Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Flint & Steel Fire Lighting For Wilderness Survival, Then & Now.

Figure 3.


figure 4.

figure 4.

Figure 5.

This is my brass tinderbox with tinder, musket flint, beeswax candle stubb and my fire steel which is early 18th century English design. The beeswax candle stubb is for use when having to use damp kindling, the stubb is placed under the kindling to dry it out and make fire.

This is taken from my book Primitive Fire Lighting-Flint and Steel. Unfortunately this book has not sold as many copies as I would have wished, mostly I think because people THINK they already know all there is to know about flint & steel fire lighting. WRONG! There is always more to learn about primitive skills, it is an ongoing learning experience for all of us, including me.

I was reading another blog today with several posts on flint & steel fire lighting and it is not so much that the author was wrong, it is more that there are better ways and more correct ways of making fire with flint & steel, and in a survival situation this is IMPORTANT!

So here is some info on flint & steel fire lighting. Forget about using so called CHARCLOTH! And forget about using a so called charcloth tin. There is no need. Learn which tinder plants grow in your area and use these.

You can place some tinder in a grass nest and strike sparks directly onto that and blow it into flame.

As soon as the kindling takes fire place it in your prepared fireplace and PUT THE LID ON YOUR TINDERBOX! This will stop the tinder smouldering all to ash!

To prepare tinder that needs charring, simply char directly in the fire and then place it in your tinderbox and close the lid. It is as simple as that.


“Fire making is a simple process with the mountaineers. Their bullet pouches always contain a flint and steel, and sundry pieces of “punk”-a pithy substance found in dead pine trees-or tinder; and pulling a handful of dry grass, which they screw into a nest, they place the lighted punk in this, and closing the grass over it, wave it in the air, when it soon ignites, and readily kindles the dry sticks forming the foundation of a fire.”
Ruxton, 1848.

Flint and steel fire lighting was the method used during the medieval period through to the late 19th century. Although matches were invented and marketed during the mid 19th century, they were not considered reliable enough for use in isolated or wilderness situations. Matches are not reusable and if not protected are easily damaged through wet weather and dampness.

Flint and steel is a sustainable method of fire lighting, providing you continue to prepare a supply of tinder from available plant materials. Matches are easily blown out in the wind, where as with flint and steel fire lighting the wind only hastens combustion. Learning how to make fire with flint and steel will teach you skills that will enable you to make fire by other means in adverse weather conditions.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: The author advises anyone practicing these skills to always wear eye protection and to be careful not to cut one’s hands or fingers with the sharp flint.

The following instructions are for right-handed people, left-handers simply reverse.

Hold the steel in your left hand, (see fig 3).

Now, holding the flint shard in your right hand; strike the edge of the steel with the flint using a downward blow, (see fig 4). To get the correct angle, imagine you are shaving or whittling a piece of wood, like sharpening a pencil with a pocketknife. The sparks you need to create, by striking the steel with the flint, are in fact steel shavings cut from the steel with the sharp edged flint.

Once you have mastered striking sparks from the fire-steel the next step is to strike sparks onto tinder. (See fig 5). This is best done with the tinder contained in a tin. You need to make sure that the smouldering tinder cannot be blown about in any wind or breeze, and perhaps inadvertently start an unwanted fire. When the sparks catch they will be seen as small red glowing spots, which will slowly spread. If you use a tin with a lid (tinderbox), like a shallow tobacco tin, you can place the lid on the tin to smother the smouldering tinder.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Flintlock Tools.

Vent Pick.

Showing vent quills, powder measure, pan brush and vent pick, and a ball board holding two patched balls.

A shot flask.

Left to Right: Gun flint, leather to hold flint in the jaws of the cock, screw, pin punch, turn screw, and at the bottom a container of tallow to waterproof the pan in wet weather.

Shot mould for swan shot.

. 60 calibre ball mould and copper lead ladle.


Mainspring vice.

20 gauge wad punch. This was my Father's wad punch and I am very pleased to have it.

