Skills

Lately I have been stropping all my knives because I think that it makes them much sharper than the traditional method.  Using a leather strop can’t replace a sharpening stone, but it is good to use after you have your knife somewhat sharp.  This method originated when barbers were still using straight razors.  When shaving your beard about half way through, the razor would start to dull.  They would get a leather belt and run the knife blade up and down as if they were using a sharpening stone.  Here are some pictures!

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//EWINSLOW

Lately I have been doing quite a bit of drywall work in a single wide trailer. Due to the way trailers are transported (and the expense of paying someone to properly install drywall), they just staple on some cheap cardboard/trim over all the seams and call it done. This is okay, but after 20+ years of abuse the trim is coming out all over and it is almost easier to just rip it all out and do drywall the right way, this is what I’ve been doing.

I have used 3 kinds of mud.

around 18$ (includes bucket).

 

Mix your own low dust compound $18 or so and no bucket.

 

for about $6 (no bucket)

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Mixing drywall compound

This is pretty much the best way to get the non premixed stuff mixed. Make sure your bucket is clean, dump the mud in, add water, and mix. It is important to have a bucket with a good lid to keep the mud from drying out. The kind they sell premixed drywall compound with works good, but a food grade bucket is even better. Now, to my final conclusion.

The premixed regular dust compound is the easiest. The consistency if perfect, but it is pretty dusty.

The mix your own low dust compound is true low dust, it all goes straight down. That said, I don’t know if I contaminated my bucket with something or what, but it stunk, bad. And I kept having off color brown streaks show up as I was applying it. Not to mention a few certain spots did not dry white, but stayed gray. They are dry, but maybe not completely cured??? Also, after mixing it fills only about 2/3 if the bucket, paying the same price for less.

The regular dust mix your own compound is what I will use from now on. The dust doesn’t seem as bad as the premixed stuff, and I personally don’t even use a mask for it. It to only fills about 2/3 of my bucket, but for 1/3 the price it is not bad at all. FYI The product says it is ready for use, no mixing required. THEY LIE!!! This stuff is like clay, where mud should be about like pudding. Not a big deal, but it WILL need mixing.

 

We have a hobby of taking things apart. You can learn quite a bit about how different things work by disassembling them. Additionally, the parts you scavenge can be utilized in other projects that may otherwise be financially unfeasible.

The difficulty arises when one attempts to store all of the various and sundry items that one inevitably accumulates from this hobby. Our current strategy is to photograph items, label them with a description and store them in large pallet sized tote. We have far more storage available on the property than we have under roof, so the tote option keeps them mostly safe from the elements and easy to recall by searching through digital image files. I have attached a handful of some of the items we have collected.

Any suggestions for what we might build with them?

Peltier cooler

Peltier cooler

Torroidal coil transformer

Torroidal coil transformer

Big screen TV projection lens

Big screen TV projection lens

Dual squirrel cage fan assembly

Dual squirrel cage fan assembly

Speakers, power supplies and controllers

Speakers, power supplies and controllers

12v DC pump

12v DC pump

Dual DC motor assembly

Dual DC motor assembly

Ink pump

Ink pump

AC capacitor start motor

AC capacitor start motor

AC capacitor start motor

AC capacitor start motor

Servo assembly with magnetic solenoid

Servo assembly with magnetic solenoid

Sony viewfinder from a Betacam

Sony viewfinder from a Betacam

A couple of scooter motors in the 350 watt range

A couple of scooter motors in the 350 watt range

Washer pump

Washer pump

Dishwasher motor

Dishwasher motor

AC geared motor

AC geared motor

AC motor with capacitor start

AC motor with capacitor start

I was touring my scrap wood pile the other day and stumbled upon the base of a wooden kitchen chair. Hmm…some decorative sticks, with holes and dowels…they made a great gavel.

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I took two of the handle pieces, cut it off at the right place, then stuck the handle (with already  attached dowel), into the pre-drilled hole. I originally tried gluing the two pieces together, but had an issue with the glue and just opted to shoot a fine-threaded screw in through the side of the head, going into the dowel.

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After brushing on a finish it looked pretty good. Certainly an interesting conversation piece. If you ever need to find out who’s in charge at a meting, look for the guy with his own gavel!!!

