One of the issues, that may or may not really be an issue, is how the metal behaves after drawing it out and quenching. The once very rigid file-type tool now performs more like a spring steel and has some flex to it. I was a little concerned at first about the flexibility and wondered if the metal had been compromised to the point of usefulness but having the flex will be good and probably keep it from being too brittle and breaking.

I wish I had gotten some pictures of it before I got it on the forge so you could see exactly what it looked like. I was concerned that the material was too thick and thought I’d draw it out on the anvil some to get a little extra length and width.

It seemed to work okay except for the fact that the file was now extremely thin and I was now concerned that it would be too thin to do anything with.

I had removed some of the hardness on this particular file earlier on by heating it up to operating temp and then buried the entire thing in a mound of kitty litter! I had read somewhere that doing this would make extra hard steel more malleable and easier to work with on the forge.

So, it did seem to work, like I say, but the metal was probably overworked after the fact to a paper-like thinness and at one point, I thought I had developed a crack along the junction of where the tail meets the blade itself.

However, I looked it over and after closer inspection, I found no such cracks. However, the thinness of the overall blade made me a little more cautious about making it any thinner. I then hammered out the metal one more time in an attempt to get all the hammer marks out of it (which I never seem to be able to accomplish) and made sure everything was straight and true.

I heated it one more time and then went to the oil quench which I have a converted Swiss/German Military Surplus Mortar Rocket Round Storage Tube Canister at the ready for anytime I am out by the forge and doing the knife-making.

This thing is probably the best thing I’ve ever used as far as keeping the oil for quenching in it because it seals up airtight so I can just leave it without worrying about the contents becoming compromised.

The tube is also at a good depth in case I need to quench longer machetes and short swords. So, back to the file-knife at hand. After I quenched the thing and removed all the forge scale, I began working on a stacked leather handle for it.

This is where the fun begins because there is really no way (that I know of) to perform this procedure without getting leather dust everywhere. I took the knife outside when I got ready to start sanding because I knew from past experience that if I didn’t have it outside, the inside of my garage would be covered in a fine dusting of leather.

The way I approach this procedure is to have more material than I need so I can sand it to the contour I want to achieve the aesthetic I’m looking for. This is only the second stacked leather handle I’ve ever done – probably because of the time and effort involved in the process but I do like the end result!

Also, I like doing this procedure with a knife that is going to have a hidden tang because it is a reliable way to put a handle on a blade that only has a “wisp” of material to work with.

Now, I did draw out the tail of the file which gave more material to work with and achieved the length I needed for the handle to be able to be held and the knife to be appropriately wielded. But, like I’ve said previously, doing this makes the metal thinner and may cause issues later on.

One of the issues, that may or may not really be an issue, is how the metal behaves after drawing it out and quenching. The once very rigid file-type tool now performs more like a spring steel and has some flex to it.

I was a little concerned at first about the flexibility and wondered if the metal had been compromised to the point of usefulness but having the flex will be good and probably keep it from being too brittle and breaking.

I just thought it was weird that this kind of steel would become this flexible after working it in the forge. So, don’t get me wrong, the knife isn’t all bendy or anything, but it does have some flex that obviously wasn’t there in its original form.

So, to make the stacked leather handle, you first need to have some donor leather that is pretty thick – probably about an eighth inch. I’ve found that old leather belts are really good for this purpose and I would suggest not to throw away anything that is made of leather because it can be repurposed later.

For this project, my wife had been given an old belt by her dad that he didn’t want any more and thought I could use it. He was right. Just so you know, this belt had been around for many a year and was thick with sweat stains that had saturated all the way through.

It made the leather a little more difficult to work with but was deemed worthy for this project. (Let me just say that I’ll revisit the “sweat” status of this belt later on.)

Take the belt or whatever leather you’re working with and cut it into small squares about an inch-and-a-half. For this project I used the entire belt my wife brought home and then I had to supplement with another belt I had bought some time back for just this purpose.

It took almost the entire length of both belts to make a handle of about four-and-a-half inches. The first two-thirds are from my father-in-law’s belt and the rest is from the other one.