If you own a flintlock gun or rifle there are a number of tools you might need to service, maintain and repair this arm.
The Vent Pick.
The vent pick is used to make sure the vent is kept clear of obstruction. Even the gunpowder itself can obstruct the vent and stop the fast passage of flame from the pan instantly igniting the powder charge in the breach of the gun barrel. Gunpowder in the vent will slow ignition. To prevent this the vent pick is pushed into the vent opposite the pan after loading the main charge, and before priming the pan.
The Pan Brush.
The pan brush is usually hung on a light chain or leather thong with the vent pick from the carry strap on the shot pouch. The purpose of the pan brush is to keep the pan clean and free of any gunpowder residue, as this will attract moisture and may wet the priming powder. You should use the pan brush to clean the pan before priming the pan.
If you need to reload fast do not bother cleaning the pan as there will not have been enough time for the residue to collect any moisture between shots.
The Ball board.
The ball board is a piece of shaped wood with holes bored in it the size of the bore of your gun to hold patched ball for faster reloading. This too usually hangs from the shot pouch strap. I shorten the leather thong with a loop like a bow so it remains out of the way but can be brought into use instantly by simply tugging on the board to bring it to full length and so reach the muzzle of my gun.
To use the ball/bullet board you simply place one of the patched balls over the muzzle of the gun and with your scouring stick/wiping stick/ramrod push the ball out of the board and into the barrel of the gun. Then simply drop the board and finish ramming the ball down the barrel firmly on top of the powder charge.
The Turn Screw.
The turn screw (screw driver) is used to tighten or loosen or remove gun screws for replacement or repair.
Mainspring vice.
The mainspring vice is used to clamp a replacement mainspring for fitting to the lock should one break.
The Wad Punch.
The wad punch is used for punching/cutting wads of wool felt or leather for use with shot in your flintlock gun.
A Pin Punch.
The pin punch is used to push or tap the pins out that secure the barrel in the stock.
The Worm.
The worm is used to clean the barrel of your gun. Tow or cloth is wound about the worm which is then pushed down the barrel to remove gunpowder residue. One a rifle this is often done between shots so that the ball does not get stuck part way down the barrel. It is also done when cleaning the barrel with water. If cold water is used the barrel is removed and the breach is placed under water in a stream or creek and the worm on the end of the ramrod is pushed up and down inside the barrel until the water that is being sucked in and pumped out is clean.
Most worms that I have seen have screwed onto the end of the ramrod. When I replaced my wooden ramrod with a metal ramrod I forged a worm permanently on one end.
The Screw.
The screw also attaches to the end of a ramrod and is used to remove a stuck ball or to “pull a load”. Pulling a load is to unload a gun without firing it for cleaning or in the case where the load has got damp and the gun will not fire.
The screw is made to screw into wads or the lead ball so it can be pulled out of the barrel.
Ball Mould.
The ball mould is used for moulding round ball for your gun as is a shot mould.
The Lead Ladle.
A lead ladle is used to pour moulten lead into the ball mould.

The Flintlock Fusil.

.62 calibre Fusil with a steel ramrod.
.62 calibre on the left, .74 calibre Brown Bess musket ball on the right.

A leather hammer stall/boot.

The flintlock fusil is a smoothbore arm which is lighter than a musket and usually in bores from .25 cal. To .62 cal. It is a very versatile gun as it is able to digest bird shot, swan shot (Buckshot), round ball, and any combination of these three e.g. swan shot and ball or bird shot and ball or swan shot and bird shot.
The lock is larger than a rifle lock and can be used for making fire. To make fire one places a piece of tinder in the pan of the lock and closes the hammer down just as one does to fire the gun. The cock is pulled back to full cock. When the trigger is pulled the flint in the cock strikes the hammer creating sparks, which fall on the tinder in the pan. This tinder having caught the sparks is now smouldering and can be transferred to a tinder nest and blown into flame. If the tinder is too small and smouldering away too fast, you can add more tinder to the smouldering tinder.
Generally speaking non military fusils do not have a carry strap. I carry a long length of leather thong doubled and the two ends tied together. It is easy enough to form two slip loops, one at each end and slip these loops over barrel and stock to form a carry strap.

A hammer stall is a specially shaped leather cover which fits over the hammer as a safety measure. Should the trigger be accidently pulled, or if the gun should go off half-cocked, the flint in the cock will only strike the leather hammer stall/boot and the gun will not fire. I strongly suggest you fit a hammer stall/boot to your flintlock gun. If you add a light leather thong to the hammer stall you can tie it off to the trigger guard so it will always be handy and cannot be lost.
If you have any questions relating to muzzle-loading arms or anything related to 18th century Living History or Historical Trekking please contact me.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Making Pewter Buttons.

I did not have a proper brass button mould, so I made a gang mould out of clay. This was simply a sheet of clay with the shape of the buttons pressed into it with a shank at the bottom. The hole in the shank I drilled after the buttons were made.

