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Australian bushcraft


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Australian bushcraft

  1. 1. RICHARD GRAVESA serious guide to survival and campingIllustrated by Richard GregoryDYMOCKS
  2. 2. ised and produced by Taylolications (Australia)Pty Ltd1srevised and updated editionpublished in 1984byDymocksPublishing Pty Ltd12Clearview Place, Brookvale,@ Richard Graves 1984This book is copyright. Apart fromany fair dealing for the purposesof private study, research, criticismor review, as permitted under theCopyright Act, no part may bereproduced by any process withoutwritten permission. Inquiries shouldbe addressed to Dymocks Publishing Pty Ltd.National Library of AustraliaCataloguing-in-PublicationdataGraves, Richard, 1898-1971.Australian bushcraft.Previously published as: The 10bushcraft books. Sydney,Dymocks 1970.ISBN 0 909824 35 5.1.Outdoor life-Australia. 2. Camping-Australia. 3.Hiking -Australia.4. Wilderness survival-Australia.I. Gregory, Richard. 11.Graves,Richard,1898-1971.The 10bushcraft books.111.Title. IV. Title: The 10Bushcraft books.796.5Designed by M. D. CampTypeset by EverysizeTypeart, SydneyPrinted in Hong Kong
  3. 3. ContentsIntroduction 71 Ropes and cords 92 Knots and lashing 433 Huts and thatching 704 Campcraft 1085 Food and water 1736 Fire making 2257 Animal habits 2498 Travel and weather 2689 Time and direction 290Bibliography 316Index 318
  4. 4. IntroductioniRichard Graves, who died in 1971, first published The 10Bushcraft Books in 1950. A cousin of poet and author RobertGraves, he was an enthusiastic bushwalker, skier and apioneer of white-water canoeing. During the Second WorldWar he realised that knowing the bush helped to save lives,particularly those of men stranded behind enemy lines inthe island jungles of the Pacific zone. He founded and ledthe Australian Jungle Rescue Detachment, assigned to theFar East United StatesAir Force. Thisdetachment of 60spe-cially selected A.I.F. soldiers successfully carried out morethan 300 rescue missionsduring the period of the war. Mostof these missions were in enemy-held territory. All were suc-cessful,and no lives were lost.The key to the successof these rescue missions in wild andinhospitable country was survival. It was then, during thejungle training school period, that he started to compile thenotes for the original 10bushcraft volumes.Graveslater revised the notes and after the war conducteda school in bushcraft for almost twenty years.In his introduction to the collection of these books Gravesstated:The practice of bushcraft shows many unexpectedresults. The five sensesare sharpened and consequently thejoy of being alive is greater.The individuals ability to adapt and improvise isdeveloped to a remarkable degree. This in turn leads toincreased self-confidence.Self-confidence and the ability to adapt to a changingenvironment and to overcome the difficultiesis followed by
  5. 5. a rapid improvement in the individuals daily work. This inturn leads to advancement and promotion.Bushcraft, by developing adaptability, provides abroadening influence,a necessary counter to offset the nar-rowing influence of modern specialisation.For thiswork of bushcraft, all that is needed isa sharpcut-ting instrument: knife axe or machete. The last is the mostuseful. For the work, dead materials are most suitable.Thepractice of bushcraft conserves and does not destroywildlife.
  6. 6. 1 Ropes and cordsOne of the basic skills needed in bushcraft is the ability tojoin or tie poles or sticks together. The only method avail-able is to use lashings. Although the ready availability thesedays of cheap lightweight and extremely strongnylon ropeshave made their inclusion almost automatic in any survivalbush kit, emergencies can arise. Under these circumstancesropes made from bush materials can be the key to survival.The ability to spin or plait fibres into ropes or cords is oneof the oldest of all primitive skills. The basic method is sim-ple and has remained unchanged for thousands of years.You can find the material from which to spinor plait ropesor cords almost anywhere in the bush. Any fibrous materialwhich has reasonable length, moderate strength and is flex-ible or pliable can be used. These three properties are theones to look forwhen selectingmaterials. They can be foundin many vines, grasses, barks, palms and in the hair of ani-mals.The breaking strain of handmade ropes and cords variesgreatly with different materials. Because of this variation itis essential that the rope or cord be tested before being actu-ally put to use.The list of uses to which handmade ropes and cords canbe put is almost endless.The makingof ropes and cords.Almostany natural fibrous material can be spun into good,serviceable rope or cord. Many materials which have alength of 30 to 60 cm or more can be plaited or braided.
  7. 7. Ropes of up to 5 and 10 cm diameter can be laid by fourpeople, and breakingstrainsforbushmade rope of 5cm dia-meter range from 50 kg to as high as 1000kg.BREAKINGSTRAINSTaking a three-lay rope of 3 cm diameteras standard, the following list of breaking strains gives anidea or guide to the general strengths of various bush mate-rials. For safetys sake always regard the lowest figure as theactualbreaking strain unless tests have shown otherwise.Green grass 50-100 kgBark fibre 200-700 kgPalm fibre 300- 1000kgSedges 900- 1000kgLianas(monkeyvines) 250-300 kgLawyervine(Calamus) 500kg(10mm diameter,unskinned)PRINCIPLESOF SELECTING ROPE-MAKING MATERIALS TOdiscoverwhether or not a material is suitableforrope-makingit musthave four essentialqualities.It must be reasonably long in the fibreIt must have strengthIt must be pliableIt must have adhesionor grip sothat the fibreswill biteinto one anotherThere are three simple tests to-find out if any material issuitable.First pull on a length to test it for strength. If it does notimmediately snap or pull to pieces, it should be twistedbetweenthe fingersand the fibresshouldbe rolled together.If it will stand this and not snap apart, tie a knot in the mate-rial and slowly and gently tighten it. If the material does notcut in on itself and you can pull the knot reasonably tight, itis suitable for rope-making, providing it will bite or griptogether and doesnot slip apart instantly.You will find thesequalitiesin allsortsof plants; in groundvines, .in most of the longer grasses, in some of the water
  8. 8. Strong bush ropes can be made only if the materials are suitable. Thefibres, as in grass or bark, mzlst be long enough to be worked, they mustbe able to be twisted and bepliable enough to take a simple knot withoutsnapping.weeds and rushes and in the inner bark of many trees andshrubs.Some green, freshly gathered materials may be stiff orunyielding. However, they still may be suitable for rope-making. Pass them over the flames of a hot fire for 30 sec-onds or so.Theheat willoften cause the saptoburst throughsome of the cell structures making the material pliable.If material is hard or stzjfit can be passed over afire to make it morepliable.i
  9. 9. Apart from fibre sources in the plants mentioned abovesomeseaweedscan be useful sourcesfor rope-makingmate-rial as can members of the large aloe family.GATHERINGAND PREPARING MATERIALS In some plants theremay be a high concentration of vegetable gum. This canoften be removed by soakingin water (suchasthe back-eddyof a stream or in a waterhole) for several hours until thematerial is cleaned. A running stream is suitable only if thematerialcan be anchored or secured.Largestonesareusefulfor this. If largeenoughcontainersareavailablethe materialcan be boiled. A third method is to dry it out thoroughly inthe sun and then tease the fibres out.Some materials have to be used green if any strength isrequired. Those that should be used green include thesedges,water rushes, grassesandlianavines.Grasses,sedgesand water rushes should be cut and never pulled out of theground. Cutting above ground level with a sharp knife orGrasses,sedges and whesshould alwaysbe cut and not pulled out bythe roots. Pulling them out destroys the plant and the nuttq-a1environ-ment.A
  10. 10. machete is harvesting. But pulling it out destroys the rootstructure and kills the plant.When harvesting, work over as wide an area as possible.Do not completely clear any one site. Remember to leave atleast some stands of the plant to go to seed to allow forregrowth. Thus with the sedges and grasses be particularlycareful with your harvest. Cut what you require aboveground level and take only from the biggest clumps.Palm fibre in tropical or sub-tropical regions used to beregularly harvested as a matter of course and was put tomany uses. It is found at the junction of the leaf and thepalm trunk. It can also be found lying on the groundbeneath many speciesof palm. It is oneof the best rope- andcord-makingmaterials available.The lawyer vine or Calamus must be approached withsome caution. Normally found in the rainforest areas ofnorthern Queensland it can also be obtained (although it israrer) in similar areas in the southern part of that State andin northern New South Wales. The leavesof the lawyervinehave needle-like prickles and the branches are armed withsharp hooks -once much used by the Aborigines to catchfish.Once the difficult process of stripping off the leaves andthe hooks themselves is completed, the lawyer vine, if theouter bark is not removed, will be found to have enormousstrength. In the past it has been used for making cables tohaul logs, as rigging for boats, in suspension bridges and inthe making of fish traps and baskets.In favourable circumstances individual vines up to 100metres in length are not uncommon.In temperate areas fibrous matter from the inner bark ofcertain trees and shrubs is an excellent source of rope-mak-ing material. It is most suitablewhen the tree is dead and thematerial has dried out. The inner bark of many eucalyptspossess this useful fibre. If the tree is dead when the fibre isteased and separated the natural gum will have dried outand will separate from the material as a fine powder.Do not use the bark from green trees or shrubs unlessit is
  11. 11. absolutely essential; even then cut off branches rather thanfell the whole tree. Never cut down a complete tree simplybecause you want some of its bark for a length of cord.If there is no alternative to green timber, test before youcut. Slice a small section about 10cm in length and about 5cmwidefrom the selectedbranch. Thissampleshouldbe cutthrough to the sapwood.Peel it off the tree and then test thedifferent layers. If it is not oozing gum it probably will besuitable, but it should still be soaked in water for some timeand then sun dried.+The correct way toparent a vine or canefrom running off is to keepthe thin half of the split straight while bending the thick halfawayfromthe danger zone.In the case of green lianasand vines only the outer skin isusually strong. This will split off easily if the main stalk isbent away from the skin. This principle applies to palm leafstalks and most other green material. If a split starts to runoff, the materialmust be bent awayfrom the thin side.It willthen gradually gain in size and come back to an even thick-ness with the other splitsTOMAKE CORD BY SPINNING WITH THE FINGERS Use any materialwith long, strong threads or fibres which have been tested
  12. 12. -Shown here is a two-strand rope lay. Both thegeneral direction of thefibre twist and the direction of the lay itselfare illwtrated.previously for strength and pliability. Gather the fibres intoloosely held strands of even thickness. Each of these strandsis twisted clockwise. The twist will hold the fibre together.The strandsshouldbe from 1mm downwards- foraroughand ready rule there should be about 15 to 20 fibres to astrand.Two, three or four of these strands are later twistedtogether and this twistingtogether or laying is donewith ananti-clockwise motion, while at the same time the separatestrands which have not yet been laid up are twistedclockwise.Each strand must be of equaltwistand thickness.The person who twists the strands together is called thelayer. He must see that the twisting iseven,that the strandsare uniform and that the tension on each strand is equal.In laying he must watch that each of the strands is evenlylaid up, that is, that one strand does not twist around theother two. This invariably happens the first time rope-mak-ing is attempted. It should be stressed here that rope-mak-ing is a skill that is not acquired at one go.When spinning fine cords for such things as fishinglines,considerablecare must be taken to keepthe strandsuniformand the lay even. Fine thin cords capable of taking a strainof up to 10 kg can be made by the experienced spinner butnot by the beginner.Normally two or more people are needed to spin and lay
  13. 13. up the strandsfor cord. It is a community effort, in otherwords.Somepeople,when spinningcord, dosounaided,twistingthe material by running the flatof the hand along the thigh,with the fibrous matter between hand and thigh. With theirfree hand they feed in fibrefor the next spin. By this meansone person can make long lengths of single strands.However, this method is slow if any considerable lengthof cord is required.Asimplerand easierway to make lengths of rope from 50to 100 metres or more in length is to make a ropewalk andset up multiple spinners in the form of cranks.In a ropewalk each feeder holds the material under onearm and with one free hand feeds it into the strand which isbeing spun by the crank. The other hand lightly holds thefibres together until they are spun. As the lightly spunstrands are increased in length they must be supported oncross lays.They should not be allowed to lie on the ground.Strandsof between 20 and 100metrescan be spun beforelayingup. Do not spin thematerial toothickly.Thickstrandsdo not help strength in any way; rather they tend to make aweaker rope.Settingup a RopewalkWhen spinning ropes of 10metres or longer it is necessaryto erect crossbarsevery 2 or 3 metres to carry the strandsasthey are spun. If crossbarsare not set up the strandsor ropewill sag to the ground and some of the fibres will entanglethemselves with grass, twigs or dirt. The sagging can alsoeither interrupt or stop completely the twisting of the freeend.The strand then will be uneven or lumpy.The easiest way to set up crossbars for the ropewalk is todrive pairs of forked stakes into the ground at the requiredintervals.The crossbarsmust be smooth and freefrom twigsand loose bark that canjam the spinningstrands.Looking at the illustrationoverleaf,the crossbar A is sup-ported by two uprights and pierced to take the cranks, B.
