Saturday 31 October 2015


I have recieved enquiries regarding the use of "fat wood" as a tinder in 18th century fire lighting. The original term for this wood from the pine tree was "candlewood", & it can not be used as a tinder for use with flint & steel. It can however be used as kindling.
Another enquirie referred to no documentation found on the use of "candlewood" for fire lighting. Firstly this could be because the wrong name, fat wood, was used in the search, & secondly it seems that candlewood was more popular used as a candle for light rather than using it for kindling in a fire. However, that does not mean that someone did not use candlewood as a kindling in fire lighting in the 18th century. Certainly its use for lighting (candle) was known in the 17th century.

     "They are such candles as the Indians commonly use, having no other, and they are nothing else but the wood of the pine tree, cloven in two little slices, something thin, which are so full of the moysture of turpentine and pitch that they burne as cleere as a torch."
Rev. Mr. Higginson. 1633.
 "Out of these Pines is gotten the Candlewood that is much spoke of, which may serve as a shift among poore folks, but I cannot commend it for singular good, because it droppeth a pitchy kind of substance where it stands."
Wood, _New England's Prospect. 1642.

Thursday 29 October 2015

The Yankee Chef™ : Where's The Beef?

The Yankee Chef™ : Where's The Beef?: I remember having mincemeat so often during the Holiday season that I expect it every year now. Many of you will consider mincemeat an acqu...

Sunday 25 October 2015

Corn, can it really sustain you on a long trek?

I have read that the Woodland Indians travelled with just corn to sustain them on their long journeys, & I have often wondered, knowing a little about the properties of corn or the lack there of, how they managed to survive. Then recently one of my sons happened to mention to me the advantages of cooking corn in a lye solution. Apparently the action of the lye on the corn releases nutrients in the corn that otherwise could not be accessed. Now of course I had read about the Indians boiling & soaking corn in a solution of lye, but I had not realised the full potential of this process. So I started researching to see if the parched corn that these woodland travelers carried & ate, was first treated with a lye solution, & found that it was!
Now I don't recall when reading about parched & dried corn used as trail food the mention anywhere about treating first with a lye solution. Now of course this makes perfect sense, no wonder they were able to travel long distances on just dried corn. Of course the lye solution can only release those nutrients that are in the corn, so it does have its limitations. As daily meals under normal circumstances other foods such as meat would have to be included to keep one fit & healthy, but as a trail food for a limited time, this maize or corn was indeed quite adequate.

It is interesting to note that the Europeans did not take this knowledge of treating corn with lye back home with them, so the many recipes we use today lack the nutrition that is locked away inside the corn kernel!

The author's brass trade kettle.

Indians cooking & drying meat.

The Yankee Chef™ : Johnny, Jonny or Journey?

The Yankee Chef™ : Johnny, Jonny or Journey?: Jonnycake   Where to even begin... As I have shown in my article Behind A Crows Ear, I have outlined the beginnings of corn he...

More on Kettles, a Blog Link.

Saturday 24 October 2015

The Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury

Strake Nail

Forging a strake nail for a pair of French cannon wheels

Posted by The Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury on Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Wednesday 21 October 2015

An Update On Tinder Tubes.

It seems that I may be right about tinder tubes being pipe lighters. I found this image with explanation.

Rural French pipe-smoker’s outfit – late 19th Century.

I think that the block on the tube is a steel, & you can see the end cap & retrieving hook is attached to a piece of flint.

Tinder Tubes.

There has been a lot of speculation as to the use of the Tinder Tube and its manufacture date. Personally I have yet to see one made before the 19th century, though I see many 18th century living historians carrying these for fire lighting. I have found little information available on the Tinder Tube, however, being very familiar with 18th century fire lighting methods, I very much doubt that the Tinder Tube was ever intended for fire lighting. 
I believe that the Tinder Tube was simply a method of lighting pipes & cigarettes. After all, it is not only far easier to use a tinderbox for fire lighting, but the tinderbox is essential for the ease of processing plant tinders and charring cloth. One researcher believes that the Tinder Tube was used for firing some form of hand held firearm or cannon. Again, this makes no sense as the matchlock had its own match holder, and the cannon used a Linstock.

