Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Relationship Milestones: The Dutch Oven.

If you’ve held her head under the covers and farted, and she’s still there in the morning. She is officially your girlfriend.

Rogue's Hat

It’s a stunning summers morning. Three guys are fishing

Guy One:
“You have no idea what I had to promise the mrs to be here.
I’m painting BOTH the kids rooms next weekend.”

Guy Two:
“That’s nothing I’m weeding the garden, BEFORE I reorganise her mother’s garage”.

Guys One and Two:
“What did you have to promise”?

Guy Three:
“Suckers, I just set the alarm for 5am when it went off I gave her a nudge and asked her Frolicking or Fishing?
She said ‘Wear a hat it’s cold out there’”.

Heirloom quality hat £25. For the rakish angler
They do a whole range of different styles and some amazing boots

PS. The hat came with a great little pamphlet that said
"If you're attacked by a wild animal throw your hat on the ground. It wont save your life, but the person who finds it will thank you"


Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Anti Gerber Bias Alleged. And Confirmed.

It’s not that I hate Gerber, it’s that I want to love Gerber, and feel so let down.

Let down by the struggling design ethic:
Last summer The Northern Monkey (you’ll meet him later) and I were provisioning for a trip across the US,
I was in a buying mood. I was happy (even exited) about dropping $100 on a multi tool.
We went to REI and perused the selection.
Even the salesguy couldn’t disagree when I pointed out that across the price range all the Gerber multi tools were all much of a muchness.
There was no stand out model.
In a reversal of our usual roles,* I bought the cheapest one (a suspension),
TNM spent a bit more and went for one with spring-loaded pliers.
Even he can’t explain why.
Less than a year later TNM hates his, and it lives unloved at the back of a draw, and mine is broken. Pah!

Let down by the poor build quality:
The picture doesn’t do it justice there is hardly any wear on the tool, and it failed. Pah!

Let down by the exploitative pricing strategy:
As mentioned previously if you buy the axe as a Fiskars or Wilkinsonsword its £20 if you buy THE SAME PIECE OF KIT as Gerber it’s £33-45 Pah!

Gerber Hmmmm.

*“There’s tight-fisted, there’s people from Yorkshire, and then there’s me!”
TNM The Black Hills SD Aug 15th 06.

Credit where credit’s due
Recreational Equipment Incorporated were excellent, and gave me a full refund

The worlds leading authority on his own opinion.

Cut To The Chase

There are only two things you need for great food, really fresh ingredients and really, really, sharp knives.

As regular readers will know I pendulum between the futurist and atavist positions on most things and knives are no exception. Over the last few months I’ve been fetishising Tom Brown Jnr’s $260 T2 Tracker knife – but I didn’t buy one..............

A word as to knife, or knives. These are of prime necessity, and should be of the best, both as to shape and temper. The "bowies" and "hunting knives" usually kept on sale, are thick, clumsy affairs, with a sort of ridge along the middle of the blade, murderous looking, but of little use; rather fitted to adorn a dime novel or the belt of "Billy the Kid," than the outfit of the hunter.
George Washington Sears AKA ‘Nessmuk’ writing in the1880’s

For ‘murderous’ read ‘tactical’ and Nessmuk, Field and Streams venerable canoe camping correspondent, could be blogging today. I reckon he would have pissed himself laughing at the camo coatings offered on so many of today’s outdoor and hunting tools. I love my camo as much as the next redneck, but in the field ‘camo’ is often a pseudonym for ‘never seen again’.

Another trend in knife design is wooden handle and steel blade, held together with brass pins. Nowadays known as the ‘Woodlore’ style, popularised by Ray Mears. While these knives do have an attractive handmade-ness, they can be silly money. Perhaps I’m a bit of a pikey but at up to $440 I wouldn’t want to use a blade for duties any more demanding than letter opening!

Between the extremes of ‘weapon’ and ‘handicraft’ I did find a style that suited me. The ‘pry-bar with an edge’ AKA the ‘survival knife’.

After a scouting around on the web for a while. And choosing to impose a limit of $100, (I say ‘choosing’ it was actually fear of Mrs Bushwacker that made me impose it). I came to a choice of design philosophy between- America* and Sweden, the Gerber LMF II for serious mass production and Fallkniven F1 for serious seriousness.

