Why You Should Own A Cheap Pair of Calipers

While very few of us will be doing projects that require measurements down to the 100ths of an inch, a set of cheap value priced calipers is something I think everyone should have.  I got the set pictured at (I think) Harbor Freight for less that $5.  Amazon sells them as well, a 3 pack for less than $12.  I would stay away from the ones with the dial or digital readout, unless you know far more about them than I am covering in this post.

The ones that are just a one piece sliding on another have nothing that can go wrong, other than physically breaking or the markings wearing off.  These will measure inside diameter, outside diameter and depth.  In this example I need to know what size hole saw to use to mount this gate valve in a bucket that will hold honey.  It is maybe 1/64″ of an inch smaller than 1-3/4″, so I will be using a 1-3/4″ hole saw and let the gasket take care of the rest.

Food Grade Buckets and Lids – Check Lowes

For any of your project that require food grade buckets you might check your local Lowe’s.  The one closest to me carries food grade 5 & 2 gallon buckets and lids.  For the 5 gallon size in stock on the shelf was solid lids, with a bung hole and gamma lids.  The gamma lid costs the most, but I got a bucket and gamma lid for a bit less than $12  If I would have went with a solid lid it would have been about half that.  I’m not sure if they are available cheaper online, but when you take into account shipping charges I think you will have to buy a lot of them at once before you will save any money.  Plus you can have it now if you need it.  I have not found any other stores in my area that sells food grade buckets and lids.

Beekeeping – Problems With My Crush and Strain Process

I’ve always20160321_221403.jpg heard that for a small time beekeeper an extractor isn’t really needed, you can instead crush the comb and put it through a strainer giving you honey and wax.  This appeals to me since I have use for beeswax as well as the honey and don’t want to spend the money on an extractor that I would once a year.

What I’ve read about is using a 5 gallon paint strainer and two 5 gallon buckets.  You drill holes in the bottom of one and cut a hole in the lid of the other.  The paint strainer goes in the one with the holes in the bottom and that one goes on top of the one with the hole in the lid.

20161021_133845.jpgMy biggest problem is that I was harvesting honey from a hive that died out over the winter and a bunch of the honey crystallized in the comb.  Even if I had an extractor this still wouldn’t have got the crystallized honey out.  And it certainly would not have went through the strainer.  When I tore it apart I found crystallized honey that had went through the strainer bag but not down into the bottom bucket.  I think I was putting too much in the strainer at once.  20160924_205825.jpgThe last few frames I crushed I put through a bucket strainer I got from Amazon.  This appeared to work better, but I could only put in a couple of inches of the crushed honey/wax mixture at a time.  But since I’ve got enough honey for my immediate needs I’ve got time to do it in smaller batches.

I saved everything that was left in the strainer (both the paint bag and bucket strainer) and slowly warmed everything up so that everything melted.  After letting it cool I pulled the solids off the top and ran what was left through the bucket strainer again.  This gave me about 3 gallons of honey.  This made my recovery rate about 60%-70%, however I believe that part of this low rate was due to the amount of honey crystallized in the comb, heating it up turned it back to a liquid.  20161019_204806.jpgMy daughter uses honey in cooking so I’m OK with having some of it not being the superior raw room temperature filtered honey I like eating.  I do keep this heated honey separate from my first pass.

My lessons learned are to harvest in the fall to avoid crystallized honey in the comb and to process in smaller batches using a bucket strainer rather than the paint strainer bag so as much of the honey as possible can flow through the strainer.


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.