In the 18th century they used brass button moulds and poured melted pewter into the mould just as we pour moulten lead into a ball mould to make ball for our Flintlock Muzzle-loading guns.

Making Bone Buttons.

I have always made my bone buttons by cutting them out with a jig saw, but apparently they were also made using a lathe or a carpenter's brace and bit. More information at:




More On Bone Buttons!

I just recieved these great photos of the bones that buttons were cut from! You can clearly see in one photo that the size of these buttons must surely mean that they were used on either men's shirts or on a chemise or both, Actually I believe it was rare to use buttons on a chemise. These photos curtesy of Hilary Davidson at the Museum of London. Many thanks Hilary & the Museum of London.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Mid 18th Century List Of Goods Supplied To French Indians Under Bougainville For Winter Raids On The English .

Supplies for the 45 Abenaki warriors
45 pounds of gunpowder in a keg
90 pounds of ball in two bags of one eighth of an ell
45 butcher knives
45 folding knives
45 flint and steel and tinderbox with tinder
45 worms
20 awls
200 gun flints
12 tumplines
10 untanned deerskins
20 tomahawks
200 arrow heads
45 deerskins weighing 121 pounds
10 pairs of snowshoes
15 ells of mazamet in 45 pairs of mittens
6 small crib blankets to make shoe liners
12 toboggans
50 pounds of tobacco
12 stone pipes
10 ells of molton in 10 pairs of leggings
22 ells of mazamet and 4 ounces of Rennes thread in 4 capotes
36 ells of Lyon linen in 12 shirts
6 - 2 and a half point blankets
12 crooked knives
4 pounds of vermilion
1 and a half ells of broadcloth in 6 breech cloths
4 uncovered kettles weighing 23 pounds
The New World Woodsman, 1700-1760. His clothing, arms and equipment. By Keith H. Burgess (Unpublished manuscript).

Woodland Indian Trade List 1703.

Note in this list the 18th century "S", it is not an "f". Also note the use of the term Truckmaster instead of Trader, I think this is the first time I have seen this used although I was aware of the term "truck" and Truck Garden. Truck seems to have been a word to describe wares, trade items and garden produce.

I have seperated this list into two parts, the header, and the actual list itself to hopefully enlarge it and make it easier to read. Just click on the list to enlarge.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Life of Mary Jemison-Indian Capture.

The party that took us consisted of six Indians and four Frenchmen, who immediately commenced plundering, as I just observed, and took what they considered most valuable; consisting principally of bread, meal and meat.

During this time, the Indians stripped the shoes and stockings from the little boy that belonged to the woman who was taken with us, and put moccasins on his feet, as they had done before on mine.

Having given the little boy and myself some bread and meat for breakfast, they led us on as fast as we could travel, and one of them went behind and with a long staff, picked up all the grass and weeds that we trailed down by going over them. By taking that precaution they avoided detection; for each weed was so nicely placed in its natural position that no one would have suspected that we had passed that way. It is the custom of Indians when scouting, or on private expeditions, to step carefully and where no impression of their feet can be left--shunning wet or muddy ground. They seldom take hold of a bush or limb, and never break one; and by observing those precautions and that of setting up the weeds and grass which they necessarily lop, they completely elude the sagacity of their pursuers, and escape that punishment which they are conscious they merit from the hand of justice. After a hard day's march we encamped in a thicket, where the Indians made a shelter of boughs, and then built a good fire to warm and dry our benumbed limbs and clothing; for it had rained some through the day.

Peter Kalm's Travels in North America, 1748 to 1751.