  14. 14. These cranks can be made out of natural sticks, morticedslab and pegs, or, if available,thick bent wire. The connect-ing rod, C, enables one man to turn all cranks clockwisesimultaneously. Crossbars supporting the strands as theyare spun are shown in fig.D. A similar crank handle to C issupported on a forked stick at the end of the rope walk.Thishandle is turned in a reverse direction (ie. anti-clockwise)tothe crank, C, to twist the connected strands together. Theseare laid up by one or more of the feeders.Always make it a rule to turn the first strand clockwise.Then the layingup of the strandswill be doneanti-clookwiseand the next laying will again be clockwise.If your rope is well made the individual fibres will lielengthwaysalong the rope.In the process of laying up the strands the actual twistingtogether or laying will take some of the original twist out ofthe strand which has not yet been laid. Therefore it is neces-sary to keep twisting the strands while laying together.When making a rope too long to be spun and laid in onepiece, a section is laid up, and coiled on the ground at theend of the ropewalk furthest from the cranks. Strands for asecond length are spun and these strands are married orspliced into the strands of the first section. Then the layingup of the second section continues the rope.The actual marrying of the strands is done only in the lastlay which, when completed, makes the rope. The endswhere the strands are married should be staggered in differ-ent places. By this means rope can be made and extended insectionsto a great length.After the complete length of rope is laid up pass it quicklythrough a fire to burn off loose ends and fibres. This willmake it smooth and professionallooking.LAYINGTHESTRANDSThe strands lie on the crossbarsas theyare spun.When they have been spun to the required length,which should be no more than about 25 metres, they arejoined together by being held at the far end. They are thenready for laying together.
  15. 15. Constructionofabushropewalkshowingsupports,roperests,dzffernttypes of spznnersand the method by whichthe strands are laid up.
  16. 16. SPINNERS
  17. 17. The turner, who is facing the cranks, twists the endstogether anti-clockwise, at the same time keeping his fullweight on the rope end which is being laid up. The layeradvances, placing the strands side by side as they turn.When the layer is experienced this can be done quickly.IThedzffuencebetween good and bad laying. Thaton the left islump),and unevenand theropewill not takeanystrain. Ontherightthestrandsare even thus ensuringthestrength of the rope.It is important to learn to feed the material evenly and layup slowly thereby getting a smooth and even rope. Do notattempt to rush rope-making. If you do, all that will result isa mess of uneven badly spun strandsand ugly lays,resultingin poor rope.Speed in rope-making comes only with practice. At first itwill take a team of three or four up to two hours or more tomake a 25-metre length of rope of three lays, each of threestrands -a total of nine strands for a rope with a finisheddiameter of about 25 cm. But with practice the same threeor four people can make a similar rope in fifteen or twentyminutes. These times do not, of course, include the periodspent in searching for material.In feeding the free ends of the strands twist in the loosematerial pushed in by the feeder. The feeder must movebackwards at a speed governed by the feeding rate. As hemoves backwards he must keep a slight tension on thestrands.
  18. 18. MAKINGROPE WITH A SINGLE SPINNER TWOpeople can makerope using a single crank.A portion of the material isfastened to the eyeof the crank(as with the multiple crank handle) and the feeder, holdingthe free ends of this strand against the bundle of loose mate-rial under his arm, feeds in walking backwards. Supportingcrossbars, as used in a ropewalk, are required when a lengthof more than 5 metres is being spun.FEEDINGIf the feeder is holding material under his leftarm, his right hand is engaged in continuously pulling mate-rial forward to his left hand from where it is fed into theturning strand. These actions, done simultaneously andcontinuously as the feeder walks backwards, govern thethickness of the strands. His left hand, lightlyclosedover theloosely turning material, must feel the fibres biting or twist-ing together.When the free end of the turning strand,which is againstthe loose material under his arm, takes in too thick a tuft ofmaterial he closeshis left hand and so arrests the twist of thematerial between his left hand and his bundle. This allowshim to tease out the overfull bite, with his right hand. Inproceeding in this manner the feeder maintains a uniformthickness in the spinning strand.There is a definite knack in feeding. Once a person hasmastered ithe can move backwards and feed with considera-ble speed.THICKNESSOF THE STRANDS Equal thickness for each of thestrands throughout their length and equal twist are impor-tant. The thickness should not be greater than is necessaryfor the material being used. For grassrope the strand shouldnot be more than 5mm in diameter, for coarse bark or palmnot more than 3-4 mm, and for fine bark, hair or sisal fibrenot more than 3 mm.For fine cordsthe strand should be no more than 2 mm indiameter.
  19. 19. Finecordscannotbe madefromgrassunlessthefibresareseparatedby beating out and combing.The correct amount of twist is when the material is hard;that is, when the twist feels tight to the touch.COMMONFAULTS There is a tendency for the beginner tofeed unevenly. Thin, wispy sections of strand are followedby thick hunks. Such feeding is useless. Rope made in sucha manner will break when less than a quarter of its breakingstrain pressure is applied.The beginner should twist and feed slowly and make reg-ular and even strands,rather than rush thejob.Thick strands do not help. It is useless to attempt to spinup a rope from strands 25 mm or more thick. Such a ropewill breakwith less than half the potentialstrainof the mate-rial. It may save time but the rope will be both weak anddangerous.PlaitingOne person alone may need a considerable length of rope.But making such a length by ones self is an arduous andslow process.Howeverone may be lucky enough to have at hand a con-siderable amount of material that is reasonably long-saybetween 30cm and 1metre or more.Thismaterial can be plaited orbraidedintoasuitableropelength. The normal three plait makes a flat rope, whichwhile quite good does not have the finish or shape of a truerope. Neither is it as tight asthe lariator four plait.At other timesit may be necessary to plait broad bandsforbolts or for shoulder straps. There are many fancy plaits orbraids and one can developfrom these. But these three arebasic and are essential for practicalwork.Ageneralrule forallplaitsis towork fromtheoutsideintothe centre.In learning to plait or braid there is no need to go bush,
  20. 20. as it were, nor to even use bush materials. The skillscan beacquiredusing standard ropes and twines or leather strips.Oncethe skillisacquiredwith thesemoremanageableandfamiliar materials then trials can be conducted with variousbush products to see which plait or braid is most suited towhat is at hand.THREEPLAIT Take the right-handstrand and pass it over the strand tothe left.Take the left-hand strand andpass it over the strand to the rightand repeat alternately from left toright.4FLATFOUR PLAIT Lay the four 1strandssideby side.Take the right-hand strand as in Fig. 1 and lay itover the strand to the left.Now take the outside left-hand 2strand as in Fig. 2 and lay it underthe next strand to itself and overwhat was the first strand.
  21. 21. Take what is now the outside 3right-hand strand, and lay it overthe first strand to its left.Take the outside left strand and 4put it under and over the next twostrands respectively movingtowards the right.Thereafter your right-handstrand goes over one strand to theleft, and your left-hand strandunder and over to the right, asshown in Fig. 4.BROADPLAIT TOcommence. Take 1six,sevenormorestrands,and holdthem flat and together.Take a strand in the centre andpass it over the next strand to theleft, as in Fig. 1.second strand in the 2centre to the leftand passittowardsthe right over the strand you firsttook so that it points towards the
  22. 22. Now take the next strand to thefirst one and weave it under andoveras in Fig. 3.4IIII(Weave the next strands from leftand right alternately towards thecentreas in Fig. 4,5,6.The finishedplait shouldbetightand close as in Fig. 7.
