Friday, 19 August 2011

Cherry Wood Spoon

This is a piece of wood I have had for some time now, having made and carved a smaller spoon from the wood.  This went to a friend of mine who is a wood turner and has a display in the Lane Gallery, Cathedral Lane, Truro.

As with all projects like this you have to choose which part of the wood you are going to use, in this case I wanted a specific bend to the bowl of the spoon, so made the cut like this below.
You then have to split the wood (above), watch some of my videos on youtube about fire making and battening wood if you are not sure how.  This really is the point of no return and where you find if the wood is going to split where you want it to.  Sometimes it does not, so ends up in the fire or used for another project.  The splitting process is needed as its gong to take a hell of a long time to whittle the existing timber down if not.

The next step is to get the basic shape of the spoon.  I am led into how the wood feels, so may bend off to one side, or be twisted.  All this adds the character to the finished spoon, so unless you want it perfect, go with it!

After a few more minuets the basic shape is made.  Note the rather large knife I was using to do this, I suggest use what you are comfortable with if doing this.  I was in rather a bad mood when making this one so wanted it to be fully therapeutic for me!

Slowly you come to the finished version, (above).  Picture is terrible, not my usual clear quality as I was using a little point and shoot for this.  Also I changed the knife I was using.  Although I have carved with the A1 knife in the above picture, the finer carving does take some doing, so I went for the little Frosts wood carving knife.

Even with the previous bad picture, you can see after adding the tongue oil, as the spoon will not be used for eating purposes as the wood has gone soft for one.  The oil certainly brings out the best in the wood.  I won't be selling this one as I like my spoons to be made in the frame of mind I made them in.  I am a great believer in things that are hand made pick up the vibration from that person, so I only pass on spoons that have a good feel to them.  Like everyone though I have my off days and carving spoons is a good way of letting off some steam! 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Heavy Rucksack Alternatives!

I am not sure how many of you really enjoy carrying a rucksack?  In certain cases it can't be avoided due to severe hill or mountain gradients and cragginess.  Over the years I have found it tiresome at best, and if you do experience any back problems its not the best thing to do anyway.  So I got into thinking about other load carriage systems.  Something easy to setup, that will carry the weight I want to put on it and not let me  down.

There are a couple of excellent systems available but tend to be expensive at over £500+.  So what about making your own?  This system isn't perfect, but as you can see it will carry weight, not going to say how much but its better on there than your back!
Most of the time my walking consists of short trips between filming or sound recording, so taking a rucksack on and off every few hundred yards isn't fun, so what to do?
After much thought about cycle wheels, which I deemed as being good but more difficult to attach the spindle to any framework and possibly making a weak point.  I had a brainwave about a wheelchair.  The framework and wheels are designed to carry a fair amount of weight without to much messing about with strengthening the frame etc.  I managed to find one after asking at hospitals and any other places I could think of.  Its not as lightweight as some modern designs but for a tester I guessed it would do just fine.

First of all I gave myself time to look over the frame and see where the first cuts would be made and what I would remove.  As you can see from this image, the frame has been adapted and turned through 45 degrees to work.  The front jockey wheel is no longer needed and so removed, but the brakes have been left in place.

The seating was removed to lessen the weight. The main support for the seat which was originally crossed to form the folding action of the chair has now been shortened and bolted together.  I guess it could be made to come apart easily enough so that it would fold flat'ish.  Also any other bar extensions etc have been taken off to lower the weight.

The two bars that now form the base support are 1" aluminium cut and moulded to fit nicely, then fixed with a bolt through the entire frame of the wheelchair.  Then I chose to use webbing to help stop any items falling through as I hadn't come across any suitable netting material, my first choice.

After a few successful trips out and over rough ground I found it needed a bit of a tweek.  Don't get me wrong about this idea it is still hard work, and maybe a little slower than carrying a rucksack, but far, far less tiring and wearing on your back and muscles.

One problem that was noted was the handle kept twisting.  This made keeping it upright difficult so I thought some more on it and came up with this.   

It adds a little more weight to the overall thing
but, titanium or carbon fibre would be nice but out of the question at this stage.

The handle now comes in two parts, with an inner bar that slides into both the fixed and removal handle.  The inner bar and handle are drilled together to take the holding bolts.  This then locks into place with two bolts. The bolt through the front bar and handle adds extra support and stops the whole thing twisting.  On the middle fixed section a U bolt that ties that all together has also been added. 

