by Tom Klas

Suggested Uniform List for
The Citizens Guard, Company A, 

2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Association, Incorporated


This document contains a functional list of high quality product suggestions. Each item covered in this list was based on the following criteria: the authenticity of the product, the products relevancy to a 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment impression, the delivery time of each product, and the products cost. As a general rule, this list does not represent every authentic merchant currently in operation. The Suggested Uniform List merely states which merchants the Citizens Guard feels confident recommending. Members who wish to deviate from this list should contact either Scott Sonntag or Tom Klas before ordering an item not featured on the Suggested Uniform List. In accordance with section 6.01 of the 
Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Association Handbook
, unacceptable equipment will be removed. For information on the Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Association, Inc. Uniform & Equipment Requirements, consult sections 6.00 - 6.35 of the Handbook.

To assist "detail minded" members of Company A, we have incorporated a few popular merchants from our Ultra Authentic Uniform List and other sources. Progressive merchants with the underlined ($) behind them strive for the exact replication of their products to the original articles. Please bear this in mind for price considerations, and the time it takes to complete your order.

When applicable in each category, we will list our general merchants first, followed by our more progressive merchants ($).

I.  Uniform & Clothing for Enlisted Foot Soldier

A. Sack Coats (Enlisted Fatigue Blouse)

C & D Jarnigan: As part of their improved product line, they will mark any coat for button holes if you want to hand stitch them yourself.
Historic Clothiers: ($) Excellent Lined or unlined John T. Martin contract sack coat. Hand sewn button holes.
Goldberg Textile Company: ($): Well made coat with hand sewn button holes, lined or unlined.
Chris Daley ($) : Excellent Lined or unlined John T. Martin contract sack coat. Hand sewn button holes.
John Wedeward ($): The only sack coat recommended by The Watchdog. John T. Martin contract sack coat. Hand sewn button holes with your choice of thread including logwood.
Spencer Waldron ($): Well made fatigue blouse. Make sure to mention hand sewn button holes .

B. Frock Coats (Enlisted Uniform Coat)

C & D Jarnigan: Good reproduction frock coat made even better by hand sewn button holes. Ask for hook and eyelets in the collar & coat tails.
Historic Clothiers ($): Superior frock coats with higher grades of wool available at an extra cost. Ask about button holes.
Goldberg Textile Company ($): Kits are also available for this well made frock coat at around $130.00. As with all other makers of high quality frock coats, the cost is quite substantial for finished garments.
Spencer Waldron ($): Excellent frock coats, but make sure to mention hand sewn button holes .

C. Trowsers: (Purchase sky blue trowsers first, then dark blue trowsers.)

C & D Jarnigan
Historic Clothiers ($): Excellent John T. Martin contract & Schuykill Arsenal pattern trowsers.
Goldberg Textile Company
($): Schuykill Arsenal pattern trowsers.
Chris Sullivan ($): Schuykill Arsenal pattern trowsers using logwood thread. Best source for the top of the line dark blue trowsers!
Chris Daley ($): John T. Martin contract trowsers and others.
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium ($): Excellent John T. Martin contract or Schuykill Arsenal pattern trowsers.

D. Shirts

Scott Wallick: Scott’s shirts are first rate. He can make them as authentic as you desire.
Historic Clothiers ($): Excellent civilian & federal issue shirts!
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium($): Great hand sewn civilian & federal issue shirts. Highly Recommend! Primarily uses fabric from Family Heirloom Weavers.
County Cloth ($): Kits only. For those who only desire a pattern, try the "Henry Holliday" civilian shirt pattern. Good shirting fabric can be had from Family Heirloom Weavers.
Fred Rickard ($): Hand sewn civilian shirts.

