Saturday, December 28, 2019

Frontier Shuriken

Ask someone what a "Shuriken" is and most likely they will describe the classic "Throwing Stars" seen on the old TV series "Kung Fu" and countless Ninja movies. Thrown with unerring accuracy, skilled Ninja's often made head shots with their throwing stars, sinking them deep into an opponents skull. And while it is true Ninja used Shuriken, it should be noted they were mostly used by Samurai soldiers on the battlefield.

Shu-ri-ken, Japanese for, "Hidden Hand Blade", were a tactical tool used by Samurai to distract or misdirect an opponent. Not at all intended as a primary weapon, these little tools were used to be thrown at the face and eyes of an enemy combatant to cause them to look away and thus present an opening to be exploited. They could also be held in the hand and used as a contact distance combative aid for delivering strikes and jabs to vulnerable targets. 

Shu-ri-ken were produced in various shapes and sizes, one being the "Bo" Shu-ri-ken, Bo meaning stick. A reference to it's shape, the Bo shu-ri-ken was likely formed from a large nail or spike. It was held in the palm, blunt end against the palm heel and fingers straight trapping and guiding it for a no-spin throw.

In the 2003 action film, THE HUNTED, there is a scene in the end battle between actors Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones involving a primitive form of a Bo shu-ri-ken. Del Toro draws a wooden stick with both ends sharpened. The stick is lashed to his calf by means of primitive cordage. He throws the stick at Tommy Lee Jones who narrowly dodges and avoids it. Nonetheless, the attack does rattle Jones and add to his stress and need to be cautious.

It is worth noting that renown survival instructor Tom Brown Jr. [] was a technical advisor for the film and his training staff crafted the knapped chert knives used in the film. Del Toro relies on a knife fashioned after a model designed by Tom Brown Jr.

Lest you think such weapons are exclusive to Japan, note that primitive throwing weapons and tools are nothing new. Most of the world's aboriginal peoples have used such tools at one time or another. The Australian boomerang and the North American Rabbit Stick and Apache Star come to mind. Lacking a knife, such tools can be formed by using a chipped sharp micro-crystalline stone as a cutting tool and sanding the weapon smooth against a cobble from a creek.

As well, small palm sticks for use as impact weapons in close quarters combatives have been around quite awhile as well. Kubaton's, Koga sticks, and tactical pens are modern derivatives of the traditional Filipino Dulo-Dulo or Palm Stick, and the Samurai's Yawara pocket stick. Directed against sensitive, vulnerable targets they can deliver pain, great injury, even death to vital areas such as spine, groin, temple, throat, and eye socket. Of course, such use would only be permissible were one defending themselves against great bodily injury or death.

As I was testing some new knives I had received for Christmas to judge their efficacy as carving tools, I decided to craft some of these primitive throwers and practice this skill. Using some pieces of pruned branches I had harvested, I carved some throwers 12" in length and about 3/4" in diameter. I would recommend this length because they will quickly become dulled and the points need be re-sharpened. Possibly you could fire-harden the points or even coat them with Pine resin to prevent splitting and toughen them. I would also recommend the points be carved concave so the soft pith center does not form the point

As I see it, these primitive throwers would be a useful tool for defensive purposes as a "Last Ditch" weapon for persons who have been disarmed or are lacking a weapon and are in a SERE [Survive Escape resist Evade] situation, such as military personnel or civilians fleeing kidnappers/hostage takers.
If you'd care to try this. begin by carving a thrower as I have described. A discarded pizza box makes a good target to throw against. If you decided to train with it as an impact weapon, blunt/round the ends and then carefully and slowly practice strikes with a training partner. your focus should be on building muscle memory and precision, not speed. Be sure to use padded clothing, gloves, and eye and head protective gear to avoid injury.
Happy Hiking!
[Bushcraft Woods Devil]  

Friday, December 6, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019! Lets talk about slipjoint pocket knives!

Merry Christmas 2019 my friends! I send my kind regards and sincere holiday wishes to all of you and your families. 

Below you will find a video, in which I show some of my classic slip joint pocketknives. These were the pocketknives of our fathers and grandfathers and many will have fond memories of them being used by them, perhaps to slice and share an apple with us when we were young. 

In the past couple of decades, large tactical folders came to the fore and became de rigeur and these little folders became somewhat forgotten. I even see ladies with tactical folders clipped to a pocket, boot, or belt.

However, I do think that slip joints are making a comeback, as people discover their light weight, portability, and aesthetic qualities. Unlike a large tactical folder, these benign little tools may be more socially acceptable and less likely to draw complaints in a workplace or public setting. As well, many have sub-3" blades and are non-locking. Many jurisdictions prohibit locking blades and blades exceeding 3". Of course, always do your due diligence and review local laws and ordinances to ensure compliance.

They are very useful for small tasks, such as slicing fruit, opening packages, sharpening a pencil, and so on. Thus, they may be very well suited for EDC carry in less-permissive environments where a tac folder might raise alarm. 

Slip joints were used by the woodsmen of the "Golden Age of Camping [1890-1930], such as Nessmuk, Kephart, and even early car camper Henry Ford. Some patterns, such as the Moose, are a bit stouter and can perform camp chores and wood whittling and carving tasks.

I believe that one company has done much to restore these little knives to the public conscience, and that is Smoky Mountain Knife Works []. They have models available from Schrade, Imperial, and Case that are priced for any budget. As well, they carry a line of traditional pocket knives manufactured in China under the name ROUGH RYDER [recent brand name change from ROUGH RIDER].  

