Skull Goblet part 2: Father’s Day

I made a second skull goblet, this time as a father’s day gift for my dad. The skull is polyresin, purchased on Amazon for $35, cut with a carbon fiber cutting wheel, and finished with a file. The stem is ceramic, and covered in epoxy putty which is formed to look like reptilian skin. The claws are actual coyote teeth, purchased on ebay.

skull 1 skull 2 skull 3 skull 4

What is a “door box” and how do I make one?

doorbox 2

I’ve probably made close to 100 door boxes in my life for family, friends, and for sale. If you know me personally, and you DON’T have one, you’re probably in the minority. People always seem to dig these, but they don’t realize how truly easy they are to make. You can sit down in front of the TV and make two or three in an evening.

doorbox in use

HERE are some examples of door boxes I’ve built in the past, so named because they’re boxes that you mount near a door (or THE door) and in/on which you store your keys and pocket luggage.


Here are some things I’ve learned over time, if you choose to make your own:

1. Wood is good – Always choose a wooden box (cigar boxes and liquor boxes work great) because cardboard simply isn’t sturdy enough.


2. Infringe on the default hinge – ALWAYS replace the hinges (small, strong hinges or piano hinge can be found at any hardware store). The initial hinges are intended to be disposable, and are often pinned in. They won’t support the vertical weight of the door. When attaching the hinges, glue them in place, pre-drill, then screw. Which brings me to…


3. Glue AND screw – when attaching hardware, glue AND screw. Glue alone will fracture, or pull off the top layer of the wood. Screws will loosen over time. Use both. Also, get some good compound diagonal cutters so you can trip the portions of the screws that punch into the interior of the box – and they will.


4. Don’t drag down the door – I used to attach all kinds of decor and hooks to the door, only to discover that the weight, over time, weakens and warps the hinges, and causes the door not to meet flush with the box. Keep the weight load on the door minimal.


5. Silicon over super – I’ve used every possible type of glue when gluing in the shelves or attaching hardware. Flexible, silicon-based glues, like E6000, seem to work best. They dry slower, and they’re easier to work with, giving you a margin of error. They clean up easy, and they dry strong with just enough flex to avoid fracture.


6. Magnets are a must – I’ve experimented with numerous types of closures, but the most user friendly are magnets. You can get good, strong magnets at the hardware store. Glue one to the inside of the door and one inside the box’s interior, such that they meet with the door is closed. Presto, magnetic closure.



7. Shirk the shallow shelves – when selecting a box, avoid the shallower boxes (I made this mistake a lot in the early days). Shallow boxes make for shallow shelves, and shallow shelves are worthless save for pens, lighters, and your thimble collection.


8. Feelin’ the Felt – put felt furniture pads on the back of the box, such that they keep the box from touching the wall when mounted. Otherwise, the box can damage the paint on your wall.


9. Always Anchor – don’t mount your door box with nails or screws directly in drywall. Take an extra 5 minutes and mount it into drywall anchors. It’ll stay put until the day you’re ready for it not to. I’ve used 3M strips a couple times when anchors simply weren’t an option, and they work, but make sure you use more than you think you need to.

10. You really can make these. It’s a lot easier than it looks.

Go make stuff, wastelanders.

My Grandpa’s Urn

53660_memorialLast month, my grandpa Jack passed away at the age of 81. I posted a bit about it here.

As my mother, two aunts, and grandmother talked about what to do with his ashes, we discussed various options for urns. My grandpa was a simple, rustic farmer with no admiration for faux riche luxury or unnecessary expense. He wanted to be cremated because the idea of an expensive suit, burial, and casket simply didn’t appeal to him. Honestly, if he’d have been able to speak before his death, he’d likely have laughed and told us to put his ashes in a coffee can and tape a picture of him on the side. That was grandpa.

We discussed putting his ashes in his old moonshine jug – a symbol of him we all knew and loved, but ultimately, my grandma asked me to build a wooden box out of materials from the farm that would mean something to him. I was honored she would ask me, and was determined to make something she would be proud of.

