Making Your Own Survival Knife – Part 1

I have always been fascinated with creating things, whether its writing, graphic design, YouTube or Photography, i love creating things myself. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment when you can make something beautiful out of nothing. I have always loved knives, so I decided it was time for me to learn how to make one myself. I started with a 5/8 inch thick steel sheet, and cut it into what I thought would be a good block for my knife template.

From there, I grabbed my grinder and just started grinding away steel until I had a shape that roughly resembled what I wanted the knife to look like.

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After a lot of filing to get the excess metal shavings off of the corners, I proceeded to grind in the bevels. Of course I don’t have access to a big belt sander like most knife makers do, so I got my hands on the next best thing. A hand held belt sander. The problem with this is its hard to make any kind of rig to control the angle of the bevel. So I had to eyeball the angle, fortunately it came out close, but there were differing angles as you went up the blade, it really didn’t look too bad but it wouldn’t have passed quality control.

None of those imperfections really mattered however, because the next step was heat treating the knife to harden the steel. A plethora of YouTube videos made it look much easier than it was. First I tried using a large propane torch and shooting the flame into a brick where the knife sat, this did not even get the metal close to hot enough. So I decided to go a more traditional route and cover the metal in charcoal. I spent about 20 minutes heating up a mound of charcoal until the metal was red hot. ( I didn’t test it with a magnet, my first mistake).

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I pulled it out of the coals with my tong and proceeded to dip it into peanut oil. Unfortunately it seemed that the charcoal had stuck to the metal, and through the quenching had fused into the metal. This not only bent and ate into my steel, warping my knife, but it fused a mount of charcoal remains onto the metal, which was NOT easy to file off. Needless to say, the end product looked like this. Back to the drawing table…..

Realizing What Is Important In Life…

Last weekend I spent some time at Ludington State Park to relax and spend some time away from the rest of the world. Truth is, I have been struggling with some relationship issues for the last month and I needed to get out of town to spend some time with some good friends and reflect on my life.

If you are like me, you struggle with letting go of things whether its stress, relationships or just problems in general. The only way I can really let go of things is to just spend time away from my phone and computer, sever contact with the outside world and just spend time with good friends and once again realizing why I should appreciate my life. I let the problems of my life halt me in fear so much, it stops me from being happy. I haven’t been really, truly happy for the last 10 months, and hopefully this was the start of my healing process.

Sitting there, by the fire having good conversation while surrounded by people who love me and care about me really helped me realize what I should be focusing on in this life. Not fear, not the stresses of my job, not damaging relationships, but family and my own personal emotional health.

If you haven’t been truly happy with your life for a while, I encourage you to focus on whats truly important in your life and let go of those things that constantly drain you emotionally. It is a hard process, I am still going through it, but it will be worth it in the end.

 

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DIY Fire-starter For Your Next Adventure!

One of the most important parts of camping is having a warm fire to cook food on and warm up by, and if you are like me, sometimes you have a hard time actually starting the fire. While there are plenty of products you can buy that will help make your next fire much easier to get going, there are also a myriad of great DIY methods. One of the best ways, is Char Cloth, which is cheap and very easy to make!

Having a flint and stone out in the woods can be a huge start to getting a fire started, but from my past experiences, sparks can be a  fickle way of starting a fire, so its important to have something that will light on fire at the smallest spark. Thats where Char Cloth comes in. The Art of Manliness says that “Char cloth is created through a process of pyrolysis, which Wikipedia tells us is the ‘thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperature in the absence of oxygen.’ Basically, char cloth is created by combusting an organic material in a way that releases its gasses without burning it up completely”. This makes a material that will combust at the slightest spark, making it the ideal method of starting a fire in a survival situation.

What you need: 

  • Altoids mint tin (or any enclosed tin)
  • Small pieces of cloth
  • An open flame

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The first step is to place the cut up pieces of cloth into the tin can as flat as you can ( I placed them in all clumped up and they didn’t char as evenly as they should). Next poke a small hole into the top of the can for the gasses to be released and place into an open flame.