After you’ve cut the belt up into little squares, you want to make a small slit in the middle of the squares (I would do one at a time so you can get the desired effect.) On one side of the leather, you will want to coat with some contact cement –

(I use wood glue because that’s what I have available but all the “professional” leather workers recommend contact cement.) After you’ve coated the leather with the rubber cement, place the tang into the slot that you’ve cut with your box cutter or other sharp instrument, and slide that piece of leather up to the bottom of the guard –

YES! You want to be sure that you have your handguard in place before starting the leather stacking! After you’ve placed the first leather piece, you just repeat the process – cut, glue, slide glued piece to bottom of last piece until you have the desired length.

Remember to leave room at the end to place the end cap and be able to secure it.

There are several ways of securing the end plate to the tang, such as threading the tail and placing a nut on the outside or my favorite, welding, so I know the cap will not back out or come off.

A word of precaution here though, do not leave the welder on for any length of time because it will burn the leather! I go around and just tack the nut in place and then add some more if I think it needs it. However, keep a spray bottle of water handy for cooling the metal and scorched leather.

Once you have the end cap in place and you are comfortable that it will not come off, the fun part begins in earnest because now you have to take an angle grinder and sander to the handle to get the shape you desire.

Remember when I said I would revisit the “sweat” status of the donor belt? Yes, while you are sanding the handle, the leather heats up and becomes scorched. The sweat that is imbedded in the belt also becomes scorched and in essence you are “cooking” the leather and the smell from the sweat is totally different than just the smell of burning leather!

Just a fun FYI I thought you should know about. Remember too that when you are using your angle grinder to sand down the excess leather, you need to use finesse because you can get too close the handguard and make some unintended marks to the bottom of the guard.

Yeah, that happened. I guess I’ll need to take my Dremel and some polishing compound and “buff” them out.

Well, there you have it - the ugly truth about creating a leather stacked handle. But, while the process seems labor intensive, the end product can be really beautiful!

This is going to wrap today’s topic and I would like to say thanks for stopping by. I hope you found the article somewhat informative, if so, leave a comment below.  Also, I'd like to hear from you if you have a better process than what I've listed here. Just leave a comment below and until next time – Happy Living!

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At the French Post 
(Painting by David Wright,

American Indian Rhetorics

Chief Hopocan made this speech as he “aggressively addressed the British commandant” at a Fort Detroit Indian council. The narrative reads like a poem of a child to their father (and it was probably meant to be read that way). I could feel the writer’s words and made an instant connection. So much so, that I felt a need to re-write it (somewhat) in the poetics style. (Great Speeches by Native Americans (Dover Publications, 2000. p. 25)


Some time ago you placed a war-hatchet in my hands. 
          You said, “Use it on the heads of my enemy. 
Let me know if it is sharp and good”. 
          You named me your Child and I was obedient. 

Perhaps you think me a fool, Father,
          to risk my life at your desire, 
Because, it is your cause, your war, not mine. 
You should not compel your children to fight for you. 
           Many lives have already been lost because of you. 

Our tribes have suffered and been weakened. 
          Lost parents and brothers - infants left weeping, 
Husbands and fathers lost - young wives still mourning. 
          How many more will perish before your war ends? 
How long before your children rest, bury the hatchet, make amends? 

Father, you may think me a fool
 for carefully dispatching your enemy. 
          But think not I want sense to convict me, 
 For soon you make peace with your enemy. 
You make promises and say you love your children,  
       But how can you love a people who are different? 
       Love them more than those of the same hue? 

Father, please pay attention to what I say, 
          A hunter sets his dogs on wild game
And you set your children on your enemy. 
         Yet, while rushing forward with the destructive device you gave them, 
A glance backward reveals prophetic imagery, 
          their father shaking hands with his enemy. 
Yes, the same people he now calls enemy. 

Your children see you laughing at their folly; 
         A folly for being bold and expedient. 
Giving up their lives willingly... being obedient. 

This is what has been done with the war-hatchet,
          The bloody, destructive weapon you gave me. 
Here are the scalps of your enemy! 
          Yes, I found the tool very sharp... very good. 
But, Father, my heart has failed me 
          because I felt compassion for your enemy, 
I did not do all I could have done. 
Innocence had no part in your quarrels; my convictions outwon. 