E. Suspenders

Scott Wallick
Fred Rickard
Goldberg Textile Company ($)
Trans-Mississippi Depot Company ($)
Chris Graham ($): Excellent replica braces!
Uriah Cap & Clothier ($)
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium ($)

F. U.S. Pattern Jefferson Brogans (Bootees)

C & D Jarnigan
Robert Land
Missouri Boot & Shoe Company
($): Recommend style JB-2; the best!

G. Wool Socks

Evergreen Acres Farm - Great Socks!
C & D Jarnigan

H. Cotton Socks

Mickey Black

I. Period Eyeglasses

Fall Creek Suttlery
Antique Stores
The Grand Spectacle

J. U.S. Pattern 1858 Smoothside Canteen

C & D Jarnigan: Can also request a canteen without a jack chain hole on the bracket.

K. Canteen Cover (a brownish gray wool/linen cover)

County Cloth ($) : A great way to improve the accuracy of your
C & D Jarnigan Canteen !

II. Headgear & Insignia

A. U.S. Regulation1858 Pattern Dress Hat (Hardee Hat)

C & D Jarnigan: Ask for a Leather sweatband and Makers’ label, Pattern 1855.
S & S Firearms: Buyer needs to insert a correct leather sweatband, label, and correct brim stitching.
Dirty Billy’s Hats: Pattern 1858 or 1861. A very good dress hat.
T P & H Trading Company ($): Order the reproduced Dress Hat of Sergeant Philander Wright, Co. C, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry! A Superior Black Hat reproduction by Mr. Tim Bender! The original Dress Hat of Sgt. Wright’s is located at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum.
Artifakes ($): A long wait for finished items, but well worth it for any of Mr. Rademacher’s top notch products!

B. Enlisted Worsted Wool Infantry Hat Cord, Infantry Brass Horn, Eagle Plate, Brass Regimental Number, Brass Company Letter, & Black Plume.

C & D Jarnigan
Fall Creek Suttlery
Dirty Billy’s Hats

III. Accouterments & Trappings

A. U.S. Pattern 1855,1857, or 1861 .58 Cal. Cartridge Box, Cartridge Box Belt, U.S. Pattern1856 Waistbelt, U.S. Pattern 1850 Cap Box, U.S. Pattern Bayonet Scabbard (2 or 7 rivets) with belt frog for M1855 .58 Cal. Springfield or Enfield Bayonet, and Musket Sling for Springfield or Enfield Muskets.

C & D Jarnigan
T. Czekanski Leatherworks
Historic Clothiers ($)
Missouri Boot & Shoe Company ($)

B. U.S. Oval Belt Plate (Buckle), U.S. Oval Cartridge Box Plate, & U.S. Round Eagle Cartridge Box Sling Breastplate.

C & D Jarnigan

C. U.S. Pattern 1851 Haversack

Scott Wallick
C & D Jarnigan
Haversack Depot
($) : Highly reviewed by The Watchdog, Vol. 5, No.2.
Artifakes ($)

D. U.S. Pattern 1851 or1855 Knapsack, Double Bag

C & D Jarnigan
Cedar Creek Supply Depot
Missouri Boot & Shoe Company
Historic Clothiers ($)
Artifakes ($)

E. U.S. Issue Gum Blanket or Poncho

C & D Jarnigan

F. U.S. Pattern1862 or1864 Shelter Tent (Purchased in Halves)

C & D Jarnigan: Improved product by removing brass grommets. 
Artifakes ($): Recommended by The Watchdog, Vol. 3, No. 2. Also sells shelter tent poles!
Haversack Depot ($): Recommended by The Watchdog, Vol. 6, No. 1. also sells shelter tent poles!
Trans- Mississippi Depot Company ($): Very reasonable shelter half kit. 
The Arsenal ($): Kits are also available for $40.00 per shelter half.
Historic Clothiers ($)
Artifakes ($): Recommended by The Watchdog, Vol. 3, No. 2. Also sells shelter tent poles!
Haversack Depot ($): Recommended by The Watchdog, Vol. 6, No. 1. also sells shelter tent poles!
Trans- Mississippi Depot Company ($): Very reasonable shelter half kit. 
The Arsenal ($): Kits are also available for $40.00 per shelter half.
Historic Clothiers ($)

