by Joe McDonald
This article will be new information to people who have taken
a Standard Course prior to 1982 and a review for the others. First a word of
caution: Don't use wood from poisonous trees such as yew, cascara, or some types
of locus. The wood's toxins may spoil the water.
Coalburning is by far easier for making depressions in wood
than trying to carve them with a knife or sharp stone tool. Wooden bowls, cups,
pots and spoons can be made through this process using hot coals. This method
works best with dry wood obtained from a log, stump, or other chunks of wood.
Green wood has a tendency to crack easier with hot coals, but is usable.
Gather the embers with a pair of tongs, two pieces of wood, or
a slab of bark and place them on the area you want hollowed out. If obtainable,
use a hollow reed or bone to direct a thin, steady stream of air on to the
coals. This gives you more control over the shape of the depression. When the
embers have burned down, scrape out the indentation with a knife or sharp rock
and dump out the ashes. Repeat the procedure until the depression is of the
desired size. Near the bottom you can safeguard against splitting and cracking
by using red hot rocks instead of coals.
Don't carve the article to desired shape until after the
burning process is completed. This way you won't have to start over if the
indentation burns past the edge Simply carve with the shape of the depression,
leaving about an inch rim for pots and bowls.
There are two ways in which to keep the container from
absorbing food material that will start to spoil. One is roasting the inside
with pine pitch mixed with wood ashes. If you're going to be boiling water in it
with hot rocks, the pitch will soften and give your tea or stew a pine flavor. A
better method is to seal it with double-rendered fats. After each cleaning, add
a little fat to seal it and keep it from cracking.
Containers of any size and shape can be constructed, depending
on the size of your blank. You are only limited by your imagination and how much
time you are willing to spend.
From The Tracker magazine, Summer 1982,
published by the Tracker School.
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Tracker Trail website.
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