torstai 27. joulukuuta 2012

Woodsworking tools: billhook (vesuri in finnish)

Billhook is traditional clearing tool in Finland and typical model have around 20cm blade which ends into hook that works also like small scythe (pull cut). Mostly I use that hook for moving cut branches away and it also protects blade when you cut near ground (hook hits ground when blade is untouched).
There´s one and two handled model and it´s very handy for clearing saplings and even small trees aswell as general purpose bladed tool for all kind of heavy woodcutting. Novadays Fiskars made some 95% of billhooks in Finland and it´s modern glassfibrereinforced plastic handled with teflon coated blade. It´s great and strong tool, but not so traditional. There´s still makers of traditional billhooks and here are few:
Härmän Taonta
Metallituote Saarela Oy

You can also find often very good old handforged billhooks from fleamarkets, (like ebay). Here´s one I just got for 15€:
Seller said that it´s from 1930-1940 and maker unknown. Overall length is 55cm and cutting edge around 23cm, blade 5mm thick. It´s little heavier side and can be used one or two handed (barely). Blade is very good condition and ready to work. Handle is roughly carved (replacement I think) and have bit leuku like poll. It´s attached into blade with two flathead screws. I think I´m going to make new bit longer handle at some point. Tip: Billhooks could be very good low cost alternative for heavy leuku when you just cut hook off to get like sheepfoot style tip. (it´s known to be used like that among reindeer herders of Lappland, where axe have mostly no use cause there´s no big trees).

perjantai 7. joulukuuta 2012

Snowcave (lumikammi in finnish)

Snowcave (in finnish lumikammi) is very handy shelter which can save your life in winter. I started to make one in our backyard.
First you collect pile of snow let´s say 2x3m and some 1,5m high. Then wait for few hours so snow becomes harder (you can beat pile with your shovel a bit to make process faster) after that if you want you can push around 30cm stick around pile to avoid thinning it´s walls too much when digging the cave. If you want to make things simple and there´s two guys digging you can do it from opposite directions and close one end of the tunnel at the end. Then you make breathing hole into ceiling with skipole or like and you can leave it there so you can open breathing channel if snowing. You can also make your "bed" higher than cave floor to let cold air go down there. Doorway you simply close with your rucksack for example.

My pile was too short cause there was lack of snow, but right now it´s snowing so I can lenghten it and then sleep on it overnight later. So, to be continued...

maanantai 19. marraskuuta 2012

Bushcraft Finland - new forum

As someone of you who visit our forum might noticed that it´s old version is not updated anymore. It was free server based and have run ok for few years, but have recently been soo slow and offline from time to time so I decided to move forum for finnish server, which isn´t free anymore though :( With great help of our BCFIN-members we have copied most of the content from old forum very fast (cause free server don´t allow backup databases). We want to keep that forum active and encourage members to share information there actively.

Long live new BCFIN-forum !!

ps. there´s international section aswell of all you non finnish speakers.

Here´s two version of same pic. 1st straight from camera and 2nd quite heavily edited. Which one you prefer?

BcFin official badge and almost official BcFin-knife The BushProwler by Ilkka Seikku

lauantai 6. lokakuuta 2012

Bushcraft Finland meetup, Vihti, July 2012

This summer´s Bushcraft Finland meet was held on Vihti, southern Finland on a very beautiful spot near two small lakes. It was 2 days  happening starting on saturday and ending sunday. I only reachead place on saturday evening cause I was on summer holiday with my family and came back home quite late and needed to drive to Helsinki to pickup TimoA who was new face on our forum and wanted to attend that meet which was open to everybody. We decided to take bicycles into my car and leave car on start of one logging road where´s few kilometers to meeting point. So we did and reached place around 21:00 on evening and it was very easy to follow camp fire smoke and loud laughter to find other guys cooking lunch around campfire. :)

We didn´t had any "official program" there it was just mainly chatting around campfire and getting to know each other cause there was many newbies there. Sure we tried there many things and people learned new skills & tricks.