Live flesh placed in one of your canoes. 
          In a few days you will receive this flesh too. 
Flesh as your own - of the same hue. 
I hope you do not destroy what I have saved for you. 
Father, you have the means to preserve which would perish us. 
The warrior is poor - his cabin portrays all emptiness
         But your house... Father... is always full. 

                                                                                                                                                                                Konieschquanoheel - “Maker of Daylight”, (Delaware). 1781
Two Up - Two to Go!

Processing the Raw Lumber

Got started on my treehouse platform a couple days ago and realize that doing everything by hand is going to be a s-l-o-w process. 

It definitely isn’t as quick and easy as they make it look in the videos I’ve been watching. The accompanying video is just over seven minutes long, yet it took me almost six hours to complete the task I was trying to achieve! This task consisted of processing a tree that I had cut last week and using it to add another side, or beam to the floor-level aspect of the platform structure. 

The log that is seen in the video below should be enough to produce at least two good beams. I have the other but ran out of time before I could get it mounted. I had to finish trimming all the unnecessary branches from the tree before I could even commence processing it into usable lumber.
Drawknife (crude but effective)
The trimming took probably about an hour or so. 
One of the tools I am using in the video is a “drawknife” and has been around for centuries. This particular one is one I made at my forge from a piece of old car spring and some rebar welded on for handles. It does work fairly well, and a good drawknife should be an essential tool for anyone looking to construct buildings using bushcraft techniques
It is basically a “wood planing” tool that helps shape raw lumber into a desired form. It is also very useful for stripping bark off the raw timber. In the video I am using it to flatten the log so as to attach it to the upright tree. 

By flattening the sides of the log, it increases surface area and decreases depth for better attachment. One tricky aspect of doing this is, if you are planing both ends of the log, be sure they are in alignment or else it can cause a “twist” and the two ends will not be exactly the same. 

Taking down a beam for re-tweaking is a lot more cumbersome, difficult, and time consuming than just making sure it is right the first time. My aim on this project is to finish the beams around the selected trees and then to fill in the center by using cut timber to fashion a floor, walls, and eventually a roof. 

Thanks for watching and stopping by today and usual, leave any comments or suggestions via my email at: Stay tuned for more updates on the “Wilderness Treehouse” project. 
Testing out the new bucksaw.

Bushcraft 101: Three Reasons to Carry a Bucksaw in Your Bushpack

Living and surviving off the grid doesn’t have to be as cumbersome as some may think. The key to making this lifestyle as comfortable as possible is having the right tools along with you to do the jobs that are needed as efficiently as possible. 

So, in keeping with this theme of survival and bushcrafting, I am creating this post to cover some of the “must” have tools that will make your life much easier in the wild. One of these tools is the “wood auger” that I have written about previously but today I’m going to go over another tool called the “Bucksaw”, that is necessary for felling trees and cutting them up into construction materials for the camp. 

Personally, I carry two different tree saws in my pack for different applications. The first one is a small, eight-inch folding saw and the other is my Bucksaw. 

I made my bucksaw by watching several videos that go over the construction of the saw elements, how to attach the elements, and how to carve the tenons and mortises into the wood to get them to work properly. This was the trickiest part of the process for me. 
Marking off the length.

1. Felling and cutting larger trees that would be too large for the folding saw

In the game of bushcraft, minimalism is the name of the game and you want to keep your pack light enough to be able to carry it and, at the same time, make sure all of the necessary equipment will fit into it; efficiently and compactly. 

I bought only the blade for my saw at the hardware store for about $1.50 and then constructed the frame for it out of some pallet wood I had lying around the house. 

All in all, the saw is 24 inches long and comprised of five different elements; the three wooden pieces that fit together with the blade, the string, and another piece of board for a “tensioner”. 
Daddy's Little Helper

2. For building semi-permanent shelters

The bucksaw makes quick work of the construction materials and chunking these materials into smaller, bite-sized bits for quicker refinement.

There are, of course “bowsaws” that can be purchased that fold up similar to the bucksaw but the price on a good one can be somewhat prohibitive. (For me anyway). 

I like a buck fifty and some time in creating the saw myself as opposed to spending the money on something similar. However, there are videos out there that show how to make your own folding bucksaw, but the process is a little more tedious and time consuming. There are actually videos on how tobuild the bucksaw with just a blade and branches cut at the build site.

