I’ve used the Avalanche Snow Rake for the past three Duluth, Minnesota winters and it’s the best snow removal tool I’ve ever used. Old school roof rakes were clumsy, hard to use and damaged shingles. Climbing around on a snow covered roof is no treat either. The Avalanche Snow Rake makes quick work of snow removal with a fraction of the effort. The snow slides off the roof with ease, even on roofs with a relatively shallow pitch. By far one of the best investments I’ve ever made!
I’ve been using chainsaws for many years. Over the decades I have
probably owned 5 or 6 different ones. In the 1960s and ’70s I used
chainsaws extensively, cutting up redwood (from the beaches or
windfallen trees in the woods) into bolts, and which I then split into
shakes for roofs and siding. These days I use a Stihl Woodboss MS270,
24″ bar for firewood. Every year I find wind-felled oak on country
roads, haul it home, cut it into stove-size lengths, then rent a
splitter for a day and stockpile a year’s or more worth of firewood.
Point is, I’ve had a lot of chainsaw experience.
The other day I was sawing through a piece of wood on the woodpile and
as I finished the cut, the blade hit a log below it and snapped back
towards my face. It sent a chill of adrenaline that I somehow felt in my
ears. Very scary.
BUT I was wearing my Husqvarna helmet, which combines skull protection,
ear guards, and a metal mesh facemask. I’ve only been using the helmet
the last few years, prompted by a log rolling down the hill and knocking
me down. I felt then I should have had one of these helmets all along.
Good thing. This time the blade didn’t reach my face, but if it had, the
mask would have blocked it from carving up my flesh.
I urge you chainsaw users: get one of these. $40 or so. Play it safe,
please. The more hours you’ve operated chainsaws, the more the chance of
a freak accident. Experience doesn’t make you invulnerable.
We use these for trenching in dripline in difficult conditions, and for other trenching work. The wood handles last a long time, unless you are careless with them. Lee Valley sells spare handles and I keep a couple on hand. I have not replaced any for several years now. They work best if sharp, of course. Sharpen them with a large chainsaw (round) file on the inner curve of the tool and clean up the outer edge a bit with a flat file if
Trenching depth: typically about 6″ to 8″, any deeper than 12″ and it is a bit awkward.
I also find them handy for general excavation (e.g. digging out a bit of extra soil for
a valve box) and one of the people who works for me uses one in his garden a fair bit.
This is the least expensive kit for starting beekeeping. It has everything you need to raise some honey, except 3 things. You’ll need bees; order them by mail separately, or find a swarm. You’ll need to add at least one “upper” story of frames to store your share of the honey, and you’ll need access to an extractor – extracting honey by hand from this upper is possible but extremely messy. With care the equipment included should last many decades. You need only keep adding boxes of frames.
Used bee equipment is not advisable these days because of rampant bee disease. A beginner should start with new gear. There are a few sources with cheaper kits, but their shipping costs — between costs $60-$90 – will kill any bargain. Mann Lake offers free shipping, a fantastic deal with such bulky stuff. Also, their boxes and frames come fully assembled, which is also not the norm. That can save you several hours, and for a beginner, it provides assurance everything is right. Get the unpainted option; that’s easy enough to do and you can choose your color (they don’t have to be white).
If you have Amazon Prime you can get the same deal through Amazon.
The Basic Starter Kit Includes:
- Assembled Hive Bodies or Supers
- Assembled Frames with Rite-Cell® Foundation OR
Waxed Standard Plastic Frames
- Assembled Telescoping Cover w/Inner Cover
- Assembled Bottom Board w/Reducer
- 9 1/2″ (24.13 cm) Hive Tool
- Economy Leather Gloves (Large, color may vary)
- Alexander Bee Veil
- Dome Top Smoker w/Guard
- “The New Starting Right With Bees” Book
I can’t believe it took me this long to find this set of three organizer trays that stack neatly inside a common .50 caliber ammo can (available at any military surplus store, or here on Amazon).
The three sturdy trays contain a total of 22 compartments of varying sizes and can be stacked in any order. The largest compartment runs the length of one of the trays and is large enough to hold a couple of screwdrivers. The organizer is made in the U.S.A. from chemical-resistant polypropylene.
Combined with the toughness of a .50 cal. ammo can, it should be a waterproof and practically indestructible small parts storage solution.