I drove two hours out to the family farm on a beautiful Sunday, and harvested weathered barn wood from the smokehouse of the house my grandpa grew up in – boards hand cut and planed by his father (my great grandpa Madison). I also took the smokehouse’s hand-forged door latch. I took a horseshoe (I’ve been told it’s actually a mule shoe) from my grandpa’s workshop, the handle from his father’s handmade toolbox, and one of grandpa’s favorite flannel shirts.

Since Colonel Dad has much better tools than I do, and a few more years of crafting experience, I decided to make the actual fabrication of the box into a father/son bonding experience. We had a great time, and I couldn’t be happier with the final product.  I emailed pictures of the box to my grandma, and her response was simple, but extremely moving.  She emailed back saying, “Eric, you have done a very good thing.”

I can think of no greater compliment from anyone on the planet.


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Wasteland Raider Skills: How to Make a Human Skull Goblet

image (4)

Obviously, no, I didn’t use a real human skull, but I did use the most realistic replica I could find.  It’s not plastic, but resin, and I don’t know if it’s food safe or not.  To be honest, I don’t really care.  It’s only going to be used on special occasions, and the liquid being imbibed from it is far more unhealthy than anything that might be in the resin itself.

I started by using a dremel cutting wheel to cut away the rear base of the skull, and then used a metal file to round and smooth out the edges.  I sanded any loose imperfections off of the inside of the cranial cavity as well.

image (8)I accidentally busted the front teeth out while cutting on the skull, but I actually think it gives it a more authentic appearance.  Prior to making this, and on a completely unrelated whim, I had purchased some hand made clay wine goblets from an independent artist, and accidentally dropped and broke one as soon as I took it out of the box.  The stem portion was undamaged, and was still in my trash can, so I dug it out to use for this project.  I used strong epoxy to affix the skull to the stem, then build up epoxy putty around the joint to further strengthen and stabilize the joint, and also to visually ease the transition between the stem and skull.  I embedded dog/coyote teeth (purchase at your local bead store) into the putty while it was still soft, and also used the putty to affix the lower jaw to the base of the stem.

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Followup on the Tulsa Serial Rapist: More Don’ts, a Do, and Some Example Short Spears

Police Sketch of the Suspected Serial Rapist

Police Sketch of the Suspected Serial Rapist

The Tulsa Serial Rapist struck his 8th victim Sunday, and due to this, there are some very dangerous “self defense suggestions” (myths) circulating that I feel the need to address. Again, I am no “expert”, but I have common sense and a good nose for bullshit.

Wrong Way / Right Way

Wrong Way / Right Way

1. I actually read, in the Tulsa World, that a cop suggested to put your keys between your fingers to fend off attackers. This cop is an idiot, and he’s spreading dangerous misinformation. Go ahead and put your keys between your fingers and go hit something. Anything. The keys bend and move around, pinching your fingers and the webbing between them. They don’t line up, and doing this is actually probably less effective than just punching. It’s stupid. If your keys are all you have, then grip your biggest key (probably the car ignition key) between your thumb and index finger (the same way you’d hold it when starting your car) and jam it in the jerk’s eyeball. That’s about the only way you can effectively use a key for self-defense, other than throwing them at him for a distraction while you run the opposite way. Some argue that you don’t necessarily punch with the keys between your fingers, but rather, use them in a “scraping motion”. DO NOT do that either. You can’t hold the keys tightly enough to transfer any appreciable force whatsoever. You’re literally better off going for the eyes with your fingers. I mean that. “Scraping” is a good way to anger your attacker and waste time, effort, and attention that could be better spent elsewhere. Unfortunately, the idea of self-defense, to many, is ninja fantasy camp.  If a key is what you have, just imagine that his eye socket is your car’s ignition.



Fox Labs 4 oz Stream Configuration Pepper Spray

Fox Labs 4 oz Stream Configuration Pepper Spray

2. People are suggesting using wasp spray for self defense because it “shoots further” and “works better: than pepper spray.This is false. Pepper spray comes in multiple configurations including fog, cone, and STREAM. The stream configuration will easily shoot 20 to 25 feet. Secondly, if wasp spray worked better than pepper spray, don’t you think they would market it for that purpose? No, they still market pepper spray because it works. Soapy water hurts when it gets in your eyes too, but that doesn’t make it a viable self defense solution. GET PEPPER SPRAY. It was designed for use on people, and it succeeds with flying colors (mostly the color of pain). This is the best brand and configuration. Click the link and order it. It’s that easy.

