Thursday, June 25, 2015

Midnight sun paddling.

Last weekend was time for summer solstice. So daylight time is getting shorter again. Won't have dark nights for a while still, as we live 300km inside of arctic circle. Here's few pics from a canoe trip I did with a friend and my dogs.

Kumu has been in canoe only few times so far. Doesn't look like he's had bad expriences, as he was sitting there already before we even loaded it on the car.

Kumu wanted to sit on center yoke, doesn't look really comfortable. But what do I know, must be much better view from there. Pyry is experienced traveller on board, hopefully giving good example by his calm behaviour.

Lake Inari is 3rd biggest lake in Finland. Many and many islands, but not that many cottages at all, a real wilderness lake. Hopefully stays like this, as if more building would be allowed you'll never get it back.

 Dogs enjoying a short break during the trip.

 Beautiful calm weather. Rivers with rapids are more interesting to paddle, but on a beatiful day like this a silent lake is really enjoyable too.

Inside just few hours colours changed between deep blue and bright sunshine few times. Can't really complain about the scenery here.

We came back around 2am in bright sunshine. Some paddling, fishing, and open fire meal behind. Nice trip indeed.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Finnish puukko.

If I would have to define a typical basic form of Finnish puukko, this would be the result. Curly birch, carbon steel, and so called scandi grind.

This type of knives are called maasepänpuukko, translating as village smith's knife, a knife made by a village smith. It has all the things a knife needs; a handle, blade, and sheath or blade cover. Nothing else, no decorations, no elegant curves or artistic views, or other "unnecessary" things. In my opinion a maasepänpuukko loses it's attraction if it's finish is honed to perfection. It doesn't mean it has to be made quickly without any attention, but being microscope proof isn't what a maasepän puukko is about.

If you see an old puukko in this style, used and sharpened a lot, it speaks history and life. From time when tools were valuable items, and used for a lifetime and more. Very different from modern world when you can just take a few Euro knife, use it without any care, and throw it away when it get's dull. An old finnish common man's puukko was used for pretty much everything where a knife was needed. Whittling, eating, cutting, butchering, cleaning game and fish, carving etc. It's not the very best option for any specific work, but you can get all everyday tasks done with it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hiking in Lemmenjoki national park

I spent the first week of June in Lemmenjoki national park, hiking and chilling out with a friend and his dog. Here's few pictures taken along the way.

Our plan was to cross a river right at where we left the car. This time of the year water level is still quite high, so we decided to take a canoe with us. Only few hundred meters carry, and crossing was much easier than wading to the other side.

We would make a round trip, so canoe was left there to wait for our return. Up go the backpacks, and to the woods we head.

First kilometers we were hiking in typical pine forests here. Nice to walk, only small marshes to cross few times. Dogs are leashed, as it's nesting time for birds, moose and reindeers have newly born calves, so it's unnecessary to let hunting dogs running free.

Just after 5km or so we saw a bear. I walked at the front, and it was about 100 meters in front of me. It quickly dashed to the woods, and disappeared in few seconds.

           After tall forest we were heading towards the upper fell area. Even it's June, there's still quite a bit of snow left here and there.

After a short while I saw a moose with two very young calves just in front of us. The mother walked away from our direction, but only one of the calves followed her. Other one just laid down and was staying still. I was holding the dogs, and my friend went bit closer to take a pic. Then we quickly continued our way.

We had a break by nice small creek. Basicly all the water is drinkable here, especially running water.
Just after a while from this we had a nice surprise, a snowy owl took off on the fellside, less than 10 meters away from us. Very rare to see them!

Southside creeks and slopes are free of the snow already, but it's a different story on northern side.
This small creek had still almost 1 meter of snow on the bottom of it. Probably melts away in July, and then in September it's already time for the first snowfalls of the winter.

Tundra scenery from one of the lunch breaks. Not much sign of the summer up here yet. Good for walking, easy terrain, only a bit rocky at times. And definitely not too warm.

                             One of the relaxing things in the wilderness, a break by the campfire.

It's the time of midnight sun, or polar day. So the sun doesn't set at all here. Day is at it's longest bit after mid-June. And then after six months it's the opposite, you can't see the sun for about one month. This picture was taken around 1am. That day we hiked during the night, as the weather was good, and supposedly raining next day.

One reason for a hike to this area was our soon expiring gold panning site. We were packing all the stuff to be taken away in the winter by a snowmobile. At the camp we spent some time under this very professionally set up tarp. Straight from a text-book ...?

We had still a bit of food stored at the panning site. It's not difficult to guess that dogs would like some canned moose.

