Plum Preserves

by Woodsbum

Due to travel, it has been a been over a week since my last post. I tell you, life is really crazy.

When I got home I found that the French improved plum tree in my backyard was ready for harvest. We grabbed several bags, one of which was pitted and put into my dehydrator. The other one was pitted and put into a pot for preserves/jam. The recipe we use is a 2 ingredient variety that just takes longer to complete than one that calls for pectin.

The recipe is as follows:

  • Use about a 20 small plum/prune to 4.5 cups of sugar ratio. 12 fruit to 4.5 cups of sugar for the bigger plums.
  • Stir the fruit and sugar up, then leave it to sit for about 2 hours.
Coated and slowly heating plums

Coated and slowly heating plums

  • Heat the mixture up slowly until all the sugar is melted. This should be done on 3/10 or 4/10 on your heat setting. Once the sugar becomes mostly liquid and not all grainy, bring your heat up to 6/10 and get it steadily bubbling.
  • Once your mixture is completely bubbling, turn your heat up to the lower portion of your high setting, 8/10, for about 10 minutes. Stir the mixture constantly.
  • Turn the heat down to about 3/10 and stir it until the bubbling subsides dramatically. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and let it sit until it is cool enough to comfortably sit on the skin without burning.
After first heating

After first heating

  • Repeat the heating process another 4 times to complete a full 5 heating cycles.

Once the final heat is done, take the mixture off the stove and fill your sterilized jars. Just follow current canning standards.

The more times that you heat the mixture, the thicker the preserves/jam will be. If you happen to add too much sugar, you can always just use it as syrup or a sauce. The nice thing about making jellies and jams is that there is no such thing as a bad batch. You just improvise the label and use it a bit differently.

We were finishing our 3rd heating cycle last night so I don’t have any pictures of the finished jam yet. The whole process can take 2-3 days due to the heating and cooling cycles. Because of all the sugar you don’t have to worry about bacteria growing. It is fairly well preserved once the first heat cycle is completed, but the follow up cycles set your consistency and thickness.

Happy jamming!

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Gutless Field Dressing

by Woodsbum

Here is a great video that shows how to field dress an elk in less than 10 minutes via the “gutless field dressing” method.

If you are wanting to save the hide to tan out, then this would NOT be the method to use unless you wanted a lot of small chunks of leather to work. I personally fight with the animal so that I can tan out each and every hide I collect. The leather is then used for various projects I have throughout the year.

For those that are deep in the woods and just need to get the meat out, I think I would definitely recommend this method.

Good luck and happy hunting this upcoming season!

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Finishing My Pipe

by Woodsbum

Actually, this is my son’s pipe that I made.

In woodworking, I have always had problems with finishing the project. For some reason, I can bend metal or carve very intricate things without issue. Getting it to look all nice and shiny after I am done has always been an issue. The folks over at Woodcraft actually steered me in the right direction this time.

The product and method that the Woodcraft guys suggested was similar to the method that people turning pens use. Doctor’s Woodshop Pens Plus polish and finish is what they suggested. Here is what they had me do:

  1. Load up a polishing wheel on my bench polisher.
  2. Polish up the pipe using several loads to the polishing pad.
  3. Coat the pipe, let it dry, and then buff it back out.

I still have to do the final polish/buff on the pipe and apply a couple more coats. It did turn out really nice, however. The final wood color was only a shade or two darker than when the wood was wet.

Mostly finished pipe

Mostly finished pipe

The color and the way that the grain was made to just pop is really exciting. Both of the other blanks I did had a much lighter colored wood. With the etching that Jerry is doing I am thinking a dark stain to the etched area and then use this polish for the rest will be perfect.

Due to my son’s inability to wait to test the pipe out I still have another coat and some polishing to do on this build. He said that the draw was actually quite nice and the tobacco stayed lit longer than his other pipes. This made me feel pretty good about the time and energy I spent building this thing.

Here is a good picture to the polish/finish that I used:

Polish/finish

Polish/finish

Again, just load your pad and go to buffing. It will polish and apply the finish all through the use of the buffing wheel.

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Carving Pipe Blanks

by Woodsbum

Well, the wife has another reason to be completely annoyed with me. I discovered that there is ANOTHER way for me to waste time and money. The pipe store has drilled briar wood pipe blanks. That is correct….  PIPE BLANKS!!!!

Now I not only have the opportunity to sit and smoke my pipe, drink beer, and hang out with my dog. I have the opportunity to make it look like I am doing something OTHER than smoking my pipe, drinking beer and hanging out with my dog. By finding these little gems I now look like I am working on some sort of project.

The pipe blanks are actually pretty simple. The stem is already set as are all the drilled holes. All that is required is some elbow grease to form the bowl. Here are some pictures of where I started and the progression until almost completed. It is not done yet because I have to get my friend to etch in a Navy Chief’s Anchor onto it and then polish.

Briar Block

Briar Block

After some sanding, filing and carving, I got to this point.

Pipe in progress

Pipe in progress

Here is another angle after some more carving, filing and sanding.

Pipe in progress

Pipe in progress

Although I have got it to the point where I am ready to do final sanding and polishing, I want to wait until I get it actually done in case I have to go back and fix something.

These pipe builds are actually pretty sweet. Thus far I have got 3 to the point where I just need to polish them. The shape for all 3 has been the same, but I will soon be doing some creative work on one or two. Although I am not fond of straight stem pipes, I will probably grab one because that is all the local store has left in stock. I can do a shorty, rounded bowl straight pipe that won’t look too bad.

Once I get the polishing done I will post some more pictures.

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Coal Forge Continued

by Woodsbum

My forge is home and safely stored until I can get my covered work area set up. It really is everything I had hoped and more. To start, I will tell a bit about the man that used to own this and all the tools.

The previous owner was a farrier that specialized in hot shoeing. He made all his own shoes from stock and did a lot of corrective foot work with various veterinarians around the area. For over 40 years this man put shoes on horses and made all sorts of hand forged items. One day he just sat down his hammer and had to quit. His tools and forge just sat there for years until and after he passed away. This little time capsule was like a window into this man’s life. After time went by, this man’s son and mother wanted to pass everything along to someone who would use and appreciate what was there. My brother is a farrier and run across this beauty, then IMMEDIATELY called me to see if I was interested. Of course I was and drove 450 miles to go pick this up.

Time Capsule

Time Capsule

I didn’t take the water or soda, but I did get all the tools you see. Some things are a bit rusted out, but everything is able to be cleaned up to make serviceable again. There are hardies, tongs, hammers, chisels, punches…..  The list goes on and on. I am truly blessed and honored that this family passed these treasures along to me.

Here is another picture of this time capsule from a different angle.

Coal forge

Coal forge

If you look at the bottom of the picture, there is an unfinished draw knife. Finishing that up will actually be one of my first projects, after I build a covered area to set everything up in.

Of course many thanks go out to the wonderful family that passed this along to me, but I also have to give my wife SO much credit. She puts up with all my weird projects, strange hobbies and crazy gear/equipment that I drag home. Although she complains about the clutter and calls me a hoarder, she understands and supports my need to have creative outlets such as this. She truly is amazing and I can’t wait to make some really nice things for her.

As I get this set up and start pushing out finished products, I will post them here.

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