recently started getting into photo editing.

Anyhow, Neil has never really been a great one for labels, so when Laptops Direct sent him an Acer apsire Neil didn’t even notice (They all look the same to Neil). I personally would have gone ballistic and told them where to place it, but that’s just me….

So here we have Neil with the new Netbook, what’s the first thing Neil is gonna do, that’s right check his e-mail. So Neil logs into his e-mail and starts reading through things, great he’s back online, then Neil tries to send an e-mail, this is where things got interesting.

The first thing that Neil discovers is that the “@” button doesn’t work, then he discovers that the “:” button isn’t working either, then he discovers that one of the other keys doesn’t work.

So Neil starts running through the customer support side of life in reporting a fault with his newly purchased item. So they want a description of what’s wrong with the machine, Neil tells them it doesn’t work.

Now any sane and reasoning company would then say “okay we’ll have a look at it”, but not Laptops Direct, they said “Sorry your description is not technical enough”. This goes on for a while Neil reporting through their online facility and them messing him around.

After a while I was up staying with Neil and he described to me the situation and showed me the e-mails.

“Could I fix the Netbook”, the answer is gonna sound rotten, you’ve got a brother who’s a computer engineer and you’ve a broken computer, I told him “No”.

Laptops Direct wanted a technical answer so I told Neil what should be sent (what do they expect, all of their customers to be computer engineers), I also got him to tell them that there were two main reason for me not fixing the netbook.

A). The netbook was not working properly on delivery, this is not Neil’s responsibility, nor is it mine. Neil did not pay for a “Broken Netbook”.
B). They sent the “WRONG FRIGGING NETBOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE”.

To me either one of the above is a reason that the Netbook be replaced immediately, but according to Laptops Direct what should then happen is that the netbook should be collected and assessed over a period of days before they make a decision.

They messed up by sending out the wrong netbook, they messed up by sending out not just the wrong netbook, but one that then doesn’t even work properly. So all in all I would give Laptops Direct a customer service level of 0 out of 10.

Then they mess the customer about as if it’s their fault, now Laptops Direct are really pushing their luck, I would deduct points here so let’s make that a -10 out of 10 for customer service.

So to conclude Neil did get a working netbook from Laptops Direct in the end, it was still the wrong model, but it worked. Neil did send a query about “Well since it’s not actually what I ordered, but I don’t have time to mess around, what extra are you gonna provide me with”, however I don’t think he ever got anything other than an automated response. Laptops Direct are the biggest pile that I have so far come across, their customer service was poor and the sheer fact that they make mistakes and then expect others to make do is purely ridiculous.

Personally I would rather have my nuts placed in a hydraulic press than buy from them and I would warn any about buying anything from them in the future.

Aug

6

By Leon Andrews

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Categories: General Website Chatter

Bushmoot

As per every year that I could so far, I attended the bushmoot (organised by BushcraftUK) again this year, as the name would suggest it’s an event revolving around bushcraft skills and skill sharing. This year was as it is every year well attended, but not overcrowded, relaxed and social. It has the feel of being quite organised without having the pressure of having to be at specific places at specific times and the people are friendly and laid back.

The general consensus was that this year was the best that we have had so far.

It is as much as anything else for me as a social event and I get to bump into people that I have never met and have a laugh on common ground whilst re-kindling old friendships and swapping stories with old mates.

Unfortunately I didn’t do the whole event this year, but I will be back again next year and if things keep going the way they are then for many years to come.

Jul

6

By Leon Andrews

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Footsteps of Discovery

Neil and I recently had the chance to work with Footsteps of discovery and I have to say that it was a pleasure. Mark and Spanner run a very good outfit, the location that they work from is superb (not just the location itself, but how they’ve set the place up). It is a truly professional setup and the guys themselves are very professional in the way they conduct themselves and their business.
The other instructors that we met (Jim, Ross, Jamie, Ben and Richie) were also very good and everyone at Footsteps sing from the same song sheet.
Apart from that it was also very nice working with the guys as they are all very nice genuine people and I look forward to working with them in the future.

Mar

5

By Leon Andrews

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A Change of Direction??

Neil and I have been chatting recently, we discussed what green-craft is and how it started, what the original direction was and we were actually quite surprised with the direction that it’s taken, which is nowhere near what we originally intended.

We never really set out to make kit for people, that has been a bi-product of people asking where we got things, if we could make them one, my being made redundant a few years back and that path is the one which we have seemed to have oozed like pine sap from a tree.

It’s surprising how it’s actually changed the aspect of the site from being a skills based to a craft / production based site.

What of the old direction?

Well, we still practice those skills.

Are there going to be changes??

I would say that it’s more than likely, the website will change, possibly with certain elements of kit being discontinued. Courses and course content may change and be added to. Possibly time to start with the green-path (something Neil wrote many years ago).

I dare say that the website may well get a total re-write as Neil hasn’t had me re-do the whole site for at least a year, but that’s yet to be seen.

The gallery could change in as much as there is a lot more content that could be added along with subsections to it, but all this as yet is to be discussed and arranged at our next face to face.

Apart from that I am starting work on another Jack / Leather tankard using the Jack method of construction, which with the materials in use has caused a number of rather colourfull outbursts.

Well I am going to sit back and wait to see how things develop, in the end that’s pretty much all any of us can do, have a good one,

Leon.

Feb

10

By Leon Andrews

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Hard Leather Goods and BlackJacks

Today as I was in town posting goods off for delivery I thought to call into the local saddlers. I had been wondering if they ever had need of hard leather goods (most everything in a lot of places are soft leather goods that a sewing machine can handle easily enough). I make pouches and the like which are classed as hard leather, they are stitched by hand and I was just wondering to be honest if they ever had a requirement for them.

It makes good business sense to speak with them (apart from the fact that they are nice helpful people) they told me pretty much what I expected to hear and that was that people are not willing to pay the price for hard leather goods because they don’t realise the amount of work that goes into them. They did mention that every now and again someone would come in and ask so they took my business card. That was rather cool of them.

Anyhow, whilst showing them what sort of thing that I made I pulled out a BlackJack that I have tried to make in a traditional manner from traditional materials (it had been taken down to the local haberdashery as I had purchased some needles to make it with and said that I would show them what it was for).

I was surprised to find someone that actually new what it was, now I have never seen a true jack in the flesh so I was quite impressed that someone new what it was. It turned out that the lady’s that own / run Leonard Coombe in Newton Abbot are the daughters of the last commercial maker of traditional Jacks in the country. I was asked if I would be interested in seeing pictures of their fathers work, this was exceptionally kind of them and I naturally said yes. They actually topped this a little while later when they retrieved an example of their fathers work (a traditional leather pitcher made in the blackjack style) that had been made for the Queens Coronation. This was a traditionally made item that was 57 years old and it was in very good condition, their father was a true artisan.

I have been researching BlackJacks for a good period of time now and this was just the ticket to let me know that I am on the right track, many thanks to the Ladies of Leonard Coombe for your kindness (they probably won’t read this, but if they do it would be more than churlish not to have given them a mention).

Well I am off to do some more leatherwork catch you later,

Leon.