Jim Dickie

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since May 14, 2010
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Recent posts by Jim Dickie

If you want to do any amount of bowl carving or other types of carving that will require removal of large amounts of stock, I can't recommend an angle grinder and chainsaw-tooth wheel in place of the abrasive wheel. I've used the Arbortech brand, but there are a few different brands and style available. I'm sure you could buy a used grinder for $20 or so.

These can remove stock in a hurry on even the hardest woods, but leave a fairly smooth finish. Your alternative with hand tools (for hollowing a bowl anyway) would be chisels, gouges and orders of magnitude more time.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=44838&cat=1,130,43409,43424&ap=1

Lee Valley also sells drawknives, which as mentioned above are an indispensable tool for log/rustic building.

5 years ago
Flea markets and swap meets are great sources of old tools, but unless you are able to rehab and sharpen them, they aren't going to do you much good. You can always find lots of chisels and planes at these places, and they can be brought back to life. I wouldn't waste my time on any saws though, unless they are relatively rust-free. If a saw is rusty, you will have to re-file and re-set the teeth, which requires a good deal of expertise and some specialized tools.

In my experience, the best saws are the Japanese styles. They are very economical (less than $60 for a very high quality saw), easy to use because the cut on the pull stroke, and stay sharp for a long time. If I had to pick one, and only one saw, it would be a ryoba saw, which has rip teeth on one side and crosscut on the other, so its two saws in one.

With most other hand tools, you almost always get what you pay for, and of course its hard to recommend anything without knowing what you want to do. What kind of woodworking do you want to do? Cabinet making? Rustic furniture? Carving? Turning?
5 years ago
I've been using a chainsaw for about 15 years, including two summers cutting wood full time, and only ever filed manually with round and flat files. I always wear leather gloves, and it only takes about 5-10 minutes. As others have said, if you're careful and avoid dirt and rocks, there's no reason you can't cut all day (6-8 tanks of gas) without filing your chain. If you're just cutting firewood for yourself and doing a bit of routine property maintenance, a chain should last you for several years.
5 years ago
I've never understood how the massive amount of labour required to build a hugel would be worth it, unless you live in a drought prone area. It certainly would be a waste of time in my neck of the woods (Canadian Maritimes). We usually have far too much water in the summer, especially over the last 5 years.
5 years ago
The Green Barn Nursery outside of Montreal sells medlars and dozens of other rare fruits, but they aren't cheap...

http://www.greenbarnnursery.ca/SearchResults.asp?Search=medlar&Submit=
5 years ago
I've tried planting by the signs, but the weather in my area over the past two years has been so unpredictable and unseasonal that its practically impossible. Its pretty hard to plant anything when it rains for two weeks straight, so usually I plant when the weather allows. The crazy weather is really starting to freak me out.
5 years ago
Thanks for all the suggestions folks. I've decided to just take some cuttings from some of the million or so trembling aspen (a native poplar) and stick them in the ground. They won't grow as fast as a hybrid, but they're free.
6 years ago
Hi there, I'm not able to view your video, but I hope you're not planning on using black locust wood for the hugel bed. It is the most rot resistant wood in Eastern North America, and can literally last for 100 years in contact with the ground and wet. As such, its the best wood for fence posts.
6 years ago
I am in southwest central New Brunswick, Canada, USDA Zone 4b/5a. I bought an acre with a tiny 1896 farmhouse on it in 2005, and put in my first small garden in the summer of 2008 after getting married. In the summer of 2009 we bought another 2 acres (1/3 old field with a couple of old apple trees, the rest a 10 year-old clear cut), and started a massive reno/expansion of the house, and also foolishly started a 20-member organic CSA program that same summer out of a 1/4 acre new garden (that had been a old hayfield)....all while working full time as a civil servant. Biting off that massive amount of work didn't endear the idea of permaculture to my wife to say the least.

I gave up the CSA after the one year. It was a horribly cold, wet summer but despite the low yields all but a few of my customers would have returned if I'd kept with it, so that was encouraging. Since then I've devoted the 1/4 acre to growing food for my wife and I, selling/giving away a bit of our extra. I would have chickens and pigs if my wife would allow it - I'm still working on her! We don't buy any herbs or vegetables at all (except avocados) between early July and late December, and then only tomatoes, peppers, and greens for the remainder of the year. We can/freeze a ton of tomato paste, and this year I made about 30 bottles of dill pickles and 25 of salsa, all lacto-fermented (the easiest and best way, IMO). I also trade veggies for wild meat and fish with my hunter/fisher friends, although not nearly enough to fulfill our needs.

I planted 10 Haskap bushes (Google them!) this year, and have several apple/pear/plum/cherry trees, although most aren't producing yet.

I grew some Oaxacan Green Dent corn this year too, and am hoping to successfully make masa out of it for tortillas, etc. We eat more Mexican food than anything else, so ideally I'd like to be able to grow all of the corn required for that.

Now I'm looking for any excuse I can find to quit my job and start up the CSA again, full time, supplemented by furniture/cabinet making in the winter. I will probabaly rent the extra land required for that, as there are dozens of acres of fallow fields belonging to my neighbours within a 5-min walk from my front door. Much less effort and $$ required than to convert the clear cut to a garden.
6 years ago
No, sorry Devon, I wouldn't really have a clue as I've never made tinctures of any kind. If you're using dead wood though, I would try to peel the bark off and scrape the inner bark off and use that. I can't imagine there's much of the active compund in the outer bark.
7 years ago