Akiri made this bucksaw out of fresh birch and after some trial & erros got it working quite nicely. So next one will be even better.  

Time to cook some pasta so first I boiled some lakewater that it´s safe for foodmaking.
Guys showed off their small EDC survival kits so here´s mine on right side. That small knife I have planned to add into my kit, but need to change for bigger container first. On left there´s Rautasarvi´s very small "bare essentials" kit.
My kit opened. Quite typical set of binding materials, fishkit, means for fire, cutting tools, repair items etc.
Soon there was already dark and guys gathered around campfire to tell stories before sleep.
I slept on my Vihe-shelter which is quite unique mix of lean to and tent.

Next morning I tried make to fire from the birch that have cut last night. And it worked well when there was enough thin chips and I have dried some of them by rounding ball from them in my hands. Thanks from this picture goes to TimoA.

After that was time to make breakfast, oatmeal with fresh strawberries. 

Very simple food but everything tastes good in nature.

Sunday afternoon was time to pack and take one group photo. It was very good time with good friends as always in BCFIN-meetings. And before leaving our tradition "Goodiebag" which idea is that everybody bring something small items into the bag and at the end lottery will tell who wins it´s contents

Rautasarvi was lucky bastard this time :D

...and here the GoodieBag content.

Thank you guys who made this weekend very memorable by being there!
Waiting next meet which I can attend...

Busy times

As you might noticed I haven´t been very active with my blog recently. It´s just cause I have been so busy with my daily life and have had some stuggles so I didn´t had time nor energy to concentrate writing. I still have many stories to tell from last summer and this autumn so you will see some blasts from the past when I´m trying to catch up. So stay tuned!

torstai 14. kesäkuuta 2012

Willow whistle

I made some traditional handcraft and toy for kids the willow whistle (and maybe it could even save your life one day in wilderness who knows).
Those are best made when skin is easy to get out without breaking and that late spring / summer time. The trick is to twist skin out one piece to complete whistle inside and then push it back. Tapping with knife handle before twisting will also help to get skin off.

tiistai 12. kesäkuuta 2012

Wild edibles, stinging nettles

While I have been very busy on different works around my house I haven´t had much time to do any "bushcraft activities" lately so I thought to eat some wild edibles while bbq:ing on my backyard. So I collect some stinging nettles around my house far end from road and cut them small into my cast iron wok to fry with little bit of oil (frying or fast boiling eliminate those acid spikes).

After frying they shrinked a lot and were good to eat. Stinging nettles were too grown up already and had too strong and woody shaft. Leaves were great.

Later I collected more leaves to make tea out of it and I also found some rasberry leaves to add some sweetness.

I kept (bit crushed) leaves on hot water around 30 minutes and get great fresh and strong drink, highly recommended!

Stinging nettles are very traditional plant for food and it´s very nutricious and healthy even more than spinach and it could be used same way.

Stinging nettles also have very strong fibers for cordage making (haven´t tried that one yet)

lauantai 26. toukokuuta 2012

lauantai 28. huhtikuuta 2012

New blades

A little teaser of new blades forged for me by Rynkky

Puukko with Antler / birchbark handle and brass bolsters

Puukko with Antler / birchbark handle and brass bolsters

Small survival kit blade all together 10cm long

More stories and review about those will follow soon...

torstai 19. huhtikuuta 2012

International Outdoor fair at Riihimäki, Finland 7.-10.06.2012

It´s here again Riihimäki Outdoors fair, biggest outdoor happening in Finland!
Tänä vuonna taas Riihimäen Erämessut 2012!

In 2010 there was over 600 exhibitors. Hunting, Fishing, Hiking, Outdoor activities all in same place same time, see you there!

2010 messuilla oli yli 600 näytteilleasettajaa. Kaikki metsästyksestä, kalastuksesta, vaelluksesta ja eräilystä yleensä samaan aikaan samassa paikassa, nähdään siellä!

