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Rye Soda Bread

Bread, Who doesn’t eat bread every once in a while? Most people do unless you have some gluten problems. What I find hard to grasp though, is why people like the Bread that is sold in the Supermarkets so much. Its is so light, so Airy, not to much taste. Eating a slice of supermarket bread doesn’t fill me up at all. Besides, did you ever had a good look at the ingredients? hmm.

In Ireland this winter, I was taught how to make Soda Bread. These days I bake my own version of this recipe about twice a week, for the obvious reasons. Hopefully after you have read this post, I have inspired you to do the same!

A little bit of Bread History

Evidence suggest that the first Breads were made over 30.000 years ago. These were not the Breads as we know today, Rather they were a flat kind of pancake, a grain-paste cooked on a flat stone above a fire, made from roasted and ground grains and water. Probably found out either by accident or by deliberately experimenting. These days we know these Breads as Tortillas or Roti sheets. Around 10,000 years ago, when wheat and barley slowly were being domesticated. Wheat-based agriculture spread from Southwest Asia to Europe, North Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. with the finding of Gist/Yeast and other edible crops. Humans slowly changed from the Traditional nomadic, Hunter/gatherer lifestyle to Farmers and settlers.

Otherwise, lets us continue!

The Ingredients I use.

The Ingredients I use.

Just kidding! Before we continue I would like to say that this is not the Traditional recipe, I kind of modified it to my personal preferences after experimenting a bit. Some say the term “Soda Bread” is restricted only to the white traditional form. Ah well, Everything is a Remix.

Soda Bread Ingredients

  • Flour of choice, I like Rye flour.
  • Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Sour Milk
  • Seeds
  • Salt

Proportions for the Dough

  • Two cups of Flour equals One cup of Sour Milk
  • A tea spoon of Soda
  • A tea spoon of salt
  • About a hand full of seeds.

What about the Sour Milk

The day before I want to bake the Soda Bread, I get a bottle of Fresh milk from our neighbors who have a Cow. We use a Wood Fired stove to cook and to heat the house. I put one cup of milk in a pan which I leave on top of the stove over night (not directly onto the cooking pit) but on top of the thermal mass. The next morning the Milk has turned a bit sour with a layer of cream on top of it. Before I start the bread I mix the cream through the milk, now its ready to use. Of course, if you live in the City and don’t have access to fresh milk. Feel free to buy Sour milk/Buttermilk or maybe Kefir at your local shop.
Why use Sour milk? Well, Sour milk contains Lactic Acids, Baking Soda reacts with these acids to make tiny bubbles of Carbon Dioxide. This causes the Dough to rise which gives it, its typical texture.

Lets get Started!

Pre-heat your oven to 190 Degrees. Put two cups of your chosen Flour in a bowl,  I use quite a big cup, not the regular teacup. Add a tea spoon of Salt and Soda. then the hand full of seeds. Mix this up a little, for the Soda, Salt and seeds to evenly distributed through the flour.

Once this is done add the cup of Sour Milk, Stir with a fork or your hand. Very soon it will become a bit Doughy, Don’t over do it! It needs to stay a bit moist and a bit sticky. Then butter up an oven tray and put the dough on it. I like to add some more seeds or nuts on top of it to make it look cool. But you can also make a Cross or a Smiley or art as you seem fit. the cross also allows the dough to expand more nicely

Put it in the oven for about 40 minutes. To check if your Soda Bread is done. Poke it with a knife or similar tool, if no dough is sticking to the knife the Soda Bread is Done!

Look at dat Soda Bread. Omnomnom!

Look at dat Soda Bread. So compact, So Tasty! Omnomnom!

Optional Ingredients

  • An Egg
  • Spoon of Honey

I like the bread heavy and compact. But if you like it a bit more airy you can mix an egg through the Sour milk. Some people also like it to add a spoon of Honey to the Sour milk. This will balance out the slight sour taste the bread can have.

Or do you prefer it Vegan?

