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Introduction to Bushcraft Course -
 Essential and inspirational Bushcraft and survival skills for the Wilderness.


A full day of basket weaving with expert tuition
Learn how to weave a small to medium sized multipurpose basket like those pictured. At the end of the day you'll be able to leave with your own finished basket complete with handle.




Bushcraft eBooks by Jon Ridgeon
Willow Craft; Hand drill Fire Lighting; Net Making; Weaving a Melon Basket; Wood Carving; Spoon Carving; Making a shave Horse; Weaving Rectangular Baskets.


Latest Blog Posts
My latest Book & eBook - Willow Craft 10 Bird Feeder Projects February 2015
I am very happy and proud to announce the publishing of my second paperback book! Titled: Willow Craft 10 Bird Feeder Projects. This is also available as an eBook (see below). The paperback book is available for purchase from online retailer Amazon. See the product page here:
 Amazon.co.uk or  Amazon.com

E-Book version:
(pdf file) is available for 6.50 HERE on my eBooks page. (Delivery to your email within 15 minutes)

Book description:
Through detailed stage by stage instructions, this book will show you how to make 10 different bird feeders from willow using classic basketry techniques.

You do not need any prior basketry experience to undertake the projects. Everything you need to know is here, including guidance on tools and materials.

"As a basket maker and nature enthusiast, I have had a lot of fun making the projects presented in this book; as well as the continued joy of watching the birds feed from them. My aim in writing this book is for you to experience the same, and also be inspired with the basketry; a craft which can be put to so many uses!" - Jonathan Ridgeon


My First Physical Book - Willow Craft 10 Simple Projects November 2014


Book reached #1 best seller in basket making category on amazon.co.uk!

I am proud to announce that my book Willow Craft 10 Simple Projects, (first published as an eBook), is now published in physical form and can be purchased as a paperback book from online retailer Amazon. See the product page here:




Alternatively, this book is still available in eBook form and can be bought from my eBook page HERE. (Delivery to your email within 15 minutes)

Book description:
This eBook will show you how to make some of the most popular and inspiring willow craft projects other than baskets. There are items for both the home and garden, and all are great fun to make. You do not need any previous experience, the detailed instructions have been designed to guide you every step of the way. Packed with colour photographs and diagrams showing clearly how to complete every stage.

New How-To Article Added  -  Making an Ammo Can Stove

I have made this portable stove as a source of heating for inside my canvas bell tent, it should be ideal for winter camping when temperatures drop below zero. Also, I just thought it would be a fun thing to make...

People have made such stoves in many different ways. They are mostly used in colder climates like Canada and Scandinavia. The following article shows my own design, bear in mind that this is the first stove I have ever made, I am not an expert where stove use and design is concerned so the design may not necessarily be the best.

To see my full step by step instructions on how I made this stove click here


New Article Added  -  Making a Berry Picker
I have updated an old article showing how to make another design of berry picker; the 'berry scoop'/ 'berry comb'. They are excellent for picking berries such as Bilberries and Cowberries. Both designs have multiple prongs like a comb, the picker is used by pushing the comb through the foliage of the berry bushes, the fruit which is too large to pass between the prongs gets plucked free. Many berries can be picked at once and the picker is frequently emptied into your foraging basket. With a good berry picker you can potentially pick huge quantities in just 1 day!



Cowberry Harvest - Late summer at Cannock Chase park north of Birmingham


Materials used - small wine crate and broken garden rake

For this project I recycled some items I had lying about; a mini wine crate and some tines from a broken garden rake. You could of course use other materials, some plywood off-cuts would be perfect for the box, and for the prongs you'll need to be a bit inventive, there are some suggestions of other materials in the article.

To see my full step by step instructions on how I made this berry picker click here


My New Skin on Frame Canoe - Job Done!
The moment I had been waiting for after months of work; I made the final touches to complete the construction and took to the water.

I cant put into words how satisfying it feels to step into and paddle a canoe I have made. All I can say is that it gave me a very warm feeling of achievement. Canoeing is the nearest thing to physical poetry that I know and is good for the spirit...

You can view the full 'build-along' pictorial article showing how the canoe was made by clicking HERE


You can view the full 'build-along' pictorial article showing how the canoe was made by clicking HERE


Jon's Bushcraft Basketry Courses Feature in Living Woods Magazine -

Rob Exton reviews my Introduction to Basketry Course in the Living Woods Magazine

To view the article in full click here

Rob Exton Concluded that... "This is a great way to spend a Sunday, in the middle of the country (Meriden is not far away), so many of you are within striking distance for a day trip. Jonathan is a delightful young man who is patient, calm and very skilled. He is a clear teacher and enabler who deserves to do well in his chosen way of life. Mostly though, I must recommend this course for its sheer value for money. At 55 including tea and coffee it has to be one of the best value courses in the country."

Click the following link to visit the Living Woods magazine website www.living-woods.com


Ongoing project   - Canoe build-along

My Third Skin on Frame Canadian Style Canoe...

The following story will be updated as and when I complete new stages...

Click here to see the full story as it unfolds...

After all the fun and enjoyment I've had out of my last two skin on frame canoes, I have decided to build another one, this time it will be a two man canoe in the same Canadian style that I like so much. There are no plans for the canoe I am building, all I know is that I want it to be around 4.5 meters long and about 90cm wide at the centre Most of the jobs will just be done by eye.