3. The bucksaw is also essential in the production of fire wood for the camp.

As you can see from the videos and pictures, the bucksaw is necessary in the bushcraft arena in felling and cutting larger trees that would be too large for the folding saw. 

For building semi-permanent shelters, the bucksaw makes quick work of the construction materials and chunking these materials into smaller, bit-sized bits for better refinement. 

The bucksaw is also essential in the production of fire wood for the camp. 

So, whether you’re a novice or seasoned woodsman, having a bucksaw available in your arsenal of bushcrafting tools will allow you wider latitude in crafting or producing a better and longer lasting shelter to make living off the grid more comfortable in the long run. 
As always, thank you for reading my post today and let me know what you think of the information in this blog and make any suggestions via my email at: Until next time, Happy Living!
Scotch Eyed Wood Auger

Bushcraft 101: Five Uses for the Wood Auger

Okay, so with much time on my hands during the pandemic, I’ve really been getting into the “bushcraft” lifestyle here lately. I have been watching and studying a variety of YouTube videos that cover the subject. 

I’ve always had an interest in living off the grid, off the land, and being self-sufficient in a survival situation. My wife and I love watching History Channel’s Alone series and try to anticipate who’ll win the money. It’s a great show on survival and resilience but the new season hasn’t started yet. 

So, in the meantime, we’ve been watching and subscribing to video channels that have the same “survival” theme. One of the channels we’ve subscribed to is TA Outdoors, here is a group of like-minded individuals who go out into the wilderness and build stuff! They do this with just the tools packed into their backpacks and what they can hump to the site. They truly do some amazing things with just a few hand tools and other items they create onsite. 

One of the truly amazing tools they use a lot is the “wood auger”. This compact little tool seems indispensable in joining branches for the frame of their different “Medieval” structures as well as crafting the furnishings that go into making said structures habitable. There are two different tools in this category that I’ve seen and just had to have. One is the brace-bit and wood auger attachment, and the other is the “Scotch Eyed” wood auger. Regardless of which one is used, their importance in remote woodworking and construction should not be overlooked. 
Auger Bit

Use the Auger as a Joining Tool

The auger is great for joining branches by boring holes through tree limbs and into the main branch. Thus, creating joints via wooden pegs to frame poles in solid construction. 

The guys on TA Outdoors make this look really easy but, after doing it myself a few times, I can tell you from experience that it is not as easy as it looks; especially depending on the type of wood you are using.
Bushcraft Bench

Creating Attachment Points

The wood auger is invaluable for making “attachment” points for rustic furniture building. Start with boring the holes into the main piece of wood and add smaller branches to the holes to form legs. 

This is also a great way to construct sawhorses to hold the wood while you are sawing on it and for chopping or thinning down furniture legs.
The Great Outdoors!

Create Areas for Hanging Camp Items

The wood auger can be used to form partial holes in wood for placing pegs to hang items from. This can be a great asset when the walls of your shelter are made of…, wood! Seriously, it is a great way to hang wet clothing or gear to dry out.

Anchoring Tent Stakes

Using a "wood" auger to anchor tent stakes? This is something I hadn't even considered, much less thought about. But, from the research I’ve seen on the Internet, it looks like a pretty popular usage for this versatile tool. It seems that a lot of people buy these solely for the purpose of boring holes into the earth to plant anchoring apparatuses for their canvas or polyvinyl living quarters. Hmmm.... Hoodathunkit? (Even though the wood augers to come in different sizes and the smaller sizes would make great tent hold-down devices,  it seems a bit overkill. For this reason I believe people looking for this type of use for the auger would be better served with cheaper "gound anchors" instead).
Swedish "Rocket" Stove

Make a Temporary Camp Stove!

By using the wood auger to create a Swedish Rocket Stove, you can build a highly efficient stove for cooking. A one-inch auger bit and a length of log is all that is needed to get the fire up and running in a jiffy. This one is a favorite of mine. 
Brace and Bit (Hand Drill)
The first auger I bought was the brace and bit (hand drill) because I found a couple of used ones at different flea markets and the price was right. About $10.00 each. 