G. U. S. Issue Blanket (Gray or Brown)

Fall Creek Suttlery (Emergency Issue Only!)
Thistle Hill Weavers, Inc. ($)
Quartermaster Woolens ($): Replica blanket of Abraham Thomas, 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cav,
County Cloth ($)
Museum Store, Wisconsin Veterans Museum($):
Sold Out of their replica Auggie Wiessert Blanket, but pay attention for any up for sale privately.

IV. Muskets, Bayonet, & Accessories

A. Euroarms, Armi Sport, & Dixie Gun Works M1861 or M1863 Springfield Musket, or Euroarms & Armi Sport P1853 Enfield Musket, and M1855 .58 Cal. Springfield or Enfield Bayonet.

Lodgewood Mfg. - Bill Osborne
S & S Firearms
C & D Jarnigan
Fall Creek Suttlery

Dixie Gun Works
Note: Before purchasing a bayonet, fix it on your musket to insure proper fit.

B. Cleaning Rod, Cone Pick, Cone Wrench, & Wiper.

Lodgewood Mfg. - Bill Osborne
S & S Firearms
Dixie Gun Works
Fall Creek Suttlery

V. Tin Cup or Fruit Can Boiler, Mess Gear, & Personal Items.

A. Tin Cup

C & D Jarnigan (P1851)
Village Tinsmithing Works (P1858)
Patrick Cunningham ($)
Wendy Osman ($)

B. Fruit Can Boiler

Village Tinsmithing Works
C & D Jarnigan
Sold as one of their nesting cans, item # 441. It is the large 3 1/8 inch diameter x 3 1/2 inch high can. Will have to attach a wire bail.
Patrick Cunningham ($)

C. Tin Mess Plate

Museum Store, Wisconsin Veterans Museum ($) Note: The W.V.M. is currently out of their other great tinware products. We will try to keep you posted if there are any further developments in these and other items.
C & D Jarnigan:
Can also order a Canteen Half (Pattern 1858 Smoothside) from Jarnigan which can serve as a plate & a skillet!
Village Tinsmithing Works
Patrick Cunningham
Wendy Osman ($)

D. Knife, Fork, & Spoon

C & D Jarnigan
John Zaharias
Fall Creek Suttlery
Purchase only the best quality reproduction set or separate antique knife & fork.

E. Skillet (6 or 12 Inch)

Frank Ellis

F. Ration Bags

C & D Jarnigan

G. Candles & Lucifer Matches

Evergreen Acres Farm
Fall Creek Suttlery

H. Hardtack

Mechanical Baking Company
G. H. Bent & Company

I. Lye Soap

Mrs. Linda Solly

J. Handkerchief or Hand Woven Towel

Scott Wallick: Handkerchief
Wendy Osman ($)
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium ($)

K. Housewife

Fall Creek Suttlery
Fred Rickard
Wendy Osman ($)
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium ($)

L. Miniature Combination Match Safe & Candle Holder Advertised as a "Pocket Flashlight"

Patrick Cunningham ($): According to Vol. 1, no. 4 issue of The Watchdog, this historically accurate device was used by Brigadier General Lucius Fairchild!