This weekend I decided to make a small, 15 inch, pine club.

IMG_5052  I cut the limb from a live pine tree and started by stripping the bark off with a pocket knife. I then went on to make a club shape with a draw knife (a spokeshave will work as well). After much sanding I used a rasp for the round end and topped it off with some sanding and oiling. It has a nice feel on the hand, and being pine it is somewhat light as well as easy to shape. For those who like to carry something around, but not a full on staff, this has a great feel, and doubles as a good conversation piece.

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Lionhead genes

When It comes to breeding Lionhead rabbits there are a few known facts about how to manipulate the gene pool to get the characteristics you want.

IMG_3108thth-1   On the left is a no maned Lionhead, It caries the Lionhead gene, but has no mane. The gene for no mane in mm. In the middle is a double maned Lionhead. It has a mane and thick fur all over it’s body. The gene for double maned is MM. On the right is a single maned Lionhead. They have a mane, with short hair on the back and a “skirt” at the hip, as well as a “bib” under the  chin. The gene for single maned in Mm.

As far as breeding Lionheads goes, there are a few basic guidelines. There is however much, much more than I will mention that makes a good breeder. If you are getting into these, you should probably look at some more sites before you begin. While I am on this subject, the ARBA is looking into making these a recognized breed. Lionheads were originally brought from England where they are a recognized breed.

The only Lionheads that make it to shows are singe maned.  That said the double maned is an absolute necessity when breeding. Single maned Lionheads often come out with scraggly manes, so this can be improved by breeding with a double maned mate. When it comes to Lionheads, the shorter ears the better. Any fur on the ears is a big no-no. There should be no visible neck, and the back end should be gently sloping, not pinched. On a single maned rabbit you want a well defined skirt, mane, and bib. scraggly fur in these places is not Ideal. As far as double manes go, good thick fur is the norm from what I understand. This could be a very, very long post If I gave a list of specs for Lionhead rabbits. This will give you a start, but anyone considering breeding these needs to do a little more research.

Now on to the genes. I have recently crossed mm (no mane) with a rabbit who has no Lionhead gene. Here is what I got,

IMG_3612IMG_3609IMG_3606 The far left is MM, the middle looks to be mm, a carier. The far right may turn out  So crossing mm and         got me mm, mm?, and MM.

When you cross MM an MM you can expect to get mostly MM, with a possible Mm and maybe an mm. If you cross mm and mm you will get mostly mm, but can get MM or Mm. The most popular cross is MM and Mm. The offspring will likely be a mix of MM, Mm, and mm. When you cross a Lionhead with about anything else, most likely the offspring will be Lionheads, weather they show a mane or just carry the gene. This fact is one reason Lionheads multiplied so quickly when they were brought over.

 

IMG_2939 Awhile back I made my first post on the fall nut gathering here http://chickenroadlabs.com/2013/09/22/527/ This is the second post in my series on the fall nut harvest in middle TN. This one is about the black walnut. Difficult to process, but expensive and nearly impossible to buy. They add a great tough tom homemade deserts.

IMG_2940 The first thing is to break the husk off. You can put them in your driveway to run over if you have a lot. I just use a mallet and a rock with a conveniently sized groove (which you use again later) (do not put the husk in your compost bin as it can kill bacteria necessary to make things rot)

IMG_2941 Now you have the nut minus the husk. It is covered with staining walnut juice (wear rubber gloves). I leave them to set for a few hours to dry now.

IMG_2943 Now you break open the somewhat dry nut. It can be done with a vice, nut cracker, hammer, or hatchet.

IMG_2944 Now you have meat stuck inside the shell.

IMG_2945 For this example I use a nail, but a real nut pick is best. If your nut broke in two pieces, break it again and you will find another wealth of meat inside.

-19 Here is the meat fro between 1 and 2 nuts (snacking takes place cause these things are so good) Deliciouse in cookies, these are great to have and can now be refrigerated. You can often get walnuts for free from people who want them out of their yard and don’t want to mow over them. Maybe someone can post a walnut cookie recipe???

A typical A/C service/checkup call will typically include the following:

-Drain check
-Coil check
-Freon Level check
-Filter Check

And a few other items, depending on the company. I’m going to show how to do what I consider the most important part of the service – checking and cleaning the coils.