Lastly, I had spoken in my previous post about why I believed that a short spear is the best non-firearm weapon for a small, weaker person in a strictly home-defense scenario.  I obviously do not advocate walking around town or jogging with a short spear.  That said, I suggested that people purchase a long-handled BBQ knife as a facsimile of a short spear, or purchase the Short Assegai Spear from Cold Steel. I attempted to find and purchase a long-handled BBQ knife for some practical testing (a MUST for any self-defense theory), but after finding three different stores sold out, and the only online vendors I could find having discontinued the product, I shelved the idea and decided to make my own. (Yes, I ordered my own Short Assegai Spear, but it’s still in transit.)

Here are the short spears I made for myself:

30 inch short spear with Cold Steal Bushman head

short spear with Cold Steel Bushman head

This spear was made with a 1 inch wooden dowel and a Cold Steel Bushman as the head. I recommend the regular Bushman as opposed to the bowie for this application, for the slimmer profile better lends to depth of penetration (giggity). I whittled down the end of the dowel and hammered it into the handle of the Bushman, and then locked it in with a screw. Then, I wrapped the shaft in electrical tape (for grip) and capped the butt end with a rubber cane tip (epoxied on).  This not only covers the free end of the electrical tape, but allows the user to more comfortably brace the butt of the spear against their body.  Lastly, I used leather wrap and glue to create a layered leather hilt just behind the head, and then tacked it in with a brass nail.

image (7)The second spear I made is a bit longer, at 36 inches, and is made from a 3/4 inch dowel.  I removed the blade and hilt from an old full tang knife I found in Skreep’s garage, cut a notch into one end of the dowel, and set the blade in it with screws and epoxy. After it dried, I covered the blade in electrical tape and affixed the rubber cap, the same as the last.

So, if you can’t afford or aren’t comfortable with guns, I don’t believe in alienating or demeaning you. I believe in personal choice, and thus, I have tried to present you with alternatives. If you aren’t able to afford pepper spray or a brand new short spear, perhaps you can make one. Even sharpening one end of a broomstick or duct taping a kitchen knife to the end of your swiffer is better than nothing. Good luck out there, wastelanders.

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It doesn’t have to be pretty to be effective.


My Short Term Recommendations on Self-Defense Against the Tulsa Serial Rapist

tulsa rapistI’m not expert, and don’t profess to be, but I am a martial arts practitioner and a weapons enthusiast, and I have opinions that I don’t mind sharing. Thus, many people have been asking me what the best option is for defending oneself against the serial rapist currently terrorizing Tulsa. I’m writing this post as a way to avoid reiterating this information in countless personal messages. Also, I’m preempting the person who responds with “How about you recommend that men don’t rape.” Yes. That’s obviously the best idea, but it doesn’t stop the crazy guy that’s already out there doing it. So, let’s agree that we need a serious change in our culture, but let’s also agree that we need to deal with THIS guy, and any others that are already out there hurting people.

First, things that I DON’T recommend in this instance:

1. Self-Defense classes – Martial arts is a way of life. One self defense class won’t give you anything but false confidence, which I would argue is more dangerous than nothing at all. I’ve practiced martial arts since I was 13, and unless you practice and drill something frequently, you won’t commit it to muscle memory, meaning that when you panic, you won’t remember it. I promise. Not only that, but size and strength are VERY real factors – FAR more real than Hollywood would like you to believe. This is why they have weight classes in professional combat sports. Even just 20 pounds makes a big difference, let alone 50 to 100. If you want to start taking self defense, do it (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), but stick with it and make it a hobby if you want any hope of ever using it effectively in a self-defense situation. Before you argue that your Krav Maga summer class turned you into a lethal killing machine, let me say that I recommend jiu-jitsu becuase it was designed for smaller, weaker people to beat larger, stronger people with patience and skill. It has been consistently proven at the highest levels of combat sports as the absolute best option for one-on-one combat. Yes, there have been exceptions – Karate practitioners that have risen to success, but we shouldn’t base our decisions on the exception – we should base them on statistically sound evidence. Granted, the moment you’re facing two people, or a knife, Jiu-Jitsu goes right out the window. Also, before you tell me that there’s a difference between “sport” martial arts and “street” martial arts, let me say that it doesn’t take lessons to know how to bite, eye gouge, and kick someone in the balls.  You don’t have to teach someone to do those things, you only need to tell them to. However, this article isn’t about martial arts… it’s about the practical alternative.

