HOW TO...

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Make a ladder

Issue 3

Making ladders is always a popular activity. While constructing something practical the young people are practising their knot-making skills, maybe without even realising. We are going to look at four types of ladder.
1. Knot ladder. This needs no more than a long length of rope into which an overhand knot is tied every thirty centimetres or so. More or less depending on the height of the person who will be using it. An overhand knot is tied by forming a loop and passing the working end through it before pulling tight. This will make both climbing and descending much easier as it gives you something to prevent both your hands and feet from slipping down the rope.
2. Manharness ladder. Again this uses no more than a length of rope but you will need more rope to cover the same distance as this ladder is formed of knotted loops. Make a loop with the working end on top and to the left. With the working end position it under the loop just formed. Whilst you hold the working end in place take the right hand side of the loop, pass it under the working end then over the left hand side of the loop. Hold onto both ends of the rope in one hand and the new loop in the other and pull whereupon you will form a knotted loop. Until you have pulled the knot tight the size of the loop is adjustable. This is a manharness hitch. You can now use the loops as footholds and handholds.
3. Rope ladder. With two lengths of rope or a very long rope doubled, as you make each pair of manharness hitches opposite each other on the two lengths of rope, pass a thick stick or branch through both to make a rung, making sure that the wood protrudes at either end, and pull to tighten.
4. Static ladder. This uses two long lengths of wood to form the sides of the ladder in addition to the rungs. The rungs are attached to the uprights using square lashings. The advantage of this ladder is that it is more stable than the others and it can be used from the ground but it may twist if the lashings aren't tight.

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Make a Scaffold Board Chair

Issue 3

A great mortise and tenon project for your young people to have a go at. Simple and straightforward! It takes a bit of time though so it will keep them busy for a couple of hours plus any fine tuning / finishing.


You will need: A scaffolding board (1800mm x 225mm x 38mm) per chair, saw, hammer and chisel, tape measure. Additionally you may want to use a circular saw, wood drill and a jigsaw.

1. Cut the board in half shortways across the middle with a saw.

2A. Measure two lengths 37.5mm x 650mm and cut with a saw to form the tenon tongue.

2B. Cut out the mortise hole. This can be done either by using a hammer and chisel with or without a drill to assist (although this does take some time), or you can drill four holes in the corners so that you can insert a jigsaw and cut the hole that way.

3. Slot the tenon through the mortise as far as it will go. If it's a bit tight encourage it with a few gentle whacks with a rubber-headed hammer.

Sit Down! For a less upright position cut a slice off the back of B.


There are plenty of extra things that you can do to this chair. You may want to round off the edges, burnish names or patterns into the wood, paint it, sand it, oil it or just leave it as it is.

For the drawing to go with these instructions see Issue 3.

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How to light a match in the wind

Issue 2

A small box of matches may contain around forty matches so you may wonder what all the fuss is about. If one goes out before you've lit your tinder or whatever else you're trying to light then just try with another, then another, then another, then....oooooh! Before you know it you're down to your last match and a hot meal is looking like a distant dream. Think of each match as a stick of gold and make each one count. It is possible to buy wind resistant matches but if you don't have any to hand there is a good solution that doesn't involve lighting three or four together at the same time. This may give a good flame for a few seconds but will often then go out as the flame is not sufficiently intense to keep the mass of match stick stems alight. The solution is to turn your matchstick into a fuzz match.


You will need a penknife / small sharp knife. Hold the match by the non-head end vertically down with the head resting on a solid surface. With your other hand slice downwards into the matchstick on the four corners, starting just above the head. Work around and halfway up the stick until you have what looks like a mini palm tree leaf. Now when you strike the match the flame will quickly burn the shavings and give a much brighter flame.


Top tips for lighting matches

1. Strike the match away from your body. (For some reason this is something that females instinctively do more than males.) This is because small molten balls of phosphorus sometimes fly from the head.

2. Once lit, point the lit end down so that the flame can climb up the stick as fire burns up. It will burn too quickly if vertical (although you will get a great flame for a short while) and could easily burn you while holding the head up will usually lead to the flame going out so holding the match down at a forty-five degree angle is a good compromise.

3. If it's a windy day and you, unbelievably, don't have a sharp knife to hand then wait for the wind to die down. It tends to move in cycles and so even on quite blustery days there will often be breaks when you can light your match and keep it alight just long enough to light your tinder.

4. With a light wind shield the lit match with the cupped palm of your hand against the wind direction like a mini windbreak.

Do not...

...put a lit match in a box of unused matches. It will produce a load of smoke, go out quickly and waste the whole box. Good fun though.


Did you know?

Over 1,400 years ago the Chinese were using a type of match that comprised small twigs of pine that were impregnated with sulphur. It wasn't until 1805 that the first self-lighting match was invented. However they didn't take off as they had to be dipped into sulphuric acid to ignite. Friction safety matches were not mass-produced until the 1850s.


Now that you have used just one match to light your fire etc. you may be wondering what to do with the remaining thirty-nine...

Move two matches in each equation in the above photo to make the sums correct


Answer: 8 + 5 = 13 and 8 - 5 = 3

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