Dug North, Maker


Cool Tools Show 278: Dug North

Our guest this week is Dug North. Dug is a maker, best known for his mechanical wooden sculptures. He spent five years running an antique clock restoration business. These days he enjoys outdoor bushcraft activities. He is the founder of Whiz-bang Projects —an online source for inspiring vintage project plans. You can find Dug on YouTube @dugnorth, and on Instagram @dug.north, and on Facebook @DugNorthCreations.

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Show notes:

Leatherman Surge Multitool ($130)
The Surge is a Leatherman product that they’ve really done right in a couple of fundamental ways. I don’t know if you’ve ever used one of the originals, but using the pliers could be kind of a painful experience if you really bear down on the handle. These are nice and thick. When you open up the handle they’ve got these big rounded edges that are quite comfortable, even if you squeeze really hard. Typically on a Leatherman you have to open up everything to get to the tools within. That’s fine, except if you have to open it frequently it gets a little tedious. So this has four tools on the outside, so you don’t need to open up the pliers to get to them, and all of the tools on it lock so that they can’t close on your fingers or anything like that. So just in terms of the basics they’ve done really well.

Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel ($32)
Slightly less glamorous, but still useful is a small shovel for camping, hiking, bushcrafting, keeping in the trunk of your car — that kind of thing. This is made by a company called Cold Steel. And allegedly it was designed for the Russian Special Forces, because it could be used for entrenching, I suppose. But a unique feature about it is that it has three sharpened edges along the edges of the shovel blade, so it could also be used in some sort of military fashion. It is rigid, it has a Hickory handle and a non folding steel blade that is held to that handle with two Phillips-head screws. So you could make a long handle for it in the field. And it measures in at just about 20 inches, so that’s not excessive for say strapping to the outside of even a fairly small backpack.

TITAN SurvivorCord ($35)
When you’re camping or doing bushcraft, or spending any time in the outdoors, one of the core things that most people have with them is some kind of rope, twine, cordage, something along those lines. A very popular one, for good reason, is 550 para chord, the chords that are used on parachutes. And one of the reasons that it’s so popular is it’s very strong, it’s allegedly able to hold up 550 pounds, but it can also be taken apart because there are seven strands inside. And then the sheath that’s holding all those strands together can also be used independently. So depending on the situation you could use the full cord, or you could use the sheath, or you could sort of take it apart and use the inner strands. This company called TITAN has taken this idea to another level by putting very specialized inner strands inside of their paracord. So their paracord ends up being able to hold 620 pounds as opposed to the typical 550. The special strands are monofilament fishing line, brass, thin gauge brass wire, they call it snare wire, and finally, a waxed jute cord, which is waterproof fire starting tinder.

Wazoo CacheCap ($30)
This is by a company that I just love called Wazoo, and they sort of have this niche of survival gear, if I could call it that, but in sort of everyday clothing and in sort of very small micro format. And one of the products I love is called their Cache Cap. So this is a baseball cap that looks like any other, and what makes it special is that it has six pockets within the bill and the crown of the hat. There’s three pockets on the bill, two are on the outer edges and those are really designed for a product that they sell, though it doesn’t have to be, a small folding ceramic knife and a ferrocerium rod, so that you can start a fire. And then there’s a larger Velcro pocket on the bill in which I have a slightly larger folding knife. They sell things to put in these hats if you want, but I made up my own kits.

About Whiz-bang Projects:
I’ve got this long standing fascination with mechanical things and projects from the past, the kind of stuff you’d find in like a 1920s copy of Popular Mechanics or Boy’s Handy Book. And I think other people do too, but when you read some of those, they’re pretty scant on detail. And sometimes they include materials that we simply can’t get any more or would be unwise to get. And so I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to make these things available and then find a way to sort of translate them for a new age and perhaps give people the level of support and detail that they need in order to complete these things. I feel like I’m the kind of person who can read one of these and probably figure out how to make something. But other people I think might look at it and say, “Well, where are the step-by-step instructions?” And get a little bogged down. And so the idea of Whiz-Bang is to offer these vintage plans in various categories that sort of provides more or less in the way of instructions and help.


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