Arriving at Albany. All the boats which ply between Albany and New York belong to Albany. They go up and down the Hudson River as long as it is open and free from ice. They bring from Albany boards or planks, and all sorts of timber, flour, peas, and furs, which they get from the Indians, or which are smuggled from the French. They come home almost empty, and only bring a few kinds of merchandise with them, the chief of which is rum. This is absolutely necessary to the inhabitants of Albany. They cheat the Indians in the fur trade with it; for when the Indians are drunk they are practically blind and will leave it to the Albany whites to fix the price of the furs.The boats are quite large, and have a good cabin, in which the passengers can be very commodiously lodged. They are usually built of red cedar or of white oak. Frequently the bottom consists of white oak, and the sides of red cedar, because the latter withstands decay much longer than the former. The red cedar is likewise apt to split when it hits against anything, and the Hudson is in many places full of sand and rocks, against which the keel of the boat sometimes strikes. Therefore people choose white oak [333] for the bottom as being the softer wood, and not splitting so easily. The bottom being continually under water, is not so much exposed to weathering and holds out longer.
Canoes: The canoes which the boats always have along with them are made of a single piece of wood, hollowed out: they are sharp on both ends, frequently three or four fathoms long, and as broad as the thickness of the wood will allow. The people in it do not row sitting, but usually a fellow stands at each end, with a short oar in his hand, with which he controls and propels the canoe. Those which are made here at Albany are commonly of white pine. They can do service for eight or twelve years, especially if they be tarred and painted. At Albany they are made of white pine since there is no other wood fit for them; at New York they are made of the tulip tree, and, in other parts of the country of red or white cedars: but both these trees are so small in the neighborhood of Albany that they are unfit for canoes. There are no seats in them, for if they had any, they would be more liable to be upset, as one could not keep one's equilibrium so well. One has to sit in the bottom of these canoes.
Battoes are another kind of boats which are much in use in Albany: they are made of boards of white pine; the bottom is flat, that they may row the better in shallow water. They are sharp at both ends, and somewhat higher towards the end than in the middle. They have seats in them, and are rowed as commonboats. They are long, yet not all alike. Usually they are three and sometimes four fathoms long. The height from the bottom to the to the top of the board (for the sides stand almost perpendicular) is from twenty inches to two feet, and the breadth in the middle about a yard and six inches. They are chiefly made use of for carrying goods along the river to the Indians, that is, when those rivers are open enough for the battoes to pass through, and when they need not be carried by land a great way. The boats made of the bark of trees break easily by knocking against a stone, and the canoes cannot carry a great cargo, and are easily upset; the battoes are therefore preferable to them both. I saw no boats here like those in Sweden or other parts of Europe.

French Manners and Customs. The difference between the manners and customs of the French in Montreal and Canada, and those of the English in the American colonies, is as great as that between the manners of those two nations in Europe. The women in general are handsome here; they are well bred and virtuous, with an innocent and becoming freedom. They dress up very fine on Sundays; about the same as our Swedish women, and though on the other days they do not take much pains with other parts of their dress, yet they are very fond of adorning their heads. Their hair is always curled, powdered and ornamented with glittering bodkins [ornamental hairpins] and aigrettes [clusters of gems]. Every day but Sunday they wear a little neat jacket, and a short skirt which hardly reaches halfway down the leg, and sometimes not that far. And in this particular they seem to imitate the Indian women. The heels of their shoes are high and very narrow, and it is surprising how they can walk on them. In their domestic duties they greatly surpass the English women in the plantations, who indeed have taken the liberty of throwing all the burden of housekeeping upon their husbands, and sit in their chairs all day with folded arms. The women in Canada on the contrary do not spare themselves, especially among the common people, where they are always in the fields, meadows, stables, etc. and do not dislike any work whatsoever. However, they seem rather remiss in regard to the cleaning of the utensils and apartments, for sometimes the floors, both in the town and country, are hardly cleaned once in six months, which is a disagreeable sight to one who comes from amongst the Dutch and English, where the constant scouring and scrubbing of the floors is reckoned as important as the exercise of religion itself. To prevent the thick dust, which is thus left on the floor from being noxious to the health, the women wet it several times a day, which lays the dust, and they repeat this as often as the dust is dry and begins to rise again. Upon the whole, however, they are not averse to the taking part in all the business of housekeeping, and I have with pleasure seen the daughters of the better sort of people and of the governor himself, not too finely dressed, going into kitchens and cellars to see that everything was done as it ought to be. And they also carry their sewing with them, even the governor's daughters.
The men are extremely civil and take their hats off to every person whom they meet in the streets. This is difficult for anyone whose duties demand that he be out doors often, especially in the evening when every family sits outside their door, near the street. It is customary to return a visit the day after you have received one, even though one should have several scores to pay in one day.

Sarah Kemble Knight. Remarks on “this whole Colony of Connecticut” 1704-1705.

