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Archive for August, 2014

Knotty Wood

Just a quick view of why trying to use wood with knots is annoying:

DSC_0129 DSC_0131 DSC_0133If were were cutting with power tools, this may not happen so much.  However, working with an ax and chisel, this happens at every knot.  If it doesn’t happen, the wood tears and isn’t smooth at all.  I knew to avoid knots when I started, but now I really understand why and will be more careful to pick out smooth wood next time.  That’s all for today.  A quick but useful bit of information.

 

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My next furniture project will be to build a workspace for my outdoor kitchen.  I work away at this while the Man clears the land and brings me back building materials.  Well, I get most of it myself, but he helps with the heavy lifting when I’m tired.  I worked on splitting wood to make a flatish counter top for the kitchen the other day.DSC_0026  Here are a few of the counter top boards I got done.  It was actually much easier than I expected.  I only did one that was off center.  The rest are going to work out great.  Here are some pictures of me splitting them:

DSC_0018 DSC_0023 DSC_0025It was a little bit difficult for me to get it started.  My hands are kind of small to hold everything in place.  Once you get the ax in place, you just have to whack away and it splits.  No effort at all.  A couple times I didn’t line the ax up far enough to the side to leave myself room to hit the ax head, but that was the only “problem” I had.  Of course, I haven’t split the long boards yet.  We will see how that goes tomorrow!  Did I mention I cut them all by hand too?  I am going to be pretty strong by the end of this summer.

 

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Learning to Build Furniture

 

DSC_0011I have been looking for a reason to start building.  Making some furniture as a starter project.  Something small that can and will be ugly, since it is my first attempt.  Then I came up with the perfect project.  A place to put a toilet seat!  We are going to make a composting toilet and will need a frame for it.  We will have a lot of bigger, more complicated projects in the future, so I need to learn how to build with hand tools.  I made this frame completely by hand with a saw, a chisel, a hand drill, and a screwdriver.  Yes, I know it’s ugly, but everyone has to start somewhere! It’s not like it’ll be out in the open for people to admire.  Here are a couple pictures of the notches I cut to make the frame.  Again, they are ugly, but I’m improving already.

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DSC_0013Working with branches and small trees forced me to learn how to do some notching.  Trying to connect two round pieces of wood without notching them proved ridiculous.  I tried it once.  I won’t show you the result.  It was even uglier than than this frame.  I had also used nails for the other project and we seem to have lost our real hammer, so I couldn’t get the nails out.  I had to recut the whole thing.  My arms are going to be so strong by the time I get a couple of these projects done!  Here are a couple pictures of me making the simple notches (I won’t show you the other notches too close because they are REALLY ugly).
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Saw cuts to depth of notch


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Chiseling out the start of the notch

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Almost done

Don’t mind my lack of proper work space.  We aren’t set up nicely yet.  Someday…

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Done!

The finished project all put together

The finished project all put together

 

 

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Chopping Trees

We had the chain saw all ready to go.  Even got it gassed up.  Then the Man took out the ax, sharpened it up, and got to chopping.  

Chopping away...

Chopping away…

Timber!!!

Timber!!!

And now it's stuck.

And now it’s stuck.

This one ended up falling as soon as we walked away to have lunch.  Worked out well because I have had much smaller trees take quite a while to get unstuck.  With this one as tall as it was, it could have been very difficult, and made me a little nervous.  So, why not just take out the chain saw?  The Man is actually having a lot of fun taking down the trees with the ax.  He will end up using the chain saw to cut the trees down to size and to take down the stumps, but taking down the skinnier trees with the ax is working out well.  Coming from a place where we never had to do anything like this, it is good for exercise and building up strength.  Cutting with a chainsaw is also less forgiving to mistakes.  Less dangerous in a situation where the tree doesn’t fall where you want it too.  You appreciate the work more when you do it by hand.  He is getting a lot out of chopping them down.  It actually isn’t taking that long either.  The first few to come down were slow, but now that he has the hang of it, it is moving right along.  There are definitely some bigger trees that the chain saw will come out for, but you learn a lot more slowly taking down the ones you can by hand.  We are both also learning how to sharpen the axes and take care of them.  That is one plus about having the apartment to go back to at night.  We can take more time to do things the way we want to do them without having to rush to beat the snow.  It won’t always be this cushy, so we have to take advantage of it while we can.  Plus, I am less nervous about him getting injured and I can sit and fiddle with other projects over in the safe area with the kids.  I am actually getting a lot done.  Slowly because I am learning too, but still accomplishing things.  Luckily, the kids are preoccupied with their new (used and free) outdoor mud kitchen.  