  23. 23. To FINISH OFF Take one of thecentre strands,and lay itback uponitself as in Fig. 1.Now take the first strand which itenclosed in being folded back, andweave thisbackupon itselfasin Fig.2.Take a strand from the oppositeside, and lay it back and weave itbetween the strands alreadyplaited.2All the strands should be so 4woven back that no strandsshowanuneven pattern, and there shouldbe a regular under-over-under ofthe alternatingweaves.If you have plaited tightly theremay be a difficulty in working theloose ends between the plaitedstrands.This can be done easily if yousharpen a thin piece of wood to achiseledge,and use thistoopenthestrands sufficiently to allow theendsbeingfinishedto passbetweenthe woven strands.Roll under a bottle to worksmoothafter finishingoff.-3
  24. 24. ROUNDOR LARIAT PLAIT. FOURX1STRANDS Lay the four strandstogether side by side, as in Fig. 1,and cross the right-hand centrestrand over, and then around theleft-hand strand.Take the left-hand outsidestrand, and pass it over the twocrossed strands,andthen under theright-hand one of the two, sothat itis pointing towards the left, as inFig. 2.Take the free right-hand strand,and pass it over the two twistedstrands to the left and completelyround the left-hand one of the two,as in Fig. 3.Repeat this with the outsideleft-hand strand as in Fig. 4.
  25. 25. IRepeat with the right-handstrand as in Fig. 5.he finished plait should looklike Fig. 6.Tyingsplit canesandvines togetherThese bush materials will only tie with special knots. As asafety rule tie with the outside of the skin on the outsidebend of the knot. If you try to tie with the insideof the mate-rial on the outer surface of the bend it is probable that thematerial will either crack or snapoff forcingyou to come tothe conclusion that the material is useless.When pulling the knot taut, do so gently. If you snap thejoining knot the material will either cut itself or break.If the canesor vines are brittle through greenness,try theheat treatment mentioned previously.The knots which are most suitable for tying canes andvines together are as follows.Joining: sheetbend, reef knot, fishermans knotSecuring:timber hitchFor descriptionson how to tie these knots see Chapter 2,Knots and Lashings.
  26. 26. -,.p/ &---<---- /,I.-I~Canesand vines,whichcan be tied witha varietyofknots. Theoutsideskinshould beonthe outsideoftheknot topeuent crackingorsnapfnng.Usingbushropesfor climbingBefore entrustingyour life to a bush-maderope it shouldbetested.The simplest way of doing this is to tie one end of yourintended heavy-duty rope securely to a tree. Three or fourpeople should then get hold of the other end of the rope.They should take the strain gently at first. They shouldslowly increase this strain until all their combined weight ison it. If it does not break then it is safe for one person at atime to use to ascend or descend a rock or cliff face.When climbingup a bush-made rope always use the foot-lock and when descendingnever slidedown it. Climbdown,using the same footlock.The footlock offersa measure of safety and the climber isso secure that he can actually stand on the rope and restwithout his body weight being carried entirely on his arms.
  27. 27. Usingafootlock witha bushrope,illustratedhere,issimpleand allowsthe climber to rest while eitherascendingor descending a rockface.To prove this use the footlock and clasp the rope to yourbody with your arms.The footlock is made by holding onto the rope with bothhands, lifting the knees and kicking the rope to the outsideof one foot. The foot on the opposite side to the rope ispointed so that the toe picks up the rope which is pulledover the foot which was against the rope and under theinstep of the foot which picked it up.The two feet are brought together and the rope is nowover the instep of one foot and under the ball of the other.Theri; to secure the grip and lock the rope, the feet areplaced one on top of the other sothat it is clamped down bythe foot on top.
  28. 28. By straighteningthe knees and raising the hands the bodyis lifted and a fresh grip taken for the next rise.In descending, the body is bent, the hands lowered andthe footlock released. A fresh grip isthen taken with the feetat a lower level on the rope.This method of descendingis much safer than sliding. Insliding there is grave risk of bad rope burns to both handsand legs.Another method of descendinga rock face is by using theabseil. In some cases it also can be used for ascent.Abseiling isa safe way of descendinga rockface. It also can be used toascend as long as the rockface is not vertical. In this case thefeet are. walked up the rock and the body ispulled up 63,the rope.
  29. 29. In the abseil the body is upright but the legs are stretchedout and the feet pressed against the rock face.The rope passes down between the thighs, around onethigh and diagonally up and across the upper half of thebody and over the shoulderoppositeto the leg under whichit passes. The rope may be gripped with one hand.In descendingthe freehand pulls the rope over the shoul-der. Thisleavesa loopbelow the thigh and the feetarewalk-ing down the rock face until the thigh is again snug in theloop. Using the abseil for descending makes it practicallyimpossible to fall.In ascending a rock face which has an extreme slope butis not vertical the feet are walked up the incline,the body ispulled up the rope and the slack, hanging below the legs, ispulled up in its turn by one hand and fed over the shoulder.By this means the climber can sit on the rope and rest.When using the abseil it will be found that bare feet,sandshoes or ones with ripple rubber soles made especiallyforsuchapurpose giveabetter gripthan plain leathersoles.Otheruses forbush-maderopesBush ropes have many other uses other than fordescendingor climbing rock and cliff faces. The following are but a fewexamplesof uses to which they can be put.SINGLEROPE LADDERWITH STICKS A singlerope ladderis madeby opening the lays of the rope and inserting sturdy crosssticksabout 20-25cm longwith anequalamount protrudingon either side.They must be secured to the rope by lashingsboth above and below. The distance between these ladderholds should be between 30 and 50 cm, depending on theagility of the climber.To climb such a ladder hold the rope with both hands,bend the knees and drawboth feetup togetherand lay themwith even pressure on the cross sticks.When your footingissecure raise the hands and continue the action.Bush singlerope laddershave the advantageof being able
  30. 30. Bush ropescanbemadeintosimple laddersby imertingtwocrosssticksat suitable intmalsthroughopeningsmadein the lays.Thq,must besec-ured to the rope and lashed into place top and bottom to allow them tobear the be used by people who have difficulty in climbingby ordi-nary means. They provide a relativelyeasyway of ascendinga rock face or a lookout.SINGLEROPE LADDER WITH CHOCKS This type of ladder has theadvantage of being portable and quickly made. The chocksof hardwood should be about 15cm in diameter and 5 cmdeep. They are suitably bored to take the diameter of therope. Splice an eye at the top end and seize in a thimble tolash the rope head securely. To secure the chocks put twostrands of seizing between the strands of the rope and thenwork a wall knot.ROPEBRIDGE A rope bridge is no easy undertaking. Itshould be made only if there is no other possibleway of cros-
  31. 31. sing a river or a ravine and secondly,only if the crossing isintended to be a semi-permanentone.At the outset two ropes are spun. They must be verystrong and thoroughly tested. They are anchored to eithersideof the river either to convenient trees or stakes.When the ropes have been stretched taut, light A framesare made. The number required depends on the length ofthe bridge decking.The firstAframeishooked ontothe rope and pushed for-ward with a long pole. The footing, a straight sapling, isdropped down onto the crotch of the frame. The bridgebuilder walks out along this and hooks on the next A frame,pushes it out to the required distance and repeats the pro-cess until the far bank is reached.A rope bridge under construction. Wherepossible, treesshould be usedas the mujor support. In this case a 1-2-3 anchor is used to hold one endof one support rope.
  32. 32. rDetails of bridge constructionshowing decking with lashings and thesingle or constructionlower logwhichcan, insome cases,remainas thefootway.During building, rope bridges must not be overloaded -one worker at a time is the rule.Once the base poles have been extended to the far bankcrossbars should be lashed to the A frames above the basebuilding pole. Short lengths of flat split timber are thenlashed to these poles to provide a secure decking.If lianas or Calamzls (lawyervines) are available,make thesupport ropes from these. They aremuch strongerthan anyspun rope and can support four to six people on the bridgeat a time.To provide extra stability and to stop violent swayingwhen people are crossing with heavy loads,the rope bridgecan be anchored by attaching a heavy stone to a cord andsuspending it from the middle of the bridge span. Thisanchor should be well above the known heavy rain floodinglevel of the river crossingotherwiseit will be draggedby thecurrent and tear the bridge in half.
  33. 33. In some cases the original building support pole can beused as the permanent bridge footwalk without further topslat decking. But in this case make sure that the bottom Aframe lashingsare extremely strong and secure.-Rope bridgespanninga ravine in itsfully constructedstage.Note thatthree trees hereprovide satisfactoryanchors.-TOMEASURE THE DISTANCE ACROSS A RIVER OR GORGE Select a siteon the opposite bank A and then drive a stake on the nearbank B. Walk at right angles for a known number of pacesand then put another marker stakeC and continuean equalnumber of paces and put in a third marker D.Turn at right anglesawayfrom the river and keep movingback until thecentremarkerstakeand the mark on theotherside are in line at E.
  34. 34. /-:.:I 8 . riverI I 88 8----..-Q- -*---BC=CDDE=ABEMethod of measuringthe distance acrossa river or ravine..Measure the distance from the third or last marker peg Dto this point E and this distance will equal that of the widthof the river crossing.T oGET A ROPE ACROSS A DEEP NARROW RIVER Fasten a stout stickto the end of the rope. The rope must be in the middle of thestick. Select a forked tree on the opposite bank, throw thefree end of the coiled line with the stick across the river tothe tree. When it has caught on the tree test it with two orthree people to make sure the line is secure.Fasten your (or the near) end of the rope to a convenientanchor.Then the person crossing the line -usually the lightestmember of the party -hangs onto it,liftshis legs and hooksthem over the rope with hisfeettowards the oppositebank.By this means he can work himself across the river, fastenthe rope absolutely securely and allow the rest of the partyto cross in a similar manner.