The next morning I Crossed the Ferry to Groton, having had the Honor of the Company of Madame Livingston (who is the Governor’s Daughter) and Mary Christophers and diverse others to the boat ⎯ And that night Lodged at Stonington and had Roast Beef and pumpkin sauce for supper. The next night at Haven’s and had Roast fowl, and the next day we come to a river which by Reason of the Freshets [water swells after heavy rains] coming down was swelled so high we feared it impassable and the rapid stream was very terrifying ⎯ However we must over and that in a small Canoe. Mr. Rogers assuring me of his good Conduct, I, after a stay of near an hour on the shore for consultation, went into the Canoe, and Mr. Rogers paddled about 100 yards up the Creek by the shore side, turned into the swift stream and dexterously steering her in a moment we come to the other side, as swiftly passing as an arrow shot out of the Bow by a strong arm. I stayed on the shore till He returned to fetch our horses, which he caused to swim over, himself bringing the furniture in the Canoe. But it is past my skill to express the Exceeding fright all their transactions formed in me.

We hoped to reach the French town and Lodge there that night, but unhappily lost our way about four miles short, and being overtaken by a great storm of wind and snow which set full in our faces about dark, we were very uneasy. But meeting one Gardner who lived in a Cottage thereabout, offered us his fire to set by, having but one poor Bed, and his wife not well, &c. or he would go to a House with us, where he thought we might be better accommodated ⎯ thither we went, But a surly old shoe Creature, not worthy the name of woman, who would hardly let us go into her Door, though the weather was so stormy none but she would have turned out a Dog. But her son whose name was gallop, who lived just by Invited us to his house and showed me two pair of stairs, viz. one up the loft and t’other up the Bed, which was as hard as it was high, and warmed it with a hot stone at the feet.

Excerpt from William Bartram's Journal 1773.

THE preparatory business of the surveyors being now accomplished, Mr. J. M`Intosh, yet anxious for travelling, and desirous to accompany me on this tour, we joined the caravan, consisting of surveyors, astronomers, artisans, chain-carriers, markers, guides and hunters, besides a very respectable number of gentlemen, who joined us, in order to speculate in the lands, together with ten or twelve Indians, altogether to the number of eighty or ninety men, all or most of us well mounted on horseback, besides twenty or thirty pack-horses, loaded with provisions, tents, and camp equipage.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Memoirs of odd adventures, strange deliverances, &c. in the captivity of John Gyles, Esq.1689.

Memoirs of odd adventures, strange deliverances, &c. in the captivity of John Gyles, Esq.1689.
But to our great surprise,
about thirty or forty Indians,'" at that moment, discharged a volley of shot at us, from behind a rising ground, near our barn. The yelling of the Indians, the whistling of their shot, and the voice of my father, whom I heard cry out, "What now! what now!" so terrified me (though he seemed to be handling a gun), that I endeavoured to make my escape. My brother ran one way and I another, and looking over my shoulder, I saw a stout fellow, painted, pursuing me, with a gun, and a cutlass glittering in his hand which I expected every moment in my brains. I soon fell down, and the Indian seized me by the left hand. He offered me no abuse, but tied my arms, then lifted me up and pointed to the place where the people were at work about the hay, and led me that way.
As we went, we crossed where my father was, who looked very pale and bloody, and walked very slowly. When we came to the place, I saw two men shot down on the flats, and one or two more knocked on their heads with hatchets, crying out "0 Lord," There the Indians brought two captives, one a man, and my brother James, who, with me, had endeavoured to escape by running from the house when we were first attacked. This brother was about fourteen years of age.

Francis Daniel Pastorius’s Description of Pennsylvania

Francis Daniel Pastorius’s Description of Pennsylvania
of the 1690s
in Circumstantial Geographical Description of the Lately Discovered Province of Pennsylvania, Situated in the Farthest Limits of America,
* in the Western World, 1700

