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Tent making

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40 Cal.
May 12, 2008
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I grew up in New Hampshire, and did a lot of camping with the old BSA Tarp Tent, sort of a souped up diamond shelter with a lot more ties. After relocating to Colorado I made several tarp tents. The one made of modern coated nylon worked well, but didn't smell right. Made one out of fabric store twill that was reasonably light and lasted well. Made another out of #40 pocket drill fabric that has proven very durable. #40 also makes good heavy duty shooting patches for my 58 cal Renegade.

One of the keys to making tents out of these fabrics, or painters drop cloths, is to "full" the fabric by washing and drying it on the machines hottest settings. This will shrink the fabric and tighten the weave. Getting the sizing out lets the fabric take up waterproofing better. Long ago woolen fabrics were "densified' like this by a process involving urine, and you could tell a "Fuller" by their smell. Tom Fuller, the English gunflint knapper, probably had ancestors who ran a fulling mill.

The best ties are made by cutting two inch strips off the selvage edges of the fabric, then folding in thirds with the selvage on the outside. Stitch a line down the center. The selvage edge is the long uncut edge, where the threads are doubled back into the weave.

This kind of sewing is not for the Wally Mart $79.95 machines. Best is an old rotary bobbin Singer. The Viking machines made by Husqvarna (yeah, they make chain saws) are great.

I really prefer to treat homemade tarps with a commercial waterproofing. Canvak works well, and NikWax mages a really effective and easy to apply product for cotton fabrics.

After writing this, I'm gonna have to sleep under a diamond at some of the CSMLA doings this summer.

White Fox