VI. Additional Items

A. Leggings (or called Gaiters)

Scott Wallick

B. Enlisted Foot Pattern Greatcoat (Overcoat)

C & D Jarnigan: Good reproduction made even better by hand sewing button holes.
County Cloth ($) :
Kits are quite lower in price.
Goldberg Textile Company ($)
Chris Sullivan ($)
Chris Daley ($)

C. Military Vest (Dark Blue) & Civilian Vests

Scott Wallick
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium

D. Army Pattern Drawers

Scott Wallick
Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium
Historic Clothiers ($)
Chris Daley ($)

E. Federal Forage Cap

Brad Keune ($)
Dirty Billy’s Hats
Uriah Cap & Clothier

F. 19th Century Wallet

Scott Wallick
C & D Jarnigan
Historic Clothiers

G. White Cotton Dress Gloves

C & D Jarnigan

H. Cravats

Scott Wallick
Historic Clothiers
Wendy Osman ($)

I. Buttons, Officer Insignia, NCO Chevrons, and Officer & NCO Sashes.

John Zaharias: The button source. To improve the accuracy of your old civilian shirts, try replacing their non- period buttons with some authentic four hole porcelain, bone, glass, or shell buttons from this merchant. Ask your 1st Sgt. about how to properly sew these on.
C & D Jarnigan

Fall Creek Suttlery

Chris Daley ($): Elliptical NCO Chevrons.
Spencer Waldron ($):
NCO Chevrons.
Wendy Osman ($): Officers shoulder straps and NCO chevrons.

J. D. W. Baxter’s Volunteer Manual (Scott’s), Blank Writing Books, Federal Army Forms, Stationery, and Books.

Sullivan Press

K. Pocket Watch

Michael Clark

L. Pipes

Peter Evans

M. 19th Century Yard Goods

Family Heirloom Weavers ($)
County Cloth ($)
Thistle Hill Weavers ($)

VII. Further Uniform & Equipment Information

* For Information on how to properly sew button holes, hand fell seams, and other great articles on authenticity, visit the Website of the Rockport Mess at:

* For an additional source of authentic porcelain shirt buttons with a four hole, 3/8 inch size, visit the Past Patterns Website at :

* For information on the reproduction M1854, 54 caliber Austrian Lorenz Rifle Musket Kits, contact Greg Edington at:

The Bridesburg Armoury  
4244 Green Meadows Drive
Enon, OH 45323
(937) 525-0012

* For information on the State of Wisconsin Issue Equipment, A study of The Manual of Arms of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, research articles, and links to Dom Dal Bello’s AoP Press Websites, visit the Website of the 33d Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Co. E at:

* To find out the Revised Regulations for the Army Of The United States, 1861; visit Dr. Howard Lanham’s site at:

* For more information on how to improve your impression, consult thefollowing:
The Hardcracker Handbook
Cal Kinzer
2026 East 140th Place S.
Bixby, OK 74008

The Watchdog.
P.O. Box 1675
Warren, MI 48090-1675

Camp Chase Gazette
P.O. Box 707
Marietta, Oh 45750
(614) 374-5710 FAX

The Civil War Living History Website
A great Website full of information on just about anything
to do with campaign impressions. Our brothers from Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry are representing The Association under Campaign Units.

The Lee’s Authentic Reenactor Board Forum’s%Authentic%20Reenactor%20 Board/

Merchant list

1.  C & D Jarnigan        
         P.O. Box 1860    
         Cornith, MS 38834 
         (601) 287- 4977  
         (601) 287-6033  FAX 
         Catalog - $6.00 

 2.  Historic Clothiers, Incorporated
       Nick Sekela
      16 Boonton Avenue
       P.O. Box 28
       Butler, NJ 07405
       (973) 283-0800

  3.  Goldberg Textile Company
         Pat Brown
         2495 South Alden Street
         Salt Lake City, UT 84106
         (801) 467-2343 
         (801) 944-8204 FAX

  4.  C. J. Daley Historical Reproductions
        Chris Daley
        105 West Green Street
        Middletown, MD 21769
        (301) 371-5792