Common copy of a tinder tube as sold by Track Of The Wolf.

Three antique 19th century tinder tubes.

Three Russian cigarette cases with built in tinder tubes.
If anyone has any further information on tinder tubes, I would be very pleased to hear from you.
Thank you.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

The Polypore Fungus Tinder for Flint & Steel Fire Lighting & Fire Bow.

This is really just an update to previous posts I have made concerning these Bracket Fungus. These first 3 images of Laetiporus Portentosus, also known as White Punk, were taken this past Monday afternoon in the forest in the Armidale/Guyra area of New England NSW. Mostly found on Stringybark trees here, but they will grow on other trees. This one was found within reach of my hand being about 7 feet off the ground.
I have not seen this type of bracket fungus growing in the tropics, but that does not mean that it does not exist there.
 Once charred directly in the fire it makes excellent tinder for flint & steel fire lighting, it can also be used in the Fire-Bow process & for carrying fire.
Similar fungus known as Piptoporus & Ryvardenia serve the same purpose & all look very much alike. The image is more important than the name, just remember what it looks like.

The following images are of this Bracket Fungus that I have found in the past. These fungus very often grow high in trees & to collect them you will need to throw a stick or rock to bring them down, but after rain, this fungus soaks up the water & becomes too heavy to hang on the tree & falls to the ground. Many are found on the ground.
This fungus is eaten by a fungus beetle, & the resulting dust will catch a spark without having to char the fungus in the fire.

A close up of the damage done by the fungus beetle, & a close up of the beetle itself (a lot of fun trying to get a good photo of this tiny beetle !!!)

Laetiporus Portentosus Map.

British Tars, 1740-1790: A view of the procession of John Swan and Elizabet...

British Tars, 1740-1790: A view of the procession of John Swan and Elizabet...: "A view of the procession of John Swan and Elizabeth Jefferies," Bispham Dickinson, c.1752, British Museum . The case of Eliz...

Saturday 17 October 2015

The Coming of the British to Australia 1788 to 1829. Gutenberg.

Colonial Foods. The Carrot In America.

1610 - A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia. - What should I speake of cucumbers, muske melons, pompions, potatoes, parsneps, carrets, turnups, which our gardens yeelded with little art and labour.

For Roots, there is,

      Potatoes, Parsnips, Onyons, Sparragras, Carrots, Turneps, Hartichokes, all sorts of Herbes for Physick or Pot; all which grow without any such trouble as is taken for them England, and for delicacie farre exceeding the best Gardens here in England.
(first hand accounts of Virginia 1649 )
A Perfect Description of VIRGINIA - "20 That they have Roots of severall kindes,PotatoesSparagusCarretsTurnipsParsnipsOnions, and Hartichokes."

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Primitive Skills and Methods. Uses For Wood Ashes.

Cavern Scene By Firelight by William smith 1753

Uses For Wood Ashes & Charcoal.
1.    For removing fur from animal skins.
2.    As lye for making soap.
3.    I have washed my hands using water and wood ashes.
4.    Spread around plants to stop slugs and snails.
5.    As garden fertilizer.
6.    For controlling mites on chooks and other fowls.
7.    Charcoal as a water filter.
8.    For protecting dry foods.
9.    Using in the toilet pit.
10. For testing wind direction.
11. Laying down to catch animal tracks.
12. Bury a fire in ashes to keep it in at night.
13. Charcoal will attract moisture.
14. Charcoal as an antidote for poisons.
15. For drawing, writing, and marking patterns on animal skins.
16. For camouflage on your face and hands.
17. Charcoal used as a slurry in a poultice for insect bites.
18. Charcoal for controlling Diarrhea

Primitive Skills and Methods. Uses For Urine.

