The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Beginners Guide

Posted by Exile on January 31, 2019

Well OK, it’s a honing guide if I have to be honest. But I am a beginner, so…

I bought a plane to go with my chisels. Not the aircraft type. When I told my good lady I had bought one, she nearly had a fit.Irwin-TSP4-Baenk-hoevl She works with aeroplanes. An air traffic controller. She’s easily confused. Well, she is around me. I’m not always clear about what comes out of my mouth…

Anyhow, here it is. An Irwin Record no. 4. A smoothing plane. Probably one of the most popular models in the world.

Like the chisels, one would expect it to be ready to go when it comes out of the box. Just like the chisels, no it isn’t. It’s all there, but it isn’t really sharp yet and although it will take a shaving off the wood the result is not exactly pretty or smooth.

Stripping the thing is a doddle. One removes the locking plate on the front of the plane and the blade falls out nicely into your hand. The blade is bolted solidly to the chip breaker and needs to be freed from that. Again, that’s easy. So, finally, one is left holding the business part of it all. The blade. 50 mm broad and not blunt by any means. Just not yet sharp enough for the job it is intended to do.

Sharpening this blade is similar to sharpening a chisel. The back of the blade has to be dead flat and the bevel, on the reverse side, equally flat. The two should meet at 30° all along the edge.
guideNow, my fingers are strong enough to steer a chisel on the grinding surface but not for a 50mm broad piece of steel. I know I’d get it out of square and render it useless as a cutting instrument. There are things that are made to help with this. Hence the purchase of the honing guide. A lovely little piece of kit designed to hold the blade in a set of mini-jaws and a wheel on the other side to enable one to push it backward and forward over the abrasive surface. The protruding blade is set to hold the required angle on the abrasive. For my purposes, that protrusion is 37 mm with the guide that I have.

The one pictured here is upside down as we look at it. I don’t know why but I couldn’t find a picture of one the right way up.

This one will also take chisels as well as plane blades. Handy, I thought. Two birds, one stone. What’s not to like?
I had to try it. Off to the I-Shed then. (I built the shed, so it’s an I-Shed. OK? Screw Apple.)
I stripped the plane and polished the back of the blade on my plate glass and the abrasive paper. It polished up nicely, flat to the edge. Then on to the bevel. I took the guide, fitted the blade, measured the length and got back to the abrasive. Heave-ho and run the thing over the wet and dry 500 grit for about two minutes. Soon, I had an edge. I then went for 1000 grit and really polished it up.

After about ten minutes work I reassembled the plane, took a piece of scrap wood and set it in the vice. A deep breath and push. Whooosh!
Curly shavings all over the place! Hosanna! The thing works.

It’s not often one buys something cheap and cheerful from China that actually does what it says it should. This thing worked a treat. Even if I did have to wait for a month for delivery.

How does one say ‘thank you’ in mandarin?

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Living On the Edge

Posted by Exile on January 25, 2019

I had a merry Christmas last year. I even got some presents and, what’s more, I even got one I wanted. A set of chisels for woodworking.
Now, I am no carpenter. Never was. I served an apprenticeship as a fitter so most things steel and mechanical are no mystery to me. I can spanner my way through almost anything, but wood is a different proposition.
I can use use a hammer and nails and I can turn a screw and use a saw but the finer elements of woodworking are not yet at my command. I intend to change that in my autumnal years. So, to get me started I wanted chisels. As I said, I have them now. And fine things they are too. Made by Irwin Marples, a boxed set of 6 shiny new implements of a relatively high grade steel with tough plastic handles. Apparently, one can hit the handles with a mallet and do no damage. We’ll see. The box is wooden. Very nice and good for storage.


One would hope and believe that these things were ready to use straight out of the box. But no.
Not quite. OK, they appear sharp and I daresay they are but only to a certain degree. One has to ‘initialise’ a chisel. Which basically means that if you want to use it effectively then you have to, well, sharpen the thing. This is not as easy as it may seem.