Here are some of my pictures from 2010:
Tässä muutama kuva viime kerralta 2010:

Jane advertising hunting trips, many men were interested. Where´s Tarzan?? :)

Blacksmith in work

Puukko knives from Woodjevel

Loue, most traditional woodsman´s shelter in Finland

Wide selection of modern compound bows

Nice handmade saws made from curly birch

Materials for "pettuleipä"

...and cook himself

There was incredible selection of hunting rifles aswell..drool :)

Tent village

maanantai 9. huhtikuuta 2012

Bushcraft Finland Winter meeting 2012 trip report

So we finally got our very first winter meeting for BCFIN forum. There was 7 of us all together and meeting was short, but simply great. Weather was in few plus degrees when we arrived and parked our car few kilometers from meeting place somewhere middle of Finland. So we packed and checked our rucksacks prepared to have some nice snowshoeing into the place. Ozme have made small "ahkio" from children´s pulk to carry his shelter and some other gear easier.

OzMe hauling his gear in "ahkio"

After 20-30min hike we arrived and Rautasarvi, Perkunas & Ukkonen were already there digging snow so fastly unpacked and took our showels to get campsite ready. It was first time for me to meet Rautasarvi & Ukkonen, other guys I was familiar already. So it was really nice to see new faces that we have just met online before.

Rautasarvi & Ukkonen working har for their snowy shelters.

So we took off snow shoes dropped our bags and started to build up "camp". We decided to make few snow caves or rather "shelf" cause weather was + degrees and not so sure if caves will stand.
There´s also cabin meant for cooking and it can be used for sleeping only if you really have to.

Looks like some of us swears on army surplus snowshoes :)

Kimmo shaping snowshelf for sleeping.

 Same time we put up some laavu´s and loue around estimated evening fire. Laavu´s was just build up to reflect the heat from the fire, cause sky was bright so we didn´t expect snowing.

Vihe loue at background

Finnman & Perkunas laavu´s on left

OzMe starting to build up his military surplus cotton fabric laavu / tent

OzMe & Finnman sleeping places ready
Finnman, Ozme, Kimmo & Ukkonen building up camp (photo by Perkunas)

After snow works it was time to gather around fire to dry we gloves and other clothes. So people enjoyed warmth of the fire chatting.

Now everyone started to feel bit hungry so it was time to eat someting. Some fried bacons or sausages and some just grabbed piece of bread with hot coffee.

OzMe enjoying rye bread and coffee in cabin

Cabin with it´s heart rugged fireplace (photo by OzMe)

So after eating people start to chat and get to know each other, cause many of them haven´t meet ever before in live. In our international group there was 5 guys from Finland, one from USA and one from Japan. We didn´t plan any scheduled program here cause it was first bigger meeting (first one had 3 people) which main idea was getting to know each others and simply enjoy good time in nature. Everybody sure bring packful of gear with them so time passes nicely comparing what each one use to carry and why. When it day started to turn evening me and Perkunas got idea to demonstrate very traditional finnish cooking fire "raappanan tuli" which was often made by lumberjacks.
Raappanan tuli looks little bit like "jätkän kynttilä" (finnish log candle) which is log cross sawn with chainsaw and lit standing on groun. Raappanan tuli is more simple it´s log that have split nearly from middle and then from thicker half one slice split off that you have two equal thick halves and one 1-2cm slice which will cut pieces and shavings to lit raappanan tuli. Next thing is to cut grooves / shavings for both halves with and axe to let fire really get into halves. After that you simply build that log again leaving 1-2cm gap between halves and light it up. When it´s burning well you have staple plate to put your pot or koffee kettle on top of fire to cook. Nice trick is to add 4 small stones under the pot to let fire breathe better.

Raappanan tuli burning well. This is very efficient fire for cooking and it burns quite long.

