Dutch oven cooking

This is from April, but I’ve had a spring rush of orders of signs and painting work, so it’s late. Anyway, here’s a sunset, and my first try at Dutch oven cooking.

Here’s our fire, made from very hard and seasoned locust wood. that should have been warning enough.

We made a recipe I got online; just a cake mix with fruit pie filling. While it was baking, my 12 year old son made popcorn over the fire.

We took the pastry making operation inside to open it. Oh man, very, very burnt around the edges. But we were able to pull some cake and fruit filling from inside the outer carbon part; and, it was good! No burnt taste. We got more than 5 good sized servings. #Dutch oven

Where there’s smoke, there’s Carbon Kitchens.


Making a Brass Punch

When you need to hit a steel part, to move it a little, a steel hammer can leave marks on it. It’s best to use a punch made of brass or hard wood, between the hammer and the part.

I needed to adjust the position of a small part, so I made a brass punch. I started with rounds brass bar stock I had, and cut it to length with a hack saw. Then I tapered the end with a bench sander. Next, I sanded it with 150, 320, and 400 grit sandpaper. It still wasn’t polished, and I didn’t want to set up the polishing wheel on my bench grinder, so I found some more sandpaper. These were 800, 1500, and 2000 grit papers. The brass has a better luster than the picture shows.

I Start With a Pencil Sketch

I can make ideas in my mind, but it’s usually easier to refine and revise them on paper. After that, I make a scale drawing on the computer, to see the size of individual parts. Here’s the process in regards to a large steam bender I want to make.

I start with light pencil lines, when I’m sure where I want a line, I make it darker. The scale computer drawing not only shows the size of pieces, it also helps me decide the height above the ground. The whole box needs to be angled, so that steam rises to the end opposite the steam inlet. But I had to be sure that a twelve foot long board wouldn’t hit the ground when removed.

I need this box not only for bending wood, but also for heating it, to kill parasites that might be living in it. I will sell not only finished wood items, but wood blanks for DIY guys to make their own.

Hat Progress

Funny how things change. Over the last 5 or 10 years, I’ve been involved in the internet a lot. But my understanding of people and world events is changing. My wi-fi was out today. I got it working again tonight, but after checking emails and notifications, I wasn’t wanting to spend time reading as I usually do.

So I worked on my hat project instead. I really have no idea of the right way to go about this, so I’m making it up as I go along. In the first picture, the brim is flipped over, showing the black underside I’ve cut the black cloth to a smaller diameter, which will be the size of the brim. I’ve cut the brown cloth and the white cloth into tabs; then I made the white tabs a little shorter than the brown ones. That way, the brown ones will cover the white ones better, for appearance sake. I’ve also started gluing and folding over the white ones. I’m using the least amount of glue I can, in hopes that it doesn’t dry so hard that the sewing needle will have difficulty passing through.

In the lower left corner of the picture above you’ll see the triangle pieces I cut out to make the tabs. I found that making the first cut with an X-acto knife, and the second one with the shears was the fastest way to do it. I wanted the first cut made with a knife so that I had more control over how close it went to the pencil line.

In the next picture, I’ve glued the brown tabs over. Then I flipped it over, removed the pins, and put the poster board pattern back on to see what it would look like.

Rainy Sunday

As usual, I had a lot of things I wanted to do on Saturday. Ididn’t get them all done, but I’m sure glad I worked late outdoors; as it’s raining today. So I’m doing inside tasks, some mundane, others fun. Here are a few:

We were out of whole wheat bread, and I wanted a peanut butter sandwich. There were whole wheat pancakes left over from breakfast, so I tried using two of those. You know what? I like it better than bread. It’s more substantial than the regular size bread, but softer than the heavy breads.

I’ve been thinking about making a knife, here are two designs I came up with. I cut them out of cardboard to see if the angles will relate to my hand and arm the way I want. The white one is a modification of the tan one, and seems to work well. More on this as I go to actually work with steel.

