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Dad of All Trades » 2010 » January

Fatwood – Part 2: Matchstick Tinder Box

$Bushcraft 4 Comments »

There are tons and tons of fire starters out there that you can use but none quite as good as fatwood. It’s long burn time, natural waterproofing and easy availability (at least in the southeastern US) make it the ideal fire starter. Put together a simple tinder box and you are set.

By the way, this is my first video if you hadn’t noticed.

Fatwood – Part 1: Collecting

$Bushcraft 3 Comments »

Fatwood, also known as “lightwood,” “lighter wood” or “maya wood,” is derived from the heartwood of pine trees. This resin-impregnated heartwood is hard and rot-resistant; the stumps or heartwood centers of fallen pines that last for decades after the rest of the tree has rotted away. Although most resinous pines can produce fatwood, in the southeastern United States the wood is commonly associated with Longleaf pine, which historically was highly valued for its high pitch production.

Because of the flammability of the pine resin, fatwood is prized for use as kindling in starting fires. It lights quickly, even when wet, and burns hot enough to light larger pieces of wood. The pitch-soaked wood produces an oily, sooty smoke, and it is recommended that one should not cook on a fire until all the fatwood has completely burned out.

Taken from Wikipedia – slightly modified.

I have collected fatwood many, many times over the years to be used as kindling for fire starting: mostly in fireplaces. My grandfather preferred it over all other materials for starting domestic fires. A bit of nostalgia struck me recently, so off to the plot of woods behind the house I went with a few select tools. I scouted about until I found a pine stump that seemed the perfect candidate to yield some wealth. This was not a difficult task since the woods had been selectively logged a number of years back.

I decided that I wanted to do minimal visual damage so as not to detract from the beauty of the area. I set to work while carefully preserving the sides and surroundings of the stump. The series of photos below shows the progression of the harvesting process.

The pillar that is sticking up in the center is the Fatwood. I will harvest a portion of this section.

Using a Kukri as both a shovel, chopping, and prying tool I exposed the fatwood pillar and started to split off sections.

I removed portions from both sides. Here you can see how resin-laden the wood is.

Once I had collected all the fatwood I wanted, I restored the stump to as close to its original condition as I could.

This is the wealth I collected. It’s not much, but you will be surprised at just how long it will last and the amount of uses it has.

There are quite a few things that fatwood can be used for beyond my Grandfather’s preference. This post is just the beginning of a series of posts on using it to its greatest potential. Stay tuned…

My New Addition

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Meet “Cooper” my new companion. He was adopted from a vet’s office just around the corner on Friday.

Cooper is a 7-month-old, short-haired collie mix. My wife’s dog has decided that he is alright, though the cat’s have gone into hiding.  I’m hoping that he will become my bushcraft and outdoor partner. I seem to suffer from the same problem that Pablo used to suffer from: my lovely wife is just not into being in the woods.

A Tromp in the Woods

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Today while I was out running a few errands my wife (Tara) took the kids out in the woods behind the house. They had to use the partially completed foot bridge that my 3-1/2 year old son and I have been building to get there. Here a few pics from the excursion.

TFO Lefty Kreh Signature Series 2wt Fly Rod

$Bushcraft 3 Comments »

430-003-02Last year I experienced something in North Carolina that, while not new, truly irked me. While on a trip to Watauga County to get a little fishing in, I saw something that I’ve never seen before to this extent. Well, I actually didn’t see anything and that was the problem. Normally when walking along the shores of our hatchery supports streams you will see the trout in pools and eddies, but over the course of 2 days we didn’t see anything, we didn’t catch anything and neither did any of the other fishermen with whom we spoke. Even in some of the pools that normally teem with trout, we saw nothing.

Off we went on the hunt for a stream that was less  traveled. We found a couple very nice small streams, but they showed signs of heavy traffic upon a better look, so the hunt continued. We eventually found a stream that had promise. It was a hatchery supported stream, but since it ran perpendicular to the road instead of parallel to it, we had hope. We parked, grabbed our three weights, and minimum gear for a bit of wet wade fishing. Not four minutes into the creek I landed a beautiful 6″ Brookie and my partner hooked a nice little Rainbow. Long story short, we worked our way upstream and both caught several nice trout in the process. At one point I stopped to change flies when may partner caught up to me. I told him to go on ahead and I would fish is wake. As he when around me he managed to catch the end of the St Croix I was using under his boot. It didn’t survive the step so I was out of the game until I could get back to the car and retrieve my five weight.

The next day I fished with the 5wt but the 7-1/2″ length was just too much for these tiny streams and the NC overhang. I eventually gave up after umpteen zillion snags and decided that on my next trip, I would have redundant small stream rods. When I returned home, I sent the 3wt off for repair and started searching for an even tinier rod. I was looking for a backup rod, so I spent a good bit of time looking at the features of lower cost line of the manufacturers I have already owned or used in the past.

I settled on the Lefty Kreh Signature Series from Temple Fork Outfitters. I’d always wanted to own a 1wt just because it was a 1wt. I figured it would offset the 15′ Spey I own and have not used since 1999. Well, TFO didn’t offer one so I got the next best thing, a beautiful little 6foot 2wt two piece for a mere $109. I figured it would be the perfect backup for my St Croix 3wt and in a pinch it was small enough to use as a backpack rod.

The following trip to the aforementioned stream found me giving it a try just to see how it behaved. Three days later and the St Croix 3wt never left the car. In fact, now I almost always go to this TFO first on streams smaller than 10 or 12 feet wide and the 3wt is now my backup rod. This diminutive 6′ long rod seems like it was just made of North Carolina’s small, heavily overhung streams that rarely product a fish longer that 9 or 10 inches.

About Ratings

A crisis of video…

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smashed-video-tape460In my last post, Happy Holidays!, I said that I would be posting my first video review about now. Well, it’s not happening. I’ve been messing with and re-recording the video since before the holidays and I keep hitting two snags. First, while the camera I have is a 720p HD camera and does take nice video, the microphone built into it is severely lacking in quality. I guess that is to be expected considering that it is a sub $100 camera that I got for free. Second, the camera outputs video as a MOV. This is really not a problem but it does add that extra step to the process, which is the conversion of the file to another format that is better suited for editing. MOV is crap and should the format should be eliminated all together.

I’m not giving up on video though. I will get my hands on a decent camera in the next month or so and get started with them then. In the meantime, I have a large list of items to review and will pick back up with the good ol’ written review, which should actually go easier now that I have gotten Dragon Naturally Speaking up and running on my system again.