Scientifically, the edge of a chisel is the result of two faces meeting each other at a sharp angle all along an edge. That edge is created by the back of the chisel which has to be flat all the way across the chisel and the bevel, which as to be equally flat all across the chisel and these two flat faces meet each other at around 30 degrees. The actual angle is not that critical but 27 – 30 degrees is recommended by those that know.To grind the back of the chisel, take a flat, hard surface. I chose a piece of plate glass that I have in the shed, recovered from a rubbish skip years ago. I thought it might make a window in my shed. It never got there. Lay abrasive paper on the flat surface and start by laying the chisel on that and running it backwards and forwards over the abrasive. It doesn’t take long before one can see a polished surface on the chisel. I used 1000 grit so it really took a polish, even if it was hard going. The important bit is the leading edge of the chisel so keep going until it is polished there from one side to the other. As long as that is good, the rest is not that pressing. Having achieved that, one turns the chisel over and polishes the bevel in the same way by lifting the chisel to get the edge of the bevel down on to the abrasive until that too is polished all across the edge. This will raise a burr on the back of the chisel so give it one swipe across the back when the polishing is done to remove said burr. If you did that right, your chisel is now sharp. Repeat for the other five in the set. Consider it an upper body workout…

I must have done something right, All my chisels work! Many thanks to the people on Youtube, especially a guy called Paul Sellers.

OK. Bring on the wood…

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Springing the Trap

Posted by Exile on December 7, 2018

Or, at least, avoiding it.

I’ve had enough of the piracy. Our police are no longer busy policing the country. They have basically given up on investigating ordinary crime around here and are concentrating on anything that brings money into the state. Anything that carries a fine. There is no money in catching common thieves, burglars or violent thugs on the streets. Especially the last ones, they carry a risk of hurting a policeman and we can’t have sort of thing going on, can we? No. Health and safety and all that…

We drivers of ordinary vehicles though, we are an easy target. Mobile speed traps work. Even where they aren’t necessary, like on free, open and straight roads in perfect driving conditions. They are becoming more prevalent and more predatory.

Saphe - alarm
Deciding I needed to do something about this, I have invested in a warning device for the car. I am one of about 500.000 users of this device and the numbers are growing. It’s called a “Saphe”. (I’m not sure if that shouldn’t be pronounced “safe”.. who knows? I don’t care as long as it works!) Here’s a picture of the thing.
It hooks up with your mobile phone and gives a clear warning of any speed trap within about a kilometer. Time enough to check your speedometer and adjust your speed. One then accepts the alarm and then clicks on the device as one passes the speed trap vehicle. That marks the position of the pirate-like police trap and denotes that it is still in operation. Everyone else using the same type of device that approaches the trap also gets a warning. If one gets a warning but doesn’t see the trapper, then one does not click the device. That indicates that they have moved on to try their luck somewhere else.

I consider this a public service. A peoples gift to the people. Too long have we been ruthlessly preyed on by these alternative tax collectors in blue. Time to fight back. If everyone used one of these there would be no point in speed traps. Make it economically worthless and they will stop.
Perhaps then, the police would return to fighting real crime rather than making us ordinary folks going about our ordinary business into criminals.

The lord may be your shepherd but the state is definitely your enemy.

It is now April. Last week the police ran a speedtrap campagne. They “caught” 540,000 motorists which brought 821 million Crowns to the state coffers. Which seems excessive to me and raises the question; How can it be that so many drivers find the limits too low and restrictive? Maybe, because they are…

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Troll Hunt 2018

Posted by Exile on November 21, 2018

The one competition I looked forward to all year long. Simulated indoor hunting where one gets to shoot at animal figures at varying ranges and heights. Sounds easy enough but there are rules and regulations and scoring to be taken into consideration. Not to mention the varying ‘classes’ for the competition. Due to my advancing years, I was in the ‘Master’ class of the longbow section. Being a master has nothing to do with competence.

We were some eighty people up for the fun and games and I was one of eight competitors in my class. Unfortunately for me, one or two of them are old national ex-champions. Hard to beat, they have been doing this for years and I have been at it for just over 12 months. Not to mention the fact that our club doesn’t have the room to practice at ranges much over 20 yards and some of the targets on the day were about 30 yards away. I missed a few shots on each round. The shooting gets done over three rounds, ten targets per round and two arrows per target. 60 shots in total plus 3 bonus shots, one on each round. The bonus shots are at the ‘trolls’ which can give up to 25 extra points if you hit one. I didn’t. I did last year but wasn’t quite up to it this year.
However, my final score had improved from last year. There, I ended up with a final tally of 334 points including a bonus 25, where this year I hit a clean 351 points.
Pleased with my progress, I ended up being number 4 out of 8. Not bad considering the standard of competition.