  35. 35. Crossing a river by a rope line. The person crossing stands on thedownstreamside ofthe rope andfaces upstream.SAFETYLINE FOR A RIVER CROSSING A bush rope can be spun toserveasa safetylinefor crossingfastor flooded rivers. Oncemade, the hardest part is getting the first member of theparty across-withthe rope.The method issimilartothat used with thebeltman in surflifesaving. One end of the rope is firmly anchored to thebank and the other tied around,theiwaistof the strongestswimmer in the party. If possible he or she should be pro-vided with something to aid buoyancy; such as a partially
  36. 36. inflated air mattress or air pillow. As the person enters thewater the other members of the party should take hold ofthe line and pay it out slowly. He or shewill undoubtedly bewashed downstream to some degree and the rope shouldbemade long enough to allow for this. On no account shouldthis be attempted if the river is running full flood and is fullof large floatingmasses of debris.Once on the other side, the line should be anchored so ithangs above water level. The first person crossing the,lineshould stand on the downstream side of the rope and faceupstream. He then crossesby moving his feet sidewaysonestepat a time, holding on to the rope atall times to maintainbalance.If the current is so strong that the person crossing losesfooting, the grip on the line will prevent him or her frombeing washed downstream. If necessary any pack or otherbaggage should be abandoned. The bank can be made insafetyby holding onto the lineand working hand over handuntil a secure footingis again possible.The 1-2-3anchor.-THE1-2-3 ANCHOR This anchor is used when there are nosupporting trees or tree stumpsavailable to securelyanchora rope.A very stout stake is driven into the ground at an angleof45". The main rope to be anchored is fastenedto the foot ofthis. Two ropes are secured to the head of this stake and
  37. 37. The 1-2-3anchorused to hold a ropefirmly insandy soil.these are fastened to the foot of two stakes to the rear. Theheads of these stakes are, in turn, fastened back to the footof three other stakes. This anchor will hold securely inalmost any conditions.ANCHORINGA PEG IN SAND OR SNOW The only way to anchor arope into soft sand or snow is to attach it to a peg and burythe peg.Scrape a trench in the sand (or snow) to a depth ofbetw-een 30 and 50 cm. It can be deeper if windy or stormyweather is expected. Pass the rope around the centre of thepeg and scratch a channel for it at right angles to the pegtrench.
  38. 38. Method ofanchoringa singlepeg insand orsnow.Fill in the trench and rope channeland fastenthe freeendof the rope to the standing end with a stopper hitch (seeChapter 2 Knots and Lashings) and pull taut. The buriedpeg shouldhold atent rope in sandor snowunder allnormalconditions.THEBUSH WINDLASS A bush windlass, capable of taking avery heavy strain on a rope, can be made by selectinga sitewhere a tree has its fork low to the ground, with the fork fac-ing the direction in which the pull is required. Alternativelya stout fork can be driven in and anchored with the 1-2-3method.The windlass portion is a forked log. The forks are
  39. 39. -The improvised bush windlass. A tree should be selected which has afork v q low to the ground.-notched to take the lever (up to 1 metre long). The rope ispassed around the roller a few times so that it locks uponitself.Alternatively if the fork of the roller is longand rathernarrow the rope may pass through the fork.This type of bush windlass has many uses.
  40. 40. 2Knots and LashingsThe ability to join two pieces of natural material togetherand so increase their length gives man the ability to makequite complicated constructions in the bush, or indeed any-where.Sailors were always the leaders in the tying of knotsbecause for them it was necessary to tie securely but also tobe able to untie rapidly, often in the dark and in apallingweather with rain-tightened ropes.In bushcraft work probably half a dozen knots would suf-fice. But once started, knot tying can become fascinating foritself.Knots and lashings take the place of nails for muchbushwork. A brief description is given in this chapter of theuses of the various knots.Note that the letter F means the free or untied end of therope and the letter S the standing or secured end.Knots for rope ends or for gripson thin ropeTHUMBKNOT This knot is used tomake a stop on a rope end, to pre-vent the end fromfrayingorto stopthe rope slippingthrough a sheave.
  41. 41. OVERHANDKNOT Overhand knotmay be put to the same use as thethumb knot. It makes a better gripknot, and is easy to undo.FIGUREEIGHT This knot is used asthe thumb knot. Its easy to undo,and more ornamental.Knots forjoining ropesSHEETBEND This is used tojoin orbend two ropes of unequal thick-ness together. The thicker rope isthe bend.DOUBLESHEET BEND This is similarto single sheet bend, but givesgreater security; it is also useful forjoining wet ropes.
  42. 42. CROSSOVERSHEET BEND This holdsmore securelythan eitherthe singleor double sheet bend and has occa-sional real uses such as fasteningthe eyeof a flagto its halyard wherethe flapping might undo the dou-ble sheet bend.REEFKNOT TOsecurely join tworopes of equal thickness together.Notice the difference in position ofthe free and standingendsbetweenthis and the thief knot.THIEFKNOT This is used to tie tworopes of equal thicknesstogether sothat they will appear to be tied witha reef knot, and will be retied with atrue reef knot. This knot was oftenused by sailorsto tie their seachests,hence the name.CARRICKBEND This bend is for thesecure fastening of two ropes ofeven thickness together. It is par-ticularly suitable for hawsers andsteel cables. It can be readilyundone and does not jam, as domany other bends and knots.
  43. 43. STOPPERHITCH This is used to fas-ten a rope to another rope (or to aspar) on which there is alreadystrain. When the hitch is pulledtight the attached rope will not slip,and the tension on the main ropecan be taken on the attached rope.Also useful for a climbing hitch.FLEMISHKNOT OR DOUBLE OVERHANDKNOTUsed for securingtworopes orcords of equal thickness together.FISHERMANSKNOT Used forjoiningtwo springy materials together;suitable for wire, fishing gut orvines. Two thumb knots (one oneach rope) pulled tight. The knotslock together.OVERHANDFISHERMANS KNOT Simi-lar to fishermans knot; for generaluses. More positive for gut fishinglines and nylon.
  44. 44. Knots to make loops in ropeBOWLINEThis is used to form aloopthat will not slipon a rope end.BOWLINEON A BIGHT Used to makea double loop that will not slip on arope end. Also called a bosunschair.FISHERMANSEYE KNOT This is thebest method of making a loop oreye in a fishing line. The strain isdivided equally between the twoknots.SLIPKNOT Used for fastening aline to a pier or a pole or any otherpurpose where strain alone on thestanding end is sufficient to holdthe knot.
  45. 45. OVERHANDEYE KNOT This methodof making an eye or loop is satisfac-tory and quick, but it sometimesjams and becomesdifficultto untie.FLEMISHEYE KNOT Used for all pur-poses where a loop is required, lesslikely to jam than overhand eyeknot.CRABBINSHITCH This eye knot,though not very well known, is oneof the stoutest eye knots. It has notthe tendency to cut itself out or pullout common to some of the othereye knots. It also makes a usefulrunning knot.MANHARNESSKNOT This is a mostuseful knot for making a series ofnon-slip loopsin a rope for the pur-pose of harnessing men for a pull.The marlinspike hitch is made as inlower sketch and then the loop isdrawn under and over the othertwo ropes as indicated. The wholeknot is then pulled taut.
  46. 46. MIDSHIPMANSHITCH This is an old-fashioned hitch often used to fastena block or sheave to a ropes end.JURY KNOT OR TRUE LOVERS KNOTThis knot is primarily for a masthead, to form loops by means ofwhich the mast may be stayed. It iscalled ajury knot because in sailingship days it was often used to rig atemporary or jury mast. Threehitches as in top sketch are formed.The loop C is pulled under B andover A. D is pulled over E andunder F. G is pulled straight up forthe third loop. H is made by splic-ing the two free ends together.Bow THONG HITCH Used by NewGuinea natives forsecuring the endof the split cane bow thong to thepointed end of the bow. Also usefulfor fastening rope over the taperedend of a spar.
  47. 47. Knots for Fastening RopesSLIPPERYHITCH Very usefulbecause of the ease with which itcan be released in emergency. Itholds securely so long as there is astrain on the standing end.CLOVEHITCH For securing a ropeto a spar. This hitch, if pulled taut,will not slip up or down on asmooth surface. A useful start forlashings. . . . .BOATMOT This is a method ofsecuring a.rope to a pin or othersmall piece of wood on a boat. It is
  48. 48. DOUBLEBOAT KNOT A bight is sim-ply passed through the ring and amarlin spike or other round pieceof wood is put between the bight orthe rope. Withdrawal of the spikequickly releases the knot.ROLLINGHITCH TOfasten a rope toa spar. This is a very secure fasten-ing.TIMBERHITCH For securing a ropeto squared timber, round logs, etc.A good starting knot for all lash-ings. The standing end must pullstraight through the loop,not back-wards, or the rope may cut uponitself.HALLIARDHITCH For fastening arope to a spar. The sketch showsthe hitch open. When pulled taut,and the hitches closed, it makes avery neat and secure fastening.
  49. 49. BLACKWALLHITCH A quick way tosecure a rope to a hook. The strainon the standing end will hold therope secure to the hook.NOOSEHITCH This is a quick andeasy method of securing a rope to aspar or beam. If desired, the ropecan be made more secure by meansof the over-hand knot shownin Fig.2.CATSPAW HITCH For securing arope to a hook or a spar. It is mostuseful because it is so easily tied.LARKSHEAD This is an easvmethod of securing a rope to a ringor hook. If desired to make moresecure, it can be stoppered, asan overhand or thumb
  50. 50. CROSSOVERLARKS HEAD Used forsame purpose as the Larks head.DOUBLELARKS HEAD The bight isfirst made. The ends passedthrough it.Thisknot isvery secure.TRIPLELARKS HEAD The apparentlycomplicated knot is easily made bytaking the bight of the ropethrough the ring, the ends are pas-sed through the bight and upthrough the ring, then downthrough its own bight. Like thedouble larks head, this knot isabso-lutely secure.SAILORSBACKHAND KNOT Used tosecurea rope to a ringor hook.Thisis very similar to the rolling hitchand sailors backhand knot.
  51. 51. tive variation)Used to fasten a ropesecurely to a spar.SAILORSBACKHAND KNOT (Alterna-1SAILORSKNOT Simply two halfhitches round the standing end ofthe rope.GUNNERSKNOT This is simply acarrick bend and used to hold twoshacklesor rings together.CATSPAWThis knot is used forattaching a rope to a hook. The twod two or three timesover the hook.
  52. 52. KELLICKHITCH Used for fasteninga stone (for a kellick in lieu of ananchor), that will hold in rocky seabottoms where an anchor mightfoul. It isa timber hitch finished offwith a half hitch.TOMFOOLS KNOT Formed by mak-ing a clove hitch as two loops notexactly overlaying each other. Theinner half of each hitch or loop ispulled under and through theouter side of the opposite loop, asindicated by arrows.This knot can be used to impro-vise a handle for a pitcher by pul-ling the centre knot tight aroundthe lip of the pitcher and using theloops as handles.SHEEPSHANKThis is a convenientknot to quickly shorten a rope.One method of securingthe end.