Diderot 18th Century.

Uses For Urine.
1.    Urine when it is fresh and free from infection, can be used to wash out wounds.
2.    Urine contains nitre. It can be used to soak plant tinders & it can be used instead of water when making gunpowder.
3.    Urine can be evaporated to produce potassium nitrate.
4.    Urine can be used as a garden fertilizer if diluted 8 parts water to 1 part urine.
5.    Urine used neat can be used as a weed killer.
6.    Used in the process of tanning animal skins.
7.    Scouring, cleaning, fulling & dyeing wool fleece to make cloth.
8.    Washing/cleaning cloth/clothing.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Colonial Gunsmith

Indian Goods List.

John Buxton. Eye Of Hawk.

A list of goods for Indian Presents.
20 pieces striped Duffils, the stripes bright
28 half pieces blew Strouds
14 half pieces red Do.
10 pieces blew plains corded and Wormed for Women
200 Yards of embroider’d Serge the patterns large
2500 lb F. Gunpowder
150 Wilson’s trading Guns
40 Fowling Pieces
12 Saddles with Cruppers and Bridles
8 Do. a better Sort with Housings
2 Gross Stone Rings
12 Doz. Horn Combs
6 Doz. Ivory Do.
4 Gross black and spotted Clasp knives
12 Doz. Razors
12 Doz. pair Scyssors
12 Doz. looking Glasses
12 Nests of red gilt trunks
19 Doz. check Shirts
18 Doz. white Garlics Do
15 pieces of Calicoe 18 yards in Each
50Cnt trading Bells
34 second hand scarlet, red, and blew coats
6 Do. a better sort, and 6 Waistcoats for head men
34 tinsel laced hats
6 tinsel laced hats a better Sort for Head Men
6 Gross Body Cadis in pieces 12 yards each
6 Gross figured and Star Gartering
30 lb Vermilion
14 Gross long Pipes
60 Gross Hunters Do
100 lb. Shag cut tobacco
40 lb. bright brass wire sorted
6 Gross Hawks Bells smallest size
12 Dozen Oval-eyed Hatchets
250 lb brass Kettles sorted
10 Nests tin Kettles 15 in Each
4 Doz. quart tin Pots
4 Doz. pint Do
4 Doz 1/2 Pint Do
4,000 Black flints for trading guns
1,000 Do for Fowling Pieces
Source: Coleman, K., Ready, M., (1976). The Colonial records of the state of Georgia. Vol.27, Original papers of Governor John Reynolds, 1754-1756. Athens: University of Georgia Press. pp. 30-31

Friday 9 October 2015

New Gunpowder Legislation/Laws In West Australia.

In WA gun powder storage laws have just been changed.

You may have no more than 2 kg of gun powder in any one container.
On the outside of the container there must be a clearly visible sign saying “Explosives”.
The container must be made of, or lined with, a material other than a ferrous metal. 
You have to be able to close and lock it.
When closed, it must protect the explosive from the weather and contamination and sources of ignition; and not allow the powder to escape or leak from it.
When locked, the container must prevent removal of or access to the powder by unauthorised people.
The container must be kept closed and locked except when it needs to be opened to deal with the powder in it. Only someone with a firearms licence is to have access to the means of unlocking the container.
You may store at a place no more than 15kg “net explosive quantity” of any ammunition propellant (excluding any ammunition propellant in ammunition) but not more than 4 kg of black powder at that place.
These rules are set out in the Dangerous Goods Safety (Explosives) Regulations 2007.

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Australian Survival and Preppers..: Stop the vilification and hate speech by Gun Contr...

Australian Survival and Preppers..: Stop the vilification and hate speech by Gun Contr...: https://www.change.org/p/australian-human-rights-commission-stop-the-vilification-and-hate-speech-by-gun-control-australia?recruiter...

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Augers & Gimlets.

Finin Liam Christie making a fire crane.