Instead of the sour milk, you could consider buying a Coconut and make Coconut milk, or make a milk from Hemp seeds. Any other nut or seed should be fine too, though Coconut is great for it already has a nice fat content that works good with the bread. The only thing you have to add manually is the acid, The acid is needed for the Reaction with the baking soda, so simply add a teaspoon of Lemon juice or Vinegar to the milk you made. let is sit for about 5 minutes before you use it instead of the Sour milk.

Try different things, at some point you will find your own preferred combination! Happy Baking!

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DIY: Renewing your Axe

Spring is almost here, this means that all tools which had a nice winter sleep will be used again excessively! Some of them in good state, but I bet you have some old rusted tools laying around somewhere. That for sure, was the case for us. Recently I came across This article posted by Natural Homes about Tool Restoration. It inspired me to give it a try.

That evening we threw all our rusted tools in a little tub, filled it up with White Vinegar until all tools were covered and enjoyed a lovely night full of dreams. The next morning it was time to put it to the test! I took out the first tool and started brushing it with a piece of steel wool. WOW that goes extremely well! The rust came off like a potato peeler on a potato skin!

Before and After brushing

Before and After brushing

So most of the Axe heads didn’t have a handle. One of them though still had the handle but it was broken where the Head used to be. I cut of the chipped parts as much as possible and drew the shape of the eye on the end grain, then I drew a line where the bottom of the Axe Head was supposed to end while allowing the handle to extend through about 1cm. With a chisel I slowly took away excess wood until it fitted just right but very tight.

With a handsaw I made a cut in the end grain of the handle, until about 1.5cm above the Bottom of the Axe head. From a little piece of Oak I made a wig that was just a bit longer that the cut I made in the handle, but with the same width. Placing the Axe head on a log and hitting the handle downwards With a wooden mallet I hit the Handle inside the Axe head, when it couldn’t go further I flipped the Axe and hit the handle on the log a couple of times for the Head to go down just that last little centimeter. Then I applied a little bit of wood glue to the wig and hit it in as much as possible, afterwards I cut of whatever was still extending.

And there you have your brand new Axe, as if it was just bought! Because this was the first time re-handling  an Axe, I wasn’t too sure it would actually stay on there. So I gave it a test run right away! Amazingly, the head stayed on there for the duration of splitting the logs. And man! What a lovely Axe, it goes through the logs like a knife through butter, The handle holds great. Its maybe a bit short but alright. I can keep on splitting logs all day with this Axe!

Thank you Awesome Axe! you make life so much more easy!

Thank you Awesome Axe! you make life so much more easy!

After removing the rust and using the Axe, I noticed that after a few days the rust would come back, not to much but a slight brown layer returned. To protect the Axe head from getting rusty again you can make a mixture of Linseed an Beewax to apply to the Axe head. Just heat up  a ratio of about 1 beewax to 7 linseed in a little jar and stir until its equally mixed. then rub on the the Axe head with a piece of cloth. ever since I applied the substance, the Axe head is not only blinding me in the sunlight. itțs not getting rusty anymore!

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Eggplant Salad(Spread)

Eggpant salad, A amazing spread for bread! While I was in Roșia Montană I learned how to make this delicious and healthy smearables!  I have been told that it actually originates from Turkey, though throughout the Balkans you can find a similar recipe. I myself got to know Eggplant Salad in Romania, where at first i though it was quite weird. I soon came to realize how amazing this spread actually is. Besides that, it is so extremely easy to make its hard to not like it.

What’s it you need?

Well it quite depends on the quantity you want to make. Considering it stays well for quite a few days in the fridge and once you start eating it you cant stop, lets use the following amounts.

4 Eggplants
2 Big Onions
Oil, (Olive or Sunflower)
Salt

Creation of Eggplant Salad

When you freshly harvested your eggplants from the garden, or bought them from the market you have to roast them. Roasting eggplants can be done in the oven but the most popular and delicious way is to roast them on open fire. Make some fire and lay the eggplants next to it or above it, while turning them around every few minutes. Basically you want to roast the outside of the eggplant evenly black. It doesn’t take that long, but to check whether they are done you can squeeze them a bit, they should have become soft and squishy. When they are done, take them out of the fire and let them cool down for a few minutes. Were gonna have to peel off the skin! If you’re a phoenix people and you can bear holding hot surfaces you can start right away. To peel an eggplant just pull of the crunchy black skin either by hand or with assistance of a knife. Yes its that easy!