CH. XI. Concerning the Inhabitants of this Province.
Of these, three sorts may be found:
1. The natives, the so-called savages.
2. The Christians who have come here from Europe, the so-called Old Settlers.
3. The newly-arrived Associations and Companies.
So far as concerns the first, the savages, they are, in general, strong, agile, and supple people, with blackish bodies; they went about naked at first and wore only a cloth about the loins. Now they are beginning to wear shirts. They have, usually, coal-black hair, shave the head, smear the same with grease, and allow a long lock to grow on the right side. They also besmear the children with grease and let them creep about in the heat of the sun, so that they become the colour of a nut, although they were at first white enough by Nature.
National Humanities Centre 4
They strive after a sincere honesty, hold strictly to their promises, cheat and injure no one. They willingly give shelter to others and are both useful and loyal to their guests.
Their huts are made of young trees, twined or bent together, which they know how to roof over with bark. They use neither table nor bench, nor any other household stuff, unless perchance a single pot in which they boil their food.
I once saw four of them take a meal together in hearty contentment and eat a pumpkin cooked in clear water without butter and spice. Their table and bench was the bare earth, their spoons were mussel-shells, with which they dipped up the warm water, their plates were the leaves of the nearest tree, which they do not need to wash with painstaking after the meal, nor to keep with care of future use. I thought to myself, these savages have never in their lives heard the teaching of Jesus concerning temperance and contentment, yet they far excel the Christians in carrying it out.
They are, furthermore, serious and of few words, and are amazed when they perceive so much unnecessary chatter, as well as other foolish behaviour, on the part of the Christians.
Each man has his own wife, and they detest harlotry, kissing, and lying. They know of no idols, but they worship a single all-powerful and merciful God who limits the power of the Devil. They also believe in the immortality of the soul, which, after the course of life is finished, has a suitable recompense from the all-powerful hand of God awaiting it.
They accompany their own worship of God with songs, during which they make strange gestures and motions with the hands and feet, and when they recall the death of their parents and friends, they begin to wail and weep most pitifully.
They listen very willingly, and not without perceptible emotion, to discourse concerning the Creator of Heaven and earth and His divine Light, which enlightens all men who have come into the world and who are yet to be born, and concerning the wisdom and love of God, because of which he gave his only-begotten and most dearly-beloved Son to die for us. It is only to be regretted that we can not yet speak their language readily and therefore cannot set forth to them the thoughts and intent of our own hearts, namely, how great a power and salvation lies concealed in Christ Jesus. They are very quiet and thoughtful in our gatherings, so that I fully believe that in the future, at the great Day of Judgment, they will come forth with those of Tyre and Sidon and put to shame many thousands of false nominal and canting Christians.
As for their economy and housekeeping, the men attend to their hunting and fishing. The women bring up their children honestly, under careful oversight and dissuade them from sin. They plant Indian corn and beans round about their huts, but they take no thought for any more extensive farming and cattle-raising; they are rather astonished that we Christians take so much trouble and thought concerning eating and drinking and also for comfortable clothing and dwellings, as if we doubted that God were able to care for and nourish us.
Their native language is very dignified, and in its pronunciation much resembles the Italian, although the words are entirely different and strange. They are accustomed to paint their faces with colours; both men and women use tobacco with pleasure; they divert themselves with fifes, or trumpets, in unbroken idleness.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Forging A Steel for flint & Steel Fire Lighting.

You can make a simple steel out of a piece of file without all the shaping, and use any open fire or stove fire to harden the steel.

Monday, 7 September 2009

An Excellent Short Promotional 18th Century Living History Video.

Amadou. Tinder from Fungus.

Amadou was used as tinder in England, Europe and the New World. Amadou is the soft cloth-like substance found under the hard outer layer of the Horse Hoof Fungus, also known as Fomes Fomantarius. This Amadou was also used for drying fish hooks.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

A List Of Basic Woodsrunner's Skills That We Practice In Our Group. How Do You Match Up?

Woodsrunner’s Skills.
This is a list of basic skills in which I personally would expect an 18th century woodsman or woods-woman to have some experience with.
Flint & steel fire lighting
· Wet weather fire lighting
· Flintlock fire lighting
· Flintlock use, service & repair
· Field dressing game
· Blade sharpening
· Tomahawk throwing
· Making rawhide
· Brain tanning
· Primitive shelter construction
· Cordage manufacture
· Moccasin construction and repair
· Sewing
· Axe and tomahawk helve making
· Knowledge of native plant foods
· Fishing
· Hunting
· Evasion
· Tracking
· Reading sign
· Woods lore
· Navigation
· Primitive trap construction & trapping

. Doctoring. Injuries & illness.

18th Century Skills Practiced In The New England Colonial Living History Group.

18th Century Colonial and Primitive Skills.
· Finger Weaving
· Loom Weaving
· Inkle Loom Weaving
· Spinning
· Sewing
· Clothing manufacture
· Moccasin making
· Leather work
· Metalwork
· Hornsmithing
· Helve making
· Stail making
· Rabbit Stick making and use
· Tomahawk Throwing
· Blade Sharpening
· Flint & Steel fire lighting
· Fire-Bow fire lighting
· Flintlock Fire Lighting
· Reading Glass Fire Lighting
· Tinder Plants Identification
· Tinder Preparation
· Wet Weather Fire Lighting
· Edible Plant Identification
· Primitive Shelter Construction
· Fire place construction and Fire Safety
· Historical trekking equipment and packing
· Staying warm in winter with only one blanket
· Tomahawk and Knife use and Safety
· Wilderness Survival Trap Construction and use
· Finding Water
· Open Fire Cooking
· Trail Foods
· Flintlock Safety and use
· Bow & Arrow Making
· Archery
· Primitive Tool Making
· Plant Cordage Manufacture
· Fishing and Making Tackle
· Social BBQs
· Show & Tell
· Archery
· Tomahawk throwing competition
· Log Dragging competition
· Horse Shoe Throwing
· Survival Skills games for youngsters
· Historical Trekking & Camping
· Drive-in camping
· Rendezvous
· Experimental Archaeology
· Research