This is not a canoe made from 100% wild materials like a birch bark canoe, but a mix of traditional wood working skills, some cotton canvas and even a few wood screws. The emphasis for me is always on doing a proper job, speed is not the essence. I am always reluctant to use power tools as I feel mistakes can be made quickly with such hasty devices. Hand tools fit better with my calm and patient nature anyway.

And so I begin...

To start I've purchased a plank of naturally air dried Ash wood from the timber yard about 7" x 1" x 5m. At first I wanted to use a long sapling from the woods to fashion my Gunnels from but I was unable to locate one straight and long enough for my needs. By purchasing the plank I would also have enough wood for many other parts too such as the long keel baton etc. The wood didn't come cheap though... about 90 for this one plank!

The first job was to rip cut along the length to cut off two laths suitable for Gunnels. This job could be done with a circular saw but I am quite stubborn and don't like to use power tools all that much :-)




Using a Shave horse and Draw Kinfe I then worked the two gunnels down to final dimensions which is about 20mm x 55mm. I then made a gradual taper towards the ends shaving it down to about 3cm high with no change to the width.



Now it was time to steam bent these tapered ends upwards which will give my canoe some nice curves (known as Indian ends). I am using quite a simple but effective method to steam the wood. Firstly I wrap the wood in Hessian material, then give it a good soaking and finally wrap it up in tin foil. Then I cook the wood over the fire like a fish. The wood doesn't burn if the material is wet enough.



Click here to





 Hand Made Skis
I had never been skiing before or even held a pair of skis, but making a pair seemed like a fun idea. I was mainly inspired by a video of native Reindeer herders in Sweden, and also by my good Norwegian friend - Torjus (his website: http://livingprimitively.com/ )

One of the first things I learnt about skis is that they are not actually just flat pieces of wood with a bend at the end; they also have an overall bend meaning that the centre of the ski will stand off the ground slightly when not stood on (see picture on left). This bend serves to spread the weight of the user more evenly over thick snow, and instead of the centres of the skis dipping down into deep snow the skis just become flat. 

I used much the same tools as I would use to make a bow - A draw knife and shave horse; a hatchet, a large Farier's rasp and a cabinet scraper.

The wood is Ash wood. I split two billets from a large fresh log which some tree surgeons had left on a fire heap! I worked the wood while it was fresh as that makes the job a lot easier! Luckily the billets had an overall natural curve which I utilised. The only bends I needed to make were those for the ends.
To steam bend the ends I wrapped the wood in hessian fabric from an old sack, I then soaked this with water and wrapped the the lot with Turkey aluminium foil. I then supported this over a nice hot fire for perhaps 45 minutes (note how a log protects the unprotected wood from the heat. The pieces of wood on top of the foil are just holding a flap of foil down.) Its just like cooking a Salmon in foil really,  hehe.



Before wrapping the ends with hessian and foil, I had already rigged up some cord which would enable me to swiftly make the bend and hold it in shape; one loop tied to the top and another long length secured at the centre of the ski. When the wood had been steamed for long enough (perhaps 45mins), I could then quickly unwrap the wood, thread the long cord through the small loop at the top and then pull down forcefully to bend the wood and hold it in shape.

The rest of the work to do included:
-Chiselling out a rectangular slot hole through which I could secure the bindings
-Carving the decorative ends in a traditional Swedish style
- Applying pure Pine tar with a brush (made by 'Bickmores' as a horse hoof treatment, and purchased from the 'horse health' website)
-heating the tar and wood with a blow torch as it is applied helps to make it go into the wood better. Excess tar is rubbed off with a rag.
-Applying Bees wax to the undersides to make the skis glide better (without the tar and wax; snow would stick and clog the skis up.
-The final job was to then weave the Willow to make the bindings, these will ensure my feet are securely fastened to the skis. The Willow is soaked and twisted like a withy beforehand to make it more pliable.

Then it was just a case of waiting for some snow to have some real good fun!

100% satisfying!!




 Birch bark containers

I recently made these two Birch bark pots, they are stitched differently to the way I have previously made containers; this is now my new favourite method. As well as being very decorative, the 'stepped' stitching ensures that the bark doesn't split along its grain, which would be likely if so many stitching holes were made right next to each other along the same line. Making stitching holes through two layers of bark also helps the bark not to split.

The container on the right is made from the bark of a dead tree. When stripping the bark from the logs the wood inside had actually started to rot away but the skeleton of bark was still good to use, that's because of all the natural tar it contains. the smaller container is made from fresh bark I managed to salvage from some logs left behind by tree surgeons. This bark is such a nice material, its a shame so much of it just ends up on peoples fire heap!

Some of the crafts I make are quite intricate, so for a change I thought I'd show you how to make a simple little bark box like this...

Strip your bark from felled or naturally fallen trees. The only tools you need to make this little box are a pen knife, a ruler, and something to score lines with.

The folds are simply held together by two stick pegs inserted through slots in the bark.

  Start by cleaning up the outside of the bark. removing any loose material. Pulling your thumb over the bark side-ways works well. Now cut the bark into a neat rectangle.  
  Carefully score the folding lines onto the bark as represented by the diagram. I used a bradawl for this job.  
  Fold the corners up Make four small slots ready to receive the pegs which hold the folds securely in shape.  


  Cut two sticks to length and shave them down thin. If they are a bit flexible that will help with the fitting. Insert the pegs on either side... job done! How simple and effective is that!  

Also see my tutorial on how to make other simple birch bark containers/ pots.. click here
And my step by step guide to making a Birch bark basket  Here

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