  53. 53. SHEEPSHANKTOGGLED The inser-tion of a toggle in the end bightssecures the sheepshank againstslipping.DRUMSLING A slip knot is made asindicated. The drum, can or barrelis placed in the slip knot and thefree end is secured with a stopperhitch to the standing end.CHAINKNOT When a rope is toolong for its purpose one means ofshortening it is the chain knot.Remember to put a marlinspike ortoggle through the last link beforeYOU train on the rope.
  54. 54. DOUBLECHAIN KNOT This is themost ornamental of all the ropeshortenings. A turn is taken roundthe standing end and the free endis passed through the loop soformed. In doing this a loop isformed through which the freeendis brought. The end is thus passedfrom one side to the other throughthe loop preceding. It may be pul-led taut when sufficiently shor-tened and will lock upon the lastloop.TWISTKNOT This is another easymethod of shortening a rope. Therope is laid as shown and then thestrands are plaited or braidedtogether. A marlinspikeor toggle isplaced between the ropes in thecentre to secure the hold of theplait.Fancy KnotsWALLKNOT Unlay the rope a fewinches and then pass each strandthrough the bight of the strand infront. Illustration shows the wallknot ready to be pulled taut.
  55. 55. STOPPERKNOT Bring the ends ofthe wall knot round again and up inthe centre of the knot and pull eachCROWNINGKNOT Commence thecrowningas shown here.The crowning is now ready to bepulled taut. The strands can beback spliced to permanently securethe end of the rope against ravel-ling or fraying. Crowning may alsobe used with other fancy knotssuchas crowning first, then pulling on aew Walker.MANROPEKNOTThisisa fancyknotto put a stop on the end of a rope.Top sketch shows the crowning (inthe centre), the lower sketch showsthe man-rope knot pulled taut.
  56. 56. DOUBLE-DOUBLECROWNING KNOTThis knot is started the same as themanrope, but not pulled taut. Theends are laid for a second crownabove the crown (similar to themanrope knot) and with the spikethe bends of the lower crown areopened, and the strands broughtthrough these bends and pulledtaut.MATHEWWALKER The strands arelaid as in the diagram (top) andthen each in turn is pulled taut tillthe knot is close and tight. The knotitself is rolled up slightly to lay thetwist evenly. Pull the strands tightagain after this.The Mathew Walker finishedand rolled tight Fig. 2.The Mathew Walker is reputedto be one of the most difficult of allknots to undo. The MathewWalkercan also be made some distancefrom the end of the rope and thestrands then relaid.
  57. 57. DIAMONDKNOT Like the MathewWalker, the diamond knot is orna-mental - can be made same dis-tance along the rope. The rope isunlaid carefully. Each strand isbrought down alongside the stand-ing end, as illustrated (top). Thestrands are then put through theloops formed by the other strandsin centre sketch. The strands arehauled taut. The rope relaid.Shows the finished diamond knot.DOUBLEDIAMOND KNOT This ismade as for the single diamondknot, but the strandsfollowthe leadof the single knot through two sin-gle loops. The last strand comesthrough two double loops. Thestrands come out through thecentre when the knot is pulled taut.All these stopper knots can be usedfor the ends of lanyards, halyards,yoke lines and also as stoppers oncleats,and for r pe buckets.
  58. 58. TURK*^ HEAD This is a highly orna-mental knot which,instead of beingmade with the rope strands of therope itself, is formed with smallercordage on the rope.A clovehitch is made as in Fig. 1.This is made slackly to allow theextra strands to be worked throughit. Pull the bottom part of the hitchabove the top part and put the freeend under and up (Fig.2).The bot-tom strand is pulled above the toppart and the free end now overanddown. This repeat till the circle iscomplete. The free end followsround three times. The completedTurks head is shown in Fig. 3.SHAMROCKKNOT This may beformed the same way as the truelovers knot, but the bottom loop isnot spliced. It may be used to formthree loops for stays for a mast. Itmay also be formed by making aknot as top sketch. The loop C isdrawn up through loop D and theloop B is drawn up through theloop at A. These form the sideloops and the top loop is formednaturally at E.
  59. 59. BUTTONKNOT Form two crossoverhitches, as Fig. 1. Pass the loop endto the left and with the free endform another loop as shown. Now,with the free end, follow the lay asindicated in Fig. 2 and lay thestrands sideby sideasfor the Turkshead. When three to five lays havebeen put through, work the knottight and use the free ends to fastenthe button to the garment. A boot-lace makes an excellent button.SELVEDGETOsecure a block to astanding spar. The middle of theselvedge is laid on the spar and thetwo ends are crossed over in turnsuntil the bights at the ends cometogether. The hook of the block isthen F
  60. 60. POINTINGA ROPE The rope isunlaid and a tie put on to prevent itunlaying further. The strands arethinned down gradually, and relaidagain. The end may be stiffenedwith a small stick or piece of wire.The end can be finished off withany of the crown or wall knots.KNOTTEDROPE LADDER The lengthof rope is coiled in a series of half-hitches and the end of the rope ispassed through the centre, asin theillustration on right (exceptthat thecoils are held closer together as fora coiled rope when it is to bethrown). The coil of half-hitcheswith the end passed through thecentre is turned inside out, that is,the succeedingcoilsare pulled overeach other. The coil is now thrown,and as it pays out a series of over-hand knots are made at fairly equalintervals. In making a knot ladderthis is the quickest and most effi-cient method.-
  61. 61. LashingsSQUARELASHING This is used tojoin poles at right angles.Start with a timber hitch or aclove hitch below crossbar. If usinga timber hitch see that the pull isstraight through the eye and notback from it. Pulling back will cutthe lashing material.Put lashing material tightlyaround upright and crossbar aboutfour complete times.Frapping turns-Makeabout twoor three frapping turns. These areturns that goround the lashingandpull it taut. These pull the lashingtight. Secure end of frapping turnseither by half-hitches or by passingbetween lashing at the crossoverand secure with a half-hitch.DIAGONALLASHING This is used forbracing orjoiningspars at irregularangles.Start with a timber hitch or aclove hitch and take about three orfour full turns vertically.Pass rope under top spar andmake about three or four full turnshorizontally.
  62. 62. Make twoorthree frappingturnsand either secure by two half-hitches on pole or by passing theend between the lashing and thepole and use half-hitches on thelashing.SHEERLASHING This is used to jointwo poles end to end. Start with aclove hitch or timber hitch and lashtightly around the two spars four tosix times. Pass free end under lash-ings and draw tightly two or threetimes. Secure by passing it throughitself.There should be at least two lash-ings if spars are being joinedtogether.,
  63. 63. SplicesSHORTSPLICING Unlay the strandsand marry them together; butthard up to each other. The strandD first goes under the standingendof A, but over strand B and over Con the standing end. Thus eachstrand at either end goes over onestrand of the standing end on theopposite side and under the nextstrand, so that there is a strand ofthe standing end between eachshort side of the splice. Continueworking the freestrand of each endfour or fivetimesinto thestrandsofthe standingend.LONGSPLICING The strands areunlaid for a considerable lengthand then married as for the shortsplice. Then the one strand isunlaid and its married counterpartis laid along its place in the rope.The two centres are simply heldwith a cross-over knot, and thestrands thinned down and splicedas for a short splice. The endstrands are finished with a cros-sover knot and again the strandsare thinned down and finished asfor a short splice. This long splicedoes not appreciablythicken aropewhich may be thus spliced to gothrough a sheave.
  64. 64. LoopSPLICE WITHOUTA FREE END Therope is untwisted to the requiredplace, as in top illustration. Thefree ends so formed are thenspliced back along the rope afterthe loop has been formed.EYESPLICE A neat eye splicecan bemade in a rope end by an ordinaryshort spliceafter the loopor eye hasbeen formed.Loop SPLICE The strands areunlaid and laid side by side till thelooop is the required length. Thestrands of the free ends are splicedinto the ropes of the standing endsas for a short splice.
  65. 65. Toggle and eye - showing oneapplication of splicing and whip-ping. Toggle is spliced and eye iswhipped in sketch.WhippingBefore the finish of the binding aloop formed from the end is laidunder the binding at the start. Thisend is bent back to form a loop andthe last six to twelve turns bind overthis loop. At the last turn of thebinding the cord is put through theloop and the free end of the loop ispulled tightly, thus drawing theend of the binding beneath the lastturn.Another method is to pull thebinding taut, and then the two freeends are cut close in. The wholebinding is smooth and neat.
  66. 66. NettingHammocks and nets are made bythe use of netting needles and amesh stick. The netting needles (asshown in the illustration) can bemade from a thin piece ofhardwood or bamboo. The needlesthemselves can be from 20 to 30 cmlong and 20 to 25 mm wide. Themesh stickcan be about 13cm long,oval and from 5 to 200 mm wide.The netting cord is put onto thenetting needles as for an ordinaryshuttle. With needle B and withneedle A the cord is looped aroundthe pin in the centre of the eye.At one end of the string, tie aloop and place the knot on a conve-niently high nail or hook. The meshstick is put under the loop and theneedle with cord passed through asin Fig. 2. The needle and cord arepassed in front of the loop formedin Fig. 3 and under the originalloop, while at the same time theother end of the cord is held on themesh stick with the thumb of theleft hand. The knot is pulled taut.A succession of these loops areformed until the requisite width isreached, then this first series ofloops are placed through a rod orcord, and the loops are netted on tothem until the requisite length isreached.NET NLEOLESNET MLSY SlUY
  67. 67. 3 Huts andThatchingBecause of the lightweight nylon tent revolution over thepast twenty years few people deliberately embark on a bushtrek without a roof over their heads. These manufacturedshelters are extraordinarily light. For instancea two-persontent with covering fly, plus its aluminium poles and pegs,can weigh as little as 1.5kg.Given this fact it is inexcusable, not to say, in a conserva-tion sense, stupid, to make a bush material shelter undernormal circumstances.But sometimescircumstancesarenotnormal. Then the ability to construct a weatherproof tem-porary hut may save ones life.Little skill is needed to make a comfortable, thatched,weatherproof hut using materials at hand in any sort ofcountry outside of the stony desert regions of Australia.The building of a thatched hut from local materials is acreative exercise. Design must provide for the anticipatedweather conditions. Although finding suitable materialsalmostanywherepresents no problem, considerableorgani-sation is required to collect this material. And for the actualstructure itself, good teamwork is needed.It should be remembered that many of the early whitesettlerslived half their livesin bush structureswhen clearingtheir own land. There is a lesson here for Australias newback-to-the-earthersand smallholders.Although somelocalcouncils frown on these temporary dwellings, a bush houseor hut will often give valuable serviceonce the reason for itsinitiakerection has ended. And, unlike an old municipal busor a stripped caravan, it will blend into the environment ofthe block.