The next step is to add a cross section to the front of the handle.  Surprisingly when travelling up hills it is easier to push than to pull.  Having a nice flat area to push against will really make a difference here as sometimes it will catch me in the hipbone or stomach area, and also helps when descending steeper hills.

So now the basic setup is complete and usable, I may even get around to painting it DPM!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Rain rain go away!

Whilst I don't really mind the wet stuff, when you have got things that need to be done outdoors it can pose some problems.  Especially when you use sensitive equipment that doesn't like getting soaked.  I do try to get the best water-resistant equipment when I make any purchase, as with my DSLR, a Nikon D300.  At the time it was the only one in that price range that offered even the slightest bit of protection from the elephants.  Yes I wrote that in to try to lighten an otherwise drab account of a rainy day!

So what can I do instead.  Research, yes there is always plenty of that to do when you have another documentary to write.  Some of the information is already in place, but getting the motivation isn't always as easy as it sounds.

In my previous working life, especially working outside which I spent a good many doing, I was often put off by our Weather system.  To anyone who doesn't live in the UK, you may have heard all the English talk about is how bad the weather is.  Just of late though, that place has been taken over by how many of us hate politicians and a total lack of leadership for the people.  Saying nothing about the Marie Antoinette system they have forced onto us, 'there is no bread let them eat cake'.  Did she say it, or didn't she, maybe it was invented for just these times!

Anyway enough of that, just playing my part of a whinging pom!

Rain, rain go away.  The plants need it I guess, but then do I need frequent showers?  Em, the answer to that could be yes, where does our water come from out of the taps.  All our water comes down in rain, gets processed then sent out to us through the maze of underground pipework to your home.

Anyway enough wittering.  As always days like this give that much needed time to catch up on paperwork and the things we all like doing so much.  Here I am again, about to set out on another moan!  No I don't hate paperwork that much, but then given the choice where would I rather be.  Sitting here typing this or in a nice warm sunny woodland with the wildlife chattering all around me.  No competition.

So you may ask why am I writing this when I am supposed to be cooking, em doing my books.  You may well ask and the simple answer to that would be my literacy seems to work like a pressure valve.  Things or pressure build up behind it, then and only then am I able to write with gusto and interest for anyone finding this drivel.  If I don't have that pressure and write something, even if its something I am interested in, it always comes out wrong.  It looks wrong to me, and to everyone else, know what I mean?

So in the hope these tappings will encourage further and brighter thoughts into my head, I tap on getting no further with all the important stuff I am supposed to do.  So on that note, I will take all the future advice I will get from my fans, both here and Youtube and get on with it.

Cheers, I hope the sun is shining where you are.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Stress relief in easy steps. Tree Identification

Trees, from the first moment that thought came into my head, to make a DVD not just about bushcraft but about trees!  Our unsung hero's, some lasting a single lifetime while others watching over several generations as they grow and die.  But what makes them special?  What makes them overlooked, if that were possible.  These pre-paper, fire and construction timber beings, always there watching over us like invisible guardians.

Ask yourself when have you ever hugged a tree.  To most the act is simply laughable and brings about thoughts of dancing around in the nude, barking at a full moon.  If I could tell you different would you believe me?  How many of us will stop and look at the majestic beauty of what trees give us all year round.  That's right, they have their own beauty when they have shed all their leaves and only the twigs and branches are visible  swaying to the rhythm of the winter storms.  They are true followers of the real Earth magic.  Adjusting themselves throughout time to give an abundance of possibilities  for all woodland creatures.

So I ask again, why do they remain invisible to all but a few?  The simple facts are our lifestyles and a lack of knowledge about them.  The lack of knowledge grows in the winter months when it is more difficult to identify what tree is what.  But that is the time when we need them the most, to remind us of times gone and to keep our feet firmly planted, lest we be blown over or slip on slippery ground!

Our lifestyles encompass our lives in such a way that it blocks out all of natures goodness.  Just recently while listening to the local radio, Lawrence Reid was speaking to Michaela Strachan about her new campaign called 'Lets go Wild' which encourages children to get outside and experience great outdoors. She stated that, 'if you have had a stressful day, go out for a walk and you will feel so much better, just breathe the air'.  Many people are forgetting the benefits the outdoors can offer us.  The disconnection that occurs when children spend so much time at their computer, and the reconnection and joy they experience when they see wild animals and plants is very rewarding.

To help rekindle the want to get outdoors, watch nature programmes on TV and DVD.  This after all is a useful resource and can't be overlooked.  Learning as much as you can will help, and even give rise to organise the next outing while you are still there.

