söndag 25 december 2016

Wooden pack frame project

This is something I've been wanting to make for a long time now. A wooden pack frame from the natural bends in the wood.

What triggered me to make it was when I saw a left over crooked log some friends had used when making kayaks. I immediately saw that it was just the right shape for the uprights of a pack frame. And since they had no more plans for it I could take it.

I found some plans with detailed plans of the frame in the book "Building outdoor gear" by Gil Gilpatrick. The frame in the book is just the kind I was looking for, the big difference for me though was that I made it from naturally crooked wood whereas he explains how to either bend the wood or glue thin strips to the right form.
Using his plans I used axe and spokeshave to shape the uprights. A goal with this project was to not use any power tools and only natural materials.

I then went into the forest to get a tree for the crosspieces. It was harder than you'd think to find. But  in the end I found a very crooked tree from which I could get all 4 crosspieces. I shaped up these too roughly. Then came the hard part... I had to wait for several weeks for the pieces to dry before I could continue. I put linseed oils on the end grain to prevent cracks during the drying.

A few weeks later I could do the final shaping as well as the mortises and tenons. I wanted my frame to be narrower in the top to give more space for the arms, this made making the tenons in the exact right place really hard. Since the uprights are not straight, but slightly angled inwards the length of each crosspieces varied by a few cm (up to an inch for my American friends).

I then made holes and tied the crosspieces in place using hemp cord which I put linseed oil on afterwards. Gilpatrick suggested nylon string, which you iron flap afterwards. While I'm sure it works well, maybe even better than my hemp cord. I'm just too stubborn and feel I loose some of the genuine feeling if I use synthetic cord.

Next I needed some shoulder straps and some back brace between the 2nd and third crosspiece. Since it's my first pack frame I don't really know yet what works and what doesn't. So I decided to make nothing permanent. Everything on the frame can be taken off easily.
The shoulder straps, made from leather are just attached by a cow hitch in the second crossbar from top. Then sewn onto hemp rope which I have tied with a tautline hitch at the lower crossbar for adjustable length.

Shoulder straps tied using a cow hitch.

Bottom of shoulder straps, tautline hitch.

For the brace I used hemp cord again and tied it using clove hitches to the uprights and cross bars. I'm unsure if this will hold up in the long run. If it does I might drill holes in the cross bars and uprights and re-do it so it looks nicer.

Then the final piece of the weight bearing system was the waist strap. I sewed it from left over pieces of tipi canvas and filled it with something we in Swedish call lindrev. It's made from flax fibers and used between the logs in log houses as insulation. I then linseed oiled the shoulder strap too. I don't want it to get all wet if it rains for an extended period of time.
I cut and old belt for the straps and carved 2 plates for easily adjustable length from a birch burl I've been having lying around. This made the fibers follow beautifully making them very strong. The two pieces are joined together using a piece of a tin armband which I cut and bent to the right form, then tied in place.
To keep the whole waist belt in place I sewed a single piece of canvas that goes around the uprights and is tied together like a pair of shoes.

Waist strap joined together.

The canvas piece holding the waist strap in place. This makes the height adjustable.

The final thing I needed was a quick and easy way to attach the stuff I want to carry. This took a lot of thinking and trying different ways. I've never seen anyone use this system I came up with but I think it works very well. I made 5 small loops on each upright by tying hemp cord around a double loop of thicker hemp cord. Then tied these loops to the frame. (The easy way here would be to just buy small metal rings). Then I put a cord through these loops. On one side I put small hooks, made from the same burl as the waist band, between each loop. These too are strong because the fibers follow nicely. I can then just put things in between the loops and hook it together. These hooks could be replaced by carbines just as well. And the rope which is now hemp, could be replaced with something elastic to make the system even easier and quicker.

The loop that keeps the gear in place.

The hook

lördag 15 oktober 2016

Tipi project: Part four

I'm down on the level of details now. So today I've been working on the holes for the sticks that keep the tipi together, the rings for the smoke flaps and the loops for the tent pegs.

I started by marking the holes. I put them 17 cm apart, and to keep them in line I used a square edge. It was raining today so I had to do everything inside which was a bit tight.

The holes are just 3.5 cm long vertical cuts. I will hand-sew these later.

