Rons Primitive Skills

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Saturday, January 7, 2023

My all time favorite primitive technology books

 I have a sizeable library. Physical books- probably around 500. Digital books and other type documents- probably around 100,000.  I have been interested in nature since I was old enough to walk. So, a vast majority of my books are on nature subjects-  rocks, plants, animals, etc. I have a lot of survival books. I have a lot of gardening and self reliance books. My favorite though, are my primitive technology books. My collection of physical PT books are:

Primitive Technology vol 1 & 2 edited by Wescott

Practicing Primitive by Watts

all 3 Woodsmoke books by the Jameson's

Both volumes of Primitive Wilderness Living by the McPherson's

Survival Arts of the Primitive Paiutes by Wheat

Wilderness Survival Handbook by Pewtherer

Can you Survive by Pressley

And the one that started it all......Outdoor Survival Skills by Olsen

In 1976 I picked up a copy of Olsen's book at the ARMY PX bookstore when I was stationed in West Berlin, Germany. I thought  "this is it!  When will there be more work on this subject?" It had just come out in paperback. By the way I still have this book. All I did was put a clear plastic jacket on it. It looks to be in pretty good shape for all the field work it saw. I made a carry case out of hard, thick rawhide to protect it on my ventures. West Berlin was around 100 miles behind the "Iron Curtain" in East Germany, the Communist German Democratic Republic, a Soviet ally at the time. What a lot of folks don't know is there are large areas of forested land in Berlin. The one I roamed was the Grunewald which translates to "green forest". There were some pretty secluded areas and the only threat was the huge European wild pigs. Those things looked like small rhinos when you saw them running through the woods! And they could be downright mean! There were red deer too. And of course rabbits and squirrels. Fires were a no-no but if you were smart and built a small smokeless fire all was good. I had many a good time on my days off out in the 'wald.

Notice that some of these books have "survival" in the title. I would say that they are more geared towards primitive skills than modern. The book by Pewtherer covers some modern necessities such as first aid kits (I always carry a small modern geared kit when I go woods running) and some other modern tools like a compass and survival kit. The rest is surviving from a primitive technology view point. Ben Pressleys book is almost all primitive except he shows how to use a fire steel and there are a few photos of him in a 18th century long hunters outfit. This is all just fine with me. I live in both worlds but I prefer primitive tech and skills. Its more a hobby thing. I use modern tools like saws, axe's, steel knives and such for my primitive projects if it requires serious stock removal. I've done many purist stone, bone  antler & wood bow building and other projects but my joints are showing the damage done to them over many years of this type work let alone all the years doing most of my building construction by hand. It gets to ya quick so if there's an easier way I'll go that route. There are days when I can hardly bend my fingers and my wrists pulse with pain but I keep plugging along. Life is too much fun to give in to pain and discomfort. I just cut a little slower now.

I'm always looking for more stuff to write about and if there is something you would like me to research please let me know. I'm in need of resources such as bone, antler, hides and rock so if you have any extra I would be pleased. I have a few things to trade. Until next time, take care and enjoy life. Make as much of it as you can!

Happy 2023 Everyone!

 I've not given up yet on this old blog.Maybe someone out there will ask a question or two. I've been doing a lot of primitive skills lately and will soon have an eye operation so my vision should improve substantially. I have some new and interesting discoveries and these concern both primitive skills and modern survival. Stay tuned. By the way, I'll be turning 70 in a month and to tell the truth even with all the arthritis and good stuff that go's along with getting long in the tooth, I'm still having a blast and enjoying life to the fullest. Stay tuned and stay busy.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Time for an update and what are your marketable skills?

  Its been one busy year and now I can take a breath. Work has slowed down to a crawl and now we await the holiday rush for people to order plants. We've been busy doing upgrades to lighting, building stands, greenhouses, etc and stocking up on fall veggie plants to grow and sale. The weather is almost bearable and I look forward to spending the full day outside working. In the summer its a bear. Hot and humid by 11 AM. I usually get about 6 hours in if I'm lucky. In the fall and winter its downright enjoyable outside. Oh, and hunting season is soon to be here. Yay.

Now as far as marketable skills, I'm talking about skills that can be used in a post apocalypse/economic collapse/alien invasion, whatever your poison. For instance here's a list of mine:

primitive living 

half decent blacksmith

electronics and communications




leather working



medical aid

extensive knowledge of edible and medicinal plants - uses & identification


military combat skills


Some of these skills I'm pretty strong in and some at least a good working knowledge. All of these would make me a very good candidate to be accepted by a group in said apocalyptic situation. Make a list of yours and tuck it away in your head and be ready to prove yourself if the situation arises to join a group of preppers/survivalists/zombie hunters, whatever. Now is a good time to improve any saleable skills you have. Remember. No one is going to take your word for it unless they know you and have seen you in action-be ready to show your talents and "walk the walk". So, with that I bid all farewell for now and don't just survive. Thrive!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

More Thomas Elpel links and Information

 Here are some links to Thomas Elpel videos and his wildflower photos. He is the author of several great books on primitive skills, survival, foraging and plants.

You Tube videos:

Wildflower Photos:


Plant Books

 I've noticed over the years that plant books can be great or they can be mediocre. One of the things that makes a great plant book is the illustrations. I find that drawings are best. Granted, its nice to have color photographs, but sometimes the plant details just don't show that well. Therefore my take on drawings. A good drawing can show the minute details of the plant in question. Things such as the flowers, leaf scars, outline and shape of the leafs, etc. Have you ever noticed how the Peterson guides are all drawings? They use photos in some of the newest ones, but, the older editions have drawings and a few have a nice little section of photos which I consider eye candy. I have quite a digital collection of 19th century botany and herb books and the only color in them is hand painted plates and almost all the illustrations are drawings in black and white. I recall a book put out in 1905 about wildflowers and it had some of the first photos of flowers used for every plant described. The photos were in black and white and some few were hand colorized. They were not very useful. The saving grace for this book; there were drawings of the plants.