Stress is our unseen enemy, it will creep up and devour your life and soul if you let it.  I have always been an outside type of person and always had a fondness of trees and nature, often recognising the fact that can play a huge part in stress reduction.  Where stress is concerned I am no different from anyone else, I need to find time to get outdoors away from the hum of the computer and escape the four walls!

So the idea I had to bring you the Tree Identification DVD, suitable for all viewers and translated to over 10 different languages.  Bringing the outdoors to you, indoors.  In easy to follow videos with loads of information about the trees you may find along your woodland walk.

More information and purchase details can be found below:


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Where have I been?

Well what have I been up to over the past few months besides convalescing?

I have spent a fair bit of time working on the Tree ID video, gathering info, video footage and data relating to trees throughout the seasons. I have been in touch with a few people who are kindly allowing me to use some images I have no chance of getting myself. I say no chance, over time yes but many of the trees close by me are chopped back and the limbs are way out of reach. I do travel about but then it’s a case of finding the trees concerned which takes time and lots of effort.
The video itself is slowly coming along, but having to re-do certain parts due to them not being to my liking is both time consuming and frustrating. Take one scene about 1 minute long, I have re-filmed it about 3-4 times now as it hasn’t met with the way I want it to be. I know many probably would not bother, at the end of the day though it has to be right and even if it sells just a dozen copies, oh well! Que Sera Sera
Money of course is always an issue. Purchasing the equipment I use for the filming and getting good quality sound is really expensive. Other than that the learning curve that goes with it is intense, and sometimes mind boggling. I thought taking good quality stills was bad enough, but there again a lot from photography can be put into practice with filming, such as lighting angles etc.

I released another video on the Spyderco Delica 4 and the Fallkniven U2 knives, two very good knives with only a few differences, but is one better than the other? I try to point a few things out that may be of interest, you can watch it here. Carrying on with the Youtube theme, I have still got a few ideas to try out, the next probably likely to be making a webbing pouch which I have mentioned in the past. Another idea I am working on is on map work, orientation etc, which when I have released part one of the trees I plan on making a map reading tuition DVD as well.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Sycamore, originally uploaded by cdbdi media.

I am working on a project at the mo, but like most things I do is starting to run away with itself. Not that I was thinking it was going to be an easy one. The picture is part of the project which will hopefully be released later on this year.

Watch this space for information when I get things together!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Free your mind

Carpe Diem, one of my favourite latin phrases. We all have to realise we need to make the most of outdoor activities. Just ambling through woodlands on a weekend can release stress and help keep you fit and of course is very enjoyable. There are many people that feel their own stress levels are well below what they actually are. This is the thing about stress, it has a tendency to creep up on us without any warning or ill effects to start with.

The reason for this is we lead a too hectic lifestyle and so miss the important signs that our bodies give out, so leading to further problems that take more drastic action to resolve further down the line.

So I say, do something about it NOW!

Survival isn't just about owning a knife, torch, extra food and bugout bag etc. It is far more wide reaching than just that. It encompasses our whole lives, it is the thing that keeps us alive and well.

If you are too far gone down the stress path you will be in no fit state to take the necessary action if a survival situation does arise. Bah you may say, but the main reason why people fail in these situations is stress. Stress that has built in you over the years (yes years) and the extra stress of the event, whatever it could be that has put you in this position. If you are borderline stressed, a little extra could be what tips the balance, flinging you into oblivion.

On a day to day basis reducing your own stress levels can only be a good thing, right? You will sleep better at night, have more energy and generally be more relaxed about everyday issues that arise.

Breaking the habit

If you have ever has a massage, or alternative therapy, most will tell you that because your body has been locked into that pattern for so long it will take more than one treatment to put it right. I know all about the money makers thoughts out there, but the majority of the time this is perfectly true. Its like what we eat, or drink come to that. If our bodies grow accustomed to consuming large quantities of alcohol, if you ever break the habit you will feel really rough for some time whilst you body re-adjusts to how it should be! This is the reason why so many people fail going cold turkey so to speak. (not forgetting the psychology issues of some addictions as well). So setting your body back into the correct position or pattern can take some doing.

It is completely the same with stress over a period of time. Our bodies get used to the stress in the body, and so will feel strange when you start to release it. This is nothing to worry about, but I hasten to add at these times you should take things a lot easier and drink more water to help clear your system of impurities. Look afer yourself!

So instead of looking at ‘taking that walk’ like a trial, even in the rain, wrap up and go out and explore what you will never see in your house. Learn to enjoy the beauty of natures gift and relax and set your mind free.