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As you can see, I messed up my first batch and had to switch tins, so don’t be scared to mess up, you can always retry. The process of pyrolysis can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, but generally you just want to wait until you cant see any gas coming out of the vent anymore. Once the gas is not coming out, that means the cloth is ready.

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Open up the can once it is cooled down and your cloth should be completely black and feel more brittle than it did before. Test it out by using a flint and steel to spark it, it should light up very easily.

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Once you have perfected your process, repeat as necessary. Make sure you bring with you on any camping trips for the next time you might have to make a fire and have no other methods available to you.

Know of a better way to make it? Comment below!

 

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Sources:

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/02/10/the-ultimate-firestarter-how-to-make-char-cloth/

 

Preparing For The Smokies – What I’m packing for the Appalachian Trail (Part 1)

One thing I have learned from the last couple trips I have taken is that I really need to spend more time packing. I have been severely underprepared for those trips, which have caused me a little trouble on the trails. So in today’s post I want to outline 5 of the most important things I’m bringing with me on the trail.

Backpack

The backpack is arguably one of the most important items you will bring on a hiking trip. The thing is, I don’t actually own one. Well…I don’t own a new one. My personal bag I own is a vintage back pack with an external frame. Needless to say, its not super comfortable. The backpack pictured is a Sierra Designs Ministry 40, borrowed from my dad. This is a 40 liter pack, so its big enough to fit all of my gear easily for a 5 day trip. This pack is designed more for ice climbing (which my dad uses it for) and rock climbing. However, when you are on a budget and someone offers to let you borrow their gear, you don’t say no.

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https://www.amazon.com/Sierra-Designs-Ministry-40-Backpack/dp/B004KQ9MTK

 

Dry Sack

This thing is amazing. I mean, you could find a lamb carcass and rig it to do the same thing, or you could spend less than 20 dollars to have an extremely water tight bag. I am going to be using this as my food bag. It easily compresses and keeps water out, so even if it pours rain and this is hanging outside to keep away from bears, your food will not get wet. This is definitely a must have for any hiking or kayaking trip.

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https://www.amazon.com/Unigear-Waterproof-Kayaking-Swimming-Snowboarding/dp/B01LZBV5AV

 

Sleeping Pad

I have never used a sleeping pad, but from my experiences without one, i cannot wait to finally use some sort of sleeping pad on my trip. Of course I didnt want to spend upwards of 50 dollars for one, so i tried my hand at making one myself. (Ill have a separate blog post of how i made it and how much it cost.)  A sleeping pad is important on hikes for several reasons. One, they give you a little cushion to make your sleep more comfortable, and two, they provide extra insulation to keep your back warm. If you have a sleepless night on the trail, the next day’s hike will be that much harder to finish.

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Knife

Of course, a good knife is always essential on any type of trip in the wilderness. I picked up a relatively affordable Kershaw Brookside for 24.95 from Dicks Sporting Goods. This knife has a nice 3.25 inch blade that has assisted opening, which makes it fast to whip out the blade in case you need it for protection. (Don’t think that means you don’t need to bring bear spray)

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https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/kershaw-knives-brookside-drop-point-folding-knife-16kshubrksdxxxxxxcut/16kshubrksdxxxxxxcut?

 

Compression Sack

Obviously, using space efficiently is one of the most important parts of a backpacking trip. To that end, backpackers use compression sacks, which as their name would imply, compress its contents to keep it as small as possible. I like to put clothes into it and compress it into a smaller size than a soccer ball. They aren’t too expensive and can be used for any trip, not just backpacking.

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https://www.amazon.com/Sea-to-Summit-Compression-Sack/dp/B000NQQ56E?th=1
So those are 5 things I am bringing to the smokies with me. Watch for the next post where I explain how I made my sleeping mat, and then I will be posting 5 more things I am packing for the trip.