I was also contemplating the layout of a sign that I will use in videos I make. The sign was going to say ‘Everything Manifest’, but I’ll change that to part of Malachi 4:6, about turning the heart of the fathers to the children. I like to use a blank sheet of copy paper, and a mechanical pencil. The paper is an absolute blank, no lines or anything, open to new ideas. It’s not attached to my drawing/note book, so I’m not hindered by the idea that I’ll have junky ideas stuck in my book. I used to think little of mechanical pencils, because they couldn’t be sharpened like other pencils. But the lead is so narrow, that it doesn’t matter, the convenience is more important.

Irreducible Simplicity

I probably didn’t coin the term, but it’s new to me. Micheal Behe, in his book “Darwin’s Black Box” used the term “irreducible complexity”. An important book and term; I highly recommend it.

Most of the time, my best solutions are the simplest ones. It can take try after retry to reduce an idea down to its essentials. It’s also good mental exercise. Yesterday, I once again needed a tool to help draw a border around a sign, using a pencil. I have one that’s broken, so I decided to make a better one.

My nearly final idea was what’s shown in the sketch below. It would use two flat carpenter’s pencils, so that the one drawing the line would stay on its edge, not fall to its broadside. The problem with this design was that I didn’t leave a wide enough lip . So I thought about it more, using only the same wood, leather strap, and flat pencil.

“Close, but no cigar”

I realized that the strap could be tied around the wood, as an immovable guide for the pencil; and that I could change the edge shape of the pencil, so that it could be held in a staedy way. So that’s what works. I hold the pencil against the strap, and draw a line around the sign. Once again, the free pair of metal shears I was given shows it’s practicality by doing a nice job of cutting the leather strap.

The first picture is the Eastern Red Cedar piece after sanding, but before shellac. The second picture is after shellac. The third picture shows the strap in position, and the flattened place on the edge of the pencil. The last picture shows the line I drew with the tool.

Like heaven to touch.
Brings out the beautiful color.

Scrounge Chronicles: Splitting Wood and . . .

Society of Scrounge Experts

We heat with firewood, and split the wood with a maul. Previously, we had a big tire on a stump to hold the wood being split. In spite of its size, it had a small hole, wasn’t very tall, and looked terrible. It was discarded, and we’ve been splitting the dummy way since. I got tired of it, and made this wire catch-thing around a chunk of wood.

It works great, much better than the tire. Not only that, but you can hardly see it from the porch, and I suppose not at all when driving by. The chunk of wood had a soft spot in the middle, so I removed part of that, and now use the hole to split smaller kindling. The wire looks like cattle panel, but fence wire or concrete reinforcement would also work. It’s held on by two bent over nails. I added the green area to the picture, so you would have an idea of where the top of the chunk is.

Next is a subject not for the uninitiated, but I saw something interesting; so I’ve included it here. I have an experimental composting toilet outside the house. Using an outhouse in the winter makes for some very realistic historic reenactments, but it’s not nearly as bad as it seems.

Anyway, I did a little research before starting the project; and one source said that the compost needs to age/process for months before it’s safe to pour out. I started using this toilet in March of 2018. In cold weather, I empty the toilet once a month into a blue plastic barrel, that has no lid. I cover the opening with metal window screen to keep flies out. I had to switch to metal because the (wasps?) kept making oblong holes in the black screen, presumably to get flies. I leave it lying on the ground, with the solid end raised a little, so that little rain water gets in the screen end. I occasionally roll the barrels to mix/aerate the contents. Also, these have only fecal matter, peat moss, straw, and a little dirt, the urine is separated.

If the first barrel went to processing in April 2018; and this is the third barrel I’ve emptied, then this should be May/June of 2018. What’s interesting is how well it processes. In the picture below, the ‘brown stuff’ on the upper right inside of barrel is peat moss stuck to the side where the rain got in. I’m really surprised how clean the inside of the barrel is. This has not been rinsed, only emptied in a hay field. There was no noticeable smell.