2. If you’re small and not physically strong, I don’t recommend using a blunt object for self defense. Sure, it works in movies, but in real life, baseball bats are heavy, and you’re going to swing it slow. People move fast, and they instinctively hold their arms and hands up to block. Go outside and swing that baseball bat at a tree and see how fast and hard you can really wield it. Now, try five times in a row. Now, imagine that tree is moving at you very fast and blocking with its arms. Yeah, scary. Chances are, you’ll either drop the bat or piss him off. With a smaller blunt object, just as a claw hammer, you have a better chance of scoring a hit, but in mid-panic, you may not be able to generate enough force to be effective. If a hammer is all you have, however, then it’s not a terrible choice.

3. Knives – I LOVE knives, don’t get me wrong. I think they’re one of the best everyday self-defense options out there… IF you’ve trained with them. Again, I would ask you to take a knife out and start stabbing a large piece of wood. People generally don’t know how to properly hold their wrists, which is why most people roll or sprain their wrists (or break their hands) when attempting to punch someone. Knives are damn effective at cutting meat (and people are made of meat) but they’re also awkward and slippery if you’re not familiar with them. Anyway, they say the rapist uses a knife to threaten his victims. Do you really want to get into a knife fight? I wouldn’t.

So, what DO I recommend? (aside from, obviously, locking the door and having an alarm system)

1. A gun – the great equalizer. That said, many people can’t afford a gun, and many people aren’t politically or morally comfortable with guns, so they aren’t an option for everyone. Like anything, you should know how to use it. Practice. Go to a shooting range and make sure you know how to load it, unload it, clear a jam, and hit what you’re aiming at.  Don’t think that small, cute guns are for small, weaker people. Small guns kick harder. The best beginner home defense gun is a pump-action 12 guage. If you’re afraid of a 12, get a 20. Long barrels are for hunting ducks, so get an 18 to 20 inch barrel or you won’t be able to turn around in the hallway. I recommend you put a sandbag in as your first round – this gives you one non-lethal option, or one “oops“, before giving you the option for finality.

2. Pepper spray – Buy the most expensive can of pepper spray you can find from a REPUTABLE source. I’ve always recommended Fox Labs. If this is for home defense, get a can that fills your hand, and has an obvious “business end”. You don’t want to be scrambling through the nightstand looking for your lipstick sized can of pepper spray, and then end up spraying it back in your own face. Get familiar with it. If you’ve had a can for a couple years, get a new one. Pressure doesn’t last forever. Also, pepper spray is only half of the equation – the other half is RUNNING. I’ve sprayed pepper spray indoors, and let me tell you, the air becomes unbreathable in a few seconds. Spray and run. Don’t run THROUGH the cloud you just sprayed, either. Spray, run, spray, run, rinse and repeat. Pepper spray isn’t going to knock him out, but it will most likely incapacitate him long enough for you to get away and call or scream for help. Tazers are also effective, but I, personally, wouldn’t want to bet my life on an electronic device that relies on batteries. No thanks.

long handle BBQ knife the post apoc3. So, you still want a real weapon? Okay. Then, and I mean this with 100% sincerity, get a long-handled BBQ grill knife. Yep. One of those. (If you’ve got $65, get a Cold Steel Short Spear). Wrap some grippy tape around the handle, and make sure it’s sharp. Why? Because you can grip it with both hands, which means you’re less likely to drop it, and you can hold it in your center-line (the middle of your body) which means greater power and balance. You can hold it between you and him and generate a lot of force even by just putting your body weight behind it. Don’t swing it, either, you’re not a samurai… use it like a short, thrusting spear. Spears are essentially written into our DNA. It’s long enough to reach out and poke holes in him, but short enough to be used in a confined space like a bedroom, bathroom, or hallway. Best bet? Spray him in the face with pepper spray, and then use your short spear to move him out of the way (poke, poke, stab, stab) until you get a clear path to run for the exit.

