If you have a chainsaw and access to some trees that you are going to cut into firewood anyway, why not try your hand at cutting them into 2″ thick slabs.
This is a good tasting way to get your family to eat more vegetables.
I cringe whenever I see a galvanized pipe in a plumbing project I’m involved in, I cringe. It is difficult to work with because it is almost always corroded, all joints are threaded and you either have to make the lengths you can buy at the store work or you have to buy expensive threading tools. It is best to go back to a joint you can get apart and switch over to something else – I prefer PEX. Note that if you are moving to copper you need to use something called a dielectric union, otherwise bad things happen between the two metals.
An Example of the Problem
I got called to work on a plumbing problem for a relative and after I got the crawl space opened up my son declared “We have a PSO”. I had never heard of that so I had to ask “What is a PSO?” My son is taking robotics classes at the local Community College and one of them was fluid power. That is the class where he learned about “Pressure Squirting Out”, or PSO which is used to describe a leak under pressure.
If you look just to the left of the elbow you will see the hole. And since the hole is a result of corrosion I didn’t think I could get the joint you see apart. The pipe then goes into a concrete footing, so going back to the next coupling was not an option. Plus the pipe ran right next to a block foundation so even if I had pipe thread cutting equipment there wasn’t room to use it.
What you need
If you ever run into a situation like mine where you have to cut the galvanized pipe in place I have found a way to repair it that doesn’t require cutting threads. The item you need is a “Galvanized Pipe Compression Coupling” and I found it at Menards. Interestingly the staff at Menards didn’t know it existed, I had to find it on their website and show it to the person that worked in the plumbing department. Make sure you know what size pipe you have so you can get the right coupler. Supply is probably 3/4″. Also get a 6″ nipple and cut the threads off of one end. The compression coupling has an inner rubber ring that gets compressed against the outside of the pipe to form a watertight seal.
Preparing the Pipe
Cut the pipe off square and make sure there are not any burs and use sandpaper to clean the outside of the pipe. I used a right angle grinder with a cut-off disc. This produces a much cleaner cut than a hack-saw. Plus I’m much better and keeping the cut straight with a disc than a saw blade and it is quick.
Change to Something Else
It cannot be stated strongly enough how important it is for your cutting tools to be sharp. Sharp tools are far safer than dull ones and will do more work with less effort. You need to learn how to sharpen every cutting tool you own or use.
Sharpening An Axe
Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The tool of choice for an Axe is “The Puck” which is a round sharpening stone with a course and medium side. It works fairly well but does not produce a fine edge because it does not have a fine grit.
If an axe or hatchet is really bad you will need a file or grinder to re-profile the cutting edge. A file might be the safest for someone new to sharpening, as it is much harder to mess up the edge by hand.
Be careful using any power grinder when sharpening that you do not heat up the metal and draw out the heat treat. One tip is to hold it barehanded as you can feel it if the heat starts to build up. Some kind of belt sander/grinder is what you want if you want a shiny finish. You can sand by hand, but that takes a fair bit of time.
Page 27 of “An Axe to Grind” have more information about sharpening and page 29 has an Axe-Bit Gauge you can print.
I’m wanting to build axe skills and the only way to do that is to chop wood. So for my first project I’m going to make a wooden mallet from a maple branch.
Why A Wooden Mallet
Many of the tools for woodworking, like the best spindle sander, particularly when working with green wood, need to be struck with something. But that something needs to not damage the tool. That is why traditionally carvers and joiners had a wooden mallet. Of course the wood mallet gets torn up over time, but a wood worker should be able to make a new one fairly easily. It is considered on of the consumable things in woodworking. In this day and age many have went to a hard rubber or dense plastic to strike their steel tools. Plus it is a very simple starter project.
Really a hatchet, I have a Husqvarna hatchet and I have yet to do anything with it. This is work using the tool one handed so the short handle of a hatchet is much easier to swing.
Selecting A Log
Denser hardwoods are the better choice and green wood is easier work. Of course that means they can develop cracks when drying, but since your are pulling something out of the firewood pile it is no great loss. I have some silver maple that someone gave me and I’m going give that a try first. I grabbed a piece off the wood pile that is about 16″ long and 6″ in diameter.
You will need something for your work piece to rest on. Also you want something that when your tool hits it, the tool will not be damaged. I my case I have a piece of tree trunk that is a nice height so I when I’m working I’m not bent over. Ideally the surface is level, my needs a bit of work. The next time I cut down a tree I will save a piece for chopping work.
Axe Skills You Learn
The only way to get good with a chopping tool is to use it. There is no shortcut, you have to spend the time using the tool. Over time you will be able to reliably hit where you want to. This is a axe skill that serve you well over time. In sports there are exercises done to improve your strength and that help your performance, spending time chopping will build your strength and endurance.
You will also learn about wood grain. You will be surprised at how different wood acts depending of if you are going across or with the grain. You will learn how much easier splitting with the grain is than cutting across the grain. Since you are working with a chunk of firewood, if you mess it up you just made kindling.
I have to admit to having an affinity for axes for as long as I can remember. I’m not as hardcore as the folks over at the Axe Junkies Facebook Group, but I do have around 10 of them. This year I’m determined to spend more quality time with them. You will only develop axe skills by using it and I will be finding some tasks, projects or chores that I can do with an axe.
So You Want To be a lumberjack
I have always enjoyed splitting straight grained wood with an axe or maul and when I cut down smaller trees I’ve found a good sharp axe removes small limbs better than a chainsaw. But for felling trees, I’m more of a chainsaw kind of guy. I do have a couple of the large double bit axes. An interesting side note is that each side of the head was often sharpened differently for different uses. I will give felling a tree with an axe a go this spring, you never know I might like it and it will at the very least be good exercise.
The view many people have of an axe user is a lumberjack with a huge double bit axe. However what many people do not realize is that an axe is not just the tool of a woodsman or lumberjack, is used to be part of the standard toolkit of the carpenter. Pictured above is the Hults Bruk Carpenter Axe that I acquired this year and I will be starting with it this year. I need to clear out space in my basement first so I have a place to work. The edge on this axe is amazing, almost a mirror finish and very sharp. I’ll be looking for some project that can be made with just an axe to build my skills.
A good primer on different types of Axes by Dave Canterbury
Wrangler Star reviews a decent cheep axe