Friday, 28 December 2012

Primitive and Period Living Skills.

Our group members are presently evaluating their skills. When I posted the list of skills I personally would expect one of our woodsrunners to have, I also asked if anyone could add to that list. 
What has arisen from that discussion is the question of "would everyone have had that skill". In this particular case the question referred to leather work skills. This was my reply.

I think that if an item was needed, then the person needing that item would do his best to acquire it. If he/she could not purchase the item, then they would have to make it if possible. I have seen some rough leather work and some good leather work. Not everyone was good at everything. I am fair at making leather items with just the basic tools, awl, knife & needle. This is all the tools that one could expect the average person to be carrying or owning.
I think we should make the best we can with these basic tools, & if it does not look good, but is functional, then that is the way it is and was. The more we do, the better we get, up to a point. There is the "that will do" attitude, which is mostly mine, and there is the "not good enough" attitude which involves more time to make something look its best. 
Our individual levels of skill are such that someone's "that will do" or "good enough" may well be better than the "not good enough" attitude, but in the end all that matters is that the item is functional. That is the skill level you need.
So many skills are involved in putting your 18th century gear together. Before you can do any leather work, you need to make an awl. The top one I made, the lower one was my Father's awl.

On the left is an awl which belonged to a close friend. He also made the three trade awls on the right.

The "housewife" or sewing kit can come in various forms, but this one is the most popular type.

These lower three examples all have a double sheath. Softer leather cover over a hard leather sheath.

This one above has an inner bark sheath.

Various knife sheaths, all functional.

This is a list of basic skills in which I personally would expect an 18th century woodsman or woods-woman to have some experience with.
·         Flint & steel fire lighting
·         Wet weather fire lighting
·         Fire-bow fire lighting
·         Flintlock fire lighting
·         Flintlock use, service & repair
·         Field dressing & butchering game
·         Blade sharpening
·         Tomahawk throwing
·         Making rawhide
·         Brain tanning
·         Primitive shelter construction
·         How to stay warm in winter with only one blanket
·         Cordage manufacture
·         Moccasin construction and repair
·         Sewing
·         Axe and tomahawk helve making
·         Fishing
·         Hunting
·         Evasion
·         Tracking
·         Reading sign
·         Woods lore
·         Navigation
·         Primitive trap construction & trapping
·         Open fire cooking
·         Fireplace construction
·         Clothing manufacture
·         Drying meat & other foods
·         Knowledge of plant tinders & preparation
·         Knowledge of native foods & preparation
·         Knowledge of native plants in the area and their uses for other than tinder and food.
·         Scouting/Ranging.
·         Basic first aid.
·         Finding and treating water.
·         General leather work. 


Gorges Smythe said...

Just an observation, I have never read of eastern Indians using bowdrills to start fires. I'm not saying that they didn't, but I haven't personally read anything about it yet. Western Indians - yes.

A traveller in time said...

Like the cover on your friend's trade awl. I'm always super careful of sharp pointy things.

Le Loup said...

Me too! I have the same type of cover on mine, you can see it in the above image with waxed linen thread wrapped round it.