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Kyle's Permie Bootcamp (BRK)

 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Have you guys tried out the post and beam drill press I brought out there?  It should drill perfectly perpendicular holes in the beams for you.  
 
pollinator
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Location: Missoula, Montana, United States
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Hey Mike. I didn't know anything about that. I will inquire. I'll try it out, any reason to use some old tools.
 
Kyle Noe
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BRK Post 138

I took on a little project today. There are so many little bits of wood scrap left from the events. They aren't a great size for rocket heaters and I've been thinking of ways to use them up. So I took a bunch and turned them into biochar.

I followed some advice on using a pit fired method here:

https://pacificbiochar.com/open-pit-biochar-production/

Dug my pit in Arrakis, made a well ventilated stack of wood, and lit the pile to start the burn.

Grey helped me feed the fire until we went through about half the wood left in the shop. I had to tend the coals until the larger chunks were burned and brittle.

I could tell when they were done in two ways.

They broke apart when poked and the fire they put off changed, less orange and the coal itself glowed more.

During the end of the burn, the hot coals sounded like tinkling glass.

I wet the pile down as pieces finished and soaked it at the end. I'm going to rake it up tomorrow and use it in our Ruth Stout composting.
BurnPitDug.jpg
The pit has fairly steep sides
The pit has fairly steep sides
BurnStart.jpg
The fire gets lit from the top
The fire gets lit from the top
AddedWood.jpg
We added wood on top, always adding to another the hottest parts of the fire.
We added wood on top, always adding to another the hottest parts of the fire.
AllWoodIn.jpg
Here it is once all the wood was added
Here it is once all the wood was added
FullBurn.jpg
Here it is at its hottest
Here it is at its hottest
MostlyChar.jpg
The still burning pieces get pushed to the center
The still burning pieces get pushed to the center
BigStuffBurning.jpg
Getting smaller. The edges have been wet down here to stop the done char from turning to ash.
Getting smaller. The edges have been wet down here to stop the done char from turning to ash.
WetDown.jpg
Here it is soaked and put out.
Here it is soaked and put out.
CrumblyChar.jpg
The bits are brittle and crumbly.
The bits are brittle and crumbly.
 
steward
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Fantastic on the biochar Kyle!  Very well done.

Some thoughts on the end of burn, when there are still some pieces left.
1) I do basically the same process as you, but I start with small pieces to build a teepee style fire, then when it's going ok I move to the largest pieces as soon as possible so they have enough time to convert, then I move back to smaller pieces to keep the flame cap going over the fire so that it consumes the oxygen....start small, end small is my teaching mantra.  I keep a rack of dried branches broken to 2' or so and sorted by size so I can toss lots of smaller and smaller branches onto the pit to keep that flame cap burning hot.  The very small branches create a lot of heat and convert to char quickly.
2) When #1 fails I usually do the same as you and move the large pieces together so they can keep burning off each other and so that I can water douse the rest of the finished coals.  I usually pull mine all to one side into a keyhole to finish up....basically like a keyhole firepit for grilling, except they usually pull the coals over to allow cooking without smoke, so the same but opposite.
3) If #3 fails I just douse the left over large pieces and either let them dry for use in the next char pit session or else use them as part of a mulch.  

Very excited to see you guys making biochar!  Ruth Stout is a great idea for it...will also be great in your sawdust bucket for the willow feeder.
 
Kyle Noe
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Thanks Greg.

I found a bunch of wood that wasn't burned at the bottom of the pit. I think next time I'll start with a smaller fire and add wood slower.
 
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