Farm Show has been the DIY magazine of rural North America since 1977. While MAKE magazine may have fantastic coverage of 3D printing and home-built drones, it’s a whippersnapper wet behind the ears compared to the depth of ingenuity contained by this tabloid magazine published 6 times a year. They’ve been hacking in a parallel universe, and this periodical offers a window into that world for those who may not regularly come into contact with the <2% of the population that is involved in farming.
Don’t be put off by the name — even if you don’t have a farm, there is a surprising amount of useful data in each issue. I suspect someone living in an apartment would not find it particularly good for their lifestyle, but even urban gardeners with the tiniest of plots would find value in some of the firsthand experiences that are passed along by contributors.
Crop and plant wisdom, clever fabrication hacks, new alternate energy company experiences… it’s a wide and unpredictable mix of information. One of my favorite areas is custom farm equipment modification that shows off what can be done with spare time and few dollars. Some of the machines and mods are astoundingly practical, and some of which are head-shakingly bizarre or even dangerous (200HP lawn mowers?)
Much like Cool Tools, the content is driven primarily by contributor/subscribers. Included are tool reviews on pretty much anything used in agriculture, or in a farmhouse, or by someone who is self-sufficient. Some of the reviews are long prose with photos and diagrams, but many reflect the “make-what-you-say-matter” ethos of the rural readership and are just short write-in messages with pros and cons in a few brief sentences or less.
Farm Show takes no advertising in their regular issues, and publishes reports about tools and companies for good or ill — mostly verbatim from people writing in. There are many articles that are clearly contributed by vendors, but they tend to be on the short side and are more announcements than advertisements, and are edited by the staff to have more content and less marketing noise.
I look forward to every mailing, and even review the back issues frequently since I often find that some new problem I have is addressed by past articles to which I didn’t pay much attention on the first reading. And with the subscription typically comes a “Best of Farm Show” booklet, which is a compilation of some of the best hints and hacks.
I will also admit to having a soft spot in my heart for anything that comes on newsprint paper, perhaps from early mental pathway imprinting from the Whole Earth Catalog. I really don’t like glossy magazine formats, and the cheap paper allows for more content at the same price. They have electronic back issues for subscribers dating back to 1977 and even offer a searchable back issue DVD for only $40, which in my opinion is incredibly reasonable given the content value.
Here’s the top of the list from around 140 articles from the first issue of 2013:
• 4-Speed Drill Press Works Great
• 4-WD Articulated Deere Tractor
• Abandoned Silo Sprouts Elm
• Ag Professor Helps Revive Churro Sheep
• Air Tool Organizer Rack
• Air-Powered Australian Water Pump Works
• All-Wood Brush Mower Built For $125
• Allis Chalmers “B” Gets A Low Profile
• Animal Hair Adds Life To Ceramics
• Articulated Case Garden Tractor
Together with Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide Dust, I wiped out a humongous yellow-jacket nest inside one of our cellar walls.
Forget nasty canned aerosols — this nifty update on a classic industrial-age hand tool takes on anything from hornets to bedbugs. Extra points: go green with diatomaceous earth instead of the hard stuff.
As a responsible firearms owner, I keep my guns properly secured, and I keep them well maintained. However, I live in a town home and space is at somewhat of a premium. I do not have the room to create a dedicated “gun room” or “man cave.” I keep my firearm cleaning supplies stored in a toolbox inside of a closet. When it comes time to clean a rifle or shotgun, I invariably find myself laying towels out on a table, and using books or other items from around the house to prop the firearm up for cleaning or other work.
I realized that it was time to buy some sort of gun stand or vice, to hold a rifle or shotgun in place for cleaning and light gunsmithing, like installing a scope. The trouble is that gun vices are generally rather large and bulky. This is fine for someone who has the room for a dedicated gun workbench. But for the “kitchen table” gunsmith, a smaller, preferably collapsible, solution is much more desirable. It would be even better if the stand would double as a rest for bench rest shooting at the gun range. A rest that keeps both the foregrip and stock immobile is very useful when trying to sight in a scope. Enter the MTM Site-in-Clean Rest.
This rest is made of plastic, is modular, and disassembles for storage. The base has a removable cover under which the two black plastic “forks” can be stored. When assembled with the top off, the base cavity can hold cleaning supplies such as brushes, jags, patches, solvents, and oils. Depending on how the firearm is placed in the forks, the barrel can be angled down for cleaning, or can be held horizontally for use as a shooting rest. There are a total of four slots for the forks, allowing the user some customization based on the length of the firearm and the desired orientation. There are three rubber soled feet that keep the base stable. The rear foot is threaded with a knob to allow for height adjustment. This makes the rest useful for lining up a firearm when sighting in a scope. Overall the design is well thought out, while keeping the product flexible and cost effective for the consumer.