If your coils are dirty or clogged, there will be reduced airflow and you may notice the unit freezing up regularly.

The main cause for the evaporator coil to be clogged is the lack of an air filter, or one that hasn’t been changed and is allowing dust through. Anything floating in the air that isn’t caught in the filter will stick in the coils, and cleaning the coil is a lot harder than changing an air filter.

Start be finding the indoor unit (Central Heat/A/C). It will probably look something like the picture below and will be found in a basement/attic/crawl space/garage or even a closet. Note that some units are all one piece, but I’ve been seeing those less and less lately.

20130817-231156.jpg This picture doesn’t show the whole thing, but gives you a good idea.

Before you start – Make sure to cut all power to the unit as a safety precaution. While not entirely necessary, I also fin it easier to clean the coil without the fan running.

Now take off the panel(s) that cover both coils. The coils can be found with the help of the copper tubes that will go into the unit. These lines carry refrigerant and connect directly to the coils. The lines can be seen in the top right corner of the picture above.

One the panels are off and the coils visible, the fun begins. I recommend using a condenser/evaporator coil cleaner which can be purchased in an aerosol can at most hardware or refrigeration supply stores. Start by following the directions on the can – if the result is not satisfactory, then get a soft bristled brush and start scrubbing (being careful not to bend any of the thin metal fins).

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The ends of the coils.

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The top of a partially cleaned coil – you can see the shiny silver part up front and the back is still caked in dust.

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This coil has just been cleaned.

20130817-232025.jpgThis is the back side of both coils. Rarely will this part be dirty, because they typically clog long before the dust/dirt reaches this side. Notice the bubbles appearing – that’s a good sign. It means the liberal amounts of cleaner applied to the other side have finally penetrated through.

That’s mostly it – Here’s a picture of the brush I use for cleaning them-it’s just a soft bristled cleaning brush taped to a rod to make it easier to stick into the unit:

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Many units have a place up here to add a second air filter. If yours does, now is an ideal time to install/replace it.

When you finish and put the panels back on, check for area where they don’t seal together and allow air into the unit. That can cause problems with freezing down the road. If you can’t get everything to seal properly, just attach it and use duct tape to seal any gaps. This is probably the closest use you will ever see the “duct tape”s original intended purpose. I also choose to close the unit back up with self tapping metal screws instead of the ones I removed, as I can get as good or better seal with them and they’re more convenient for me to replace when lost.

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One last thing on the indoor coils- the stuff in this picture stays in the attic all the time. That saves me from hunting or having to purchase tape/cleaner halfway through the job.

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To clean the outside coils is much easier and really never needs done. Most people only choose the clean them so they stay shiny, so I won’t explain in detail how to do it. In short, remove any panels covering the coil, spray cleaner on and let soak according to directions, and hose the coils off.

While I’m at it, here’s a way I found to store extra air filters:

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It goes without saying that things get hot while welding.  But what you don’t think about is that not only is the material hot, but also the electrode and the sparks flying through the air at high speeds.  These are the primary safety concern when arc welding.  This guide is specifically for arc welding, though almost everything here carries over to any other types of welding

 

First things first – The gloves.  Any welding glove will do.  I can’t tell any difference between the various gloves at the time of purchase, but have noticed that the bottom of the line welding gloves wear out quickly.  I find that while they are fine originally and can be used if you only weld on a rare occasion, they tend to fall apart too quickly to be worth the cost savings.  TSC and Northern Tool both sell welding supplies, and a decent pair for the occasional welder can usually be had for around $15.  The gloves do a good job of protecting your hands from flying sparks or from accidentally brushing against hot metal, but you can still be burned through them if you try to pick up something very hot (Or hold parts together while you weld!).

 

Next thing, and probably the first thing someone would think about when welding is mentioned, is the helmet.  Again, nothing special here.  The cheapest helmet you can get will shield your face as well as a higher end one, but will wear out and break faster.  For most people, an automatic welding helmet similar to the one Harbor Freight carries is the best value.  They are priced reasonably, usually fit well, and will last the average user 1-3 years (depending on how often you weld).  I have had a professional welder recommend the Kobalt brand automatic helmet, but that one tends to be more expensive and is usually not necessary.  Often times I find used manual helmets, which still work quite well but add an extra step when you’re welding.  They are great to have during welding lessons, because several people can learn at the same time.

