Cache Lake Country: How to Make Candles, Tables and More

Cache Lake Country shows how to make candles, tables and other useful country gear.

| March/April 1976

Although Cache Lake Country was copyrighted in 1947, I didn't discover this great little book for teenagers (and younger folks and adults too!) until I found a copy in a secondhand bookstore sometime in the early 60's. Everybody should have one; it has great tips on how to make useful country gear. The way that John J. Rowlands handles copy and Henry B. Kane supports those words with illustrations is a delight and Cache Lake Country is packed with rich, warm, useful "down-home" lore too! — JS 

During the usual April rainy spell I put in some time getting things fixed up for the summer. I made myself a new table from three boards, two pieces of split birch log, and some seasoned birch saplings for legs. I plan to make some benches the same way to go with it. That will mean company won't have to sit on the nail keg. The only tricky part is to bore the holes in the logs at the proper angle so that the legs will set just right. The best way is to lay the pieces on the floor, make a wooden templet or guide of the angle, and use it to start each hole.

While I was working on the bench Hank came over and got an idea that he would try his hand at making some candle holders out of tin cans. You've probably seen some of them before. They come in handy and a candle is a pretty safe light to have in a house, especially if you have to carry it around at night, which is not safe to do with a kerosene lamp. What is more, a candle is almost certain to go out if it drops on the floor. I save the ends of all burned candies, melt them up and pour them into a jelly glass, first setting a wick of string in the glass by tying the top to a twig that rests on the rim of the glass. This kind of candle lasts a long time.

Hank sometimes makes his own candies by molding them in the bark slipped off a small decayed birch sapling. You often see birch rotting on the ground in dark places in the woods and if it has been there long enough the soft wood can be pushed out, leaving a nice mold for a candle. You make a little wooden plug with a hole in the center to hold the wick in place. Stick the plug in the bottom of the birch tube, tighten up on the string, and tie it to a twig across the top. Then all you have to do is pour in your melted wax and when it's hard run a sharp knife down the side and strip off the bark. A piece of bark about hoe-handle thick and four inches long is easy to clean out and makes a. candle of the right size.

When I first came up to this country I worked for a while in a mine and I still have my miner's candlestick and a very handy thing it is. One end is sharpened so that I can stick it into a wall, and there is also a little hook to hang it on my hatband leaving my hands free to work. They are not used much since the gas lamps came in, but I find it useful and it keeps the memories of my mining days green.

For a long time I had been wanting a bellows to quicken up my fire once in a while. It is a very handy thing to have around for various purposes. So during a stormy spell I got to work and made one. Mine has extra long handles so that I don't have to stoop when I use it.

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