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  • How To.... Build a Gibbet Aures Campfire Crane

    This is the second of my blog posts on the Aures campfire crane trilogy. I call it the Gibbet crane based on a pot hook I found mentioned in the book Camp-lore and Woodcraft. The crane does look a bit like a traditional gibbet but the name apparently refers to the overlapping joints used in its construction rather than its likeness to an instrument of execution.This is a great project for the longer-term camp or if you want a bit of practice carving joints and whipping.

    The Gibbet Aures Crane



    As usual the tools for making the crane are to be found in most bushcrafters' backpacks - a knife, saw and axe. I saw this crane set up many years ago at a camp however I have seen little written up about it in books or online.

    I found one piece of wood with a strong fork and a smaller catapult-shaped fork (bottom left below) and I cut a limb with a branch coming out (top left below).

    The first job I did was to strip off all the bark from all the pieces.


    Tools and basic parts



    Carving the top limb

    I placed the large fork up against the pole it would hang off to measure where I needed to trim each limb. To do that I just used my knife to mark the limbs. The top limb needs to be marked to the left of the pole (as you see in the picture below) and the bottom limb needs to be marked to the right of the pole as you see it below.

    To begin with I trimmed the top limb at its mark with my saw, leaving the bottom one for the moment.


    Measuring and trimming the top limb



    I laid the small hook beside the end of the top limb so that the hook was pointing towards the big fork and marked where I wanted to trim it. I did not want to leave it too big - just big enough to be whipped to the big fork.

    Measuring and trimming the top hook



    I wanted the joint to be strong so I put a stop cut into the top of the upper limb so I could cut out a lap joint (also known as a Gib joint).

    I then battoned off the excess so I was left with one half of the lap joint, then I trimmed the bottom of the small hook flat to fit snugly against it.


    Cutting out the Gib cut on the top limb and hook



    Not a perfect fit but good enough.

    Putting them together



    I then used paracord to whip the two together, on both sides of the hook. I left excess string tied in a knot as the wood was green. As it dries out the wood will shrink and I will have to redo the whipping.

    Whipping The Gib joint



    Carving the bottom limb

    I flattened the upright of the 'Y' piece and split out a Gib joint on the lower limb. You have to make sure all the cuts are done on the correct planes so that the hanger will fit on the upright pole without twisting.

    Cutting the Gib joint on the bottom limb and fork



    After a bit of whipping it was time to set it up and make sure it worked correctly. In the bottom right picture you can see clearly how it all comes together.

    Fitting and splicing



    Carving the pot arm

    I have a particular way of carving the hanging arm (you be as creative as you like). I axe out the basic shape I want, trim it smooth with my knife and cut in lots of grooves along the upper part to allow the pot to be hung on various areas of its length.

    Carving the pot arm



    Once all the grooves are cut I tend to put a dimple in the end so I can attach an adjustable pot hook. This allows me to hang two or three pots from the crane.

    Finishing touches



    Using the Crane

    This sequence of shots shows the method I use for adjusting the height of the crane when it has a heavy pot attached to it. I swing the crane away from the fire, remove the pot, adjust the height of the crane, attach the pot again and swing it back over the fire.

    With light pots you do not need to remove the pot but just lift the crane slightly so it detaches from the upright and then just move it up and down.


    In use



    In this picture you can see how the arm works with an adjustable pot hook attached to the end of the crane arm.

    It looks precarious but with the usual level of care you take around any fire I have found this system works well.


    Added adjustable pot hook



    Dinner could be in one pot and the kettle on the other leaving plenty of room to sit comfortably around the fire without having lots of uprights protruding out (which can be a problem with other campfire cooking rigs).

    Works a treat



    I took the set up out on a recent bushcraft course I was running to show some colleagues and set it up with a fixed crane. All in all it worked a treat.

    In use in the field



    If you have not seen it I have another post on making one of these cranes but just out of one forked stick - How To.... Carve an Aures Campfire Crane - Single Fork

    The final part in this trilogy will be on carving a Classic Aures Campfire Crane as laid out in the Camp-lore and Woodcraft book.

    Cheers

    George

    Bushcraft Days
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Tony's Avatar
      Tony -
      Excellent stuff George, thanks for taking the time to put this up, the crane's are great and I'm looking forward to seeing more