If you’re still not comfortable using ANY weapon to harm another person, even in self-defense, then there is still one last option I can recommend:



Customized Opinels

If you’ve never heard of an Opinel, it’s a French lock-blade knife designed for the “working man” that has remained more or less unchanged in over a hundred years.  It has a unique twist-locking collar that makes it extremely simple in form and function, and very easy to repair and maintain.  Opinels have wooden handles, so customizing them is a pretty popular pastime. I bought three, and have, thus far, customized the first two and given them as gifts for friends.  Here they are (click to zoom in):

Nick The Dream Weaver Custom Opinel The Post ApocNoonie Custom Opinel Denali The Post Apoc

The Blood of Heroes a.k.a. The Salute of the Jugger (1989)

The Post Apoc TheBloodOfHeroes

tumblr_m448ibkwdz1qitaymo1_500I know I’m one of the few out there that really, sincerely likes Waterworld, and that might cast doubt on my taste, but I also really, sincerely like The Blood Of Heroes. I’m certain that almost all of this movie’s appeal, to me, is due to the always cool and charismatic Rutger Hauer and the equally charismatic and paaaaaaiiinfully sexy Joan Chen.  Don’t argue – Joan Chen is a sexy tough-as-nails wasteland peasant.



This post will be an interesting first for me, as I’ve twisted the arm of a dear friend and fellow writer and movie buff into doing it on my behalf. I will, of course, jump in after his review to throw my own two cents into the stagnant, poisoned well, but without further ado, Wastelanders, meet Nick “The Dream” Weaver:


Nick Weaver The Post Apoc

He’ll make you a be-Weaver


The Blood of Heroes is basically a movie about Quidditch. I am speaking kind of sarcastically here, but largely that’s what it is. A ragtag group of misfits play a strange game with lots of esoteric elements and unexplained rules. Except instead of magic teens on brooms it’s big dusty burly people beating the shit out of each other with bars and chains. So you know, it’s a pretty enjoyable experience if you’re into that sort of thing.


Aside from the post-apocalyptic sheen, it’s your typical sports movie story structure. Rutger Hauer plays Sallow, the head coach of an underdog team with a hard head and a tainted past to atone for. His team is admired by peasant girl Kidda, notable for being portayed by Joan Chen, aka Josie Packard from Twin Peaks. She’s the kid-rookie aspiring to greatness in “The League,” which is always kind of spoken about in cryptic turns. So of course she impresses Rutger’s team with her skills, which in this universe also includes essentially murdering the player she replaces, you know how it is. Kidda grows closer to Sallow, at one point she fucks Gomer Pyle which I really enjoyed, and then finally they all make it to THE BIG GAME. Which requires capital letters to say because everyone knows the importance of THE BIG GAME.


If there’s a fault to The Blood of Heroes it’s the way in which it never drifts from this template. There’s absolutely no chance this team won’t go on to absolutely destroy in THE BIG GAME. Once they do inevitably win, that’s just it. That’s the end of the story. “They won.” Most of the other characters go unnamed and can really only be identified by what minority they represent within the group. The black guy. The big guy. The woman. The old man. Etc. The apocalyptic setting, while certainly pretty, never takes the time to hint at anything bigger going on. Sure, the presence of some sort of underground super society where all the rich hide out and reenact their favorite details of Greco-Roman culture is interesting, but never really leads to anything else. There’s vague classism at play here, but the script doesn’t seem interested in examining it. The genre becomes just that, a genre, used as a sort of veneer to mask what’s the simplistic competition narrative beneath it.


However, if you can get past all that, there’s fun to be had in that. Tiny character moments, most if not all involving Rutger’s Sallow, play upon those emotional buttons we like to have pushed: Former brothers turned against each other in the name of bloodsport. The need to impress an authority figure. The best comparison I can make in my limited experience of pop culture would be watching the pilot episode of Friday Night Lights. I don’t care about football. I barely understand football. But in the moment, I deeply care about the outcome of that final game, if only because I care about the players. A similar effect is happening here, if watered down by the lack of characterization. Perhaps it’s the surrogate father/daughter relationship between Sallow and Kidda that provides the heart. When he holds her back at the end and commands her to “walk, slowly,” it’s hard not to share in that sense of pride. It’s a movie about victory, about the thrill of the game, for the geeky audience that might not understand it.

