New Firewood Cutting Option

I’ve got a lot of smaller branch type of wood that I’m wanting to use in my wood stove.  My plan is to take an abrasive cut off saw from Harbor Freight ($85 total price with coupon) and a 14″ saw blade rather than an abrasive disc and see how it will work.  Initial finding are promising, one error I made was buying a 24 tooth blade, it has gotten caught a couple of times on the wood I was cutting.  Also I’m thinking a 12″ blade might be better as it doesn’t really have enough clearance between the blade and bed of the saw to get a large piece of wood.

This is more of a preview post, stay tuned to see how it works out.


Why You Should Own A Handsaw

While I would not want to cut boards all day with a hand saw when a circular saw works so well.  However there are just some cuts you cannot do with a round saw blade.  In the case you see here I was cutting off deck boards even and the circular saw I was using could only get so close to the house.  I pulled out my pull saw and finished up the cut in short order.  I have used this saw so many times for inside corner cuts on plywood.  This saw basically has a disposable blade in that it is hardened so it will last a fairly long time, but it cannot be sharpened due to that hardening.  Since it costs less that $20 I consider it a good buy.

I would love to have a good set of hand saws, but you really need to know how to sharpen them for them to be useful.  Further they are expensive, starting around $100 and going beyond $200.  Then you need a saw tooth set, some files and the skills to use them.  I still remember Mr. Kruger from 7th grade wood shop class with his well-sharpened hand saws.  Using them gave me a feel of the wood that no power saw has ever done.  And while I do most of my cutting with a power saw that time cutting with hand saws gave me an understanding of the grain of wood that still is with me today.

I’ve considered trying to make my own saw.  I’ve read about it in that you can use a file, and a saw set, to cut teeth in a thin piece of metal.  You need to add a back to stiffen it up, but it would be just as much a learning experience as anything.  For a few dollars in materials you can learn.  If that works out I would have the confidence to try it on a real, valuable saw.

12V DC Electrical Systems – Keep Them Clean, Bright & Tight

I’ve been having trouble with an old Ford F-150 trick I’ve got.  I don’t use it regularly and frequently when I try to use it the battery is “dead”.  After I plugged it in, I looked into it the problem wasn’t really the battery.  When I took off the cables and hooked the battery charger directly to the battery it was something like 85% charged.  This led me to take a closer look at the positive cable (I’d already replaced the negative). I probably should have given the car to Maz Tech Automotive instead of dabbling with the components myself, but old habits die hard.


If you look closely you will see a crack in the terminal clamp.  This is made of lead and it is soft enough so that when the nut is tightened it forms a tight contact with the battery post.  However since this one was beat up and cracked it would not form a tight connection.  For low voltage connections it is important to keep them “Clean, Bright & Tight” or you will have continuous problems.  This one kept corroding because it wasn’t maintaining a tight metal to metal connection.  This increased the resistance to the point that the current flow wasn’t enough for the truck starter to turn.


To fix this it is a simple mater of cutting off the old one and attaching a replacement terminal clamp, available form any auto-parts store.  Notice that this one has two heavy gauge wires cast into the connector.


However it takes a bit of effort to cut cable this thick with regular wire cutters.  There is a set of cutters with curved jaws and a longer handle that makes cutting this size wire feasible.  If you don’t have a pair of these try taking smaller bites out of the cable and maybe you can work your way through the cable.

The image at the top shows the finished project.  It only took about 10 minutes and the job was done.  If I’m correct in my troubleshooting then this should stop my problem.  You should consider checking your battery terminals every fall before cold weather sets in (assuming you live where it gets cold).  It takes more current to start a car in the cold and if the connection is loose or corroded then you might find yourself stranded in the cold.

The Super-Power of the Triangle

While you may not have believed your high school math teacher when you were told “you will use this later in life”, the triangle is your friend.  However you don’t need to know all of the trigonometry your math teacher tried to pound into your head to harness the power of the triangle.

The two things that triangles do for you.  They allow you make sure a corner is square and derive a length of something it is hard to directly measure.  And while there is some math you can use to figure this out there are some simple ways to do it as well.

Square Corners
For any kind of layout that has four sides with the opposite sides being of equal length you can simply measure the distance of each set of opposite corners and when they are the same then you will know each corner is square.  This only works on 4 sided layouts that are supposed to be a square or rectangle.

345-triangleIf you need to create a right angle between two lines you can use the 3-4-5 rule.  This involves measuring out 3 on one leg of the 90 degree angle and 4 on the other.  By making sure the last side of the triangle it 5 that will ensure the opposite corner is 90 degrees.  What makes this great is it doesn’t matter what the units are as long as the ratio is 3-4-5.  It can be inches, meters or longer (i.e. 30′-40′-50′).  Picking measurements that make up a larger percentage of the size of of what you are trying to layout will give you them most accuracy.

45-triangleOne of the rules of a triangle with angles of 90-45-45 degrees is that the two sides that are connected at 90 degrees are always the same length.  Further if you can establish a smaller triangle inside of a larger one to establish the proper angles it extended to the larger triangle.  You can use this to estimate the height of something.


Chicken Update – Keep Your Electric Fence HOT!!!

I think something got into my chicken yard and caused a bunch of problems.  There were not any eggs left, just shells and one of the hens looked pretty tore up, I’m not sure she will live.  We have been getting a lot rain lately and it has been hard to keep the electric fence up and running.  The GFCI breaker that the fence charger is on keeps tripping when it rains.  The electric fence is what protects my birds from ground based predictors as I have more of a shelter than a fully enclosed coop.  I’m going to have to be more diligent about making sure fence is on and hot.

My fence charger does have the option for a 12v input so maybe I should start running it off of a deep cycle battery.  But then I have to worry about periodically charging it.