Sunday, September 30, 2012

Just add marshmallow

The night time temperatures have been averaging in the mid 40's and in this next coming up into the 30's.

any excuse for more fire.

the boys win.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bloody mary chili

A guaranteed win. 
whatever your favorite chili recipe is add a spicy bloody mary mix.

nothing wrong with whatever kind of chili you prefer: from the sweataholics to the mild meaty types. just start with your favorite recipe.

some recommendations:
if using canned tomatoes consider draining it before adding to chili, this will reduce the liquid. 
also if using chili powder/mix consider reducing it by half. this depends on how much pep the mix has.
start out with about 2 cups of bloody mary mix per quart. and then allow to simmer until you get to your preferred viscosity. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Utility saw

10.5" long, 14 tpi and a very thin kerf.

very durable and leaves a clean smooth cut.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Bratwurst, spaten & coffee.

temperature was below 70 degrees and we enjoyed the outdoors most of the day.

the boys slept good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Humboldt trousers

One of my favorite trousers. 
i have many different Y-backs, but for $50 this one cant be beat for light denim work pants. 
they hold up well and are very color strong.

standing next to the workbench

from the gentlemen's emporium. they have victorian and cowboy shooter clothes.
very good customer service.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Burning simple fire starters

When using the cotton ball and paraffin wax for making a fire starter there is only one variable to really remember is that the longer one soaks the cotton ball the more paraffin that gets soaked into the cotton ball.
the more paraffin does two things: makes it a bit harder to start and two will make it burn a bit longer. a positive and a negative.

yesterdays fire starters were for home use. so we always use a lighter for this so the more paraffin was good for a longer burn.

paraffined cotton ball ready for burn.

unfold the parchment a bit. if the paraffin is dense it will not be as easy to separate which exposes the cotton fibers (which makes it easier to light). i will just use my knife and deep score an X and then use my fingers to separate a bit.

burning after 10 seconds

the flame would actually go taller than the brick.

the wind variable.
this regular cotton ball fire starter made flame for 10 minutes.

fire starter inside a paint can rocket stove.
a fire starter inside the rocket stove. the flame with out adding any wood will reach the top of the paint can rocket stove.

we keep a rocket stove in the gazebo so we can just sit outside in the morn, throw a percolator on the rocket stove and rreellaaxx.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making simple fire starters

Today was time for another batch of fire starters.

simple to do and only takes under 15 minutes start to finish.

the paraffin blocks are melting in the coffee can.
i use a double boiler, which consists of a 2 quart pot and a coffee can. i cut the paraffin blocks into smaller squares and it will melt very fast. i then drop in the cotton balls quickly and lift out with tongs. 
paraffin cotton balls just out of the can and set on a sheet of parchment paper.
 parchment paper is nice because  it can be used to light and start the paraffin ball on fire a bit easier.
paraffin balls will usually stick to the parchment paper so just cut it into squares.

after cutting into squares a quick crumple into a ball.
for storage i just throw the whole lot into a small coffee can. and that is it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


the number of eagles in nebraska are on the increase.

1980-1995 there was an average of 744 bald eagles.
1996-2011 there was an average of 990 bald eagles.

in 2010 there were 54 recorded active bald eagle nests.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Have a seat

In the middle of some entertainment, fire and reflection:

no one stands next to
no ble and kindly says,
"you look a little tired, maybe you should take a seat and rest for awhile".

although we are the best of friends, i decided not to take his advice.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Plain" designs

In the world of being a jack (of all trades) my individual endeavors can get neglected for up "long" periods of time.

filing through some of my remaining notebooks i came across designs that i created as a plainsman's interpretations of european and asian ceramic export wares from the 19th and early 20th century.

now i add the geo-political denominator "plainsman" to refer of the historical fact that we in the center of north america were always very much an import society. and amongst those imports i found a particular interest in those designs found on good china, etched scrolling on guns and watches and the leather work on saddles. specifically the ones with more linear designs, whether ones that flowed around the saddles seat or were isolated in the middle of the plate.

now this was just how it has started. in my notes the different pages would address multiple sources of inspiration. that is just how i take my notes.
i don't claim to be the best communicator. that has always been difficult.

plates on the wall. i remember the good china plates on the wall of the grandparents house. they had a presence of a functional painting

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Today's tool sharpening

Had the unpleasant surprise last week to find some of my japanese chisels (a laminated steel) with rust on them. it had to of happen over this summer. damn ironic that during a drought i have tools rusting.

today i was able to spend the afternoon getting the spots of forming rust off, sharpen and put a layer of protective "johnsons" paste on them. the only step left to do is give the handles a coat of tung oil and then soak the ends of them in the tung oil overnight.

after the picture of the below tool box i realized how many different types of sharpening implements i had: files, burnishers, grits, rust erasers, diamond stones, ceramic stones, natural stones, honing strope, arkansas stones, wet/dry paper, and the list goes on. not as a realization of inventory but that of how many different styles of sharpening i do for the different types of tools. some of these styles i use out of preference but most are out of the inherent need for specific treatments for specific metals or tool types.

there is no doubt that i enjoy maintenance of hand tools. a time to relax, have a beer, condition/repair a tool and reflect on projects done and to be.

one of the two sharpening tool boxes.