There will be another one of these indoor competitions in January 2019. I’ll be entering that one too. You never know. I might improve enough to get a third place..!!

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Turning 65

Posted by Exile on November 21, 2018

I wonder how I got here. My last birthday marks the beginning of a new era in my life. I’ve made it to pension. I am now an Old Age Pensioner. Officially, an old git. Beware, I may get grumpy now.
Society has burdened me since I started working at the age of fifteen, 50 years ago. Now I am a burden on society. Whoopee. I feel no guilt. I have done my bit. I have even managed to squirrel a little money away for exactly this time so my economic future is perhaps more than merely ‘safe’. The last five years on early, pre-paid retirement have been fun but it gets serious now. I have to cash in on my own pension schemes and whatever I get out of that has to tide me over. I hope I live long enough to get all I can out of it! I celebrated the day with my wife and grandson. The day started with a huge breakfast, presents and a bucket of tea. At one point I had to get the youngster home again to his mother where there were more presents waiting for me. Suffice it to say, I’m OK for whisky for the next few weeks.

It was also my brothers birthday. He is now 69. We are obviously not twins. We share the same birthday by coincidence. He’s alive and well in the UK and we ring each other on the day each year. Nice to hear from him and catch up. I may visit next year. We’ll see.

For now though, I think I’ll just sit back and relax… In the words of the old song, “It’s been a long time coming”.

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I Roll

Posted by Exile on August 9, 2018

Or, if you want that in Latin: Volvo

I always wanted one, and now I have one. It isn’t new, it is a tank of a car. Big, roomy and heavy. It sits well on the road. It isn’t sporty but it is solid. I don’t drive that much any more and when I do, I take my time. Not that I don’t drive to the limit, I no longer have to reach anywhere in a hurry. I won’t be overloading the 1,8 liter engine.

It isn’t so much that I was displeased with my old car but it was getting to the point where it was showing its age and costing me a lot to maintain it. The Volvo is of similar age but it was built to last forever.  The road tax will be cheaper too. I calculate that if I can keep it running for the next six years, it will have paid for itself on taxation alone. It also has a towing hook. I may be getting a trailer soon, so that I may be the source of others frustration as I slowly drag my rubbish to the local dump.
A station car has always been my preferred mode of transport. There is room for all the family and all the accoutrements of living the life I live. In winter I carry emergency provisions in the car, plus a blanket and the unavoidable shovel and tow chain. I need to be able to transport rubbish away from the house, garden refuse and other stuff. Hard to do in a compact city car. It will be a boon during the summer camping outings.

A 1.8 liter engine drinks fuel at an almost alarming rate. I don’t mind. I enjoy having the latent power under my backside. By not running it at full throttle one can offset the MPG and get a little more out of the expensive liquid energy source. I will be noting my fuel consumption over the next few weeks. Nice to know how far one can travel per liter. I did it for the motorbike, I can do it for the car too.

So, you may ask, what is this beast? Well, it’s a 1,8 Volvo V40 Jubilee Station Wagon from 2003. Silver livery and all the mod cons. Air conditioned, traction control, ABS, plus all the other doo-dads that Volvo could think of. This was top of the line when it was produced.

Here’s a picture of the model:volvo

OK, I don’t have the carriage rails over the roof but the rest is remarkably similar to the image on the right..

I need to get it washed. The long summer has brought water restrictions with it and right now the washing of vehicles is taboo. A minor setback. I have polished all the glasswork though, Mainly because the dust had settled all over the windscreen and I do like to see where I’m pointing the thing as I hurtle down the motorway.

I did allow my good lady to sit behind the wheel. She is not large by anyone’s standards and she had a problem seeing over the dashboard. This will probably not deter her. She had the same problem with her Mazda many years ago but she drove that one to death. I will attempt to limit her access to this one though.

She has a city car of her own. This one’s mine….