Friday, 4 September 2009

Loading and Firing the Flintlock Rifle.

Dispite what you will see in musket loading demonstrations I suggest you follow the same procedure as loading the rifle. I do not recommend using the paper cartridge for priming the pan of a musket.
In this video the load is too tighter fit in the bore, it should not be that tight. If you clean between shots with a rifle it should not be a tight fit. If it is too tight, use a thinner patch or a smaller ball size.
The COCK holds the flint, and the steel is also called the HAMMER. The term frizzen is a modern term.

Matchlock Musket Demonstration.

This is the best demo of this type I have seen so far, good clear picture and good sound. They did however neglect to mention the safety/danger aspect of keeping the fuse clear of the powder when loading, also I would not recommend loading from bottle, I would use an open powder measure/charger for extra safety.

Another good English demo HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KTS8PQ06Qo&feature=related

Thursday, 3 September 2009

18th Century Buttons. BONE BUTTONS.

Documentation on the use of bone buttons in the 18th century. Sorry but the pics did not transfere to this page. For this file please go to the New England Colonial Living History Group site.

18th Century Buttons.
Small carved, often "starburst" incised, bone buttons (left) were recovered from the 1784 wrecksite of El Cazador, as were plain, originally cloth-covered drilled bone buttons (right), shown here with ground-recovered fragments of bone from which such buttons were cut. Drilled bone buttons as shown at right are encountered at many early colonial sites, while carved buttons like those at left appear to be uniquely Spanish in origin.

Buttons of the 18th and early 19th Century were mostly five holes, although there were two hole (usually on larger buttons than those of the late 19th Century), three holes, four holes, pinshanks, and swagged in shanks used as well. The most common of that era were the five hole. Two hole and three hole are scarce. Swagged in shanks were large loops and plates and/or early large plated, 4 way hump or box shanks. Many pinshank bone buttons were contemporary with Colonial Pearls. Extremely uncommon were 1 hole buttons used with a rawhide or gut strip or a round "bead" to hold the button to the fabric or hide used for clothing. These 1 hole buttons can predate the 1700s. Also, the one-hole buttons were also used as forms, covered with fabric or thread in elaborate designs, and sewn onto clothing similar to a pad-back.


Bone Buttons

Date: 18th Century
Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Buildings & Structures: Residential
General: Military History
Social History
Political History
Type: Image

The first bone buttons used to fasten garments were in 12th century France. Bone buttons were made by French bead makers in the 14th century, and by the 19th century, bone buttons were made throughout the British Isles. Some bone buttons were elaborately carved to simulate ivory.

Disks cut from animal bones have been made in a variety of sizes from prehistoric
times. They are usually sew-thru types with from two to five holes, although some
with metal rims and shanks have also been made. Since 1850, carved and inlaid
bone buttons have also been made. Bone buttons are made only rarely now but
are more common on sites predating 1850.

The U.S. General Services Administration approached master silversmith George Cloyed about reproducing items found at the site, including handmade and cast cufflinks and cuffbuttons, bone, brass, pewter and fabric-covered buttons, rings with glass stones, earrings and straight pins.
o BONE BUTTON TURNER: a person who made buttons using a lathe

Bone Button
Stalwart catalogers, Anne and Kelley--having first dried off after a couple of hours of water screening--identified this bone button from Stratum 2 of Unit 52 (Compton Field).

Buttons such as these are fairly common on historic period sites, particularly of the 19th century. Shell buttons are also common and I will write a piece on them some time soon based on my research on shell button making in Delaware.

Both bone and shell buttons can be made with a simple lathe and drill technology. The lathing is particularly evident on the reverse side (lower image) and drilling is clearly evident in the holes on both sides. This piece is about 0.67" (17.25 mm) in diameter and 0.17" (4.25 mm) thick. The bone likely is from a large mammal and the source of the manufactured piece (i.e., domestic or imported) is uncertain. There were stores in town that sold buttons and other goods necessary for the making and maintenance of garments.