With the peeling process done, put the eggplants in a bowl or pan, cover it with a lid and let them sit there for about a night. The next day you can finish the eggplant salad. Because you let the eggplants chill out in the bowl, all the eggplant juice gathered at the bottom. Its Very important to get rid of the juice! for the juice is quite bitter!

Now the juice is gone we can continue. Take one eggplant and hit it with a hammer! Alright, maybe not a hammer that will make the thing explode all over the place. What you do have to do is to chop it up into a nice pasty smearable thickness. It can be done with a knife, there are some blunt wooden knifes that are perfect for the job. Keep hitting the thing until you approve of the consistency. With the eggplants beaten into a spread you chop up the onion. Preferrably small perfect triangular pieces, then add them to the eggplants

The next step requires some serious attention! its time to add the oil and salt. As for quantities its hard to tell, It needs quit some oil and salt. I suggest you find out what you like best by trial and error. What is Very important though, is when you start mixing the oil with the eggplant you decide whether to stir clockwise or counter clockwise. Once you start stirring you better don’t change the direction, for it will not end well! it is key to keep stirring in the same direction! when the whole spread became equally mixed and you approve of the taste its ready for consuming!

You can eat the eggplant salad just like that next to some potatoes and veggies, though it usually gets served with bread and tomatoes. Thus eggplant salad can be used as the perfect breakfast, lunch, appetizer for dinner or even desert. If you have never eaten or made eggplant salad yet I highly recommend you do so! For eggplant salad will definitely improve your life!

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Optional

Instead of oil, you could also use Mayonnaise. I’m not quite sure how to explain in words what the difference is in taste, I do know that both versions are very delicious! It is key though to make your own mayonnaise rather than using the one from the shop.

To make mayonnaise for 4 eggplants you need One boiled egg yolk and two raw egg yolk
You mix these three together until you have an even mush.
Slowly add oil while mixing, One or two spoons of Mustard and keep mixing.
You keep adding oil until you get the Mayonnaise consistency you want.
In the end all it needs is some salt.

Then when you make the eggplant salad use the mayonnaise instead of the oil. And Voila! Dont forget to keep stirring in the same direction! Some people also like to add some lemon juice.

May your new Eggplant Salad addiction begin!

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DIY: Barrel Oven

Cob ovens are great! they are easy to build and maintain. The thing is they take some time to heat up before you can use them, meaning that you can’t spontaneously bake a delicious cake. There is a solution to that! Its The barrel oven! The barrel oven is a very practical and wood efficient oven to bake your delicious cake in and doesn’t require much expensive materials either. It is mostly build of brick and clay, but you do in fact need a proper barrel and some steel parts. The barrel will act as a cooking chamber, the heat generated by the fire directly below the barrel will also be stored into the ovens mass slowly releasing it afterwards. Because the fire is directly below the barrel and the air circulates around it, the oven becomes very easy to heat up (in approximately 15 min) compared to the domed cob ovens, thus saving lots of wood and waiting time. For this reason the oven is great for spontaneous cake baking!

We build one of these oven for a soon opening hostel in Cluj Napoca, Let me show you how we done it, hopefully this will help you to build your own amazing Barrel oven!

First we started with digging a hole for the foundation one by one meter wide and approximately 60cm deep. In the hole we carefully placed stones to get it level with the ground, filling the gaps with smaller stones. The top layer of stones we filled with clay to stabilize them. Meanwhile one of us started mixing a clay mixture for building the base of the oven.

