Hi Nicole. this is interesting, sealing pallet-wood with a mixture of oil and vinegar! I think I can do that with the 'garden-house' my son is building on the allotment garden plot. On a frame of wood he bought he finishes it with all pallet wood (so it takes some time, because he has to collect the pallets). We did not yet have a plan for any sealing, but I think this will be it!
"Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them" (Luke 6:31)
I am submitting a home-made spatula that I made from gleaned wood (some wild plum that had been cleared from a pathway by park wardens that I carried home whilst walking the dog). I made this using an axe, a billhook, carving knives and some abrasive paper. The spatula took around 1.5 hours, from log to finished article, and a few more days to oil (every ~8 hours using Tung oil).
I'll be making quite a few more of these in the future as they are local, very low carbon (just the processing of the sandpaper and the oil) and, I'm certain, will last far longer than anything purchased in a store. It's worryingly cheap to buy these wooden implements here - just £2 each - and I am concerned about the sourcing of the timber as well as the hidden energy costs of manufacturing them. If it wasn't for fossil fuels I'm sure they'd be much more expensive. I'll probably give away the others.
I listened the podcast of Paul talking with Sean (should I stay or should I go away). Near the end Paul told he once made quilts, that reminded me I still had to post this. Maybe I can get one or more oddball points for it. This quilt will not be approved in PEP Textiles, because the materials are not all natural. The quilt is made of old trousers, the kind of trousers old men use(d) to wear, in which the fabric is part wool, part synthetics. Only one of them is 100% wool (as shows the label). That one I bought in a thrift store. The other ones were from a friend's attic, they had been her dad's.
I started this project because I wanted to have something warm under my feet, like a floor rug. It became a floor quilt.
old trousers (pants)
100% wool label
fabric cut for the quilt
the real 'quilting' work (on a background that was an old wool blanket, sorry you can't see it on the photo)
and now it's on the floor, in the corner where I sit most (as well as the dogs)
"Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them" (Luke 6:31)
I have a very good relationship with my landlord. I like fixing things. When I discover a problem, I normally fix it and then let him know. I could just call him and he would send someone round, but that's not how I work. So last March I discovered a big problem in our basement. I sent him this text which outlines the problem and the solution:
Me: "Hi John . . . in short, I discovered a hole in a basement heating pipe which is now fixed. I was looking for paint and discovered a huge pool of water in the underfloor space at the front of the house - the area behind the curtain next to the HVAC unit in the boiler room. I hadn’t looked behind there since moving in as it appeared to be full of building stuff. The area is ‘tanked’ (that’s the British word, might be different here) - i.e. sealed with a plastic liner. Two thirds was a lake of water a couple of inches deep and looked like it had been there a long time. Fortunately it appeared to be contained. I siphoned off several gallons of water and cleared out everything from the area. This included moving blankets, lots of cardboard boxes, building scraps, some rolls of insulation . . . I’ve bagged everything up and got rid of it. I then discovered a small hole in the steam pipe leading from the boiler to the front room radiator. It was directly above the water pipe leading in from the street. When the heating was on the area was full of hot steam which condensed on the cold pipe and dripped, creating the lake. I did some research and fixed the whole with F4 silicone tape. I cleaned up the pipe with a wire brush and sand paper. The hole is triple wrapped and sealed. The heating has been on for more than three hours and there’s no sign of a leak. I’m drying out and cleaning up the area. There doesn’t appear to be any damage to the wood work - no visible signs of mould or fungus but I’m not an expert. Here are some pictures I took to show what I discovered and the fix."
John: "Yes ...I had the area all cleaned and sealed
Maybe they punctured the pipe while doing it
You are quite handy!
Sorry you had to go through all the troubles"
John: Have to get you a nice bottle or order you some dinner of something
Me: Thanks - all good. You’ve helped us out many times.
Me: Always wine! Cheers
We ran the heating on and off until mid may with out any issue. This week it started to turn cold, so I went and checked. All is good. I ran the heating for an hour and still good.
I also run and test the heating a month before it gets really cold incase there is a problem which can be fixed when there are engineers available and we're not all freezing. This won't be a problem when I have a house with a rocket heater.
I was given a large haul of old, Kilner brand preserving jars about 2 years ago by an old lady. My partner and I were making plum jam and we desperately needed jars and so we put out the call on a local social-media platform and this lady answered. She told us she no longer had any use for them and was happy for them to go to a good home.