Buttons fall within that category of artifacts likely to have been lost, rather than intentionally discarded, but the fact that this item has been broken suggests that it was intentionally removed from a garment after it broke and then thrown away. That suggests that the deposit whence it was recovered represents trash disposal.

Bone Button find: http://www.marylandaviation.com/B_Smith_Farmstead/study/unexpectedDisc.htm
In six pits used as 18th-century Dumpsters, they found such household items as a painted pearlware bowl from England, a chamber pot, a fractured teapot. They dug up a bone button, a domino, a piece of a flutelike recorder
The word button originates from the French bouton, a small piece of metal or other material used to connect different parts of garment by means of a buttonhole and used also for ornamentation. It is thought the button originated in 2000 BC in southern Asia around the Indus Valley region to be used as a decoration while pins and belts served as fasteners. These buttons were seashells carved into various geometrical shapes and pierced with two holes for attaching. Early Greeks and Romans used shell, and wood buttons, sometimes attaching them to pins; other early European ruins unearthed buttons of ivory, bone, jeweled, gold and silver.

Bone Buttons readily available…..http://www.daacs.org/research/Galle_SAA_2006_Final.pdf
Buttons (pewter/bone/copper) 30

Slave Lifeways at Mount Vernon: An Archaeological Perspective

Lower class people in 17th- and 18th-century Brit¬ain and America fastened their clothes with hooks and eyes or points, which were strings with metal ends (Crummett 1939: 26). Cheap bone or metal buttons could be used to fasten the neck of a man’s shirt and the waist of his trousers
Artifact Analysis
All of the buttons found at the site date to the 18th and 19th centuries. They include sixteen metal but¬tons (eight whitemetal and eight brass); five porcelain buttons; and three bone buttons
Sew-through bone buttons were common in America beginning in the mid-18th century, but unlike metal buttons from this period, bone buttons were entirely functional; they were most commonly used to fasten the waist of trousers (South 1963: 552). This type of bone button was made by hand, often at military forts. In the process of cutting button blanks a hole was drilled into the bone that the cutting tool was then centered on (figure 20). Four other holes were then drilled into the button resulting in five holes total (South 1963: 552). Sometimes the buttons were totally flat but usually a center circle including the holes was recessed, leaving a raised border. Bone buttons like these continued to be used well into the 19th century (figures 21 and 22). South’s types 19 and 20 are bone buttons of this kind
Much more on this site.

Figure 3: Artifacts from Area 2. a. Scratch blue stoneware, ca. 1740-1770; b. Banded stoneware drinking cann, 18th century; c. Brownie Pin, ca. mid-20th century; d. Bone button; e. Faceted black glass button.
three small bone shirt buttons Seventeen buttons of various materials were recovered
along with one sleeve-link fragment. There
were six brass and two copper loop shank buttons,
one, one-hole bone button
More commonly used buttons were of bone and wood,

They even made their own soap and buttons from bones. http://genealogy.grampanet.net/meckeltomackley.pdf
Bone buttons could also be made at home with simple cutting tools, and the examples from the site may have been blanks in the process of production, which could have been tossed out before completion for any number of reasons.
three small bone shirt buttons and one mother of pearl ...
three small bone shirt buttons and one mother of pearl shirt button
(Photographer: Michael Murphy, February 2003) [HRI Neg. 02069 D1-03].

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

More Documentation. Long Waistcoats & Civilian Haversacks.

This painting is by Vernet, 1754. Note the details from this painting. The waistcoats/weskits are obviously still being worn long and the beggar has a haversack.

Rendezvous Time Again In Victoria!

This is a photo of my very close friend Le Loup Gris, Richard Snape. We have not seen each other for quite some time now and it does not look like I will catch up with him at this years Rendezvous either!!! More is the pitty because I miss him like a lost good English gun flint, there is no replacement like the real thing!
(Richard Snape on the game trail along Beaver Creek. Photo by Kevin).

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Vol. 19, September 2009
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You’ve waited all year for this…

Sept 19th/20th thru to 26/27th Primitive Rendezvous at Beaver Creek, Whorouly.Take a break from the mundane and live the past eras of your dreams. Main events are Sat 19th / Sun 20th when Glen & Jim will guide for a Mountain Man Hunt, but why not add a full week of relaxing camp life among friends below that big old Mt Buffalo?