Posts Tagged ‘do-it-yourself’

Braided Lanyard

February 24th, 2012

Braided Lanyard

This isn’t so much a ‘how-to’ article, as it is a ‘see what’s possible.’  I saw a few of these in a store the other day and thought that I could make something similar.  The results are pleasing and my creation is quite sturdy, functional, and aesthetic. Check out my latest braiding adventure and the fruits of my labor.

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Braided Dacron Jesses

August 21st, 2010

Braided Dacron Jesses

It’s taken a bit of time to perfect the techniques, however I am pleased to say that my efforts have not gone unrewarded. After reading through some braiding tutorials and tying knots and untying knots for hours, I have a pretty good how-to on braiding dacron jesses. Check out the new how-to in the “How-To: Equipment” section.
I chose 100 lb. test black dacron kite string and then applied a few knots and braiding styles to produce a single piece of equipment that is both strong and functional. The how-to that I put together is more of a set of high-level instructions for creating Jesses, rather than a complete step-by-step instruction manual for braiding and knot tying.  I leave the details up to the experienced pros where applicable.
If you are interested in taking a look at a set of my dacron jesses, please leave me a comment and let me know.

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Squirrel Chaps

May 1st, 2009

Squirrel Chaps


Removable Squirrel Chaps are a great addition to the collection of equipment for your red-tailed hawk in the event that you happen to take to squirrel hawking.  Squirrels are an excellent meal for your raptor as well as a fun challenge.  Don’t be fooled by these little cute and fuzzy forest dwellers; they are tough as rocks and nasty when caught between a tree-branch and a hard place.  Thus the need for some protection for your raptor.


These chaps are from a design by Liam McGranaham, author of  “The Red-Tailed Hawk.”  I used a heavy-weight kangaroo leather and traced the pattern onto the leather, and then cut-out with some heavy duty shears.  Kangaroo leather will dull normal scissors fairly quickly. I decorated them with some rivets, leather studs, and added some deer-hide lining on the inside for comfort for my raptor when she gets to wear them.  I also slightly adjusted the seam between the upper boot and the lower talon cover.  With some epoxy and an x-acto knife, I was able to smooth out the edges so as not to cut or wear into the raptor leg.


The velcro design with the slot in the back allows for easy attachment and removal onto the legs of your raptor in the field.  Below is a rear view picture showing the chaps open.  Some velcro comes with a self-adhesive backing;  I always use a good 5 minute epoxy on these so as not allow the sticky to ‘unstick’ from the kangaroo leather. The anklets in the center of the chaps are regular, simple design Aylmeri anklets.


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Giant Hood

April 14th, 2009

Giant Hood Completed



This week I completed my giant hood or ‘hawk box’.  This is another do-it yourself type project that is easy to do if you are at all inclined to woodworking or making things with your hands.  The hawk box serves as a transport / carrier for your raptor while in the vehicle from location to location.  It’s also a good temporary resting place when cleaning out the mews, or when the weather outside is frightfully chilly.

While the giant hood is not a required piece of equipment, others would argue that it is essential to keeping your raptor safe, under control, and protected while travelling. There are many variations on the hawk box, from using PVC and plastic panels, to coroplast. I chose a pattern to make my giant hood out of 1/4″ louon with some additional accessories.  The main thing to making your box easy to tote around is to make it light enough to carry your raptor without overburdening you. A box that is too big, or too weighty will make travels difficult.




I used a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 1/4″ louon, 12 feet of 1/2″ quarter-round moulding construction on the inside to secure the edges, and 12 feet of 1/2″ corner moulding on the outside to hide the seams and about 75 wood screws.  With the sides and door securely attached to the moulding, I then cut the outside corner moulding to fit the dimensions of the box.  Once all the glue had dried, I drilled 2″ holes in each of the sides of the box for venting.  A few soffet vents filled the holes and completed the ventalation.  I attached some hardware handles, and made sure to reinforce the anchors with 5/8″ plywood inside the box.  The handle on the top is for carrying, and while the side handles can also be used for two-handed carrying, the real use is for tie-downs in the car when placed in the back.  I can secure the box with some bungee cords or straps and these handles will provide that support.  The corners of the wood block anchors were routed for a smooth, round finish.