With the foundation done we started going up one level with stones for about 10 cm. On this layer we used clay for every single stone to be stable and properly fitted. Once that was done we placed the ash-drawer in the middle and stacked stones around it to make it even with the drawer. Two metal strips were placed on the bottom for the drawer to slide on, while on the sides we used bricks to guide it. Once the stones were even with the drawer we leveled it with clay, making a straight and even foundation for the next layers of bricks. We placed the bricks for the grating to sit perfectly above the ash-drawer and laid the outer contour of the oven.

Up next we stacked the bricks on the outside as high as the door for the fire chamber. We carefully fitted the door and started preparing for placing the bricks on the inside of the fire chamber. The bricks on the inside are placed in a 45 degree angle to help guide the heat from the fire to flow around the barrel. We used stones to support them and added clay to make it air tight. meanwhile the ash-drawer worked perfectly as a clay catcher to catch access clay and reuse it. When we finished placing the bricks in a 45 degree angle we added two more layers of brick on the outside square before we started on the arch.

To support the barrel we added two L shaped metal strips from front to back, then we used six metal strips bent in half circles to support the bricks for the arch. We also added one layer of mesh between the metal supports for the arch and the bricks, to make things a bit easier and so the clay could not fall between the barrel and the bricks. The chimney rests on two of the metal arches with bricks and clay keeping it in place and air tight.

After finishing the arch we used the small pieces of brick the cavedude was chopping to fill up the access space between the barrel and the arch, making it air tight with clay. Then we made a sand/lime plaster to smooth out the outside of the oven, we added about 2 nice layers of lime plaster. Due to the fact that a roof will be build above the oven soon and the final color of the oven was supposed to be brown we mixed some clay with water and brushed in on the final layer to give it a nice brown finishing touche!

The final Result.

Now thats what I call a great looking oven!

Now that’s what I call a great looking oven!

Made possible by the best team in da world!

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 Curious how to make a domed cob oven? check out DIY: Rocket Cob oven!

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Brewing Beer

Back in the days I though that brewing beer was quite difficult, I have to admit I never really did research into the process, I just expected it to be a long process difficult to do at home. well, I found out this is hardly true. Its actually super easy, all you need is some patience for the beer to ferment.

Beer IngredientsEver since I arrived at my project in Romania we have been brewing our own beer, only four ingredients are needed if you don’t count the water which are:
Grains, 400 gram (we used Barley)
Hops, 50 gram (locally grown)
Yeast, 30 gram
and Sugar. 500 gram

 

First thing you have to do is soak the Barley for about 24 hours in water. afterwards bake the Barley in a pan without oil. Basically evaporating the moist by heating them. Make sure you keep steering the barley otherwise they will burn. It takes quite some time for all the moisture to completely evaporate. If you want to check whether your barley is ready just chew on one, If its soft it still contains moisture, if its hard it good to go. The color of the beer will depend on the color of the Barley mostly. Heating your Barley longer so the grain gets darker implies a darker beer.

When the Barley is done its time to fold the Barley and the Hop in some cloth and fill up your pan with water. basically you want to boil the water for about 4 hours with the Hop and Barley floating in it. We used one package of Hop. One bowl of Barley and about 15 liters of water. I suggest you experiment with your own proportions. If you are cooking on fire make sure the fire is roaring all the time and the water doesn’t stop boiling. Its important that it continuously boils for approximately 4 hours.

When the boiling is done let the batch cool to room temperature,  remove the two bags of Barley and Hop, fringe the water out of them as much as you can and add the Sugar and the Yeast to the big batch o beer, make sure you chop the yeast into small pieces and steer it for a bit. Then let it sit for the night (or bout 12 hours) If everything turned out well there will be a big layer of foam on your batch o beer the next morning, this is perfect! its ready to be bottled.

We used those Grolsch bottles you can reopen, there prefect for this job! So load them up, but not completely full. just up until the neck. Then put them upside down back in the box and store them in your basement. Now the fermenting process starts and the patience is needed, wait for one week, open up one bottle and taste it, if you open it it should make a big bang like opening a wine bottle. If its not fully fermented yet or you don’t approve of the taste yet, leave it for another few days or week and taste again. After about 2 weeks you should definitely have an amazing tasting home brewed beer!

