Category Archives: In the Workshop

Yakisugi 焼杉

By Rick Brannan

A Japanese method of preserving wood by charring with fire

Like most urban homesteaders, I live on a small parcel of earth. Living small means utilizing every square foot of ground to produce food for the table. Four foot square garden beds work best for my needs. For me, a garden is for saving money, not spending money, therefore my beds cost me next to nothing. Some old pallets and some galvanized nails are all that is needed for some very functional garden beds.… Read the rest

Keeping garden tools sharp

By Tom Kovach

A few minutes spent sharpening garden tools can save hours in the garden. Sharp tools make work easier and safer. A sharp hoe can quickly cut through soil to sever a weed. But a dull hoe will take more effort and may not do as good a job as a sharp hoe does. This holds true for all garden tools. You also keep your plants more healthy with sharp tools. Dull gardening shears can split and tear stems, opening them to infection.… Read the rest

Try harvesting smaller diameter firewood with a bow saw and sawbuck

By Setanta O’Ceillaigh

 Chainsaws are important tools for harvesting firewood, but when money is tight, it is sometimes practical to use a bow saw and sawbuck for part of the task.

seto_sawbuck_0385_optStability is important in a sawbuck.
Bow saws don’t have many parts, don’t often break, and never run out of gas. They do require replacement blades from time to time. A bow saw with a 21- or 24-inch blade can be picked up for about $10, and the bigger 30-inch saws can run between $35 and $50.… Read the rest

How to make carved wooden bowls

By Evan Hoffman

One easy way to make extra money in your spare time that doesn’t involve the purchase of a lot of expensive, new tools or other large costs up front is to carve large wooden bowls from old burls. The burls can usually be purchased quite cheap from anyone in your area that harvests firewood, or you can collect them yourself if you have a large woodlot.

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Build a rabbit hutch and tractor

By Melissa Souza

I have become increasingly aware of the antibiotics, growth hormones, and unsanitary practices involved in getting those perfectly wrapped steaks on the super market shelves. For about five minutes I attempted to purchase all organic meats for my family of six, and quickly realized that those costs were not feasible for our grocery budget. We grow our own produce, we raise our own eggs, so why can’t we raise our own meat? For starters, we have an acre.… Read the rest

A-frame huts for small animals

By Dave Duffy

 A-frames make great huts for small animals. Inexpensive and easy to construct, the steep angle discourages goats from climbing on top. Two people can move the lightweight structures easily so you can experiment and find the spot that suits your critters.

Easy-to-build A-frame huts make fine shelters for small and medium-sized homestead animals. Just fasten together 2×6 (or 2×4) boards in the form of the letter “A” for the legs, making the joint at the peak secure by using a piece of plywood.… Read the rest

Sew reusable gift bags

By Angeline Hawkes

Most people are aware of recycling gift bags, appropriating the Sunday comics for wrapping, and saving ribbons for decoration. For years, I reused our gift bags, stapling them closed, until the bags became dangerous due to old staples that I never got around to removing. Christmas, especially, drove home the need for an alternative wrapping method. Six family members each receiving about 10 gifts resulted in 60 gift bags peppered with years of accumulation of the “staples of doom.” The increasing staple “gotchas” left me with no choice but to sit down and think my way into a better gift packaging approach.… Read the rest

Making rustic doors for pennies

By Robert L. Williams

A few weeks ago, we made our way into the distant recesses and found, to our shock, dozens of immense oak trees lying on the ground. Many of these trees were more than five feet in circumference.
The outer edge of the trees had rotted, but the inner wood was as sound as it had ever been. We cut the logs into sections and dragged them to the house, where we lumbered them.… Read the rest

Mobile home roof repair

By Daniel Motz

One thing that most people who have ever lived in a mobile home can agree on is that their roofs just don’t work. Trailer roofs are made out of long sheets of steel that are grooved to keep water out. While this building method works on the showroom floor, it doesn’t work very well when the trailors start their trips to wherever they are being delivered. While traveling, these sheets of steel shift and move with the uneven roadways.… Read the rest

Knife sharpening: The coarse truth about a fine skill

By Wayne Adair

At age 63 now, I’ve been a knife owner for 59 years.
Your math is correct. I was four years old when I received my first pocket knife, a gift from my beloved grandmother. She was a member of the hard-working agrarian class of rural Tennessee who viewed a knife as an important and ever-present tool.

When I proudly showed my grandfather the gift, a single-bladed Texas toothpick style with a candy stripe pattern, he looked at it approvingly, tested its edge with a callused thumb and said, “Wayne, that’s a fine knife, but it’s not a toy.… Read the rest