As you become more familiar with botany you develop a natural quickness in going right to the section of the books when you can distinguish certain botanical traits. Things such as number of flower petals, lanceolate versus heart shaped leaves, paired, opposite, smooth edges versus toothed, etc. These things can only be learned from drawings in my opinion.

This is a small list of some of my books on plants and the information contained whether drawings or photographs.

Peterson Field Guides:

1 Edible Wild Plants-Eastern US = drawings and a small section of photographs

2 Medicinal Plants-Eastern US = drawings and a small section of photographs

3 Trees & Shrubs-Eastern US = drawings only both 1958 and 1986 editions

4 Ferns = drawings only

Wild Edible Plants of the Western US by Kirk  = drawings and a small section of photographs

Edible Wild Plants Eastern US  Fernald & Kinsey = drawings only

The Illustrated Book of Wildflowers & Shrubs Grimm = drawings only

Botany in a Day Elpel = drawings only

The above list shows the importance of clarity in a plant description. I haven't seen too many photo's that can show such clarity in details unless they are high quality closeups.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Pocket Bushman continued

 This is a short post to show the work I did on the Cold Steel pocket bushman. The first photo shows the knife with the lock removed. When i have to work on a knife with the blade still attached such as this one I double the masking tape on the cutting edge. This makes it fairly safe but caution is still important. I use the little antique soap dish for my parts holder. In it are the stud and screw for the lock along with the spring.

This next photo shows the lock bar after I stoned the edges that were dragging against the inside of the handle. It shows as a mirror polish in the photo. The edges of the long cutout were stoned, too. This removed any wire edge or roughness from the manufacturing process. I ran green rouge on a felt wheel over everything with the Dremel tool after I cleaned off the oil and left over stone material. After I got everything back together (a real chore in itself! That little spring is strong and you have to put it all back together a certain way) the knife opened and closed a bit easier. I had to tighten the screw on the blade as it was a tiny bit wobbly. That took care of it.


This last photo shows some of my coarser stones. These are from machinist supply companies. I use them to smooth up and polish knife and gun parts. If you know what you're doing you can make a revolver work so smooth it sings!

Friday, February 12, 2021

An old friend returns

 I bought my first Cold Steel Pocket Bushman in 2008. I think it had just come on the market. I was looking for a good sized folder that would withstand the elements. The pocket bushman has one of the toughest locks known to knifedom (is that a word? it is now) and I wanted something that would not let go and cause a serious accident. Its hard to do firstaid on yourself one handed in the woods when your good hand is bleeding like a stuck pig.  The locking system is called Ram Safe lock and was designed by Andrew Demko. I know of no better lock. The scandi grind of the blade was another selling point with me since I was a Mora fan and built several knives with Finnish Lauri blades. The steel was an unknown when this first appeared. Now you can find good info on the net about it. It is Thyssen-Krupp 4116 stainless which has been cryogenic tempered. This process slowly takes the hot blade blank down to -300 degrees F in liquid nitrogen and keeps it there for a bit. What this does is converts the austinite in the steel to martinsite. This makes for a tougher, longer lasting steel. Do a Wikipedia search of "cryogenic treatment of steel" if you want to learn more.

Anyway, I had this knife for a long time and one day I was closing it and the spring broke inside the handle. The knife became way too dangerous to use because that extremely sharp blade just flopped around. No good! I contacted the good folks at Cold Steel and they sent me a pack of 5 springs. I guess they figured this problem would require a lot of replacements. I sold the knife with the extra 4 springs and told the buyer about the breakage possibility and how to change out the spring. I was very sad because I especially liked this knife. It sharpened up to razor edge and held it for a long time and it was sturdy. I owned and carried it daily for about 5 years before the spring incident and had heard Cold Steel remedied the problem. However, I never got around to getting one of the newer versions.

Well, a few months ago I was watching a You Tube video featuring the pocket bushman.The video showed the old version and why it was breaking springs and how it was remedied. In the old  lock bar there was an indent that the spring could bend down into and weaken it till it snapped. Cold Steel simply did away with this and made it a straight piece of steel. So far there have been no problems and this has been the case for about 10 years or so.

So, I went to my favorite store and low and behold there's a brand new sealed in the box Cold Steel Pocket Bushman with my name on it! All for the princely sum of $21.00! I got it home and took it apart. The first thing I noticed was the straight locking bar. Good. I stoned the bar where it felt like it was rubbing against the inside of the handle. Then I got out the Dremel and some felt wheels and green chromium rouge. This did a fine polish on the places I stoned (I use extra fine Scotch machinist stones down to 1000 grit). I did some minor stoning on the edges of the handle to remove and sharpness. The first thing to be left off was that useless thumb stud. Why? This is a hard opening knife and a thumb stud is just plain useless. I realize some folks like to flick their Bics and knives but save it for the smaller blades, boys. I got everything back together and tightened the star screws down and away we went. The RamSafe lock was a lot easier to pull back. Now, this knife is big. 4 1/2" blade, 10 3/8" overall when open, the 420 stainless handle is one piece construction and is 5 7/8" long. The knife is lite for its size coming in at 6.6 ounces. It has a reversible belt clip and is surprisingly slim and hardly noticeable in the pocket. Noticeable as far as feeling any bulge in your pocket-the top of the knife extends a good inch above the end of the pocket clip and the paracord lock assistant is sure to draw questions. Now I can retire my poor old worn out G-96 folder. It is so loose I'm half afraid to open it.