Home made beer in a bottle, Whuuut whuuuuut

Home made beer in a bottle, Whuuut whuuuuut

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Identifying Oak

Identifying oaks, or trees in general can be quite a challenge. there so many different species spread out across the globe, you can easily get confused especially in winter. to be able to identify the exact species you need quite some knowledge and experience, but with a few little steps you can get close enough and distinguish common tree species like oak, maple, beech, birch etc. in this post we will focus on identifying Oak trees and how to distinguish Red from White oak species.

Leaves

The best time of year to identify an oak in my opinion would be summer, when the leaves are green and the fruits are growing. leaves and fruits are also one of the easiest ways to get a general idea of what species tree you are looking at. The first thing you do is take a good look at the Lobes and Sinus of the leaf, white oak have round Lobes and often a few deep and shallow Sinuses, it has a deep but brighter green color in summer and is somewhat shiney. Red oak have pointy Lobes and mostly deep Sinuses with a darker green color.

oak-leaf-drawing oaksummer2oaksummer

In late summer/autumn the color of the leaves slowly turn yellow and red, before they eventually turn brown. Red oak species usually have far brighter colors when autumn nears while white oak species turn dull brown faster

oakleafcolorFruit

The oak tree bears fruits, which are called Acorns. if you don’t know what an acorn looks like, imagine a squirrel. whats it holding and hiding in the woods? yes that thing is a acorn, for squirrels love acorns. Acorns start as a small buts on the branches, but eventually grow bigger and usually contain only 1 seed, Acorns vary in size and color depending on the specie of oak, initially there green and turn darker brown when getting ripe. in autumn Oak lose their acorn, so either look on the branches or search the ground for acorn to confirm you are standing next to an oak. The cap of the acorn can be pulled off, if you hold it with the hollow part towards you between your thumbs and index finger, pointing your thumbs outwards (basically creating a V shape with your thumbs on the edge of the acorn cap) and then blow on the edge, you can easily use it as a whistle.

acornacorn2

Bark

The bark of Oak trees is Very rough and tough, with vertical ridges and usually a greyish or dark brownish color, with some species the bark on higher parts of the trunk peel of as paper. but lower to the ground the ridges turn wide and deep, the bark is very hard.

oakbark

though surely not the biggest of trees, the Oak tree grows fairly large and wide, with an average between 15 and 20 meters high when mature and a average span of 15 meters from branch to branch. one of the tallest white oaks known today is about 30 meters high and with a span of almost 24 meters

Grain

When Oak is cut into boards and you are looking at the plain sawn hardwood part, you can recognize it by the light to medium brown color or if its from Red oak, a slightly red tinted color. The grain is a bit darker and the flame pattern is rough and wild. if the board is Quarter sawn Oak is easily identified by the flecks that become visible which are usually much brighter then the grain or wood itself.

WhiteOak medullary ray 2 oak end grain

Quercus robur

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Plywood

Plywood is a flat panel built up of sheets of veneer called plies, put together under high pressure with glue to create a panel with an strong bond between the plies. Building the panel the plies are glued together in alternating directions, depending on the required thickens the panel usually consists of 3, 5, 7 or 9 layers. The inner plies are called centers or cores, the plies with the grain perpendicular or a right angle to that of the core or faces are called crossbands. Crossbands gives the panel strength and keep the grain of the panels from running all in the same direction. The outside plies are are called faces and back plies. The faces of the panel are usually of higher grade veneer, while the core and back consists of lower grade plies. this makes a plywood panel affordable but also interesting to use because of the beautiful veneer layer on top. Due to the perpendicular buildup of the panel it becomes super strong and very resistant to expansion and shrinkage. therefor plywood panels are popular for construction and industrial purposes, but also often used in the cabinet and furniture industries.

Plywood may be made from hardwoods, softwoods, or a combination of the two. Some common hardwoods include ash, maple, mahogany, oak, and teak. The most common softwood used to make plywood is Douglas fir and several varieties of pine, cedar, spruce and redwood.