This product is clearly a rest, not a gun vice. I have used it for installing and bore sighting a scope at home, but I would not use it for any activity that requires a firearm to be held perfectly still under a great deal of force. Furthermore, I would not recommend using this as a shooting rest for extremely high power, high recoil rifles. For any caliber much beyond .22LR, I would recommend a dedicated shooting rest, or using some tie downs to ensure that this rest doesn’t move. Finally, this rest is better suited for rifles and shotguns with traditional designs and profiles. There are better vices and rests out there for the tactical rifle enthusiast.
This being said, as a rest for cleaning and a bit of work at the range, this product fits my needs quite well. My favorite feature is that I can collapse this down when I am done and it stores nicely in a closet. There are plenty of other options out there for someone who is looking for a gun vice or a shooting rest, but I would heartily recommend this product for the occasional shooter whose storage space is at a premium.
I’ve been building a small cabin for my farm in Stamford, Vermont for 25 years — in my mind, that is. Last year I finally had a local contractor put up a shell for me to finish out. My wife and I went to the farm in July and lived in the construction space while we worked. I wanted to get the job done in in two weeks. (We met each other in Peace Corps Bahrain and are flexible people, but camping out among stud walls in your 60s got old fast.)
Our design included space-saving pocket doors, but the need for a bit of privacy for the bathroom forced a quick design change. A pre-hung door was my answer for the bathroom to get some privacy and get it fast. I watched some YouTube DIYs that showed me how to plumb and shim but I was a carpenter rookie with limited time. That’s when I turned to the Quick Door Hanger. It is easy, quick, dummy proof, and allows for adjustments of any mistakes you most likely won’t even make. The wood-shimming balance act goes away. I hung the door myself in no time and it closed perfectly.
To use the Quick Door Hanger, you start by screw-mounting one of the brackets behind each door hinge, as well as on the opposite side of the door. The brackets have notches in them, which you line up with a level line (drawn using a 6-foot bubble level) before screwing them into the door frame. That’s it. Perfect for rookies like me, but I’ll bet it’s a major time saver for pro finish carpenters, too.
Six years ago I left the city for a house in cottage country surrounded by acres of woodland. The house included a big but simple woodstove and we began using it. As I was new to this method of heating, I began searching the net for advice. Woodheat.org is the best site for all your questions about the matter. This nonprofit, nongovernmental agency, dedicated to the responsible use of wood as a home heating fuel, is full of informative material about all aspect of using wood to heat your home. The site is huge and has sections about firewood, chimneys, fireplaces, safety, water heating, boilers, etc.
I used free plans provided on the site to build two inexpensive woodsheds to shelter my firewood. We also upgraded our stove to a non-catalytic EPA certified one. On average, advanced EPA-certified stoves are about one-third more efficient than the old box. This I learned from the site. Woodheat.org is packed with techniques and valuable tips. Also worth mentioning, and rare today: you will not find any advertisement anywhere on the site.
The hardest lesson: firewood takes a very long time to season Most folks who split their wood and stack it in well-spaced rows find that they can dry their wood in about six months. If you have your wood stacked in early spring it should be ready to put away for winter’s use by October. However, it may need longer than that if you live in a damp maritime climate or use very dense wood like oak, which is notorious for taking a long time to dry. If you burn very hardwood, it is wise to process or buy it in the fall for use the following fall. That way you’ll be sure of having properly seasoned wood.
The biggest single efficiency booster: upgrade to an EPA certified stove
1. Although the EPA wood heater certification program was created to reduce air pollution, it resulted in added benefits like higher efficiency and increased safety. On average, EPA certified stoves, fireplace inserts and fireplaces are one-third more efficient than older conventional models. That’s one-third less cost if you buy your wood and a lot less work if you process your own.
2. Because advanced technology EPA certified heaters burn the smoke before it leaves the firebox, they extract more of the energy in the wood. This results in higher efficiency and less air pollution in your neighborhood.
3. Less smoke in the flue gas means less creosote (which is condensed smoke) in your chimney. Using an advanced technology wood heater reduces maintenance costs because your chimney will need sweeping less often.
4. The chimney deposits that do accumulate are much less combustible, which greatly reduces the chance of having a dangerous chimney fire.
5. EPA certified heaters are easier to use because their fires ignite and burn more reliably.