That sweet Douglas fir fatwood. Stop me if you’ve heard this one… Growing up in one of the wettest forests in the world, making fire in the rain was something that my dad started teaching me at an early age. However, at the time neither of us knew what was hidden in the old stumps and downed logs that surrounded us.
When I grew up I read about fatwood from pines, but pines aren’t common on the western slopes of the Cascades, so I assumed it was a resource that I didn’t have access too. I eventually found a couple of references online to Douglas fir producing fatwood in the Rockies, so I set out to thump some stumps with an optimistic attitude. You can imagine my elation the first time I cut into a piece of this bright red, lime candy scented, resin-impregnated goodness that makes fire so much easier. I have considered that I may have been lucky learning about it late in life; as I learned a lot getting by without it. These are some of my favorite fatwood clips and photos that I’ve collected over the years. I would eventually like to put together a video showing how to recognize it in this area, and am slowly collecting footage for that purpose; but this post is essentially just eye candy for you sap junkies out there.
Slate tipped spear with a maple shaft and cedar root binding. Just holding this thing is fun! I don’t know how practical of a tool this would be. You would have to be a lot sneakier than me to use it for hunting, but something like this might at least make you feel better in predator country if you didn’t have any better options. It also seems like it could potentially be useful in other ways ; like perhaps dispatching a deer in a snare (survival only option). I have no idea what would happen with this head if you actually tried to use it; I really just wanted to make a big spear for fun, and am happy with how this came out as a first attempt. The leading edge of the spear is relatively sharp and I went with a rounded point for strength. There is a slight curve to the stone, so I put bevels on the front side only, leading to somewhat of a chisel grind.