Survival is always been one of my favorite topics on this site - besides paper, flowers, jewelry, pets & how-to-ease-hard-hangovers. One of those personal thoughts that is always coming back is 'If I had only one tool to choose, what would it be?'.
The question has been answered a long time ago. It's a beer bottle opener, of course.
KIDDING! - of course it's a decent pocket knife. Put that tool in the hands of a skilled woodsman and you've got the receipt of a long and happy life.
But then a second question came: 'What if I could take just one 'gadget' with me?'. So we're talking about the second place in the top chart of stuff you're happy to have when left alone in mother nature's eden.
A nightmare to many, a wet dream for me.
This could be a fire starter, a handkerchief to whip the tears or the 'Suicide For Dummies' bestseller.
Let's go on, while we're havin' fun. Third place! A length of paracord? Fishing gear? Or an alphorn?
To me, it's definitely an axe. Or - let's keep it minimalistic - just an axe head.
I love axes. But before I continue with this I'd like to unload a few thoughts about survival in general.
Where I live, survival is often seen as something for well-trained testosteron-trickling guys, armed with pointy weapons. It's maybe weird and also a bit sad, but that's just the way most people see it over here. Weird, because every survivalist knows that The Survivalist is completely opposite to this image. It's not the strongest who'll make it to the end. It's the smartest.
I believe - but who am I - that survival is all about knowledge & creativity. Knowing which root you can eat and where & when to find it. Being capable to adapt in function of given circumstances. Dealing with the tools you have instead of searching the impossible. Being able to do everything with nothing. Having learned how to use nature instead of fearing it. Survival is all in the head. Survival is about opportunism. Survival is about experience and taking your time to explore your environment. Dissolving in nature. Learning to see, rather than running around as some constipated ostrich with a poor made spear in your hand.
Survival can be a perfect family-activity. Gathering & passive hunting instead of wasting energy chasing an occasional rabbit - or waiting for hours by the river to spear a fish. The only things that count is protecting yourself (from whatever danger) & assuring your daily dose of calories - which is also a way to protect yourself, in this case the loss of strength. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do this in family-style. The kids will learn more life skills in one 'survival' day than during one week at school, but that's another discussion...
One last statement: I don't like the kind of high-tech-style survival. If you think you need all those nice gadgets to live, I bet you'll be crying for your mom after a few days. Thrust in yourself, not in your equipment.
All that to say that you don't need a lot of gear to survive 'in the wild'. A good knife can be enough, in fact.
Or an axe.
I love axes, like I said.
I experienced that it's better to have a pocket knife & an axe than one nice big outdoor knife. With a small knife you can do a lot of food- and gear-related precision work. With an axe you can gather supplies to build a shelter, build a boat or dig a grave for that hich-tech-survalist that didn't make it.
In fact, I love axes that much that I always would have one with me. But, in our urban jungle walking with an axe is not (yet) really accepted. People look strange. Children start to cry. Policemen point guns at you - or throw tear gass. And most women refuse a second date.
This world has become cruel.
So a while ago I searched a way to save the goat AND the cabbage.
'Why not integrating an axe blade in a buckle?' I thought.
I googled 'Axe Buckle'. I got everything, except a buckle that also was an axe.
I felt lonely, suddenly. It seemed that I was the only person in the world who would feel the need to marry both. And though, it's simple, easy & useful. Most women won't even see, most policemen won't even remark - just wave boyz - and if the need's there the only thing you have to do is organising a stick, which can't be a big deal with that pocket knife.
One idea led to another and a few weeks ago I came up with this project.
Hope you like it. And if you don't - I really don't care, anyway.
Step 1: Gettin' Supplies
For this project you'll need a cheap, lightweight axe and one metal profile. That's it.
Note: the width of this profile has to be the same as the width of the axe.
With the profile you'll make a kind of 'slot' for the axe head.
This slot will be fixed to a leather belt.
Both pieces together will act as a buckle.
Step 2: Clean It Up
The idea is that if you ever need to use this tool you surely will find a way to sharpen it.
So, safety first, grind the cutting edge.
Great chance you'll have to do some symmetry adjustments: grind!
You can decorate it, or not. I experimented with some 'dirty grinder etching'...
You can also try it this way - but I'm far too impatient for that...
Step 3: Preparing the 'kork'
Make a piece of wood that fits exactly in the core of the axe.
In this piece you'll insert a love-less bolt later that will hold the screws from the slot in place.
Step 4: Shaping the Slot
The idea is that you barely may remark the housing of the axe.
So, place the axe in the profile, don't forget to count the thickness of the belt & grind away what doesn't look like a slot.
At the end, it'll look like the first picture.
Step 5: The Lucky Lip
This is not a buckle like others.
This one works with a spring, instead of just a small hook.
Easy as Hotel California - I used a piece of aluminium, riveted to the slot.
A lonesome rivet acts as lock.
To activate the slot: pull the lip backwards.
Dirty, but functional.
Step 6: Assembling
Find a nice leather belt - or recycle a bicycle-tire - and rivet it to the slot.
You might be forced to enlarge the holes.
Step 7: The AXE Effect
Put the kork of the axe in place.
Put the axe in the slot.
Drill a hole through the sides of the slot, through the kork.
Take the axe out, enlarge the hole & put a love-less bolt inside.
Put the axe back in the slot
Screw those screws though the sides, right into the bolt.
Step 8: The Real Axe
To make the axe: release the screws.
Cut down a nice piece of hazel.
Flatten the DOWNSIDE (the thickest). So NOT like the first one ;)
Insert the axe head.
Split the top with a pocket knife.
Insert a wedge of harder wood (or recycle the original iron nut).
Smash with a boulder.
Congrats, I bet you're the only one with an axe when that plane crashes. Or if you don't survive, at least you made some people happy...
Enjoy & use it well!
Runner Up in the
Outdoor Survival Contest