However, the first one I bought was not in the best shape and I had to forego it for the second one in much better condition. After this I had to buy auger bits in a “bundle” because the one-inch bit I needed wasn’t sold separately. So, this was another $16.00 purchase, but I was then able to go yonder into the wilderness and commence hand augering! 

Well, almost because the brace and bit’s chuck couldn’t be tightened enough by hand to keep the bit from slipping and chewing up the shank. So, I found a one-inch wrench laying around my garage and now carry this in my backpack when I go bushcrafting.
So, herein lies the proverbial rub: If any of you are familiar with packing tools into the wilderness on your back, then you will soon notice that I’ve added another couple of pounds to the already burgeoning pack. 

I needed something lighter and more compact; especially if I’m humping this pack miles into the bush! This is where the appeal of the Scotch Eyed wood auger comes in. 

This type of auger is just a “bit” with a little round ring at the top for a peg (you cut it onsite) goes through and used for torque in boring holes into wood! Simple, efficient, and weighs in under a pound! 

You can buy them in different sizes and seem to be plentiful almost everywhere online. However, the cost for one of the Scotch Eyed bits is a little more than the bits for the hand drill. 

I think Amazon has one made by “The Black Raven Co.” that costs around $35.00 and comes with a lifetime warranty. It looks like it would make a great addition to my pack as well as lightening it by a couple of pounds. 

This little miracle tool will definitely become a permanent resident in my bushcraft arsenal – as soon as I can talk my wife into letting me “upgrade”. Who knows, maybe with this next round of stimulus money? 
My Addicted Mind

Symptoms of Anxiety, Depression, and Substance Abuse Everyone Needs to Know

Unless one is a practicing clinician, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are not usually thought of as occurring together. Maybe this is because they are actually separate diagnoses, and I think most people view them this way in the realm of psychological disorders. On the other hand, many experts believe that depression can lead to substance abuse and vice-versa. My goal in the following narrative is to educate those unaware of the dangers of co-occurring diagnoses by analyzing and comparing major depression, anxiety, and substance abuse; reviewing their symptoms and the symbiotic role they play in one’s mental health. Major Depression 

According to the DSM 5, Major Depression is classified as, “Diminished interest or loss of pleasure in almost all activities (anhedonia). Significant weight change or appetite disturbance: For children, this can be failure to achieve expected weight gain. Sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia) Psychomotor agitation or retardation.” In other words, it is a combination of symptoms that are serious enough and last long enough to drastically affect a person’s quality life. It is also called clinical, or major depressive disorder. In the United States, Major Depression ranks as the number one cause of disability. Depressive episodes can get to a point where it leaves people totally incapacitated and even suicidal. They are unable to concentrate, work, learn, or care for themselves or loved ones. Left untreated, major depression can last for up to half a year or longer. For some fortunate individuals, only one incident of debilitating depression will be experienced in their lifetime, but for numerous others, periodic episodes of major depression can go on for years. Downward Spiral As mentioned, if not treated, episodes of deep depression can last for one or more years. Untreated depression can lead to a profound physical and emotional “downward spiral”. Individuals suffering with major depression typically move sluggishly and report feelings of “heaviness” in their legs and arms. Simply walking for these people requires an enormous amount effort. Personal hygiene becomes neglected and the individual often wants to isolate themselves or stay in bed for days or weeks at a time. Suicidal ideations may occur frequently and may evolve into a recurring thought process. Usually, the individual will recall unsettling or painful memories which contribute further to feelings of helplessness. The problem of substance abuse, depression, and suicide effects persons of all ages but is especially critical in teens and young adults. 

Dual Diagnosis

If the previously mentioned symptoms weren’t bad enough, add a depressant or other mind-altering drug to the mix, such as alcohol or prescription opioids, and the situation becomes even worse. The addition of a substance now causes the individual to experience “dual diagnosis” and treatment becomes even more complicated. More often than not, the substance abuse evolves as a way for the individual to “self-medicate” symptoms of depression, however depression can also progress independently as the result of too much drug abuse. Nevertheless, whichever one comes first -- the substance abuse problem or the depression – having both illnesses will only continue to make the other worse. Substance abuse along with depression is a nasty roller coaster ride that never ends until both illnesses are treated simultaneously. Bottom line - individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and depression will rarely improve without treatment. Now let’s take a look at the role anxiety plays in the depression and substance abuse equation. 