*I know Gerber’s parent company is Finish – if I’m not pedantic enough for you write your own blog

Both designs pride themselves on being strong enough to stab straight into the side of an oil drum. I don’t know what the manufactures had in mind, but I know a barbequing opportunity when I see one!

Fallkniven, which means folding knife in Swedish, designed their knife for pilots who have made an unplanned change from flying, to shanks pony (walking) in sub-arctic conditions. The handle grips against skin or gloves whatever the temperature. The blade is in the 'drop-point' style and a practical 3.5inches long. Made from a stainless steel called VG 10 with a full tang, (the blade goes all the way through the handle), and has a pommel or sticky-out-bit at the end of the handle so you can give it a proper whack when handcrafting your new oil barrel barbeque, splitting logs or boar’s skulls.

Gerber, which means baby food in my house, designed their knife for infantry folk or at least for infantry wannabes. They gave their knife a more substantial pommel, nice, but chose to separate it from the blade, purportedly so as to reduce the shock felt when using it as a hammer. Unfortunately this ‘innovation’ means the handle has to be stronger rather than grippyer. Gerber Hmmmm.
In fairness I did like the idea of a sharpener built into the sheath, but that annoying serrated bit by the finger guard is in exactly the wrong place on the knife. It’s positioned just where a sharp plain edge is most useful for fine work like making tinder sticks. Still it does help give it that ‘tactical’ look. For me the tinder sticks would be more useful than looking ‘murderous’ when in the field.

Fallkniven give you three options for the knife and three for the sheath.

1. Plain blade with a Thermorun handle. Simple: utilitarian, grippy, and sterilize-able in a saucepan of water. Just the thing for my Elk hunt.
2. As above: but with a black blade. A bit too ‘tactical’ for me.
3. Plain blade with a Micarta handle and a nickel silver finger guard.
A very nice mix of useable and hand finished, nearly got my vote.

1.Drop in Scandinavian style sheath – now discontinued but available on Eay.
2.Flap closure style. The standard version, you wont lose it or have to pay any extra.
3.Moulded Zytel with a popper fastener. I like synthetic sheaths, but I’ve seen them done better.

Even though I’m in London, only 1762.65 miles from the Fallkniven factory.
The ‘sharpest’ price I found was from in the USA. $98.95 or about £50 (they have the Gerber LMF II for $76.95 i.e £36 – pretty good as I’ve seen it in rip-off Brittan for £100+). These guys are cheapest or second cheapest for most knives, they ship promptly, and give you a UPS number to track your shipment with.

I’m lovin’ it!
I’ve used the knife for a few rough jobs; opening gummed up tins of paint, scratching out putty and broken glass. I’ve beaten it into some logs, cut some fire wood and shaved some tinder sticks. It would never be my first choice in the kitchen or for butchery, but its not designed to be, so fair play.
It takes a reasonable edge pretty easily and holds it well. Due to a lack of skill on my part I’m yet to get it sharp enough to pass the wet cigarette paper test.
Some people have re-ground theirs from the convex edge to a flatter blade profile, which will undoubtedly make for a much finer but more delicate edge. I’m not sure that I’ll bother. While I like the idea of it being a bit sharper. I kinda feel that it would miss the point, you can get all the knife you’ll ever need for fine work for $10 (Frosts – also of Sweden). The F1 is for making shelters, splittin’ firewood, and making showers of sparks. All things it does flawlessly. I have never seen any edge that makes more or bigger sparks from a firesteel. Really this you have to see!
The only modification I’ve made so far is to rub the handle down with fine cabinet paper. My guess is that like with new bike tyres, there is still some of the release agent left from the mould and a light sanding made the handle much more grippy.

PS after a while I'd blunted the blade and sent it back for a refurb there's what happened

Full Description

How Strong?

Best Price

If You Must

Keep ‘em peeled. Bushwacker.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Stay Calm Ladies, It’s Not That Kind Of Rabbit

Mrs Bushwacker taught me this one with chicken, but as its Spanish I’m sure my bunny version is more authentic.