After the holes were cut I started on the rings for the smoke poles. I got inspired by this drawing, and wanted to try something similar. So first I marked out the inside of the ring and made a cut.

I then sewed around the ring two rounds. It looks quite messy. On the picture this is how they suggest it. But I' very skeptical to how long the thread would last. I can see the ring falling of in just one summer. So I reinforced it with leather to protect the seam.
To make it last even longer I took the opportunity to put raw linseed oil on everything, since it will be under the leather when I paint the tipi. I also greased the leather on both sides.
I'm actually very pleased with how it turned out. I did the leather-sewing using my (not so) speedy stitcher.

The last thing for today was the tent pole loops. Many tipi plans suggest eyelets, but my experience is that they gets loose from the fabric or the fabric breaks very fast. It's much better to spread out the wear as much as possible. So using some kind of bands works very well. I didn't have any ready-made bands so I followed my friend Lovisa's tipi sewing description (Swedish but good pictures).

I cut 12cm wide pieces of fabric which I folded to the middle from both sides. Then folded it in the middle and sewed together. From this I cut thirty 29 cm long pieces.
I also made reinforcings from 15x15 cm pieces of canvas as described in pictures in her blog. After sewing 12 of them I ran out of thread. And tomorrow is Sunday so I might have to wait till Monday to finish it. Maybe I will take a well-deserved day of rest and go canoeing.

An attempt to show how I folded it.

Reinforcings to the left and the loop bands to the right.

Loop in place.

fredag 14 oktober 2016

Tipi project: Part three

Last days I worked a lot on the tipi, despite this horrible cold that won't leave me alone. Guess I should rest, but when I have a project going on I just have to finish it!

So yesterday I sewed the 4 big pieces together. I have this amazing sewing machine, a Husqvarna from 1940-something. It has been working amazingly well. it can only do straight seams but I don't really need any other for the tipi. Unfortunately the machine isn't mine. It's my ex-girlfriends. But if I got the chance to buy one I would do it right away! It even beats my Bernina 830.

So I sewed the big pieces together with lapped seam not sure if this is the correct English word). Either way it's done like this:
It's important to check that the seam end up the right way, so the rainwater flows off the seam and don't get stuck there.
When I cut the fabric I made sure to mark the center on each piece. So when I needled them together I got them centered. The first part of the lap seam is quite easy. You can just let the fabric go on the outside. The second part however you need all the fabric at one side of the seam to go though the machine. To make this easier I made sue it was the smaller side I took through, and I rolled up the fabric on both sides of the seam.

My house is quite small, definitely not big enough for a whole tipi. So when needleing the pieces together and rolling it I took it outside. I got lucky and didn't have any rain. I got some ants and leaves on the floor but I can live with that.

All pieces sewn together.

Rolled up and ready for the last seam.

Since a tipi needs to be round I needed a big flat surface to draw on. My lawn isn't very flat. So I had to find another place to do the drawing. Unfortunately I forgot the camera. But I did it on an empty parking lot. I used an old tire and a stick to make the center point. Then attached a rope to draw the (half)circle. I cut it at home using my, if I may say so myself, awesome home made rotary cutter.

I then proceeded to sew the longest seam on the tipi. I folded the edge of the circle around a hemp rope and sewed straight through it. I thought this would never work, way too thick... But the machine did it as easily as if I was sewing in cotton candy. Or well, almost. I did break two or three needles. But except that there was no trouble. Not that it's important that you sew this seam on the inside of the tipi. Otherwise it starts collecting rainwater and rots.

Late night sewing.
The next day I proceeded with the middle of the straight side. Which is the highest point of the tipi. This is where you attached the last tipi pole to raise the cover. It's a critical part of the tipi, also because it is the area that needs to fit around the meeting point of the poles. So it needs to be strong and the right size (which you most easily get from other tipi descriptions.
After some measuring I made the lines from a form I cut out, to get it the same on both sides. I cut inside the lines though because I need some fabric to wrap around the rope later.

Before adding the rope in the picture above I added the smoke flaps. On them I have a rope extending from the lower edge up to the top and over to the other flap. I also added a 2 meter rope for attaching the cover to the pole on the end of the middle flap.

Finally today I cut the doors. Deciding the width was quite hard, theoretically it's 65cm now. I will see how it turned out when the tipi is up :) I also hemmed the edges of the door using a separate piece formed after the side of the door, to make it more stable.

