Making something is fun. It's creative, constructive, mind-crushing, relaxing & also quite reboosting.
Welunderstood, when all goes well - otherwise it's nonsense, destructive, frustrating, nerve-breaking & extremely deprimating.
But making something to make something is another level.
My opinion, there's nothing better than designing & making your own tools. And drinking beer at sunrise. Or better, still drinking beer at sunrise. Good beer, in a good place, with good people. Or alone, without bad people.
Cavemans behaviour, revisited.
Whatever. I made a few tools, already, and there are quite a few of them I'm using very often. Very satisfying - it's good to favorite your own, nothing wrong about it.
Last week, I felt that time had come to push our species one big leap forward in the evolutionary rollercoaster.
Things had to change.
Step 1: The Concept
You know, thousands of thousands of people are crushing their minds every day and every night to make communication between them better, making faster - and flatter - cell-phones & tablets, inventing useless apps & speeding up the bits.
I can be wrong, but I think all those gadgets are pushing us just further away from each other, instead of bringing us together. Going out with friends has become sinonymous for staring at our respective cell-phones.
Spirits In A Material World, you know.
I think that new Technology Won't Save Us.
But I believe that Ameliorated Old Technology Will Do.
And so I decided to re-invent the axe.
Axes bring people together. Axes can be a symbol of destruction, but they're also a great metafor for creativity & connectedness. Cut some wood, make a fire, Come Together, and enjoy those simple moments of sharing & enjoying the warmth of both. And of getting evil forces at a distance.
This world needs better axes. Or other axes.
Instead of refining the designs, I decided to drop the concept to a whole new level.
Everything can be axed, in fact.
Also a cell phone, ironically.
Instant Axe! No kidding.
Step 2: The First Part of the Equation
An axe is nothing more than something hard & sharp fixed to something less hard. And preferably less sharp.
I wanted to make something everyone could make, not just the happy few with access to CNC's & 3D printers. Or free beer - those are the happiest of all few.
I wanted to make it compact & light, so that it would be easy and not too hearth-breaking to carry along in Into The Wild.
It could have been like this, for example, but since someone already came up with this brilliant idea it had to be different.
So I decided to give it a shot with a piece of carbon steel full of potential - read: ugly & worthless.
A triangle with round edges is a great design, in particular for an axe.
And it's just awesome to cut a niece piece of carbon steel from nothing.
Double sided tape, cutter & grinder. Same story every time.
Step 3: The Thing With the Shepherdesses
Instead of fooling around with big wood screws I decided to hack a shepherdess. Seriously.
You know, since we - the United Flemish Tribe - have been so incredibly smart to turn all our open space into urban jungle, all of our shepherds & shephedesses are unemployed. No grass, no sheep, no job.
Many get their kicks in alcohol & crazy fungi, but most of them simply suicide & disappear without having left a single trace on this planet.
Since this has led to a lot of social tragedies we've decided to convert those shepherds and -esses into other businesses. And so many of them found jobs as a keeper of exterior window shutters. Really.
Since I feel deeply concerned with them I wanted to take them also into a whole new business.
I decided to take those shepherdesses into the wild again.
Cut their heads off & recover their bodies.
Everything has a price.
Step 4: The Thing With the Shepherdess (bis)
Since I had a lot of comments from worried, frustrated & slightly deprimated members, I felt more or less the need to explain what this weird thing is all about.
Shepherdesses are metal window shutter stoppers - very common in the ol' world where brick houses are (were) the norm.
These quite intelligent designed devices hold the windows open when they Keep Their Head Up. When you want to close the shutters, you just have to lift them a centimeter or so, pivot them to you and let them hang head down all night.
The ol' good ones are made in cast steel and have to be sealed in the bricks, while the new - cheaper - ones are made with a modified bolt. Only the head is still made in cast steel.
Step 5: A + B
Slide the blade into the shepherdess (not my fault it's called a shepherdess), add a washer & drill all the way through the blade.
It's carbon steel. A new drill may help.
Add a nice bolt with one of those fancy nylon tuned nuts and you have a wonderful world-saving device.
Nothing to do with surviving in style or surviving without.
Just elementary tool making.
Step 6: The Handle - Engineered Version
Instead of doing the survival no nonsense thing immediately, I prefer starting with the best result you can get with this concept - when you learn with the best, at least you have an example to work to.
Like most paleo-axes, this tool needs a nice fork to work properly.
A fork will give you mass to screw and inertia while using it.
I had the chance having a beautiful piece of ash left which was just perfect for this project - my neighbour gave me a full truckload of these 'to burn this winter'. Beautiful ash, as dry as Nevada in summer. Not one piece will be burned, I'm starting a handle business!
Btw: ash is the best wood to make handles. It's hard, resistant & has still some kind of flexibility. Perfect wood.
Some carving, some grinding. Same story, every time.
Pro tip: make sure to make the grip ellipsoic. It will grip better and don't change its angle while working with.
To make this concept work, you might need an auxiliary tool - in fact, you don't really need it, but it can be helpful.
Like a drill, for example. Always have a hand-drill in your survival bag.
Drill a pilot hole in the head of the axe & screw the blade in place.
Instant axe. Add wood & you're done.
Step 7: The Handle Again - Less Engineered Version
Get a nice fork, adjust the length & screw the blade to the head.
You might drill a pilot hole, but if the wood's fresh and if you rope it correctly to prevent it from splitting, in less than a few minutes you'll get a decent axe.
How to get that fork out of a tree if you need that fork to make that axe?
Be creative. Get a piece of wood somewhere somehow and use it as a provisionally handle.
Or screw it in your cell-phone. It might even work - just don't forget to remove the battery.
Survival is all about improvising.
Step 8: Tips 'n Tricks
Unless it's quite small for an axe blade, it's surprisingly powerful and really fun to use.
When turning the blade 90°, you'll get a nice adze which is perfect for planing or flattening pieces of wood.
Axe & adze all in one.
You didn't see that coming.
I hope you enjoyed this project, and if you're making your own I'd like to know about it.