Making Traditional Cordage in North America, by Ron

This article is about cordage, one of the most used and necessary items for day-to-day life. Other than sinew, catgut, and rawhide, early man made his rope and string from more readily available plant material. Certain plant fibers were able to stand up to water emersion and made excellent nets and fishing line. Animal fibers, such as sinew and catgut, would stretch or unravel when wet and were more difficult to procure. Plant fibers were so much more abundant and easier to process; this left sinew and catgut for sewing, bow backing, arrow making and other arts requiring a strong, …




Three Letters Re: Bullet Casting: A (Relatively) Simple Introduction, by AVL

Hi Jim, I have two notes regarding casting your own bullets (or any other metal for that matter): First: One piece of safety equipment that you really should have on hand when casting any metal is dry sand. Make sure you have at least 25 pounds of dry sand at the ready. If there is a metal spill, dump the sand on it and it will contain the flow and cool it quickly, plus it will cut of the supply of oxygen, preventing fire. Second: A fire extinguisher is good to have to put out fires, but with molten metal …




Bullet Casting: A (Relatively) Simple Introduction, by AVL

Bullet casting is likely one of the oldest activities regarding firearms. From the time humans graduated from using shaped rocks, casting was the method of choice for just about every projectile. While there are other methods that allow for more complex designs (swaging, see corbins.com) casting is still the best simple method for turning a lump of otherwise useless lead into a projectile that will put food on your table and protect your family. Safety It is important to note that casting is a dangerous process. Casting will expose you to toxic metals at high temperature. Safety is paramount. I …




Two Letters Re: Another Perspective on Selecting Barter Goods, by OSOM

JWR, As for the persistent stream of articles related to barter goods: After reading the various articles on barter goods, I am still confused as to why one would keep goods for barter. Supposedly you are at a rural retreat, stocked with everything you could need during your lifetime (guns, ammo, band aids, reading material, and toilet paper) and are surrounded by a horde of people who are ill-equipped to cope. But now we have interjected the need to trade, and buy things, I suppose it would be great to have a store in this situation, but what’s the point …




Letter Re: Toy Making, an Overlooked Traditional Skill

Greetings James and Family, I just wanted to interject a category of books that should also be included in any home library. The category of ‘make it yourself toys’. I know it sounds odd, however children reared in the earlier industrial era as well as pre-industrial eras learned how to make there own toys. Several years ago I attended a book sale at our local library. They were discarding ‘old’ books on toy making and other crafts among their other titles. These books were published in the 30s through the 50s and were considered ‘out of date’. I picked up …




Letter Re: Walking Sticks for Self Defense

James: Regarding walking sticks, I’d suggest folks look at two sites. One would be Cold Steel, where they can assemble a pretty stout, flexible and lethal combo from their waxwood poles, their Bushman knives, and steel sections applied to the staff near the ends. The Bushman’s sheath can be leather or parachute cord “strapped” onto the staff, and when needed be affixed to the end and voila! … staff becomes spear. Alas, they no longer have the staffs on their site, but the Bushmans are there, and the rest is a simple exercise in measurement and a half-hour of handiwork. …




Selecting Barter Goods, by Warhawke

In a post-TEOTWAWKI world just about everyone realizes that paper money will become useless (unless you can get enough to use as insulation for your house) and there has been much discussion of gold, silver and other items for barter in these pages. I have devoted a great deal of thought to this subject and I would like to share a few of my ideas on the subject with you. I’m going to try to be fairly short on details here in order to keep the length of the article manageable. Keep in mind that what I am discussing here …




Letter Re: Storing Coal for Home Heating at Your Retreat

Jim: Regarding he recent thread on coal storage, old factories and military installations that used coal (some barracks were coal heated and still have bins outside) often have large amounts (suitable for the survivalist or amateur blacksmith) of coal that’s not cost-effective for the operation to do anything with. If one offers to clean it up, it might be available free. I know there’s lots of anthracite coal outside old barracks at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Perhaps someone in the area would be able to salvage it. I’d appreciate a load for my forge for the referral if anyone does this. …




Two Letters Re: Ammunition Handloading Basics

James, This is in reply to a couple of earlier letters, and I would like to point out some corrections. 1) Lee powder dippers are safe to use as directed. If you actually read the directions and especially the discussion about the dippers in the Lee Modern Reloading Manual you will see that Lee specifies only dippers that cannot go over the maximum weight charge if used with appropriate powders. The dipper provided with a set of dies will only be appropriate with certain powders, and those will always be a little or a lot under the max charge weight, …




Two Letters Re: Ammunition Handloading Basics

Jim Much great information being shared in these posts, but reading the reload posts made me feel the need to point out one thing. While reloading ammunition for revolvers and most conventional handguns is easy and fun, it is a different story for Glocks.The Glock is designed with an “Unsupported chamber” barrel which makes firing untested reloaded ammunition a dangerous affair. If the specs on the reloads are off even just a little, the result could be a nasty problem. The ammo could cause the gun to self destruct, especially if it is a 40 caliber model. If you don’t …




Letter Re: Ammunition Handloading Basics

JWR, Sid mentioned the Lee Loader package in a recent letter. While I think the Lee Loader is an ideal addition to any survival reloading kit, it does have some caveats that were not mentioned in Sid’s letter. While the Lee Loader is a great system due to it’s simplicity, one of it’s great problems is its simplicity. Most die sets are two dies for bottle-neck and three for straight wall. The Lee Loader combines steps into one. What I believe the biggest shortcoming of the Lee Loader is, there is no good way to measure gunpowder reliably. While it …




Storing Coal for Home Heating at Your Retreat

James; One thing I haven’t seen discussed at SurvivalBlog is coal. It is an excellent survival fuel. I would recommend purchasing ten tons of coal for your survival retreat. When the SHTF, you would basically have over a three year supply of energy, with no trees to chop. Best of all, there are no storage problems. You can leave it in a pile, or bury it in a hole. It will keep and will not degrade. Coal is very cheap. If possible, get a low sulfur anthracite coal. However, if your budget is tight, you can get a higher sulfur …




Letter Re: Swords and Bows for that Dreaded Multigenerational Scenario

Jim: In ‘The Wanderers’ reference to keeping an example of an arrow, What he is talking about is when replacing a knock, it has to be properly indexed, so the fletching has the least possible effect on the arrow as it is launched. Obviously, you need spares, and some good glue, normally called cement in this context. The best is the kind that looks like a brown crayon, but it is hard, and you heat it with a small flame (match) and soften it . Have to be careful not to burn it, too. Then work quickly, as it sticks …




Letter Re: Swords and Bows for that Dreaded Multigenerational Scenario

James: Michael Z. Williamson’s letter brings up some great details. I would add that those interested in bow making should consult “The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible” volumes I-III. However, there is one grievous error: “By the way, the English longbow had better range and penetration than any crossbow.”This is utterly false. The military crossbows had enormously more power *and* range. With draw weights in the 1200+ lbs range, even with a draw length 1/4 to 1/5 that of a long bow (and less efficiency) the crossbow can not only have significantly more power, but easily a 50 to 100 yard range …




Letter Re: Swords and Bows for that Dreaded Multigenerational Scenario

Dear Jim, Bows are a great asset to survival, but I’m going to differ from some of the other posters. First of all, compound bows require substantial technology to maintain. While fine, accurate hunting weapons, they are not your first choice for survival. Laminated recurves are very efficient and very durable, but are fairly tough to make. They’re reasonably priced, however, and a good investment for the kit. Bowstrings for this can be made from dacron dental floss or heavy nylon thread, the kind used for sewing leather, which should be in your kit anyway. Instructions are available in numerous …