If you use any type of automatic helmet, it’s a good idea to test each time you use it.  It’s easy to check by either looking straight at the sun, or flicking a lighter in front of it.  If is dims quickly, it works.

Note: I once had someone tell me to wear a hat that I don’t mind ruining while welding.  Put one on backwards under your helmet, anything hat that won’t melt will work.  It keeps the red hot metal out of your hair and off your head, as it always seems to find its way there.

 

Boots:  I also, after multiple experiments, have concluded that there is no safe way to weld without boots.  Nearly any boot will work, but tennis shoes are not a suitable substitute.  Once again, the concern here are the flying bits of red hot metal that I was talking about earlier.  It is nearly impossible to weld anything without them hitting your shoes, and if your shoes have any sort of vent, the sparks will find their way in and burn the tops of your feet.  There doesn’t need to be anything special about the boots, and if you don’t weld often you can almost always find a pair of nearly worn out boots at a thrift store.  Those will work nicely, because they’re cheap and at that point essentially disposable.  Only wear them when you’re welding, and throw them out when they get too worn to use.

 

Shirts/Jackets/Aprons

1) Never wear a white (or very light colored) shirt while welding.  Believe it or not, the light can and will reflect off it and burn your face and neck.

2) Wear long sleeves whenever possible.  Your arms should be protected somehow, though it seems to me that you’re much less likely to burn your arms than your hands, feet, head, neck, and eyes.

3) Do NOT wear anything that can melt.  Burning yourself isn’t pleasant, but really isn’t that bad.  Burning yourself and then having your clothes melt to your skin, however, is a whole different story.

4) Consider getting a light weight jacket to use only while welding to help protect your arms.  Leather is ideal, but anything that doesn’t melt will work. I typically only use an apron, but the jacket would be a must if working in tight areas or welding very frequently.

5) If you must weld close to the ground, wear a heavy apron (again, leather preferred) and kneel so that your legs are covered.

 

This makes welding sound rather confusing and dangerous.  It can be, but a welder is just a tool.  Used properly and with the correct safety equipment, you have very little chance of hurting yourself.  In my opinion, one of the most difficult parts of welding is getting the safety down.  Once you know, remember, and practice all of this safety advice, actually learning to lay a bead and weld on regular steel isn’t that hard but requires a lot of practice.

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IMG_5356I’m just making a quick batch of fire starters, since the weather turned cold again. All you need is an egg carton, dryer lint, and some wax.

Pack the dryer lint into the egg carton and start melting the wax:

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SAFETY NOTICE:

 

Use caution when working with hot wax – if you get any on your skin, it will stick. And burn. Not to mention that it’s highly flammable.

 

I’ll note here that it’s really better to melt wax in a double boiler, lessening the potential for fire. However, it’s not required. If you choose to use an old pot or pan, stay right with it while stirring frequently – and don’t let it get too hot, or sit any longer than required.


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As you can see, I just used some old candles. If you don’t have any handy, a block of wax could be purchased for this purpose. Please also make sure that you don’t use a pan you want to use again (for anything but wax). It’s nearly impossible to get all the wax out when you’re done.

After the wax is completely melted, pour it into the egg carton, filling all the cups (NOTE: Don’t do this on a surface that’s hard to clean or easily burned – You’ll see why.)

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Carefully close the carton and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. (This isn’t required, but dramatically reduces the time required to set.)

 

This is why I said “Don’t do this on a surface that’s hard to clean or easily burned” – The wax can seep through the carton and leave a mess behind.

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After they have been in the freezer for about 20 minutes, you can remove them and cut apart the cups with a pair of scissors.

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This is what they’ll look like. Place them back in the freezer to let them harden completely. Alternately, set the tray somewhere out of the way for a day or so.

Just light the edge with a match and these fire starters will burn for a little over 7 minutes.

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Remember that since they’re wax, the fire starters can melt. If you carry them in a backpack, or put them in a storage building, wrap them individually in foil. This keeps the fire starters from melting everywhere and making a mess.