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Back Yard Archery

Posted by Exile on July 18, 2018

I’ve finally found an open area in my garden where I can loose off a few arrows a day. It took me some time to figure out how but using my shed as a backstop and with a little construction work, I can now hang a foam target plate up in both high and low positions and practice all I want.

I have 3 bows to choose from. One, drawing thirty pounds, I shoot for fun with my grandson. He has his own bow and arrows.

The second, a thirty five pound draw, is going to be my indoor 3D bow. 3D is simulated hunting. I have no desire to go out and slaughter the wildlife. This bow is easy for me to use. It feels easy to draw and is comfortable in my hand. This means that I can hold it at full draw for a slightly longer period and concentrate on my aim for that tiny bit longer. I can shoot with it all day long and not feel tired.

The third is a monster. 45 pounds draw and it shoots like a rifle. Hitting anything under thirty yards is a certainty and I use that for outdoor and indoor target shooting. After a days shooting with this, I can feel my shoulder muscles complaining. It is still my favourite bow.

I have no target faces to shoot at yet. Instead, I make cardboard roundels which measure three inches in diameter. I hang them on toothpicks and concentrate on pinning them to the foam. I think of it as shooting the apple. I’m getting pretty good at hitting it at a maximum distance of around sixty feet, which is the furthest point I can get away from the target as the garden isn’t longer! I use all my bows to practice with. So far, I can get all six arrows within a five inch circle in and around the ‘apple’ regardless of which bow I use.
I enjoy this practice. I can only compete with myself and it means I don’t have to wait for others to be done with theirs before I can retrieve my arrows. Which makes practice more intense and concentrated. Plus, I can vary the range as I wish and when I wish.
This doesn’t mean that I won’t be going to the club any more, it just allows me to practice every day if I so desire.

The arrows have to be the correct weight and strength for each bow. So I have different arrows for each. I shoot wooden shafts which are a little expensive but well worth the investment. I have them made in Estonia by Falco. 30 inches long and at the relevant weight to suit each bow. It’s a bit of a science getting them right but the company is always ready to give advice and they haven’t set me wrong yet.

Here’s my 3D specs:

3D arrow specs

And here’s my target arrows:

Target arrow specs.

There are subtle differences. The most obvious being the fletchings and points.

Later this year the indoor competitions will start. I competed in two 3D events last winter and did very well for a beginner. Had I been entered in the correct class in the first event, I would have won it hands down. This year, I intend to be ready. I have a better bow, the correct arrows and a whole lot more experience under my belt. 

I’m looking for medals now.

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The Great Outdoors

Posted by Exile on July 15, 2018

I’ve been camping with my grandson. We were gone for a week. No blood was spilled and no animals were hurt during this happy interlude.

IMG_0876I wasn’t sure how he’d take being away from his mother for so long, but he managed the whole 5 days and nights without a whimper and thoroughly enjoyed himself from start to finish. He kept the tent tidy, kept track of his clothing for most of the time and generally behaved himself. All very encouraging.
So. What did we get up to? Here goes:

Day 1 was easy. We got up early, had breakfast, packed the car and set off to the island of Moen. One and a half hours later we were on the camp site. We set up the tent and generally settled in. After that I turned him loose on the playground and sat myself down in the sunshine and relaxed. He came back when he was hungry and we fixed dinner. More play in the evening for him and we finally got to bed at about 10:30 pm. An owl kept us awake for most of the night… Bugger.

Day 2 started with breakfast and then he went off to play again. He’s 7 years old and there were many others of his age. Even if they were Belgian or Dutch.. kids have a common language.
Then ‘she’ arrived. With her grandmother and uncle. They camped right beside us. A pretty little thing of 6 tender years, my grandson struck up conversation with her immediately. Chip off the old block, I thought. An eye for the ladies. Her name was Lark, which she shares with his auntie.
Suddenly the lad came and asked if he could borrow my pocket knife. Where’s yours? I asked. He’d lent it to Lark. I knew then, that this was serious. His knife is his prized possession. They sat for ages on a log, whittling sticks in the sunshine and chatting about Lord knows what. Finally he led her off to the playground and I didn’t see much of him that day.
That night we had a cloudburst directly over us. Luckily, I’d covered the old tent with a tarpaulin and we remained dry. The first rain we’d seen in over six weeks.