 Believe it or not, anxiety is commonly linked with depression and substance abuse in both women and men. Anxiety and/or depression, when coupled with addiction and substance abuse, is called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. In a study by Columbia University Medical Center, a staggering 85 percent of individuals with depression also experienced symptoms of anxiety (CUMC, 1995). Also, depression is diagnosed in up to 90 percent of individuals with anxiety disorders. 

To sum it all up, any of the illnesses mentioned above can be debilitating but adding yet another “layer” of co-occurrence to the equation compounds the negative effects exponentially. My aim here is to bring to light some of the symptoms of the depressive disorders in an effort to make them recognizable because, if left untreated, an individual with depression or other co-occurring diagnoses are likely to spiral out of control at an alarming rate; leading ultimately to permanent mental impairment, or even death. 

If you, or someone you love, is experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. It could mean the difference between life and death!
My Addicted Mind

Stan Lee's Heartbreaking Last Days

In AARP’s October - November issue of their magazine, David Hochman wrote a truly sad story of the Marvel icon, Stan Lee’s final days. In the story, of course angled toward a more mature readership, Hochman frames the narrative around the last days of Stan Lee’s life and how he had suffered abuse at the hands of those who proposed to “love him”. Hochman did a great job in his writing and brings to light the issue of “elder abuse” and how it affects lives of millions of those in our aging population. 

The Players
 In his article, Hochman focuses the reader’s attention around three individuals (four if you include J.C.) whom Lee had trusted to supposedly help run the family business after his wife Joanie had passed away. One element of the story that stood out was that all of these characters have claimed they were acting on Lee’s behalf: in the best interest of his welfare and wellbeing. Almost all of them stated they “loved him as a father figure” and would never do anything to hurt him or jeopardize his trust. Of Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, and her role in the alleged abuse, she is portrayed as a self-serving, entitled only child who would seem to be easy prey for anyone looking to milk some loose change out of the Lee empire.

Building an Empire
Although the “empire”, as it came to be, was contingent on Stan’s participation at Comic Con conventions and other events as a means of selling autographs to fans for eighty dollars (or more) a pop. (According to Hochman, Lee did not own any rights to the iconic superheroes and relied heavily on autograph sales as a source of income). One of the so-called perpetrators in the alleged elder abuse scandal purportedly had Lee signing his name in blood at one point in an effort to bring a higher dollar amount to the signature. The perpetrator then was charged with, among other things, absconding with a vial of Lee’s blood! 

The story of Lee and his writing is quite compelling because of the reasons he did it and the personalities he created through it. Hochman quotes Lee as stating that he didn’t believe what he was doing (writing) was as important as curing illnesses or building bridges. However, Lee’s fanbase proved him wrong in this regard and even prompted Lee to contemplate his idea of “success”. 

Early Career
In quote from Hochman’s story, Lee had this to say about his early years of writing, “To tell the truth, I never thought of myself as much of a success. When I was younger, I was embarrassed about the things I wrote. I felt there were men building bridges, doing medical research. And here I am writing these ridiculous comic book stories.” Here Hochman points out how the years of interaction with his fans began changing Lee’s mind. 

The Adoring Fans
“People always tell me things like, when I was a child, my mother was gone, my father was drunk, but your comic books were there for me. These characters are important to people in ways I can’t even understand. Is this success? …then again, I don’t think anybody ever stops a bridge builder on the street and says, ‘Your bridges! They’re thrilling!’” One possible reason for the success of the characters Lee created was that they all portrayed a real-life, believable character with human emotions and relatable flaws that his readers could identify with. 

The Next Chapter
Stan Lee transcended his earthly vessel on November 12, 2018, leaving behind a legacy few mortals will achieve in one lifetime. His estate is now in J.C.’s control and it will be interesting to see how it is managed from this point forward. More importantly, it is the Lee legacy fans and admirers will remember with affection; from the gritty voice behind wire-rimmed glasses and silver mustache, the larger-than-life characters endowed with flawed, human personalities, to the witty cameo roles in blockbuster movies. As for the fictionalized cosmos and characters of one man’s imagination regarding the news of his passing, the response can only be adequately summed up by the phrase, “…and the universe wept”.