-Nick Weaver




I pretty much agree with Nick’s assessment, though the “Walk…slowly” moment nearly brings me to man-tears every time I see it.  You see, the game of… well, “The Game” as it’s known in the movie, is a very simple football/rugby/combat hybrid in which (in the film, anyway) the first score ends the game.  The players have three “thirds” of 100 stones each in which to make said score, but once a score is made, the show’s over, folks.  The Game has since, of course, been organized into a much safer team sport, in the real world, called Jugger.

There are five players per team: three enforcers, a chain, and a quick.  The quick is the only person that can touch the ball, in this case called a “jugg” and consisting of a sinewy dog skull.  The two quicks start off in the middle of a small circle and literally fight for possession of the jugg, during which time they are immune to attacks from any other players.  Once they leave the circle, however, the enforcers, armed with weighted poles, try to beat the shit out of the quick and keep them from scoring.  Since no other player can touch the jugg, it’s basically an escort mission turned team field sport, with each team’s chains (named so because they are armed with big fucking chains) and enforcers attempt to protect their own quick and simultaneously cripple the opposing quick, while the quicks themselves battle over the jugg.  Eventually, someone finds an opening, breaks toward the opposing goal (a spike sticking up from the ground) and scores (jams the dog skull on the spike).

Now that you know the basic rules, let’s look more closely at the character of Kidda.  Kidda is young, small, and inexperienced.  Sallow recognizes that she’s fast, and has obvious raw talent, but as is evident in the first game, speed and talent do not a successful quick make.  Quicks need to also be FUCKING TOUGH.  Quicks absorb so much punishment during a game, that, literally, the only reason Sallow agrees to take on Kidda as an apprentice is because his current quick, Dog Boy, gets crippled in the game against Kidda’s team (mostly by Kidda’s ruthless style of fighting) and gets left out in the desert to die.  Career ending injury equals life ending injury.

As the movie progresses, we see that Kidda is willing to be downright savage against her opponents.  Not only does she never again bat a pretty eyelash at the fact that she directly caused the death of a fellow player, but routinely foregoes scoring in favor of physically brutalizing the opposing quick – something she also has a talent for.  At one point, she even bites off the ear of the opposing quick in a primal display of blood lust.

Personally, I dig it.  Determination and talent are sexy.  Kidda is sexy.

Joan Chen Jugger Blood of Heros the post apoc


In the final game, the League team is clearly more talented than Sallow’s band of misfits, but there’s one thing they don’t have – Sallow.  During the first round, it’s pure endurance that pulls our heroes through – something never before accomplished by a challenging team. I have to take this opportunity to hail the unsung hero of round 1, Big Climber (Anna Katarina). Big Climber willingly takes the role as the tank (damage magnet) in order to distract the League team’s best enforcer from Kidda.  The effort pays off, but ends up crippling Big Climber with a broken leg.  The exact same injury that befell Dog Boy – an injury which we’ve already seen spells death in the wasteland.

When the second round begins, we see a shift – the emphasis no longer seems to be on scoring, but on decommissioning the members of the League team.  Sallow takes out the seemingly unbeatable juggernaut enforcer that crippled Big Climber and Kidda beats the opposing quick into a motionless pulp.  As she rises to sprint for the goal, Sallow stops her.  She seems to realize, for the first time, that no players remain to oppose her.  There is no one to be “quick”er than – no one to avoid or endure.  Sallow tells her to “Walk… slowly” as a show of victory, but what we’re seeing is Sallow essentially removing the sport from “The Game”.  By turning it into a literal street fight, and physically defeating their opponents, Sallow and Kidda have turned the scoring aspect of the game into a formality.  They’ve already won before the jugg has even been placed.  It’s almost as if by saying “Walk… slowly”, Sallow is really saying, “We’ve already won, now go put that dog head down and end the game.” It’s for this reason, I think, that that I get emotional at this moment.

*wipes eyes*


Anyway, another aspect of the movie that you should check out is the costuming.  I don’t know who did the costumes, but they’re extremely interesting.  You can spot quite a few bits of improvised armor that are more than a little creative, and very well constructed.  Go check this one out, wastelanders… and walk… slowly.