The jars, which were in three different form factors, came with an unsorted jumble of rubber sealing rings, screw caps, glass lids and the like. It took us quite a while to find matching sets for the jam but, when we did, they performed perfectly.
We are still using the jars regularly, both as a way to keep dried ingredients (beans, pulses, sugar, flour) fresh and as a way to pickle/can/store produce and preserves. This year, partly buoyed by the PEP curriculum, I have been doing a lot of foraging and we dug out our surplus jars to store up some jams. Whilst doing so, I got frustrated at how hard it was to match lids to jars, find the correct screw caps, etc., so I decided to inventory our collection and to mark them up with different colours as a quick and easy, visual key.
Task One: take stock of jars and mark them with coloured paint to easily find sets.
Identifying the jars and their components took some time but was, all-in-all, very satisfying. I noticed that we were lacking screw caps and seals for some of our jars and so decided to do some research into what types of jar we had, so that I could buy replacements. Enter the rabbit hole...
Task Two: identify vintage Kilner jars.
This learning exercise was much deeper than I expected. I eventually found some resources online, although nothing easy to use or coherent. It was obvious that we had Kilner Original, Kilner Improved and some more modern Kilner jars - that much was moulded into the glassware - but I hadn't realised that some of our jars dated from the 1930s and that replacements were very difficult to come by. Some of the jars also lacked the identifying features and it took a while longer to categorise them.
Our "more modern" jars, which mostly dated from the 1960s and 1970s, were also confusing as the lids, which seemed to fit all of them, could not be secured on some of the later types.
I was still missing screw caps to secure many of our jars and, whilst I had found a few replacements online, they were either cripplingly expensive or inaccurately labelled. I actually purchased a few that didn't fit at all. Very frustrating. I decided it would be worth measuring the jars to be sure I didn't waste any more time and money.
Task Three: measure and illustrate jars.
As I couldn't find a resource with all of the jar measurements, I decided to create my own. I sat down, one Sunday, and measured, photographed and drew out all of the jars in my collection. Later, I actually acquired a few more to fill in some of the gaps in my "encyclopedia".
I now had a collection of measurements that would allow me to buy replacement screw caps, lids and seals with confidence. Further, I knew what components would fit each type of jar. I was also pretty confident that I could make up some tooling to create my own seals from sheets of natural rubber - I've not done that yet but I would like to in the future.
Task Four: publish measurements online.
After all of that work, I wanted to share it. Hopefully someone else in the same situation would find my resource and save themselves a bit of time or money. Some of the measurements are so detailed that it might even be useful for someone making replicas or replacement parts.
As a computer developer by trade (or one of my trades, I guess), the obvious choice was to publish the resource as a website.
I spent quite a long time making the site, adopting something of a home-made style with wonky illustrations, cursive text and the like. It's not a style that I've used before and I enjoyed the process immensely.
You can see (and hopefully use) it by clicking the link below:
All of the illustrations are drawn by me. I've not made vector graphics like that before and I had to learn the process beforehand. I used Inkscape, an open-source program that I will definitely be using in the future.
All of the photographs and measurements are also my own.
The website includes the following functionality:
Timeline of Kilner jar types
Detailed measurements and information for identifying jars
Photographs and illustrations
Table of measurements for making replacement sealing rings
I intend to continue this crazy venture, a little further. I want to create a 3d, printable model of the various screw caps so that people can print them at home (or via an online 3d printing service), rather than relying on expensive, dwindling spares. I would also like to improve and add to the illustrations on the website as I'm still, very much, a novice.
All in all, I think I have spent about 25 hours on this project. Making a website and the illustrations, the latter which took some learning, was quite time consuming. Taking the measurements themselves was also surprisingly long-winded and I sunk about 5 hours into that alone.
I hope to have created a useful resource for others. At the very least, I learned some skills (illustration, mostly) and organised my own jar collection.
I've just done a little bit more work on the website, mentioned above. It is now screen-reader friendly and scores into the 90s for accessibility.
My assessment tool, Lighthouse, comes with Google Chrome. It is fantastic for checking that text contrast is sufficient for people with compromised vision, that screen-readers can interpret content and that images are labelled and sized clearly.
The only amber scoring category is the load-time when viewed on a mobile. It takes 0.9s to load on a simulated (4x slowdown) mobile device. I'm happy enough with that!