Kumu really looks like a teenager here.

Life of the dogs. Sunbathing around a small juniper. Completely unaware of what the coming days will bring, will this trip end tomorrow or last for a month. No plans for the future, just living in the moment.

A willow grouse on a treetop. For people who are used to see willow grouses regularly this looks out of place. They live on the ground, only sometimes standing on a birch branch, just couple of meters from the ground. This enjoyed it's life at 15 meters, on a tree in the middle of a small marsh.

About half of the trip we were walking on the upper fell area like this. Beatiful scenery. Harsh, but beautiful.

A lunch break in tall forest. Wind made the smoke swirl around, so dogs were happy to rest bit further from the fire.

Two logs over the creek here makes crossing easier for people. But not sure if for the dogs....

A portrait of our four-legged gang of the trip. Pyry 10 years, Ukko 2,5 years, and Kumu 9 months. We spent last night of the trip in open wilderness hut. Not much summer trafic yet, last log in the guestbook was from 2 days ago.

Short moment of work for a craftsman. Sawing off a crown of moose antler. Tips were already chewed by voles. Pyry is protecting "his" antler from other dogs.

 Last day we had a lunch and fishing break at a familiar place for me. There was still our cooking stick from my trip with WeekendWoodsman. Read about it here, and see how this place looked like in the autumn 2013!

Only a short hike back to the canoe, and then to the car. Another week in the wilderness was behind. Very nice trip all in all!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Puukko for sale. ( SOLD )

Blade:         97x21x4,9mm. 80CrV2 carbon steel, rhombic cross section. Scandi grind with small
Handle:      Length 112,5mm. 31,5mm wide and 22mm thick at max.
                    Brown stained curly birch, bronze fittings.
Sheath:       Vegetable tanned cowhide, dyed dark brown. Birch liner inside for the blade.

Sold, thank you!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Forging a hatchet.

On my trips to the woods I always carry a small axe / hatchet with me. I've found out that for me max. 1kg axe is fairly enough. I rather pack a saw too than take a bigger axe. My current user hatchet is the first one I made, about 14 years ago, so I thought I'd make a new one for myself.

This axe head starts it's life as a piece of truck leaf spring. Cut off with an angle grinder and then annealed.

Then I drill a pivot hole for the eye drift. This is not necessary of course, but helps when punching the eye. Especially when working alone, and without power hammer or press.

Punching the eye. Takes many heats to get it done.

Eye done.

Starting to form the blade, for this I wanted some beard, and a bit of thinning behind the bevel to reduce weight.

Blade bit and poll are forged in shape.

Corners filed down and shape finished, edge sanded ready for heat treatment.

Edge is hardened in oil, then immediately tempered on glowing coal of the forge. When tempering is finished the whole head is dipped in tar and excess is wiped off.

Then it's time to start with the handle. Shape is drawn and cut off with a jigsaw. This time I used white ash. I still have some planks left from the time I used to make bows. Good material for tool handles.

Rest of the handle work is done with rasp, file, and sandpaper. First the eye part is fitted, leaving last half a centimeter to be hammered in when finally fixing the head.

I like to use cross wedges, so next thing was to saw two slots for them, and whittle the wedges from juniper. Before the handle is finally fixed I sanded the edge of the bit, and finished the handle with coarse sandpaper.

Then just fitted the handle in it's place, hammered wedges in with some wood glue, and let it dry. Next day it got some boiled linseed oil for protection, as well for the head itself.

This axe came out weighing about 800 grams, with a total lenght of 40cm. Edge is about 7cm. Decent size for my needs.

Most often around the area where I live I use stumps and roots of a fallen pine for campfire. From these you can pretty easily find fatwood, which lights up easily even in the rain. Downside with them is that they can have some rocks between the roots, so you easily damage the edge of your axe even when being careful. Stumps with roots won't always split easily, so I like my axe handle to be relatively thick, especially on the neck, so I can sometimes bend it bit sideways too. On the other hand it can't be too thick for grabbing it just below the head still.
Edge needs to be aligned straight with the handle. Decent end knob is a must in a wilderness axe, as you sometimes work with wet hands and tired.

I'm not that strict with bevel/edge geometry of my outdoor axe. Usually I use flat bevel with a secondary, convex works too. This is not a carving axe, so splitting properties are more important than being able to carve nicely.

I'm not a fan of sharp or pointed lower corner/heel of the bit, so bearded design gives more obtuse corned without adding weight. Also a flat poll is important for me, for example to drive tent stakes to the ground.

Future will show if this axe is to my liking in the woods.