This past week I have been working on my 16’x13’ cabin… 

The foundation is made from dry stacked stones that were found near the border of Algonquin park. The sill (bottom row) logs were cut to match the unique shape of each top stone in a way that will tighten overtime. 

I enjoy the problem solving that comes with moving large logs by hand. At first it was very slow going, but with each passing day I learn new tricks to wrangle these behemoths into place. 

The first, is to use a cant hook. This primitive tool is essential for turning logs. The one pictured here Is made from stainless and brass, with a mahogany handle. In my experience, It’s always more rewarding to work with tools that you have made or restored yourself.

Another essential “tool” is a standard 2x4. I mainly use it for leverage, but it’s also great to jam under log ends to keep them from rolling or shifting.

To turn a log 90°, place a pivot under the balancing point near the middle. If done just right, you can spin a 1000lb log with a single finger. 

The first log to be notched sits atop the sill logs, awaiting the axe. I used a jack to both lift it onto the sills and inch it into place over the corners.


Last year I finished my skin-on-frame kayak, but since then It’s been missing a matching paddle! 

So today I went into the hills searching for a nice straight grained eastern white cedar to make a paddle from. After a nice break in my camping hammock I finally found a tree that I didn’t feel too bad about cutting down… 

These trees grow very slowly on the rocky cliffs, giving the wood far more growth rings per inch. This makes the wood much stronger than faster growing specimens with thicker growth rings. Perfect for something like a thin bladed paddle. 

It’s been raining a lot and the season is right, so the bark was easily peeled in one piece. This bark can be used for containers, basketry, rope, or even made into clothing (after some processing). I will save it and use it for future projects. 

Tomorrow I will use wedges to split the trunk in half, one of these halves will become my new paddle!

Today was all about this massive carving gouge here.. 

The steel is stamped “JAMES CAM SHEFFIELD” on the inside, and “CAST STEEL” on the outside. 

James Cam was a tool steel manufacturer from 1781 - 1838. “Cast steel” from Sheffield was among the very best steels from that era, and it still holds true today.

I acquired the rusted gouge missing the handle and in pretty bad over-all shape. I cleaned it up, reground the bevel to 20°, and fitted a proper american hickory handle with leather washers. The bevel was then honed to a shaving sharp edge on diamond plates. 

I’ve never even seen a reference to a gouge this large, it is an exceedingly rare piece of woodworking history. 

With only 200+/- years behind this tool, it’s amazing to think of the projects that it has helped complete… and the hundreds of years of future life that still remain…

The Norsemen series cases are complete. 

Hand carved verawood toggles that will be used for the lid closures on the two Norsemen series pipes. 

I use solid brass rivets to attach the lid flaps to the cases. Each rivet hole is enlarged with a tapered pin so that the fabric is not frayed around the holes, which would happen if you punched the holes with a cutting bit. 

The rivets are hammered on an anvil to secure them in place. 

On these two cases I used a bamboo spine sewed into the inside of the lid flaps. This gives them some extra rigidity. 

Now back to the shop to finish the wooden toggle clasps and these cases are done.

Pipe of the Norsemen II

The symbol carved here is not exactly taken from history, however, it is very similar to the many trident shaped Scandinavian symbols or runes that exist. 

This particular trident symbol is my artists signature. It’s most commonly used as the symbol for Neptune, but it also has use in ancient alchemy, as the symbol for quicklime. 

The meanings behind it are many, so I like to leave it up to the owner to decide how they want to interpret it.

Pipe of the Norsemen I 

This will be a new series of pipes, along with the Voyageurs and Wizard series. This fills a spot in between the two, as far as bowl and stem size is concerned.

They will be called Pipes of the Norsemen, and they will all draw inspiration from Scandinavian cultures.

This particular design features a serpent carving around the bowl, the design was borrowed from Scandinavian monuments on the Isle of Mann (around thirteenth century). 

Bamboo stems were fitted, glued, shaped, scraped, sanded, and oiled. 

African blackwood mouthpieces were turned on the lathe and their tenons glued into each stem. 

This afternoon I hiked into the eastern woodland to have a fire and bend some bamboo stems.  

I brought along my tinder box, filled with cat tail seeds, charred punky wood, and a ferrocerium rod for creating sparks. The forest yielded some dry grass and twigs that I wrapped around my tinder to form a sort of birds nest that could be lit with a spark.

Yes.. I had a lighter in my pocket, but using a spark is totally hip right now in the artisan-bushcraft community.  

A family of young chickadees came by to see what I was up to. Usually birds around these woods are very timid, but these curious fellows didn’t mind my company. 

A toad fled the scene as the fire grew hotter. 

The spruce bows billowed milky smoke. My cocoon of haze barred the mosquitoes but not the long evening shadows.

Dusk drew near as the fire died down, the stems were bent over the glowing trench, and it was time to head back to the shop.  

Not a bad afternoon at the office. 

A Scandinavian serpent design being roughed out.  

After hand sanding the tools marks out from around the carving. 

After hand sanding the tools marks out from around the carving.