2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 can of beans
a couple of cloves of garlic
Peppers 3 or 4
Onions 1or 2
A big bunny or a small chicken or both
Half a chorizo, sliced
Smoked paprika
Olives a goodly handful
Stock .5 litre or a pint
Wine 1 big glass or more (rioja if you have it, plonk if not)
A tablespoon of dark sugar

Fry some chorizo, set aside the chorizo
In the fat that’s left caramelise the tomato puree (i.e burn it a bit)
Fry onions and garlic
Set aside the now coloured onions, tomato puree and garlic.
Add rabbit (and or chook), brown and set aside.
In go the peppers.
Put onions and chorizo back in
Add tomatoes (1 tin per rabbit)
Add smoked paprika (at least half one of the little jars Tesco sell)
Add olives green or black to suit your preference
Add beans
Simmer 1.5 – 2 hours or until tender

If it seems too thin – turn up the heat
If it seems to thick - add more wine and or stock

Serve with rice, or bread or fried spuds, and the rest of the rioja/plonk

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Still Wheezing And A Little Saw.

Not much to report on the fitness part of the project this week.
Sadly there was plenty of Un-Fitness to report on at (ominous drum roll) the Running Club.
Anyone on first name terms with your pal the Bushwacker will surely tell you the words ‘Bushwacker is running’ aren’t usually used in the same sentence unless the sentence ends ‘down to the Off Licence to get more beer, wine, ice, vodka.....’ with the ‘running’ part being a figure of speech. So it was with no small trepidation that I set off for further punishment from the British Military Fitness Crew at their Running Club.

Shock is probably the hardest thing for a person to fake or try to hide, and glee is the response it never occurs to anyone to hide. Most of the attendees of the running club didn’t bother hiding anything, once the shock had subsided they all wanted to stand next to me at the start of every ‘run’, so they could ‘burn me off at the lights’. I felt like the most talented self-confidence therapist in the world. They arrived half whipped expecting more ritual humiliation at the hands of the speed merchants, only to find that far from being the slowest or having the most pitiful wheezing noise, their day had come.
Some of my delighted classmates actually took to letting me catch up with them so the could redress the humiliation they had themselves suffered. Leaving me for dust.
Still if 'waddling' is half way between sleeping and running, I can at least say I met them half way.
Oh the pain of being a wuss, a fat, greedy, lazy...................

Saw these and thought you might find them useful

The Sven Saw (inc 1 blade) $24.99 spare blades $7.95 each

Tested against

The BCB Commando Saw (inc 3 blades) from £4.99 to £12. Will take generic replacement blades (approx £5 for £3.99) and a BCB Nato & US forces 28” eight strand wire saw, cut in two would make two replacement wire saws for £2.61

I’ve used the triangular Sven Saw a few times and the aggressive ‘bow saw’ type blade is certainly very good for
fire-wood-ish type cuts and will stand a lot of abuse. The saw is light, and durable. The triangulation that makes the saw so strong is also its weakness as not all of the blade can cut to the saws maximum depth. The design suffers where an exposed wing nut provides the blade tension. It's jagged and do you really want to have to carry a spare?

The first way the BCB wins is the smooth, square frame design that gives you the use of the whole length of the blade cutting through larger diameter logs. With a choice of three blades kept neatishly in the handle the BCB saw will cleanly cut wood, bone, plastics and metal. Where the BCB let itself down during my test was that the 'all purpose and hacksaw' blades supplied with the saw are not very good. In fairness, this is not a review of cheapo blades, better blades are easy to come by and the handle feels unbreakable. The wire saw is excellent, but was let down by the aluminium crimps that act as its end stops, which are woefully inadequate. One popped off on the saws second use, and the other was very easily pulled off with a pair of pliers. The blade that is supplied with the Sven Saw is much better quality (which you have to pay for), but limits you to rougher cuts. The BCB has an edge, in that on your travels it’ll take any brand of hardware store blade that’s 12-13”.

The Bottom Line:

Both saws are very good choices, strong, cheapish, and lightweight.
The BCB has a neater handle design, bombproof build quality and the option of the versatile and robust wire saw.
All for a fiver! Now that I've added better crimps (took five mins.-was very easy) it will be my choice every time.

BCB's site - lots of other cool stuff

You may get the Sven Saw for a buck or so less, but REI’s customer service is magic.

The best price I found for the BCB saw was at