Joel Bercardin

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since Aug 15, 2014
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bike building chicken fungi gear homestead trees ungarbage wood heat woodworking
Living on land for decades. At times a carpenter, retail clerk, freelance writer & editor, business-association manager. I'm a local environmental activist.
Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Recent posts by Joel Bercardin

Nicole Alderman wrote:We were watching the stonemasonry video in this thread (, and my four year old was really into it. He also has a lot of destructive energy, and I know I loved smashing rocks with hammers as a child, and I thought it might be even more fun to give him a small chisel and mallet (and goggles, of course!). Is this a good or bad idea? Are there child sized mallets and chisels for working in stone? I found some for working in wood.

This is interesting.  A while ago I wanted to help some friends with young kids (in the 7 to 11 year old range) find online information about introducing kids to tools, and getting started making things (wood and other materials).  I'm tslking about real things, not constructions from blocks or Lego.  I  used the Permies site search and put in the site info to Google and added various related  search terms (like "tools" "build" "making" etc.).  I couldn't find anything. ???  Okay, maybe the topic is more represented elsewhere.

My own child is female, and she's now off working in the city.  When she was growing up out here, she wanted to help in the garden and with animals, kitchen stuff... and gravitated strongly to play a keyboard — she now teaches music at an arts school.  I personally helped some teenage guys, sons of friends, to expand their skills with carpentry, but didn't document the process.

There's a tremendous amount of stuff on the internet about all sorts of homesteady topics, but this one of passing on safe use of tools and of building/making skills is way underrepresented, it seems.  I don't believe that girls will never be interested in learning carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc but even if I search for stuff about dads teaching these things to sons the online articles and videos seem very, very few.  What gives?  Are there some little-known, hard-to-find sites or threads out there that I just haven't come across?

What do any of you know?
16 hours ago

wayne fajkus wrote:This is a log splitter i made and the plow type thing i made it from. I cut it out of plow. Forged the curve out to make it flat. Welded sucker rod handle to it. Quenched it.

It works well. I can beat on it pretty good. The handle gives me control

Looks like it does the job, Wayne. Nice sensible piece. 👍
1 day ago

Francis Mallet wrote:In my situation if I had to choose one I'd go with the single wheel model.  I don't have to choose so I have both :)

Oh, and with flat-free tires please!

Since you mentioned "flat-free tires" I thought I'd say that I like them a lot.  I've put them on our wheelbarrow and on a cart of the type you pull with a quad or garden tractor.  It can be a real pain to fix flats or even just have to fill-up tires that have lost pressure.

I'm in Canada, and can't say anything about sources in the U.S.  One Canadian source specializing in all sorts & sizes of flat-free tires is Levac Flat Free Tires Ltd, Sarsfield, Ontario.  Princess Auto (a chain that has locations in many Canadian cities) seems to carry only one or two of the most common wheelbarrow sizes, but it's worth exploring what they're offering and comparing prices.
2 days ago
I designed this as an alternative to the common small three-fingered garden claw.  At the time, there seemed to be no tools like it on the market in my region.  For weeding, we use a hoe for the broad-scale work. But a lot of the work of weeding gets down into small spaces right around plants in a vegetable bed.  The tool I made digs right in there.

The business end of this is made from 1/4″ steel rod. I cut a piece about 9″ long.  You can bend it by heating in a forge or with acetylene.  I heated nearly half of the rod into the bright-glowing orange heat range, and used a piece of 2″ diameter steel pipe (in a vise) as a form for shaping.  I used a hammer to coax the hot end of the rod into a sort of question-mark shape (reheating the rod as necessary while I worked it).  Cooling it after making the basic shape, I then heated the very tip-end of the rod and hammered it to a taper, which causes a slight flaring at the tip end of the profile.  So, once this taper was basically established, I did a bit of grinding (using a bench grinder, and a belt grinder) to remove any burrs and to give final shape to the tip.

When I was satisfied with the metal portion, I made a handle from a piece of ash wood (a 5″ section of an old broken shovel handle).  I shaped that into a comfortable handle using a coarse belt on a belt grinder.  Once I liked the feel of the shaped handle, I drilled a 5/16″ hole about 2″ into the appropriate end, and cleaned it out well. I scored shallow grooves into the shank end of the rod, and coated about an inch and a half of this shank-end with a fairly thin layer of epoxy glue — and pushed it fully into the handle.  I cleaned off excess that oozed.  I let the glue set and cure for about 48 hours.

I rubbed some vegetable oil into the handle to give a bit of resistance to the moisture that’s always there with both sweaty working hands and garden soils.

I find myself using this tool far more often than a trowel or standard claw for weeding.  So I made another one, too.  People who have sometimes helped us with weeding our gardens, and who had their choice among many tools, have said this “one-finger” gadget wound up being their tool of choice.
2 days ago
Here’s a fairly simple project.  It's a firewood rack for our porch.  I designed/made it in the fall of 2016 (and "road tested" it over the two past winters & early springs).