  5.  John Wedeward
        1900 Pleasant View Drive
        Stoughton, WI 53589
        (608) 873-8503

  6.  Spencer Waldron
        P.O. Box 51
        Cherry Valley, NY 13320
        (607) 264-3678

7.  Stony Brook Historical Company
        Chris Sullivan
        169 West Fifth Street
        Oswego, NY 13126-2505

  8.  Scott Wallick 
         507 Lake Street 
         Mt. Horeb, WI 53572
         (608) 437-3560 

  9.  Mrs. Eddins’ Fine Sewing Emporium
        Nancy Eddins
        186 Hayes Circle
         Rex, GA 30273
         (770) 389-1470 
         e-mail: eddins@gg.clayton
         Catalogue - $2.00

 10.  County Cloth
           Charlie Childs
          13797-C Georgetown Street, NE
           Paris, OH 44669
           (216) 862-3307

 11.  Fred Rickard
          1092 Filbert Street
          Stephens City, VA 22655
          (703) 869-4144

 12.  Uriah Cap & Clothier
          Paul Smith
          P.O. Box 93
          220 Old Route 30
          McKnightstown, PA 17343
          (717) 337-3929  

 13.  Trans-Mississippi Depot Company 
          Don Smith
          621 Barker Pass Road
          Santa Barbara, CA 93108
          (805) 969-4749
          Catalog - $5.00

 14.  Chris Graham
          1420 East Vineyard Road
           Hayesville, NC 28904
           (704) 389-6121
           Call or write for a price/product list

 15.  Robert Land
          5 Columbia Drive #139
          Niagara Falls, NY 14305
          (519) 836-6868

 16.  Missouri Boot & Shoe Company
          Bob Serio
          951 Burr Crossing Road
          Neosho, MO 64850
          (417) 451-6100

 17.  Evergreen Acres Farm 
         Jack & Margie Seifert 
         N2784 Camp Riversite
         Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085

 18.  Mickey Black
          Rt. 1, Box 350A
          Salisbury, NC 28144
          (704) 637-3331

 19.  The Grand Spectacle 
           528 W. Water Street
           Elmira, NY 14905   
           (607) 645-8759    
           Free Brochure   

 20.  S & S Firearms
           74-11C Myrtle Avenue  
           Glendale, NY 11385   
           (718) 497-1100       
           Catalog - $3.00

 21.  Dirty Billy’s Hats
           7574 Middleburg Road  
           Detour, MD 21757   
           (410) 775-1865    

 22.  TP & H Trading Company
           Tim Bender
           121 Carriage Drive
           Birdsboro, PA 19508
           (610) 582-0327
           Call or write for a price/product list

 23.  Artifakes  
          Don Rademacher
         1608 W. Pearl Street
          Stevens Point,WI 54481
          (715) 341-5893 

 24.  Fall Creek Suttlery  
          P.O. Box 92  
          Whitestown, IN 46075
          (317) 769-5355 
          Catalog - $3.00

 25.  T. Czekanski Leatherworks
          925 Montegut Street
          New Orleans, LA 70117-7201
          (504) 945-8797

 26.  Haversack Depot 
          P.O. Box 311262 
          New Braunfels, TX 78131
          (830) 620-5192

 27.  Cedar Creek Supply Depot
          Jim Lammers
           8500 Lammers Road
          Delton, MI 49046
          (616) 623-3110

 28.  The Arsenal
           P.O. Box 5103
           West Lebanon, NH 03784
           (603) 448-9854
           (603) 448-1956  FAX

 29.  Thistle Hill Weavers, Inc.
           Ms. Rabbit Goody
           101 Chestnut Ridge Road
           Cherry Valley, NY 13320
           (518) 284-2729

 30.  Quartermaster Woolens
           20473 Idaho Avenue
           Lakeville, MN 55044
           (612) 469-6904

31.  Lodgewood Mfg.
          William Osborne
          494 Ventura Lane
         Whitewater, WI 53190
         (414) 473-5444


 32.  Dixie Gun Works 
          P.O. Box 130
          Union City, TN 38261
          (901) 885-0700
          (901) 885-0440 FAX