IMG_0855Day 3 and we left for the cliffs. The white cliffs of Moen. Dover in mini-format. It’s a long way down by stairs and it feels even longer coming back up. I needed to stop at regular intervals. We were experiencing a heat wave that day and I was suffering. He didn’t seem to mind.
My legs locked up, my heart was beating like a steam hammer. I was bathed in sweat and wheezing like a punctured accordion, I had to stop at the half way point and sit down for ten minutes.
The lad was really encouraging. Come on Grandpa, we’re nearly at the top, he said. No we weren’t, but I had to put a brave face on it…

I was glad to get back to the tranquility of the camp and relax while he took off with his new found girl friend. He took his pocket money with him and bought her ice cream and a bracelet. I spent the afternoon talking with fellow campers and looking at all the different tents. I’m looking for a new one. Mine is 26 years old and it’s had its day.
I think I’ve found one. Now I have to find out where I can purchase one. More on that later.

That night I saw something I’ve never seen before. A huge toad came past the tent. It was actively hunting insects. When they do this, they raise themselves up, legs outstretched, and move like a dog. Head down and stalking, it finally spotted a beetle and and then shot out its tongue. It’s all over in less than a half second. I watched it do this three times before it crawled off into the darkness.
The lad thought it was great.

Day 4 started with the neighbours packing up and leaving. The youngster was disappointed. She’d used his gear, eaten his sweets, spent his money and now she was leaving. A valuable life lesson. We decided to take a trip into the nearest town and do some shopping. We needed provisions and I needed cigarettes. The town was celebrating some kind of festival and was transformed into a huge market.

mikkel knifeWhile we were there the lad found a pocket knife. He’s always admired my locking folder, which I always have with me and now he’d seen one of the right  size. Excited, he dragged me off toward the shop and pointed it out. I bought it for him. So now he has two knives. A solid little Linder skinner in a sheath, which usually hangs round his neck on a leather thong, and now a Cudeman locking folder, complete with pouch, to hang on his belt just like Grandpas. One happy kid. I’ve spent two years teaching him how to use a knife properly and teaching him to respect what a knife really is.
A universal tool. Not a toy, not a weapon. Something to be used with caution and purpose and not to be taken lightly. He understands this. It is for use in the woods or on camp sites, doesn’t go with him to school and he can carry it when he’s with me. 
I know I can trust him to carry it and stick to those rules.

He practised opening and closing it for the rest of the day. We even had to oil it. Finally, he got it right. He then sat down to some serious whittling and made himself a walking stick. He did a good job of it too.

Our final day went with walking in the woods, a dip in the pool and minigolf. We packed our gear in the evening, ready for the trip home and got an early night.

We slept like logs on our cot beds…


As for that new tent; I’ve found one and ordered it.

An Outwell Bear Lake 6. Google it.

It’s a tunnel tent.

It’s huge.

Can’t wait to try it out.


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Great White Hunter

Posted by Exile on June 23, 2018

Three long days to catch a very clever little mouse.

I knew he was in the house. I’d seen him, late one night, where he came sauntering through the living room. I wasn’t quick enough to corner or catch him.
The door to the terrace stays open during the summer allowing the dogs to come and go as they please. I suppose that works for mice as well. I figured the mouse would leave of his own accord.

But no.

The little sod moved into our kitchen. In fact, he was under the kitchen cabinets which are built in and not easily removed. He was more than happy to eat the potatoes from their container in the cupboard under the sink and he picked holes in the bottom of the rubish bag hanging on its rack. All in all, he was enjoying himself at my expense and I had to put an end to this state of affairs.

Killing him was out of the question. My dear lady wouldn’t let me, even if I had wanted to. I had to catch him alive and then release him back into the great outdoors. Easier said than done.

I bought a trap. A very humane thing built in the form of a tunnel which closes behind the mouse as he goes for the bait at the closed end. I baited it with chocolate. Strangely, mice do not prefer cheese.  Apple would also have done it. Or other fruit or peanuts.
It really made no difference though. The mouse figured out how to get in and out of the trap even though I heard it trigger two or three times. No bait left. No mouse caught.
This was getting me nowhere.

I have a suspicion that this was a great source of amusement to the long haired and lovely one. I think she was secretly cheering for the mouse.

