Whilst we went to Chopwell Woods to teach spooncarving we also learnt some bushcraft tricks. My favourite was learning to make fire with flint and steel, Eric Methven taught me and Ollie and Jojo too then gave us a flint and steel each to practice at home. Here is Ollie blowing his ember into life.
This really is a magical thing, quite quick and easy to learn if you have the right tools and teacher and an instant connection with our ancestors from millennia past. It is really only a few hundred years since this was the standard way to light fire. The excitement when you blow your first ember into flame is great for kids of all ages…something everbody should try to do at least once.
One of our course members was the lucky owner of a genuine Ray Mears bushcraft knife. These are made by knife maker Alan Wood to Ray Mears design and sell on Ebay for £400-£500, sadly whilst they were designed as a knife to use for hard work they have become collectors items. I am not sure how Alan Wood feels about that. As a maker it gives me the greatest pleasure when I meet people who have enjoyed using my bowls for years in their daily lives, I would not want them to be cosseted.
Anyway Ken kindly let me have a go with his knife and I was very interested to see how it performed as a woodcarver. First impressions were good, it was far lighter than I imagined, I have only seen them in pictures and thought they looked too big and chunky. Sadly it was not as sharp as it needed to be to really judge its working abilities, I could have sharpened it for Ken but they only fetch the top prices if they are “as new and never sharpened”. Rather a dilemma, do you sharpen it and use it as it was designed for and knock £100 off its value? Personally I enjoy using the Swedish and Finish knives that are mass produced and sell for £10.