  68. 68. Thatched HutsThe making of huts and shelters for occasional or continu-ous use from exclusively local materials and without the aidof any man-made equipment is not difficult. In place ofnails, lashings (either of vine, bark strips or other fibrousmaterial) are used. Framework is of round poles. Weather-proof roofing is provided by thatchingwith longgrassferns,reeds, palm leaves, seaweed, bark sheets, split shingles oreven sods of heavy clay turf.The material used depends on the location. The shape,size and details of the hut are likewise governed by thelength of intended occupation, the number of people thathave to be sheltered, the local climatic conditions and, ofcourse,the time availablefor construction.If there are one or two people to be sheltered for a fewnights only in a temperateclimate,a simplelean-tothatchedshelter will suffice. This can be built in one to three hours.But if there are eight or ten in your party and they requireshelterfor a few months against cold and bad weather, thena semi-permanent hut complete with doors, windows and afireplace for heating and built-in bunks will be required. Tomake such a structure properly will require work over two tothree weeks -even longer if one is using rammed earth orpisC.In making any dwelling it has to be assumed that a goodknife, a machete and an axe are available to every memberof the working party and that all the workers are, of course,willing.The structures discussed here are merely examples ofwhat can be done. When it comes to planning your own hutyou are your own architect and builder. If there are severalpeople in the party organise the labour so that no hands areidle. Have one or two peoplecuttingpoles,another carryingthem to the site,a fourth strippingbark for lashings and setthe others gatheringmaterial for thatching.Collect all the material for the structure before you startto build. Then stack it in orderly piles as close as possible to
  69. 69. the cleared building site. Your main poles should be in onepile, the battens for thatching in another, the bark strips orvines shredded down for immediate use in a third, and yourthatching material in several piles.In the meantime the building site should be thoroughlycleared of ground cover and, if necessary, levelled. Undernormal conditions spades and mattocks are the rule. But inan emergency digging tools may have to be improvised byusing bush timber.Once you are ready to start building, have every person inthe team on the site. Organise the erection of the mainframework and then break your team up into small gangsfor lashing on the battens and completing the framework.This way you will save hours of labour and you will succeedin building a better hut.There is nothing to it really except intelligence. Plan andorganiseto keep everbody busily engaged.,A simple 3ne weather shlter can be constructed by two people in acou$le of hours out ofbushmaterial. Thethatchedsidefaces theprevail-ing wind, while the overhang will keep out the occasional shower. Thistype of shelter willgive very little protection in extreme conditions.
  70. 70. DESIGN There are three main designs of huts: a simplelean-to, suitable for fine, warm weather; an enclosed roundhut or pyramid, suitable for cold conditions; and a long hutsuitable for sub-tropical and tropical climatesif left open,or,if completelywalled, suitable for cold conditions.Refinements such as doors and windows may be added asneeded. And when the hut is completed there is the all-important matter of furnishingit. But firstlet us lookatwhatthe bush dweller can build as the first protective shelter.SECTIONALLEAN-TO HUTS Small one- and two-person hutscan be easily constructed in an hour or two by making andthatching two or three frames, from 2-3 metres in lengthand 1-1.5 metre in depth.These frames,built of battens, are lashed onto two forkedsticks. The forks are in the form of hooks at the upper end.The framework is simple to construct.Frameworkfor a sectional lean-to shelterusing a tree as the mainsup-port.
  71. 71. Thatching ofa lean-toshelter showinghow thethatchedsectionsattachto the crossbar and ridge.Assembly of thatchingona lean-toshelter. Notehowthetopframe pro-jects forward and beyond thef d and the ridge itself toprotect thefronthame.Another view of the assembly of a simple lean-to hut.
  72. 72. It is important to ensurethat the endof the top framepro-jects forward beyond the fork and the ridge. This protectsthe front frame and saves the work of ridge thatching. Ifraised bunks (seeChapter 4 Campcraft) are being put in, itis advisable to have the bottom of the thatch about 50-60cmabove ground level.This raises the ridge height between 30-50 cm. The length of the side poles in this instance isincreased to 4 metres.A cutaway section of aframe hut sited between two saplings. Un1ik.ethe simple lean-to this isasemi-permanent building.PERMANENTLEAN-TO HUTS The permanent lean-to hut usinga tree for bracing is simple and quick to erect.The ridge pole is raised against the tree by the means ofthe two end-forked poles to the required height of about 3metres, depending on the width of the structure. The end-forked poles should be at an angle of not lessthan 45". If thelength of the ridge is more than 4 metres it is advisable toput in anotheroneortwo forked polesabout halfwayalong.
  73. 73. On to the end-forked poles lash a crossbar (A in the illust-ration)and lashitagain to the upright tree.Thiscrossbarhaslashed to its front end, a pole (B),connecting and lashed tothe ridge and also the front eaves, pole (C), plus the frontthatching battens.Thatching battens are lashed onto the two rear forks.Thedistance apart for the thatching battens varies. It may beanything from 15-30 cm, depending on the length of thethatching material being used. A general guide is that bat-tens should be spaced apart about one-fourth of the averagelength of the thatching material.An upright in the form of alight fork maybe placed underthe front corners to the front eave pole. Wall thatch battensare lashed horizontally from the rear forked poles to thisupright. Wail pegs are driven in along the rear at whateverheight is required and to these wall pegs thatching battensare also lashed.Forked poles should not be lessthan 7-10cm in diameter;the ridge pole should be about the same and thatching bat-tens should be 3-5 cm in diameter.Use dry or dead timber wherever possible. It is lighter tohandle and its use avoidsany destruction of the bush. Whenmaking wall pegs, bevel off the head. They can be driven inwithout splitting.ROUNDHUT TOmake a standard round thatched hut cut orgather four poles each about 5metres in length and between10-15cm thick. They should be as straight as possible.Lash these together in the shape of a tepee or pyramid,stand them upright and then sink them into prepared holesin the ground - a depth of 30-50 cm is usually ampledepending on the firmness of the soil. In sandy conditionsthe depth may have to be greater to ensure stability.The distancebetween the diagonal poles should be about6 metres to ensure a roof slope of about 45. This is the bestforsheddingrainwater from the yet-to-be-constructedroof.Another eight poles, which can be somewhat lighter, areadded to the initial pyramid. They should be spaced evenly
  74. 74. Theround hut,showing theplacement oftheframework and thejnish-ed con.struction.77
  75. 75. IIW-WALL R4ILI - INTERMEDIATE POLESF - FORKED CORNERWLEST&epyramidal hut showing the skeletm, complete with opening win-dow and the raised doorway. Thesecond illz~stratimshows the hut whenfinished. This is an excellent cold-weatherhut but takes at least threedays to build.78
  76. 76. around the circle. These should be lashed to the roof polesafter being driven into the ground. These main structurepoles should then be strengthened by cross battens and theinside wall supports constructed within the circle (see illust-ration). Space can be left for a tall or low entranceway asdesired (the low one is easiest).The hut should then be thatched with any materials thatare available.PYRAMIDALHUTS The pyramidal hut, having a square base,is particularly useful where it is desired to make the fullestpossible use of wall and floor space.The pyramid and circular hut have similar constructiontechniques. In the pyramidal hut, when tying on the thatch-ing battens, it is more efficient to make one lashing at eachcorner secure on the thatching battens. When the spanbetween the forked poles becomes lessthan 2 metres it is bestto lash only onto the corner poles, omitting any extra tyingto the intermediate poles. If the span between the cornerpoles is greater than 2 metres it is necessary to lash battensto the intermediate poles.-A finished long hut. Like the simple lean-to, this is basically ajineweathershelter. It has its OT@IS in New Guineaand the Pacific Islandswhere, although the weather is ofim wet, it is not cold- hence the un-thatched bottomto allowfiee airflow..
  77. 77. Basic structure plan of a long hut as seenfrom above. Intermediatesupport poles are neededfor the ridge if theforks are more than 2 metresapart.A cross-section view of the construction of a long hut. Whenthe spanis more than 3 metres, lash collar ties ontoforks and intermediatepoles.LONGHUT The end portion of this structure is basically thesame as a one half section of the pyramidal hut. The lengthcan be extended to any required distance by lengthening theridge pole and by using additional supporting forked poles.If the ridge is extended in two or more lengths, they shouldbe lashed together. It is also advisable to notch the ridge soit will sit snugly in the interlocking forks.Wall pegs should be driven in at a convenient wall heightand tEatching battens are lashed down. Refinements, suchas lift-up sections for light and ventilation, can be added ifrequired.
  78. 78. POLESAND STRUCTURES All sloping sides on any hut must becompletely waterproof and should be at an angle of not lessthan 45" (although a 40" slope will shed water). A slope of45" will also give good headroom in the larger huts.The diameter of the timber inside the bark can be roughlycalculated by allowing a minimum of 2-3cm diameter at thebutt for each 120-150cm of length. Thus if a pole is 3 metreslong the diameter of wood clear of bark at the butt shouldnot be less than 6cm,or, if the pole is 6 metres long, the dia-meter at the butt should not be less than 12-13cm.If the span is relativelywide or the timber used isrelativelylight, strengthen the structure and prevent sagging orinward bending of the main poles by putting across ties orcollar ties so that the thrust or weight is thrown from onepole on to the pole opposite.BRACINGIf long or lean-to huts are being built and there isno strong support, such as a growing tree, it is advisable tolash in diagonal braces that extend if possible from theground at one end to the ridge at the other. These bracingswill make even a light hut stormproof.DOORSAND WINDOWS Refinements such as doors and win-dows are completely practical and also possible in thatchedhuts. Very little extra work is involved.Windows are simply two or three forked sticks cut offshort below the fork with the long end projecting.Thatch battens are lashed to these forked sticks and theframework is lifted up and hung on one of the battens of thehut itself.In the general thatching of the hut this window space isleft clear. The window frame is itself thatched separately asa complete unit.It is best to make the window frame wider than the win-dow opening of the hut itself. It can be propped open by theuse of one or two sticks. However, if it is very wide moreprops may be needed.There should be at least 15cm overlap of the window and
  79. 79. Themethod ofmaking windowframes. Theyare hooked ontoa thatchbatten above the window opening.Door frames are hinged by a combination of hook and fork. Themethod is similar to a campfirewingingfi-ame used tosupport a billy orothercooking vessel.Dzfferent methodsof assemblingthedoorframe hinge. Top leftshowsa cane or vine loop used with theforked branch. Top right illustrateshow a hook can be cut intoa straight branch. The bottom twoillustra-tions show different methods of lashing -the left with nails or dowelsand the right by lashing.