That's all for today! I'm starting to get done with all the big pieces. Soon all that's left is the boring hole sewing and making the loops for attaching it to the ground. And after that of course I need to make the door and the lining.

onsdag 12 oktober 2016

Tipi project: Part two

A little update on my tipi project.

The poles

I now have 12 of the 14 poles for the tipi. I make them out of spruce, mainly trees which are already dead. I have removed the bark from five of them, and god it's heavy work. Each pole takes 30-60 minutes. The biggest problem was that they move around and turn when I try to use the drawknife on them. But after a while I decided to strap them and it got much easier and faster. Now I average a little over 30 minutes per pole. I put as as a goal to do two per day... But now a cold is delaying me a bit. Either way there is no hurry with the poles. I won't put the tipi up until spring I think since I plan to paint it and need to do that in spring weather.

The materials

The fabric arrived yesterday. It doesn't seem too thick to sew with my machine. However it's a bit lower quality than I had hoped. The threads are thick and a bit loose. And there is no impregnation. As much as I hate synthetic impregnation I think it's important on a tipi in the climate up here. So I might have to impregnate it myself. If someone has tips of what to use, please let me know!

Here is the complete list of materials and prices (updated) 
800m extra strong polyester sewing thread 26€
80m cooking cotton thread for hand sewing 6€
10 sewing machine jeans needles 18€
Set of hand sewing needles 3€
2 steel rings (for smoke flaps) 4€
60 meter of braided hemp rope 10€ on second hand (only 40m is actually needed)
1l tar for the painting 17€
Pigment (red iron oxide) for painting 2€
I will also use raw linseed oil for the painting which I had from before.
The fabric was 151€ plus 39€ extra vat because I live on Åland and we have to pay double vat here...

This totals to 276€


I mixed the paint already to get the proportions right. What seems to work is this:
1 dl tar
2 dl linseed oil
3 tablespoons of red iron oxide pigment

The final sketch

Now the sketch is final. I might start cutting the fabric today if this cold allows for it. Click it to see it bigger. The star is the center of the circle. It's outside of the tipi to make it tilt back a bit. A tipi is not a perfect cone, and the bottom is not circular but oval. The cone is tilted back a bit to give a straighter back wall which gives more room to stand and less risk of dripping from the poles over the sleeping area.

Update: As usual nothing is ever final. So I have updated the sketch again, October 19 2016
Click here to download the plan as an Adobe illustrator document in scale 1:100.

söndag 2 oktober 2016

Some more projects, food dryer and bucksaw

Since the mushroom season has started here and my house isn't dry or warm enough to dry them, I decided to make one. It took me only about one hour and all I needed was a file cabinet, a cab heater and some net.
I removed the bottom from the drawers and replaced them with net.
To make an opening for the cab heater I removed the bottom drawer and only kept the "door" which I sawed a hole in and screwed in place.
At the top was a cutting board which I kept to regulate air flow.
Simple as that!

Now for the bucksaw. A few months ago I made one for my dads birthday. And it turned out so well so I made one for myself too.
The design is completely my own and if someone want the plans I can send them as PDF.

fredag 30 september 2016

Introducing the paddle workbench

I've been looking around for ideas on workbenches especially made for paddles, but have not been able to find any. After a lot of thinking I came up with this idea. I'm sure there are a lot of ways to improve it, but so far it has worked wonderfully. I made this in spring, and wrote this post in spring. But I forgot to publish it.
If someone decides to make one I'm very curious to hear how it works and if you have thought of any improvements!

The criteria were:
- Easy to attach/detach the paddle.
- Possibility to work with any (realistic) length paddle and blade.
- No obstructions for the spokeshave/plane, even when using it in near vertical position.
- Easy to move the whole workbench.
- Both a blank and a shaved blade should get support underneath.


The basic idea is a permanent support for the shaft and grip and a blade support which can be moved to adjust the paddle's overall length and also moved up a bit to support a blade which is thinner than the shaft. For holding things in place I use wooden holdfasts. Mine are made from branches of ash (or any hard wood) but there are also iron-versions you can either buy or forge yourself. Normal clamps works too, but they take too much effort and time to adjust imo.