I made my first attempt at making a bottle trap. I thought that if I could get him to climb into a bottle that was sufficiently upright that he couldn’t climb out again, I’d have him.

No. Once again, the bait was always gone and so was the mouse. I felt cheated. This was getting to be embarassing. I could hear my wife sniggering at me.
Not to mention the mouse… I’m sure he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
My respect for this hardy little adversary was growing with every failed attempt at catching him.  Clever little bugger, I thought. But I am nothing if not determined.

Something had to be done. So I went off to see if I could find an effective and foolproof  humane trap using the internet as my source of information. I found one. Home made and easy to put together.

Here’s a picture of the contraption:

The principle is simple. The bottle is barely balanced on a wire fulcrum passing through the bottle with the bottom of the bottle being the heavy end. Leave some space under the bottle to allow it to tip. Bait goes into the bottle. The mouse gets in through the usual hole and his own weight tips the bottle down. The block in front of the bottle neck now acts as a solid barrier holding him in. All built with some bent wire, a soda pop bottle, a piece of scrap lumber and a few screws.
OK, the bottle will see-saw as he moves about inside it but every time he gets close to the bottle neck it will tip down and keep him in.
Easily made and at very little expense, this thing actually works. I caught my mouse within an hour of setting it up.

Call me “Trapper”….!

I proudly showed my prize to the dear one. She instructed me not to hurt the mouse and to release it “somewhere safe”.

I did. Albeit in the middle of the night. Far from home.

I’m keeping the trap though…

Update: 26/06/2018.

It’s a good thing that I kept the trap. Either the mouse came back or there were two of them. Potatoes kept being eaten and the rubbish bag was punctured again. Once again, I set my trap and caught a mouse. Not taking any chances this time, I drove about three miles from home and released the critter.
I left the trap overnight with no further capture, so I believe we’re mouse free. The missus thought it was all highly amusing: “The mouse came home to Daddy:” she says.
“Little bugger.” I said.

If it turns up again, I’m taking it to Sweden and releasing it there…

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Giving it some Stick

Posted by Exile on June 4, 2018

I do get out into the woods every now and then. They aren’t far away and my grandson and I go out there to look for animals and birds and get away from iPads. He is more agile than I and occasionally I need to rest for a minute or two while he runs about in the undergrowth. I decided I need a walking stick capable of holding me up. I would fashion this myself.

I had a pole. A good thick piece of rounded pine, as long as I am tall. Too long, I know, but it would make a good stick. What about a handle? I thought a piece of antler would be good, but where do I find antler? The chances of finding one in ‘our’ woods is about zero.
Luckily my son-in-law has a hunter for a father and he had a chunk. I knew the young man would make me happy sooner or later…

The best way to fix antler to a pole is to reduce the top inch and half of the pole to a dowel about three quarters of the diameter of the pole. Then drill out the antler to the appropriate size and set the whole thing fast with epoxy glue. Once the epoxy has hardened off one can chamfer the antler with a file so the joint becomes more fluid and flowing. This, I did.

IMG_0794And here’s the result. One chunk of antler fitted very securely to the top of the pole.
Obviously the stick, now assembled, is far from finished.
The cut faces of the antler must be capped by something because the centre of any antler is very porous and will disintegrate. I puzzled over this for quite some time. In the end I decided to use some Corsican briar that I had lying around in my pipe tackle drawer. Every man should have such a thing. I cut some small cubes of the material and bored some holes in the open faces of the antler to help the epoxy get a grip.



Once they were glued into place the sanding down and finishing process can begin. I discovered that my Dremel tool was my best friend in this. The grinding attachment made short work of forming the wood into buttons.

Happy with the shape and fit that I had achieved I turned to the buffing wheel to polish the buttons up. That worked. First with a wax mixed with pumice and then a buffer with ordinary polishing wax. Antler polishes up with (believe it or not) Brasso on a rag. It comes up to a mirror shine.

Happy with the handle, I cut the stick down to a length which corresponds with the height of my elbow. It is very comfortable to walk with and tall enough to allow me to either tuck it under my armpit and lean on it or simply to cross my arms over it and do the same.
So there it is. A stick for life. Heavy enough to be used as a defensive weapon if necessary and light enough to walk with. I’m really quite pleased with the result.



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