Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Junk Collecting

Junk collecting is a hobby that everyone seems to look down on. It is also a trait that runs rampant in my family. I have first hand experience with hoarding, and this is not at all what I am talking about in this post. There is a fine line between saving useful things and it taking over your entire home. Be careful!!


That being said, I am always on the lookout for useful junk. We plan to scavenge for our final house as much as possible. Being a one income family, we need to spend as little money as possible and get a lot out of it. I encourage everyone to reuse as much as possible and pickup junk you need whenever you can. Whenever you drive by a large pile that is out to the trash, always check for important items.


If you do a little bit of research, you will find that there are countless ideas of what can be done with junk. From saving takeout food containers to put leftovers in right on up to building a house. Check out “Garbage Warriors” and the recycled house guy if you want to learn more about building a house out of recycled material. I am not talking about recycled foam boards that make house panels, I’m talking about building walls out of tires.


Many of the projects we do around here will be done with recycled materials. I have a list of junk I am collecting right now: tires, water jugs, windows, glass bottles, and soda cans. There are projects in mind for all of of these items, I don’t just stack everything up just in case. Some things I do stack up just in case though, but I try not to. Some of the junk projects I plan to do this year are: tire planters, outdoor shower walls, solar oven, trellises and a playground. There will be a little tutorial about how I complete the projects as I get to them. The first project will be the tire planters.DSC_0292




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DSC_0172My practice bath house is all finished.  I made some good mistakes, and I didn’t quite finish as I had planned, but it will work for a few weeks.  We have privacy to shower.

I built the whole thing out of the small trees that had to be cut to make room.  I did almost all of it with a hand saw, a chisel, and a sledge hammer.  I cut notches and fit them together (poorly) and ended up with a big heavy frame.

DSC_0109Here I am making the notches.  Now that I have put this frame together, I know how to do a better job next time.  I assume this frame will end up as firewood, but like I was saying before, we have privacy to shower.


Here is a look at the finished frame.  The picture makes it look like the man built it, but he just hammered in the couple nails I couldn’t reach.  (Sorry for the lousy picture, this was on my camera phone and it was the only picture I had of the frame.)


Nothing too pretty or too fancy, but it will work.  Given my inexperience, it is a bit wobbly.  I’m pretty sure that if I make the notches fit together more tightly, this won’t happen on the next one I build.  I think that is all it should take.  We will find out when I build it I guess.

Once the frame was up, I planned on using branches to make a wattle type of a wall on it.  If it had turned out perfectly, I would have put the time into that.  It didn’t, so I hung some tarps up just to get it finished.  When I build a good bath house, I will finish the walls.


In the final picture, you can see the rain barrel sitting under the roof tarp.  It is filling up nicely with rain water that we can use for the shower.  It’s a 55 gallon barrel and a 4 gallon shower, so we should be good for a while.  The shower we got was a propane hot water heater so we can use it for washing dishes and things too.  It is a good start and some good practice and learning.  I should be a pro any time now…


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The new tractor arrived last weekend and we have barely been able to use it.  The big trees that the Man is trying to get down are putting up a little bit of a fight, grabbing on to other trees and things like that.  But he wanted to try out the new toy, so he started moving some dirt around, making a flat spot for the tent.  There are still a few more trees to take down, then get the stumps out, and then he can finish flattening.  Then we can finally get the tent up.  We have until June 1st.  That wouldn’t be so bad if I did not have to work three 12 hour shifts a week.  We sure do have a lot of work left to do.  I hope there are plenty of sunny days ahead!

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Wooden Handled Tool Care

If you have any older wooden tools or have accidentally left new wooden tools outside for too long then you need to know how to revive the handles.  It is a very simple process and it will make your tools last much longer.  First you need to smooth out the wood.  If it is  really bad, then take some sandpaper  to it until it is pretty smooth.  If it isn’t too bad, then steel wool should do the trick.  Once it is smooth, apply 3 coats of teak oil or whichever type of oil it is that you want to use.  I like teak oil because it is

durable and environmentally friendly.  Between the coats of oil, go over the handle with the steel wool again.  That’s it, good as new.  Ideally you want to go through this process every spring when you first take your tools out for the year.  It doesn’t hurt to apply an additional coat of oil every month or so.  This should keep those handles in great shape for many years to come.

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Tool Sharpening

When I moved into my current house, there were a large amount of tools left behind in the garage.  They had not been used or cared for in a while.  They continued to sit unused until recently when I decided that I wanted to be a farmer.  I had no money so the old beat up tools came out and I used them as they were.  Very ineffective.

I had a brainstorm this year, thanks to another blog.  What if I were to clean up and sharpen all the tools so they were like new again.  I still wont have to buy tools, but they will be in perfect working order and will last me many more years to come.  So I decided that they first step was to learn how to sharpen everything.  I had a huge stump in the yard that needed some axing, so we started with that.

First clamp the axe down to a bench vice.

Then go over the blade with a file.  This is a rough sharpen that takes all of the larger nicks and dents out of the blade.  Like a rough sandpaper does to a piece of wood.  Whenever you use the file, go over it with a wire brush to keep it free of metal pieces and in good working condition.

Next get out your two sided sharpening stone.  Go over the blade with first the rough side to take out the smaller nicks, and then the fine side to give it a nice smooth finish.

If you keep up on the sharpening stone, doing it briefly every time you use the axe, the axe should stay nice and sharp.  You shouldn’t have to use the file hardly ever.  Only if you hit a big rock or something else that would damage the blade beyond normal use.  This new sharp axe is going to be a million times better than that old dull axe.

For a much more precise version of tool sharpening, try this website: http://antiquetools.com/sharp/index.html

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