The base is a thick wide plank, with part of it narrowed down (see picture at end of post). On the narrowed down part a slightly blade-shaped plank with 2 support pieces can be attached to support the blade.
The base plank is supported by legs in the ends in a 20 degree angle at comfortable working height. To be able to work on the profile of the paddle, 20 mm (0.8 inches) holes for the holdfasts are drilled through the plank. To work on the flat side of the paddle one 3.5 x 3.5 cm (1.4 x 1.4 inch) piece is screwed on to the side, close to the bottom of the wide part of the plank, and another one on one of the support pieces for the blade support. These have vertical holes for holdfasts.
On the grip end of the workbench is a small piece of  wood which can be switched up to prevent the paddle from sliding back. Similarly on the blade support there are 2 stops at the paddle's tip which prevents it from sliding that way.
For the case where the blade support is very far from the shaft support I have drilled holes from the top in the narrowed down part and made extension pieces for the shaft that can be inserted using plugs.


It can be used for working on the paddle in both profile and flat view. Starting with a blank you remove the blade support and attach the blank to the side of the workbench using holdfasts. Here you can fine-tune the edges, then turn it and do the other side.
Now attach the blade support, put the paddle on top and adjust the distance of the blade support so it stops the paddle form sliding. Use holdfasts here too to keep the support in place.
Work down the blade however you prefer, I do most of the work using axe then flatten it with a plane and finally fine tuning using spokeshave. Do the grip while you're at it.
Now when you've done the thickness on one side you can flip the paddle, loosen the blade support and use 2 small wedges to get it to the right height before fastening it again.
Finally, to work on the shaft you can use holdfasts on the blade and grip then work it down using spokeshave, you will have access to two on the corners of the shaft unlike on an ordinary workbench where you only have access to one.

torsdag 29 september 2016

Tipi project: Part one

Now it's been a loong time since I last wrote something here. It's not because I haven't done anything, but rather because I have been doing a lot!
The biggest thing being planning for a 7 week canoeing trip in northern Finland (Ivalojki) the next summer. But more on that later.

As some of you know I lived 2 years in tipi in Sweden while studying bushcraft. After that unfortunately I moved and have been living inside for two years. But recently I spent one week in a tipi while building a canoe for the upcoming canoeing trip.And that really reminded me of how fantastic it is to fall asleep to the sound of the fire, and to wake up to the sound of the birds flying inside the tipi.

So when I got home I started researching how to build one. The one I used to live in was built after this instruction (Swedish):

So while designing my tipi I use that as reference. There is, however some things I see could be improved on that design:
The smoke flaps, for example. They are REALLY big. Both too high and too wide. So I wanted to make them smaller. The big size makes them flap in the wind and heavy to move.
The pinholes that keeps the tipi together are too big (3 cm in diameter). And they are on a separate piece of fabric, which is usually the first seam to break on a tipi. So I wanted mine on the main fabric, with no seams, possibly even some reinforcement. I also believe the holes are too close so I moved them further apart lengthwise.
The "doorstep" is very low, which makes the door quite low. As my friend Lovisa pointed out it's a good idea to make it higher to move the door up a bit.
I also adjusted the top of the tipi, where you tie the raising pole, after THIS instruction. That way I don't need the wedges to lengthen the smoke flaps.

So I needed some canvas for all this. In the Swedish instruction the width is 160 cm. There is no mention of the thickness. So I started researching the thickness needed. And damn it's confusing with the English/American oz per square yard and the rest of the worlds grams per square meter. I came to the conclusion that it should be at least 12 oz after reading THIS.
There is a Dutch site called Esvocampingshop which has some different canvas to good prices.
But even with these prices a tipi would cost over 400€. That's more than I can afford. So I kept looking.... and looking..... and looking.
And finally I found a good deal on EBAY. A 40 meter roll, which is exactly as much as I needed, of 12 oz cotton canvas. Only 147 cm wide though. But after some planning I came to the conclusion that it would still work. I ran 12 oz per square yard in a converter to g per square meters. And it says 406 g per square meter. Now if that is correct it's quite thick. I am not sure if my sewing machine will be able to sew it... But that's a later problem!

The fabric is scheduled to arrive around October 10. Until then I hope to find a big enough room to sew it in. I'm also gonna start looking for poles for the tipi.

Finally, here is my current tipi plan. It's not final. So if you have any input I would be happy to hear!

Update: The final plan is in part 2