  80. 80. the roof thatch at the sides. The loose ends of the thatchingabove the window frames should be allowed to come on tothe windows own thatch and should completely cover thesewingat the top.Doors are also made and thatched separately. The hingeof the door can be made by several methods (see illustra-tion). In construction they are similar to a gate frame withthe addition of two uprights lashed across the fork. To thesetwo uprights the horizontal thatching battens are secured.TREESWING SHELTER In swampy country or in areas whichare badly snake infested a very simple swingingbunk can bemade by one person in a day.The forked pole that supports the bunk must be verystrong. Either a cane or a vine loop may be used at the topA tree swing shelter showing the methods of support.
  81. 81. wovenThe bunk ofa tree swing shelter can be made with a woven mattingcover or one of straight sticks.section. It is also advisable to have a vine or cane rope asadditional support stretching from the end of the mainframe as high up the tree (preferably to a fork) as is practic-able.The frame poles for the thatch battens are lashed sepa-rately, with a square lashing, to the bottom of the forkedframe pole. In order to give rigidity a short, cross stick islashed horizontally to each of the opposite sidesof the framepoles.When thatching, work one row along one side and thenthe row on the opposite. This will help strengthen theframework and keep it correctly balanced .The bunk is made separately and then attached to the sup-porting forked pole.Its main frame is simply four poles lashed together toform a rectangle about a metre wide and a metre or morelong "(depending on the body length of the person using it).The space between the poles can be either woven or madewith crossed sticks.
  82. 82. THATCHINGMATERIALS Materials suitable for thatchingrange from long grass, reeds, rushes, most of the longstalked ferns (such as bracken), palm leaves of all types and,as a last resort, many pliant, leafy branches.Long grass and reeds make a high quality roof when theyare used dried rather than in their green state. It isadvisablewhen using these materials to cut and stook them at the verystart of your building project -particularly if it is a largejobspread out over two or more weeks. This enables the mate-rial to dry out before being used.If placed on the roof supports in their green state, grassand reeds will shrink and curl, allowing rain to enter. Allgreen materials shrink and this will affect the thatchingstitches as well, causing them to become loose. The thatchcan then slip out of the stitches and in the first half-decentwind it will blow away.If the materials are well-seasoned the stitcheswill not slac-ken because there is very little shrinkage, and the thatch willstay down securely.With most of the brackens it is advisable to use the mate-rial when it is green and sew it down tightly. Thisalsoappliesif you are forced by circumstances to use green branches.Green branches do not make a very efficient roof andtheir use is not recommended except in an emergency.In a general way using bracken and reeds for thatching isgood service to the land.Bracken destroys pasture and reeds choke watercourses.Unfortunately simply lopping both has no effect on theirgrowth. They have to be dug up completey.If branches of trees or shrubs are to be used seek out adead branch with some of the leaves still on it. Shake thebranch. If the leaves immediately fall off the material is use-less and will only serve for a day or two. If the leaves with-stand this shaking the plant will probably serve your pur-pose fairly effectively. Some trees and shrubs drop theirleaveswithin afew hours of being cut.Thesearealsouseless.Palm leavesare best for thatching when they are dead anddry. It isquite usual to find large quantitiesof them scattered
  83. 83. at the base of the tree. They are excellent material but canbe somewhat brittle and inclined to break at the height ofsummer.The best time to collect dead palm leaves for thatching iseither early in the morning when the leaveshave often beensoftened by an overnight dew, or after rain. It is also advisa-ble to wet them down if possible before sewingthem on thethatching battens. This softens the brittle leaves, makesthem lie flat and ensures that you get a better coverage.THATCHINGMETHODS There are almost as many differentmethods of thatching as there are different materials. Eachmethod has its own peculiar advantage and application forcertain types of material. .The methods you are most likely to find of use are twosimple ones. In the first the material is sewn on to the bat-tens. This is called sewn thatching. The second method is toattach it in bundles. This is called tuft thatching.Instead of sewing the thatch onto the battens it might bemore convenientto tie a pliant stickonto them at convenientintervals. The pressure of this stick tightly tied to the battenholds the materialsecurely.This isknown asstickthatching.There are several methods by which the materials can besecured to the battens on the ground. The battens are thenlaid onto the framework overlapping rather like long tiles.With some of the palms, the stalk itself may be used eitheras the thatch batten or to hold the leaf itself in the desiredposition.PRINCIPLESOF WATERSHED IN THATCHING Thatching may beeither to give shade or to give protection against rain.Thatching for shade presents no problems. If it is thickenough to break up the suns rays that is sufficient.Thatching for protection against wind or rain however,will be effective only if certain principles are observed. It isinstrGctiGe to watch the behaviour of drops of water on athatched roof. The drops run down the topmost strandsuntil they cometothevery edgeof thebladeof grassor other
  84. 84. Waterdropletsrunning down a properly thatched hut roof(1eft)andthroughone that has been incorrectly thatched. (right).material. There they increase in size and when they are bigenough fall off onto the blade immediately beneath.If the stitching interrupts the smooth, continuous courseof the water droplets they will follow its line because it is at asteeper angle. The drops will creep along the stitch andwhen they reach its lowest point on the underside of thethatching each droplet will again increase in size until it istoo heavy to remain attached to the sewing material. Theroof then, of course, leaks. Thatch will never leak if thestitching material is properly covered.It is the quality of coverage, rather than the thickness ofthe thatch, that makes a natural roof waterproof.Windproofing, on the other hand, depends largely on thetightness and thickness of the thatching.
  85. 85. C-----Properly laid sewn thatching, the method of sewing and the thatchingneedle.SEWNTHATCHING Sewn thatching is started by stitching atthe bottom of the first layerof thatch on the lowest thatchingbatten. Thesecond layer must lieon top and coverthe stitch-ing of the first row and include the top section of the under-neath layer of the actual stitch.It is better to have each layer held by three rows of stitch-ing. The stitching of every row must be completely coveredby the free ends of the layer above it.To sew thatching, make a thatching needle by cutting adead, straight-grained stick about 3 cm thick and about 50cm long. Sharpen one end and rub it as smooth as possibleon a Stone.Narrow the other end until it isabout 5 mm thick.~ e f & edoing this, however, cut an eye in this end. If you cutthe eyefirst it will not splitout when the end is pared down.Lay the thatching material with the butts towards the roof
  86. 86. and the lower end on the lowest batten. Secure one end ofthe sewing material with a timber hitch (see Chapter 2,Knots and Lashings) to the batten, thread the other endthrough the eye of the needle and sew the material in theordinary manner to the batten.To avoid holes where the sewing may tend to bunch thethatching together, pass the needle through the thatch at anacute angle. Then push the thatch over the crossing of thestitches.STICKTHATCHWith the stick thatch, ties about 60 cm apartare fastened onto the thatching batten. The thatching stickis tied at one end, the material placed under it and when thetie, fixed on the batten is reached, the thatching stick is tieddown thus binding the material together. This method ofsecuring thatching is useful when long lengths of materialfor sewingare not available.As with sewn thatching, the general principles of overlap-ping the layers to cover the thatching stick (rather than thethatching thread) are followed. This will ensure a rainproofroof. However, this is generally not as tight as sewn thatch-ing.Stick thatching is useful when materialfor sewn thatch ?s not avail-able.
  87. 87. I In tuft thatching whichis suitablefor reedsand sedges,sheaves ofthematerial are bound to the thatching battens. ITUFTTHATCHING Thisisan excellentmethod if the materialis fairly long -between 60-70 cm and 1metre -and pli-able. It is very suitablefor reeds and sedges.The material isgathered into smallsheavesabout 3cm or so thick. The buttend is bent over the thatching batten. A few strandsare thentwisted around the sheaf a few times and pushed throughthe bunched up material to hold the end secure.The tuft is then slipped along the batten and the proce-dure is continued until the batten is completed.This thatch makes a very neatjob from the inside. It is sec-ure in all weather and requires no tying material. If sedgesor sharp sword grassesare being used, protect your handswith a pair of socks to avoid cuts if gloves are not available.It is important that the long, free ends of each tuft bundleoverlap the two or three preceding rows. Do not push thejoining or knot end of these tufts up too tightly together.Thefe can be some space (sayup to 2 cm)between the bent-over ends on the battens. This space will be covered by thefree ends of the next row of tufts.
  88. 88. iPalm leaves are used in stalk thatching.In this method the stalks areforced throughthe battens in consecutivelayers. Thepressure of thestalksagainst the battens holds the thatchinplace.STALKTHATCHAny type of palm leaf, complete with stalk,can be used for this type of thatching. It is both quick andefficient.The stalksof the palms are woven through the thatch bat-tens. The stalks are literally jammed between the battensand the natural pressure on them provides sufficient pres-sure to hold the thatching leaves in position.SPLITSTALKTHATCHThis thatch is suitable for long pinnateleaves (such as those found on date palms). Thecentre rib ofeach frond is split lengthways. The split ribs are tiedtogether and securedto the ridge poles of the hut inan over-
  89. 89. In split stalk thatchthe centreribofthepalm leaf issplit and thehalveslashed directly to the supportingpoles.lapping fashion.This eliminatesthe need for thatchingbat-tens unless extra strength is required in the roof structure.WOVENTHATCH This is an alternative to the split stalkthatch if a number of workers are availableand the time fac-tor is not important.8wen thatch can be made withpinnate frond palms to give a very92
  90. 90. The pinnate fronds are laid flat on the ground and theleaves from one side are laid over one another and wovenbetween the leavesopposite them. The stalkis then tiedontothe framework of the hut, observing the same principle ofoverlapping used in all other thatching methods. Woventhatch is particularly suitable for wall construction and givesthe hut a very neat finish.SEWNBATTEN THATCH With long, broad-leaved materials,the sewn batten method can be used to give good results.The leavesare bent over battens on the ground and a thinsliver of split cane or other suitable material used to pin thetwo sections together. The sticks are then tied to theframework of the hut as in split-stalk thatching.If green material is used, make surebefore startingthejobthat it does not curl as it dries out by testing it in strong sunfor half a day.Broad leafedplant can be usedtomakesewn battenthatchby drapingthe material over the battm and thenpinning it together.-
  91. 91. RIDGE THATCHING In thatching the ridge of any hut it isessential to cover or cap the topmost row of stitchingor fas-tenings. If this is not done the roof will leak along theridgeline.This cap therefore must curl completely over the ridgepole or, better still, over a false ridge pole. Alternatively itmay stand up from the ridge. If bound tightly,this will makean efficient watershed. For pyramidal and circular huts thisis the best method.TokeepwaterfromdriHingfi-om theridgepoleatop level ofthatchingmaterial can be attached to twopoles. These twopoles, complete with thethatchmaterial are then slung over the top of the ridge pole.ISEWNRIDGE THATCH With very long material two heavypoles or straight branches may be slung over the ridge poleso that they lie on either side of it and hold the edges of thethatch down. (see illustration).Another method is to tie two battens to the last line ofthatching. The ends of the thatching material is then sewnto the battens so that it overhangs the stitchingof the thatchproper.An alternative method is to sew ridge materialon to threepoles, one of which acts as a false ridge and the other two,sewn to the endsof the material, hang down about 50cm oneither side. This can be made on the ground and thenhoisted up to cover the ridge pole.Another method is to make a simplecrown of thatch with-out poles and cover the top layer of thatching.