          Catalogue - $5.00

33.  Village Tinsmithing Works
           P.O. Box 539
           Hamptonville, NC 27020
           (910) 468-1190

 34.  Patrick Cunningham
          1034 Park Avenue
           Madison, IN 47250
           (812) 273-4193

 35.  Wendy Osman
           5424 Elliot Avenue South
           Minneapolis, MN 55417
           (612) 823-4009 

 36. Museum Store 
         Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum
         30 West Mifflin Street
         Madison, WI 53703
         (608) 267-1799

37.  Frank Ellis
          3031 Possum Trot Road
          Greenbrair, TN 37073
          (615) 643-4842

 38.  Mechanical Baking Company
          P.O. Box 513
          Pekin, IL 63555-0513
          (309) 354-2414

39.  G.H. Bent & Company
          7 Pleasant Street
          Milton, MA 02186
          (617) 698-5945

 40.  Mrs. Linda Solly
          306 Pine Street
          Grand Junction,CO 81503 
          4 Bars for $8.00 + S & H  

 41.  John Zaharias
          P.O. Box 31152
          St. Louis, MO 63131
          (314) 966-2829

 42.  Brad Keune
          19 Pleasant Street
          Rockville, CT 06066
          (860) 872-4022  

 43.  Sullivan Press
           Robert Sullivan
           P.O. Box 1711
           West Chester, PA 19380-0057
           (610) 873-2631


44.  Michael Clark
          P.O. Box 641
          Willamsburg, OH 45176
          (513) 724-3167
          Send a S.A.S.E. for a current product list.

 45.  Peter Evans
          285 West Mashta Drive
          Key Biscayne, FL 33149
          (305) 361-5589

 46.  Family Heirloom Weavers
          Pat Kline
         125 O’San Lane
          Red Lion, PA 17356
          (717) 246-5797

Compiled by Tom Klas  11/27/99
7th Edition

by Tom Klas
This article is part of one of a series dedicated to assisting knapsack inspections. I hope it will shed light on what products can improve our impressions and make inspections easier. Members are encouraged to send in information to aid in this project.
One handy little item rarely seen in our gear is period soap. (Including mine!) We can use a stripped bar of Ivory soap but the men of the Second had a slightly less perfected product.

Everyone knows that personal cleanliness of the 1860s was not up to present-day standards. In fact, some reenactors seem to relish the chance to become filthy at living history events. Nevertheless, people - including soldiers - did wash during the Civil War Years, and as the order shown above indicates, sometimes with military regularity. There are many such accounts of the soldiers trying to keep themselves, their clothing and their possessions clean in Civil War literature. It would be nice if Civil War Living History practitioners demonstrated this oftentimes quixotic quest, instead of propagating the myth that everyone was always filthy in the 19th Century, To accomplish this addition to the impression, one needs soap - an item that was at times issued to soldiers during the Civil War years. C&H Sutlery (10619 W. Atlantic Blvd., #145, Coral Springs, FL 33701) offers what is - as far as we can determine - an appropriate mid-19th century style lye soap. This product lacks the perfumes and herbal ingredients so often found in "old-fashioned" soap and approximates pretty closely the common soap of the Civil War era. Three generous blocks (apx. 2 1/4" square) go for $5.98.
Wouldn't it be novel to issue soap along with rations to the troops at a living history event? For a great campfire activity, peel off and dissolve some slices of soap in a small tin, then pour the resulting liquid into a camp kettle full of hot water and wash your shirts, drawers and socks. Rinse well before starting the beans.