In my estimation, ROUGH RYDER knives are well made, extremely inexpensive, and offer excellent quality at little cost. But more than that, their line is incredibly diverse in terms of materials and features, and are wonderfully attractive. I have one of their BACKWOODS BUSHCRAFTER Trapper pattern knives, and I could not be more pleased. It would have been right at home in a classic camp with wool blankets, a canvas shelter, candle lantern, and a Dutch oven warming over a wood campfire.

If you are interested in learning more about classic slip joint pocket knives I highly recommend that you visit TOBIAS GIBSON Channel on YOUTUBE. This gentleman has an amazing collection and his depth of knowledge of knives, patterns and history, is truly amazing.
I hope you will enjoy this video, and again, Happy Holidays!

Happy Hiking!

[Bushcraft Woods Devil]

Friday, May 24, 2019

COGHLAN'S Multi-Function Camp's not bad for five dollars!

Hello my friends!  Sorry I have been gone so long! It has been a busy year thus far, and I've been busy with life and other projects. Anyhow, earlier today I was shopping at RITE-AID and decided to peruse the Sporting Goods/Camping section. I noticed that COGHLAN'S had changed the handles of their traditionally red-handled camp knife to a very attractive green color:

The green color was unique and new to me...kind of the same shade as the U.S. Park Service vehicles. I decided to pick one up and add it to my collection of camp knives: 

...and, since I had the knife in packaging, I decided to go ahead and do a quick tabletop review on it. 

Basically, the COGHLAN'S  Multi-Function Camp Knife is a Chinese-made copy of the classic Swiss Army Knife [SAK] pattern or "style". It is marketed by COGHLAN'S  LTD, a well known outdoor products based in Winnipeg, Canada []. If you are not familiar with COGHLAN'S, they offer a large variety of camp gear items, usually at a budget price.

This camp pocket knife measures appx. 3.5" [91mm] closed with a blade length of 2-1/8" [55mm], for an open length of 6" [15.5 cm]. The knife's tools include:

1. Spearpoint blade
2. Can Opener
3. Phillips screwdriver
4. Corkscrew
5. Combo bottle cap lifter/slotted tip screwdriver.

As well, the plastic handle scales house a toothpick and tweezer. 

The blade has a typical factory grind sharpening...not spectacular, but adequate. The blade was almost certainly stamped out on a press and then passed a couple of times over a belt grinder to achieve a working edge. This knife blade is probably constructed from a low quality stainless steel. My experience has been that these knives will take a good sharpening but won't hold an edge.

Here is a video review I shot on this pocket knife:

The profile of the pocketknife is very slender, much more so than a VICTORINOX due to the lack of tools, and it carries very comfortably in the pocket. The backsprings are good and there is no side-to-side wobble or play when the blade or tools are deployed. 

My only criticism was that the toothpick was lodged too tight in the handle and had to be pried out. I discovered some sprue from molding in the toothpick channel. I scraped it smooth, and this allowed the toothpick to be easily withdrawn and replaced.

Personally, I enjoy collecting "knock-off" copies of Swiss Army Knives. It's fun to compare them, how they differ, and also to see if they can be made better by proper sharpening and tuning up the stamped/hastily made tools, such as squaring up those rounded screwdriver tips and putting an edge to those rounded-dull can opener blades.

Price of this pocket knife as of this moment is about $4.59 USD at RITE-AID. As I see it, this little knife offers utility for the person on a budget who perhaps wants to have a pocketknife for trail and camp but cannot afford to spend more.  I also see it as having usefulness as a light EDC pocket carry folder which won't arouse concerns if observed, such as paring an apple at the office. SAK's are sold and recognized globally...there are very few people do not know what a "Swiss Army knife' is. 

I also think this would make a fine starter pocket knife for a youngster such as a Boy or Girl Scout who is just learning knife handling skills. At that price point if it becomes damaged/lost it is of no great loss, versus a better quality pocketknife.

Happy Hiking!

[Bushcraft Woods Devil]

Friday, January 11, 2019

Mini-Bushbuddy Coffee...With thanks to BUSHCRAFT MY WAY Channel

Sometime back, I came across an excellent tutorial video entitled "Bushcraft tips & tricks: The modified tea-light candle (the mini-bushbuddy )... my way!" [link below].

The video was produced and shared my a bushcrafter in Romania, and details how to make an excellent tool for heating a cup of water using only a common tea-light candle.

We've been having quite a bit of rain here on the central California coast, so last night I crafted a few of these.

I decided to make a cup of coffee this morning, so I used one to heat water in my canteen cup, using the DOLLAR TREE paper clip cup as my cup-stand.

The results were outstanding. I achieved a rolling boil on over 1 cup of water in just under 6 minutes. Of course, it was assisted by a wind-sheltered location and the burner was placed very close to the bottom of the cup so heat transfer was very good.

Regardless, I think this is an excellent and low-cost means to boiling water or heating a soup or any cup-based meal or beverage on the trail. 

The mini-bushbuddy is really easy to craft and all that is required is your time, some corrugated cardboard, and inexpensive tea candles. In this case, I used DOLLAR TREE tea candles. 

If you are interested, here is the link to the BUSHCRAFTMY WAY instructional video I mentioned  "Bushcraft tips & tricks: The modified tea-light candle (the mini-bushbuddy )... my way!" 

Happy Hiking!

[Bushcraft Woods Devil]