Additional Details


On the left side of the box, just outside the door, I placed an additional handle for clipping the leash to the box, securing the raptor in case of a hasty exit.  A small hole between the door and the door catch allows the leash to latch to the outside catch. Inside, I mounted a perch on a 1″ dowel, and used a slot so that I could remove it for cleaning.  The dowel is covered in foam pipe insulation for a soft perching base.  A 16″ x 5″ peice of astroturf is sewn together at the seam to create a uniform look on the perch.


The inside was painted with a dark color to keep the bird calm during travel.   I ran out of black paint, so I used an emerald green that I like.  The outside of the box is covered in one coat of marine varnish, to prevent fading by exposure to sunlight.  The marine varnish is some of the best coating for protecting wood from exposure to the elements.  It’s important to give the box 4 weeks or more of airation and drying time before putting a raptor in your box.  You want to make sure that any of the chemicals have long since evaporated before using full time.


I hunted around for a suitable door latch that was decorative, yet functional.  If you go into a marine store, they have really nice brass and stainless hinges and all sorts of door clasps, however, you’ll pay a premium price for these riggings.  Since I didn’t need brass or stainless (even though they really looked nice), I settled for some inexpensive, yet functional small brass door hinges and a turn-catch.


More Pictures:

Giant Hood

Pictures that show the completed hawk box, or giant hood.


Additional Ideas and Suggestions:

  • To provide additional aeration and venting, a small CPU fan could be put in place of one of the soffet vents to forcefully move air through the box. Wire up some batteries in a small, detachable box and instant air for your raptor.  * Warning: Hawk boxes should never be set out into direct sunlight while holding a raptor.
  • Install some clips to the inside to hold your newspaper or muting material for a quick change when it’s time for a cleaning.
  • Leave one of the soffet vents on the bottom-rear of the box un-glued.  That way, you can remove easily and wash out the chunky stuff (ewwww….).
  • Pound in some furniture-savers (sliders or posts) into the bottom four corners of the hawk box to avoid scraping the wood when sliding around or moving from place to place. Depending upon your storage or travel needs, you may want these posts to be ‘grippy’ instead, that way, your box *won’t* slide when you are driving around.

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Raptor Scale

April 13th, 2009

Do-it Yourself Raptor Scale


An accurate digital scale is one of the most important pieces of equipment for the falconer. It’s even more important when you consider that the scale is a required item for the DNR inspection.  While several on-line scales designed for avian measurement, or even raptor wieghing can run you upwards of $175 or more.  This seemed like an easy do-it yourself, and with the added bonus of saving $$$ money, I was able to do some additional enhancements.

Scale Materials


This is not a very heavily involved project.  You need a digital postal scale that can handle up to five pounds.  Most of the smaller versions are adapted for this very purpose and will be able to handle most falconer’s weight needs. If you have a larger raptor, say for example like an Eagle Owl, or a Golden Eagle, then perhaps you should be looking for something more suitable.  This Pelouze scale pictured here was about $35.00 at Staples.   I also had some PVC Pipe that  I cut into three, 4 inch lenghts, for each of the arms and the stem in the “T” part of the perch.  A few additional PVC components, the “T”, end caps, and a few screw connectors made it easy to construct. The base was a 1/2 inch metal pipe base that the connector screwed into in order to securely hold the T-Perch in place.  I used some black spray paint on the perch base, and on the PVC in order to give it a uniform look.


Padding and Astroturf


To cover and pad the perch, I used some foam insulation for 1/2 inch pipe, and cut out a little for the stem part of the perch. With a proper measurement of the astroturf, I sewed the seam together with some #50 dacron string and it seemed to be durable and hold everything together.  I glued the base of the perch to the scale with some epoxy. When it was all dry, I attached the perch to the scale, and was all set. 

This close-up shows the completed project.

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