by Tom Klas

Here we are again with another interesting topic to discuss. The handkerchief was a extremely useful product for the Civil War soldier; not only for personal hygiene purposes, but for handling hot cups, food, and skillets over the open fire.
Unfortunately, many sutlers are selling those modern blue or red bandannas and passing them off as a item from the 1860's. Try to avoid using them! Most of these handkerchiefs contain modern printing labels and advertising by the manufacturer. They definitely would not pass as a home made product.
I've found two examples of Civil War handkerchiefs. The first one is in Echoes of Glory-Arms and Equipment of The Union: Time-Life Books, 1991. On page 223, a handkerchief of Pvt. Stephen Henry Leonard, Third Massachusetts Cavalry is shown. It is blue in color and has small white three leaf clovers surrounding the article.
The next example is from Frances A. Lord's Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia, Castle Books, New York, 1965. Mr., Lord states: " In the Ferris Collection is a hand blocked cotton handkerchief, carried in the war by Daniel Heyden, Co. E 149th New York Infantry. The dominant color is red, with white circular designs spread throughout. The size is 25" by 22".
They are relatively easy to make. First, pick out either a piece of cotton or muslin. When your choosing the pattern and color of cloth, look at your shirts. Ticking stripe, calico, solids, and gingham check were common during the 1860's.
After you have decided on material, cut the fabric to a desired length and width, and stitch a border. If a homemade looking handkerchief is desired, try hand stitching the border. Many soldiers received gifts from home and camp visitors that were made by hand. If you need some more assistance, try giving Captain Scott Wallick or Mrs. Marilyn Pettit a call. They work with fabrics all the time and can lead you in the right direction or make one for you. Taking a look at sutler's row can also be a place to find period handkerchiefs.

We have found a closer source to purchase lye soap:
Mrs. Linda Solly
306 Pine Street
Grand Junction, CO 81503
4 Bars for $8.00 + S & H

The product is unscented, 2 1/2" square, and is ideal for our first person impressions, school shows, and camp inspections. She offers four large bars for $6.00.

Write the address above for inquires and orders.

Soap Revisited
This is the last word on soap for those of you who revel in doing things the hard way...and you know who you are...a do it yourself opportunity.
These instructions are the REAL do it yourself. First you make your lye. If you do not know that lye is extremely caustic and are not willing to act accordingly, stop at this point and reconsider this project. Hardwood ashes (oak, maple, fruit wood, walnut etc) make a stronger lye. Put the ashes in a leaching barrel. A what?? Take a wooden tub or barrel with a small opening in the bottom to let the water to leach through and put some rocks or bricks at the bottom. Cover the rocks with straw (or hay...or grass) and then add your ashes. Add water till it begins to run through and then close the hole with a cork or plug for a few days. At the end of, say, three days, put a container 0f glass, crockery or wood under the hole to catch the lye water and remove the plug.Test by floating an egg or potato. If a spot the size of a quarter shows, it's right for soap. If weak, it can be boiled down, leached through fresh ashes or you can use for soft soap. (OK, store lye is easier and the recipe is usually on the can.) Six pounds of clean fat and one pound lye make nine pounds of soap.
If you really are interested in the qualities of different fats and their preparation, let us know - otherwise lard is just fine. Same holds for misc. additives such as borax for easier sudsing or color or scent.
When ready, if using commercial lye (94-98%), add slowly to 5 cups cold water in non-metal container in a well ventilated area. Stir only with a wooden spoon or glass rod. Stir constantly till all crystals are dissolved and let the mix cool. No, you did not miss a note about cooking, the chemical process can take this up to 200 degrees. It should cool to about 70-75 degrees for lard soap. Heat 10 cups lard to 80-85 degrees. Don't skimp on the fat if you want a mild soap. Pour fat SLOWLY into the lye water.(This is the point to add extras). Stir in one direction for 15 minutes (it will start dark and lighten as you stir). It's ready to pour when about as thick as pea soup. For bar soap, pour into a wet wooden box lined with damp cotton that has been rung out as dry as possible (or a waxed milk carton or a glass pan lined with wax paper). Cover with cardboard and an old rug to keep in the heat while it sets.
When set, at least 24 hours later, lift the bars with the cotton ends hanging out of the box and cut into bars, (the easy way is with a wire or string wrapped around and pulled) Stack so air can circulate.