I made the rack from 2" and 1.5" square steel tubing that I welded together.  Had to buy the 2” new, but I seem to remember having the 1.5" as on-hand salvage.

The east end of our porch is situated only about 8 yards from the big shed where we stack a winter's worth of mostly split firewood. Hence, I bring split wood & rounds over to the porch rack without much effort.  We have an efficient wood-heating system, so the rack didn't need to be too awfully large.  I designed it to hold 24-36-hour's worth of firewood.  This rack replaced one we had that was taller and narrower — but because of that, it was hard to grab the specific size of wood we might want. Larger, heavier pieces often wound up too near the bottom, with the bottom being actually only a few inches above the porch surface.

Ergonomics & Dimensions: Leg/posts: 35” high; length: 39”; depth: 14.5”.  Clearance from deck is 14” — so, we don’t have to bend over much to grab some wood.  We find that stacked wood sits at a level that's easy to access for our choice of the sizes of chunks we'll need upcoming. Another desirable attribute is that there’s room underneath for temporary placement of things. For instance, we usually use a spot on the porch as a second "refrigerator" in winter (note the deep stew pot in the pic).
3 days ago
I recently started a thread (here in Gear) to enable members to show & described small, useful gadgets they’ve designed and/or made.  I mentioned there in my opening post that larger home-built rigs, machines, contraptions — whatever the label — are being created all the time by DIYers & homesteaders.  So here, in this thread, I thought maybe we could share some of these.

We can definitely learn from each other.  What have you made from wood, metal, PVC, or other materials?  Or, l you got a new project in the design stage & underway?
4 days ago
There's a bunch of Youtube tool/gadget makers who I check in on.  Besides the topics of making & tools, a few of them ramble on re: their personal opinions about the world, their pet dog (and pet peeves), and the like.

This guy (ChuckE2009) is good on welding & related equipment:

This guy is savvy on home-shop processes — he’s in a prepper mindset, and that comes into his vid list more than I’m interested, but he also does some good tool reviews:

I may think of some others and add them.

On a slight tangent, I wander through a video-list aspect of a bunch of Youtube tool/gadget makers' channels maybe every few days to see what’s new.  I find each of them to be hit-or-miss, sometimes brilliant in coming up with some simple gadget or tool, but sometimes posting a new how-to for making something that seems less than wonderfully useful.  (Not that my thoughts about that are an objective evaluation, because it’s really about what they’re offering in relation to my needs or possible advantage.)  All of these Youtubers I follow seem attuned to the needs within a workshop, though only a segment seem to be familiar with the needs of someone living on land, growing food, building/repairing structures, etc.

So… not sure if that is of interest for this thread.  If it is, then I can post a list of URLs of Youtubers worth considering.
4 days ago
There's some discussion about the Chinese trad wheelbarrow concept here, including a video demo-ing a modern manufactured derivative...

Yes, it's a good fundamental for some functions.  Have to admit I myself have not built one yet.
5 days ago
I want to just begin a thread where we could show & describe homemade gadgets that we find useful.  With the word “gadget” I think of something “smaller than a breadbox” (a term my grandparents used when playing guessing games).  No doubt about it, larger apparatus, contrivances & contraptions can be extremely useful — but, if people want to, maybe we can start another thread for those.

I hope to get the ball rolling by showing some simple things.  The first pic shows a set of pipe jaws made from angle iron and steel tubing, stitch welded.  These can enable a vise to firmly hold round or square tubing, metal rod, rebar, etc. The second shows the pipe jaws in use in a vise.  I got the idea from this vid, and the guy has uploaded many more how-to's on his Youtube channel:

The third pic shows a welder's third hand (used for positioning metal parts before tack welding).  Made from rebar and 3/16" steel rod.

The fourth pic shows an auger I made from a large anodized steel tent peg (about 12" long).  I just cut off the loop at the top of the peg.  In a strong electric drill, this can be used for aerating the upper, 'unfinished' layers of compost piles.

The fifth is a fid for undoing tight knots in rope or thick cord.  It's admittedly pretty crude, and I made it from a long lag bolt.  I cut off the bolt's hex head of and ground point blunter.  Then I brazed it into a piece of copper pipe, as a handle.  The threads of the bolt actually have a grabbing action when you wheedle the point into a knot, giving enough extra grab to help undo the knot.

Please show useful gadgets you’ve made, be the materials wood, metal, leather, rubber, (dare I say it) plastic... or whatever.  And whether they're for the garden, shop, animal shed, kitchen or wherever.
5 days ago
Full discolusure:  I've got a common wheelbarrow and a common garden cart.  I haven't tried one of these, but it seems quite interesting.  Though I have no way to recommend this, but I would say have a look at one in person, if there's a business near you that sells them. I have to admit I'm intrigued by what I've seen about it online.

The pic shows the thing.  The link shows it in action.

1 week ago