Cause we already started to make traditional fires Perkunas continued with other very traditional long burning fire which have given warmth and comfort finnish outdoorsman for centuries in cold nights.
That we call "rakotuli" or "rakovalkea" which is directly translated as "gap fire" Somewhere I have heard it also called "long log fire" and it have often build using three logs, but originally it´s made using only two. Perkunas made good job building up "mini" version of that "rakotuli" cause we didn´t have long enough logs available. You can find detailed description from it here: Perkunas blog

Gapfire building with remains of raappanan tuli on left, lower log in place with firestarters an wedges (made from fresh wood) in both end to adjust gap.

Gapfire ready to lit.

Gapfire starting to burn. (photo by Perkunas)
So it looks like even not planned this meeting´s carrying theme was fire, so we continued practising fire making with flint & steel. Some of us had own flint & steels with them, but Rautasarvi have kindly forged some for those who didn´t have their own and also bring "taula" made from tinder fungus. So everyone were striking sparks trying to make tinder glowing. Man it´s not that easy at all.

I wanted to try to make "charred cloth" first to catch the spark cause haven´t tried that one before. I have bring some cotton fabric in metallic air gun pellet container which I wanted to char. To char it you simply press small hole into container and place it on fire. Soon smoke will come out from the hole and when there´s not much smoke anymore it´s ready. I char it bit too long, but it worked still being just very fragile.

Charring cloth in airgun pellet container. Thick smoke coming from hole in the middle.
Charred cloth ready and this time a bit too "ripe"

After those exercises it was already late and dark so people prepared their sleeping bags and gathered around fire for story telling and barbequeing sausages. Some had can of beer with them and OzMe bring small bottle of brandy. Evening changed fastly to night. Sky was clear and stars bright when people started to prepare some sleep. Someone throw last log into fire releasing swarm of sparks into the cool fresh air.
I noticed earlier that I have forgot my sleeping mattress home and luckily OzMe had bring two pieces so he borrowed me one Halti brand airmatress. That one was quite poor cause it was so thin and I couldn´t fill it well by blowing air in, maybe those are just not for winter. So I put any extra stuff I found under my sleeping bag like tarpaulin, some clothes, foam sitting pad etc.
I have also borrowed US Army bivy sack from Akiri to try it out, cause I have never tried bivy before. When I had adjusted myself and crawled inside of my Savotta military winter bag I fall in sleep like a child. Later at night when I had to go to pee maybe 2-3am, I noticed that weather was changed much colder maybe some -10C degrees and it full painfull to get up and crawl out from quite warm bag, but nature calls. :)
At morning I woke up around 7am and slept quite well but felt bit cold from ground. Decent sleeping mattress could make significant difference I think.

Night was chilly, but everone rested quite well anyway.
Next day there was atleast two activities in program: item swap and goodie box "lottery"
Some of us had bring extra stuff they don´t need to exchange with other. So cabin table was soon full of books, cooking equipment, compasses, knives, axes, pocket knives, etc. I think it was succesfull cause I saw quite many people happily leaving table carrying some new "treasures"

Myself I got leather possibles pouch from Perkunas and Selfmade puukko from OzMe.

Swap table with some of the stuff.
Selfmade puukko from OzMe and handmade possibles pouch from Perkunas.

Last thing before leaving was "lottery of BCFIN goodiebag" Ideas father was Akiri who couldn´t attend meeting but generously gave goodiebag with some content into our lottery. So idea was that everyone who attend put secretly someting inside of bag and then lucky winner will get decent amount of goodies and we thought this nice tradition to continue into future meetings.
I was lucky enough to win this bag this time and yes it contained a lot of usefull stuff which I will tell more here later in future postings.

Goodiebag with it´s contents

Around 11:00am we started to leave and hike back to the cars which means around 30 minutes snow walking in very sunny and fresh few minus degrees weather, very enjoyable!

Hiking back in sunny winter weather

I also finally tried that old Halti outer frame-bag that I traded with Perkunas long ago. Very good bag eats lot of gear inside.

I just added "Thinglink" tags into my blog to give more information about pictures, thanks from the tip Perkunas,