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Kenneth Elwell

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since Jan 01, 2018
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Artist/Designer, Maker.
Metalworker, Blacksmith, Machinist, Welder, Woodworker, Builder, Farmer, Composter,
Pie Aficionado.
Boston, Massachusetts
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Recent posts by Kenneth Elwell

I have 2 chippers and they get extremely infrequent use, and as both a cause and effect, require maintenance to be made ready for use each time.

Anytime we want wood chips, we can get a local tree service to drop off 10 cubic yards of chips within the week, with a phone call.

I've heard it said that if you borrow/rent a tool 3 times that you should consider owning one yourself... I think a corollary to this would be:
BEFORE you go out and buy a tool, you should borrow/rent one first... OR hire someone else to do the job...
Rental shops have commercial sized chippers for rent and you can accomplish more in an afternoon than a whole weekend with the homeowner sized machines. They are serviced and ready to go, and if there's a breakdown, it's their problem to make things right.
They also have a place to store it for the 364 days you aren't using it.
4 minutes ago

r ranson wrote:I'm interested in exploring where the (blury) line between cottage industry and agile work is.

I think maybe it has to do with the portability of the work/product? A portable tool kit? Availability of materials? (Especially for a physical product.) A true "cottage industry" is tied to the cottage, no? Where space, equipment, materials supply demand/or are tied to a dedicated location, possibly a dedicated customer base?

Handcrafts such as knitting or crochet, which require only a small bag to carry your project, and can be picked up/put down at will. Progress is made incrementally, but otherwise idle time is used.
Itinerant work, such as portrait painting? Private chef?
One could find the materials, customers, and places to work anywhere.

Maybe with maker-spaces, a business of making physical objects could be "agile". Go to a new city, sign up for a membership/day passes at a maker space, and build a thing, sell/deliver it, and move on...
5 days ago
I'll jump in on the KILL, KILL, KILL!!! bandwagon too...

I will also add (and it hasn't been mentioned yet?) that it will grow back from a small piece. I've seen it sprout a new vine from a 1/2" root fragment.
I've had most "success" using a fork to loosen the soil before gently pulling the roots, paying close attention to if I feel a *snap* and then working again in that direction to "chase" the roots...

I would NOT compost it. (I believe our problem has worsened from either A. bindweed got put into a compost pile innocently, or B. bindweed colonized a compost pile and then got broken up and distributed unknowingly)

Burn it? Boil it? Bake it? Dry it in the sun? Pulverize it under the wheels of your car in the driveway? Put it in the garbage?
My favorite tape is the 16' Stanley Powerlock II, with the 3/4" blade and the plastic case. (I think the Powerlock II is maybe the change from metal to plastic case? the Powerlock used to be metal back in the 80's...too heavy!)
It is enough tape for most workshop projects, household repairs, shopping for the right size stuff, checking furniture against doorways and trucks.
I can carry it all day, it wont pull my pants down, it will fit in a pocket, and it fits my hand well.
I have 3 or 4 of these.

There are tasks that warrant going for a different tape, and I'll use one if it is better suited:
  • I agree that a 1" blade is better for longer stick-out. The ones with a more curved blade do better. (like the FATMax)
  • A hook with a magnet is handy when working with steel (downright magical when working with steel tubes, say for greenhouse layout)
  • A 100' fiberglass tape reel for garden layout. The hook has spurs for gripping wood and a loop large enough to fit over most nail heads or a round stake.
  • A folding ruler with a slide-out extension is fantastic for measuring inside of closets and cabinets. You get a direct reading, rather than the guesswork of reading a curled tape in the corner.
  • A good laser range-finder can be amazing for measuring up interior spaces (like making a floor plan), especially by yourself. (I have used, but don't own, one by Hilti)
  • METRIC. When you are measuring a "metric-designed" object, it's like lifting a fog... not having to do conversions, and working in whole numbers...

  • I've got a couple of gimmicky tapes:
  • One is a "centerfinding" tape, which has a normal scale on one edge and a one-half scale on the other edge. No need to divide by 2. Just take the whole measurement, then read that same measurement one the one-half scale.
  • Another has sixteenths numbered on it, but I find it difficult to read after so many years being accustomed to the plain marks.
  • 1 week ago

    Timothy Markus wrote:

    If you're using T-strapping, code here is one diagonal, but I'd use two if it's flat strapping.

    This, of course is the elephant in the room... Is this building subject to building codes/inspection? If it is, then you'll need to follow the code, but make sure they know what you are building, and how & where you are building it...

    This was a recent email on a local farm group:

    "Hi all,

    Short story: the Building Department rescinded the need for a $1650 building permit for my hoophouse and I only needed to pay for an electrical permit. Thanks for all the help, CRAFT!

    Long story: Two useful pieces of information in getting that building permit requirement rescinded were:

    1. the fact that other MA towns don't require one. With (name removed)'s help I was able to cite that farmers in Dracut, Lincoln, Concord, Andover, Beverly, and Westford aren't required to get a building permit for a hoophouse (as long as there isn't a concrete foundation).

    2. the fact that the MA and IRS tax code classifies greenhouses and hoophouses as equipment, not real estate. That was info I got from the Farm Bureau's legal advisor.

    My electrician put in a panel and now I'm just waiting for meter installation from National Grid and I'll be powered up!"

    I'd be sure that you are in the clear to build what you are planning to, and that you won't run into trouble/hassle/aggravation after you have begun. From the sound of your plan, it's almost a pole barn... only difference being the plastic/glass to the South and your "intent to use as a greenhouse", which might not change a Building Department's seeing a pole barn.

    1 week ago
    As others have said, bracing (either with wood, metal straps, or plywood/OSB to make shear panels) is important. I wouldn't count on the corrugated metal siding to do this job by itself. The diagonal bracing works best in tension, so having at least one diagonal in each direction on a wall is good practice. Plywood/OSB should be well nailed (and construction adhesive) to all the studs it covers to get the most strength as a shear panel.
    Since the South (sun-facing) wall will be all glazing, you'll maybe want to make up for the lack of structure there by making the other three walls a bit stronger (and it's still a good idea for some wind braces on the South wall anyways...)

    1 week ago
    I'd say you're not cheating. The chipping is happening anyway. As others have said, the chips are going someplace so, it might as well be your place . Keeping the chips local has many benefits, as stated.
    I'd also recommend that if you can maintain this relationship with the tree crew, you could (A.) forego buying your own chipper, and (B.) save your time spent running said chipper since you would have all the chips you need delivered.
    It's also possible that while they drop off those chips, that if you had a neat pile staged for chipping and maybe a case of cold beer, they would do you a favor and deal with both... ;-)

    Hugelculture would be another way to deal with your brush.
    2 weeks ago
    I agree with all of the other replies.

    You are where you are now... and your hope is to plant something else there.

    We've got a tool called the "Holey-Moley hydroplanter" which looks like a walking cane, with a valve near the handle and widening at the base which tapers to a point. One hooks it up to a garden hose and the water washes away the soil creating a planting hole. Not only is the hole already watered in preparation for transplanting, but it works amazingly well in soil that is a tangle of roots that a shovel would never penetrate!!
    (We have two mature maple trees in our small front yard and this has made planting flowers a dream)

    The other thing to do would be to add soil on top of the area/around your new plantings, and as Chris says, keep trimming back any growth from the old stools.
    3 weeks ago
    C. 1988
    3 weeks ago
    When you rescue volunteer vegetable and herb seedlings, and also harvest some weeds to eat... before you turn the compost piles.
    3 weeks ago