some knives also effected by rust spotting. not pleased.

all fo the tools are 100% now. in the past year i have been improving my sharpening skills, too. resharpening them to a better state of potential.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baseball bat

We appreciate objects that help us create and those items that help us remember. and oh what the boys find in our house.

this particular bat lived at my grandparent's farm house (vic & anne's).

i remember how competitive and feisty my grandmother was. 
a WWII war bride she never took on american citizenship. she would play baseball though and damned if she didn't play for keeps.
we grandchildren would be out in the yard and she could bat and pitch with the best of us. 
around 1980 she lost one of her legs. that didn't stop her. fit with a prosthesis she could would still cruise the front yard diamond at a good clip. we never took it easy on her either (a bunch of shit head boys looking to show up the old lady), throw a fast ball and she would still whack it.

since the bat was rediscovered in an outbuilding the entire house, barn, buildings and even the trees are all gone now. turned back to open fields. very strange to go drive by and see this open plain.

this weathered bat is still one of my strongest means to some pretty awesome memories, despite the constant threat of time erasing its free recall and the space that has already wiped it clean.

one of my next projects: the bat will soon be to house it on a hanging single gun wall rack. the kind that stands the gun up. i can joke with the boys that they can use it for any intruders. give the bad guys a trip to the hospital with a load of slivers.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Aussie comb over

I always joke how i will comb over my ever growing mass of eye brow hairs to cover up any bald spots that may appear over my aging head.

tonight, well with foster's (our aussie) shedding his summer coat he put me to shame.
in all actuality we put him to shame. combed that poor dog out, piled it on his pin head and gave him a mid-life crisis wig.


MacWig pose #2

regular hair day

i think i did and i am sure my boys did = dribble in our pants on this fashion show.

Japanese hatchet

My main purpose for this tool is to de-branch limbs and de-twigging branches. the very sharp single bevel blade will make quick work of the task.

just line the flat of the blade close & parallel to the branch and swipe.

depending on the safety of the swing it is sometimes necessary to use the flat of the front of the blade as the guide along the branch. the cut will still be swift and clean.

using the whole buffalo. 
when cutting just a limb or a branch here or there i relax by saving as much wood as possible. 
future kindling.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Greenwood spoon hatchet

We almost soley use carpenter's hatchets as our camping hatchets.

but when camping and needing a hatchet not all are suited for spoon making. here is a comparison of two hatchets that have completely different potentials.

the plumb below has a lighter head and good for detailing spoon. i have seen some people use bigger hatchets with excellent success but i personally find the lighter one more maneuverable. the steel on the plumb is also superior to the vaughan and the edge i get is much better.

excellent plumb hatchet for spoon making and roughing out a carving

good vaughan hatchet for splitting and harvesting wood

even though we don't use this vaughan any carving it is still a brute for spitting and harvesting wood. we can throw this one around without much care. the blended steel will hold a good edge and keeps that edge well.

Green spoon knives

Some of the knives i use for the green spoon making. 

the top three are acquisitions while in japan. the top two are single bevel laminated steel and can make the thinest of shavings. they have those wood sheaths but over the years they are no longer a tight fit (and that is with consistent oiling).

the third one down i bought at tokyu hands department store in nagoya. 
one of those purchases where i didn't know what the hell i was going to use this for but i was sure i needed it. 
now i use it for shaping the spoon's bowl.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Greenwood spoon tools

Mixing up the tools is a good way to continue to develop ones skills.
making greenwood spoons is a good way to work on some hatchet and knife techniques and then interact with the test product.

the japanese hatchet is a great kindling splitting tool. its main purpose for me though is debranching fallen limbs. in spoon making the blade itself can be used as a draw knife, a slick or a hatchet. the skill challenge is how long the blade is. one can only choke up so high on it so each swing takes a more skilled thrust. the steel is premium so the blade it razor sharp. the skill of thrust is in the aim not the force.

the sculpture house adze i have had for over 20 years and has been a very dependable tool. very compact and maneuverable. good steel and holds the edge well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bathroom flowers

The sunflowers are the only flowers not brutalized by the summer heat.

last year for valentines day made wifey a place to display flowers in the bathroom (above the toilet).
in the winter time we keep up the displays to ward off the winter's drear and monochromatic monotony.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Goodbye chessie

For 7 years this chessie engine has toured the top of our living room.

for the past 6 months it has only been able to go in reverse.

with a puff of smoke and the air of ozone it has finally crapped out.
the boys would run around in circles chasing it as it made its rounds.

Length of shower

A one beer shower with no interruptions. 

another week of 90's is not reinforcing the seasonal weather to seasonal beer relationship.
starting wednesday we will get back on target.

brekenridge brewery after rakin' autumn ale

this beer definitely fits my seasonal pallet preference of an autumn beer using german hops and malts.

this beer is rich with fall harvest reminding malts and clean taste. 
i would say this "flavor" is much more of a medium bodied ale.

straight from the brekenridge brewery site:

Beer Style:Old Ale
Flavor:Full body caramel
Yeast:Top Fermenting
Malts:Two Row Pale, Munich, Roasted Barley, Chocolate
Hops:Perle, Hallertau
Color:Deep Mahogony
Bitterness Units:21
Alcohol By Volume:6.7%
Availability*:September - October