  92. 92. Sewnridge thatching.. .Crownridge thatching is anothermithod of protecting the ridgeline.GU~TERINGUnder some conditions it may be necessary toput a valley in the roof. This will require guttering. Effi-cient guttering can be made from wide sheets of barkinverted so that they lie with the hollow side in the roof val-ley.In tropical areas an alternative (although a laborious one)is the use of hollowed out palm trunks. Very wide leaves ofsome of the palms can be laid so that they overlap oneanother.Considerable care must be taken with this guttering if awatertight roof is the prime consideration.
  93. 93. Gutteringcan be made out of bark troughs. Alternatively at the edgeof a building thatchtufb can be woven toforce the water outwards.bAEnd drip gutterscan be made from bark pieces or tufts ofoverlapping thatch. They are often needed on the weatherside of the hut so thatrainwaterdoesnotblow back from thelast thatch overhangand through the walls.."If a growing tree isused as one of the supportpolesfor a hut itshouldb$ @he& with thin rope or grass to prewent water drippzng down thetrunk.-
  94. 94. FLASHINGIf a living tree is being used as one of the sup-ports for the huts ridge pole, flashing may be required. Thisalsoapplies if, for one reason or another, one or more of thestructural support poles also project above the thatchline ofthe roof.If flashing is needed spin up a length of thin rope fromgrass or other fibrous material (see Chapter I, Ropes andCords) and use it to bind extra thatching around the tree orthe pole. Continue this binding several centimetres abovethe last of this extra thatching to ensure that the water runsoff and down the roof, rather than down the tree trunk orpole and into the hut.Ramrned Earth ConstructionAlthough fibre buildings will last for many years an evenmore permanent structure can be made out of rammedearth. This type of building can alsobe roofed with thatch.Because of the large amount of time taken to construct abuilding out of rammed earth the method is not suitable fora campsite. It is however useful for ones own bush block,either as an initial shelter or secure storage shed.Although the attitudes of many councils towards earthand pis6 constructions has become more relaxed in recentyears, a building of the type described here would not passthe test as a permanent house. There are now a number ofspecialised publicationsavailableon the building of sophisti-cated earth houses (plus a number of contractors whospecialise in their construction). So if, strictly speaking, youare planning a more ambitious structure than a solid shed,these publications should be consulted. The local councilbuilding inspector should alsobe contacted as to the specificregulations for your particular area.Earth buildings can either be constructed by makingforms to contain the material or by ramming it in blocks,which look like large bricks, and laying these in courses.The only material required for the walls of the building isearth. It should contain a proportion of clay, sand or other
  95. 95. BLarge stones set in clay are the z~sualfoundationsfor a rammed earthbuilding. , .
  96. 96. gritty particles. It should also be free from organic materialsuch as shrub and tree roots.FOUNDATIONSA rammed earth building must have a solidbase. The foundations, or footings, can be made from largestones set in a clay base.A trench 60 cm deep by 30 cm wide, lined all over with a3 cm clay plaster is sufficient to bear the weight of the walls.Large stones are then set into this clay and the footing con-tinued with more clay and more stones until a packed wallhasbeen made that standsabout 20cm aboveground level.As long as the materials are at hand this is a no-cost oper-ation. Clay is also an excellent medium into which to set thefoundation stones because it is largely impervious to mois-ture once tramped in and the building will require no dampcourse.Foundations can also be made with stones and concretebut in this case some sort of dampcourse will have to be con-structed.The purpose of extending the foundations 20 cm aboveground level is to prevent water run-off from reaching therammed earth section of the wall. Thus if the area is subjectto occasional flash flooding the foundations may have to bebuilt higher. Earth banks and drains can alsobe cut aroundthe building to divert water flow if necessary. Wide, over-hanging roof eaves alsoprevent damage to the earth wall onthe weather side of the building.Choose the sitecarefully. Watch the weather patterns andconsider how the building can be best protected from theweather before erecting it.SOILQUALITIESAny heavy loamy soilis suitable for rammedearth construction. The soil must also have the right mois-ture content. To find out whether it is suitable, roll someearth into a ball about the size of a golf ball between thepalms of the hands and drop it from a height of about 30cm.If it breaks up on contact it is too dry and moisture must beadded before ramming.
  97. 97. If it holds together after being dropped from this heightapply a second test. Hold the same ball above your head anddrop it again. It should shatter into small fragments. If itdoesnt the material is too wet and should be allowed to dryout.The soil should then be tested for its clay-silt-sand ratio.Although the ratios are fairly elastic not all soils are suitablefor ramming. There should not be more than 70 per centsand and not less than 30. By the same token there shouldnot be more than 70 per cent clay and silt and not less than30 per cent sand.For proper earth bricks that will last many years the idealproportions are 50 per cent clay material and 50 per centsand. On any area of land soilscan vary greatly. The intend-ing builder should take samples from various parts of theblock. It may also be necessary to combine soils from one ortwo locations to get the desired mix.Soil qualities can be quite easily determined. Take a glasstube 10 cm long. Dry some of the test earth, crumble it topowder and fill the tube. Then empty it into a dish and washthoroughly in slowlyrunning water until all the clay and siltparticles have been floated out over the rim. Dry out whatremains in the bottom of the dish and place it back in thetube. This final level in the tube will give you the proportionof clay to sand.Soil with too high a clay content will crack. But on theother hand if there is too much sand the block will crumble.STRENGTHENINGMATERIAL Although earth wallscan be madewith plain soil,quiteoften a binding agent is included to giveit extra strength. Dried grass or straw is the most suitablebinder. If the bricks are being made in individual moulds itshould be cut in short lengths to fit the container. If usingthe wall framework method of construction any reasonablelength will do, although the shorter it is the better it will mixwith ?heclay-sand material.Other suitable material includes small stones or rivergravel, which may be contained in the soil when it is dug.
  98. 98. If mixing either straw or gravel, a number of test blocksshould be made using varying quantities of the additives.They should then be allowed to thoroughly dry and seasonand then compared for general strength, cracking andcrumbling. But remember to note down what quantities youadded to what particular form. Otherwise the test will meannothing.FORMSAND MOULDS Forms can be made from a series ofboards wbic;h are bolted together to allow the rammed earthwall to be built directly onto the footings of the building.Alternatively,moulds can be made and the earth rammedinto them to make blocks. After drying, these blocks are laidin the manner of large bricks.Formfor constructinga rammed earthbuilding,withtheright-anglebolting and a typical home-maderammer.- 1
  99. 99. If forms are used the most convenient size for filling isabout 1metre high and about 2 metres in length. At the firstlevel they are clamped onto the top of the footing by the useof bolts or, alternatively, held fast by poles driven into theearth and secured at the top.When ramming shovel in about 10 cm of earth along thelength of the form and ram it down until it rings. This isquite a definite sound and isquitedifferent to the softthud,of the first strokes.Ramming is hard, tiring work. The person operating theram should be relieved at frequent intervals. When the firstlayer is ringing throughout its length the process isrepeated.It should be noted that separate right-angle forms areneeded for the corners of the building and particular careshould be taken that the earth on these sections is rammedextremely hard.Each level of the wall should be allowed to cure for severaldays before the moul the next levelattempted.-",A knock-down mouldfm makingearth bricks.
  100. 100. Door frames and windows should be allowed for. Thetimber frames for both should be incorporated in the build-ing as the earth is rammed into position.Rammers, usually with a flat, round, hardwood head,should weigh between 2 and 4 kg,with a longhandle foreasygrasping.For a wall 2.5 to 3 metres in height, the thickness of theearth itself needs to be between 25 and 30 cm. For wallshigher than 3metres, the thicknessshould be around 40cm.If moulds are used they should be designed so that once abrick has been rammed in them they can be knocked downquickly and easily to proceed with the next brick. The bricksare allowed to cure without support. It should be stressedthat the making of earth walls orbricksis adry weather activ-ity. If it rains tarpaulins should be used to protect the bricksuntil they are properly cured.Once the walls have been erected and the house or shedhas been roofed, extra protection for the outside walls canbe provided against heavy rain (apart from the above-men-tioned overhanging eaves) by several methods. Theseinclude whitewash, lime-wash, a cow dung-mud rendermix, wallpaper size, a latex based paint, bituminous paint ora cement render made of one portion of cement to two ofsand applied in an extremely liquid form.Rammed earth buildings, properly constructed, havebeen known to stand for 100years or more.Log CabinsWhere timber is plentiful and white ants do not present aproblem, a log cabin can be built for a permanent shed is simple. The logs should be cut to within afew centimetres of the required length. Lay the bed logs,which should be the heaviest, in their required position.Make surethat theyaresquare.Where the end logslieacrossthe back and front ones, halve or scarf the sites. (Scarfingcuts the logs into one another.)
  101. 101. ---- -----2. aBED LOGSJr4 completed log cabin with the methods of constructing it. Once theroof has been topped with logs it can be overlaid withthatch,clay sods orshingles. In Australia early cabins were often roofed with bark sheetsweighed down by holdingpoles and large stones.