 

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Koviashuvik

Koviashuvik is an Inuit word meaning a time and place of joy in the present moment. Koviashuvik is also a local living school where the Man recently took a class on building with hand tools.  I did not get to go with him because I had to work that day, but he had a wonderful learning experience.  I am just a little jealous.  He brought home some great pictures for me though.  I tried to get him to write a little for me to share with you, but he claims his fingers are all broken as he sits on his computer watching videos on how to build me my outdoor kitchen roof.  I guess I can’t really get too mad at him.  Here is what the website described the class as: “Did you ever wish you could build a woodshed without the first step being a trip to Hammond Lumber?  In this class you will learn the safe use and maintenance of a woodworking axe, hand saw, drawknife, chisel, mallet, and brace and bit.  With these tools you can build a home from the woods!  To put it to practice we will fell, limb and peel some poles, then notch and peg them into a woodshed or onto the Koviashuvik Classroom.  Class includes a one-hour tutorial on the sharpening of hand tools.”  He seems to have learned a lot in the class and claims that the lunch they served was worth half the price of the class alone.  He came home motivated and got to work cutting some trees to make the clearing we will use for the wall tent and the outdoor kitchen.  The only problem is now he wants to take all of the classes they have to offer.  Next year, I would like to take the class they call “Twelve Months of Carrots,” about how to live off your garden.  Here are the pictures taken on his phone:

Entrance to Natural Hut

Entrance to Natural Hut

Interior of the Natural Hut

Interior of the Natural Hut

Outside of the Natural Hut

Outside of the Natural Hut

Natural Hut Window

Natural Hut Window

Wall Tent #2

Wall Tent #2

Pine Floor in the Wall Tent

Pine Floor in the Wall Tent

Wall Tent

Wall Tent

If you would like more Information on any of their structures, please visit the website I listed above for Koviashuvik.

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When you want something so bad and you have to take a step back to get it, it is the hardest part of achieving your goal.  We moved into an apartment this week.  This picture is our entryway. 

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The rest of the apartment isn’t this lovely, but you get the idea.  We didn’t want to spend a lot and wanted to be close to the property, so this is what we got.  It wasn’t as hard to move in as you move in as you might think though.  It had already become so incredibly obvious that we needed a place by the time we got this one that it was a huge relief to get it.  The storms had become too numerous and too bad for our little nylon tent.  I am surprised that it survived the kids as long as it did too.  They were harder on it than the storms.  The hotel stays we needed to get out of the storms were starting to get too expensive, and it gets old packing up all the time.  And don’t forget how nice it is to be dry between warm showers! 
On the bright side, now we can focus on what we really need to do.  No more wasting time nervously watching the weather and packing and running.   No more wasted sleep hours dodging storms and wondering how much longer the tent will last.  We just go to the apartment and sleep and shower, then go back to the property and get to work.  After working all day, we head out to our nice warm, dry beds and sleep.  I really think we will actually be much more productive.  I hope.

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Finding Fungi

DSC_0560While I have been hard at work clearing walking paths through the lot, I have been finding lots of different mushrooms everywhere.  I finally decided to take pictures of a few of the different kinds I have found to share.  The pictures aren’t great because the light is so bad in the thick woods, but you get the idea.  And just so everyone doesn’t worry, I’m not even thinking about eating any of these mushrooms.  I have no idea what any of them are so I am just looking.  Eventually, we will find someone to teach us, but until then, I am just admiring nature’s art.DSC_0551 DSC_0552 DSC_0554 DSC_0557 DSC_0558 DSC_0563

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