Softwood ply tends to be used in the construction industry for walls, roofs and floors.
Hardwood ply tends to be used quality laminate flooring, kitchen units and furniture.

Plywood Grades

Grades Description
A Face and back veneers practically free from all defects.
A/B(B) Face veneers practically free from all defects. Back veneers with only a few small knots or discolorations.
B Both side veneers with only a few small knots or discolorations.
B/BB Face veneers with only a few small knots or discolorations. Back side permitting jointed veneers, large knots, plugs, etc.
BB Both sides permitting jointed veneers, large knots, plugs, etc.
C & D Knots and minimum splits permitted unless exceeding a certain limit
WG well glued only. All broken knots plugged permitted.
X Knots, knotholes, cracks, and all other defects permitted.

The process

The trees used to make plywood are usually smaller in diameter than those used to make lumber. In most cases, they have been sustainably planted and grown in areas owned by the plywood company. These areas are carefully managed to maximize tree growth and minimize damage from insects or fire. once the tree has grown enough the process is a following.

    • Cutting and felling the trees
      After the trees are cut and the branches removed they are ready for debarking
    • Debarking
      With the help of Machines the bark will be removed from the logs
    • Cutting
      The logs are cut in the appropriate length usually around 2.5meters
    • Soaking the logs
      Depending on the process and wood specie the logs are soaked or steamed for 12 to 20 hours
    • Peeling the logs
      With the use of a lathe the complete log will be transformed into a thin sheet of veneer
    • Cutting and Grading the veneer
      The veneer is then cut into the appropriate size for glueing and sorted on its Grade
    • Drying the veneer
      The sheets of veneer will then be Kiln dried
    • Assembly
      The core, crossbands and face layers are then glued and assembled ready for pressing
    • Hydraulic hot press
      The assembled panels are then pressed in a hydraulic hot press (7.6-13.8 bar|109.9-157.2° C) for 2 to 7 minutes
    • Trimming
      The panels are then trimmed to the factory size. Most common Plywood dimension is 1,220 × 2,440 millimetres
    • Sanding
      The panels are sanded and inspected for inconsistencies, then stored for distribution

Below some amazing examples of what you can do with Plywood

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Steam Bending Wood

Steam bending wood is a technique used for centuries, back in the days it was commonly used to bend hull ribs for ships, different hand tools and weaponry. As time passed it became more popular under the furniture makers and they started using this technique for making chairs, baskets, tables and even musical instruments like violins and guitars. These days steam bending has become less popular in the industrial section but still widely practices by craftsmen and even thought at craftsmen schools.

The ability to bend solid wood can give your projects both a structural advantage and an amazing visual boost. For example, a sweeping curve on the back leg of a chair can be very weak if it is cut from a solid board. There will always be a small part of the leg with short grain which will break if it is subject to stress. If you use the steam bending technique to make this leg, It will keep almost all of the strength of the original straight piece of wood. The grain will also follow the curve and visually show the shape you have created.

The principle

Wood cells are held together by a substance called lignin. Imagine the wood to be a pack of straws, when looking from the top the space in between those straws are filled with lignin. by steaming the wood you decrease the strength of the lignin bond between those straws. Steaming the wood on 100º for about 1 hour for every 3cm in thickness (width is irrelevant) will soften the lignin enough for you to bend the wood in the required shape.

The steam box

Building a steam box for bending wood only requires exterior-grade plywood, waterproof glue and an electric tea kettle.the box should be as small as possible depending on your project, a common used size is around 1.5m x 15cm x 15cm (LxWxH) you can make it longer but you might have to add a steam kettle or find a better way to produce enough steam. on the bottom of the box drill a hole and use iron pipe to spread the steam coming from the kettle.

Use Tongue and groove joints help seal the box’s corners, you can consider to silicon them to make sure no steam will be lost, but if you glue your joints right it should not be necessary. add screws every 12cm along the corners, the box also needs a vew drainage holes in the bottom, imagine you glue your steambox so perfect. it might explode due to the pressure rising inside. Also the steam should be able to circulate around the wood and through the box. therefor it is advised to raise your wood by adding some horizontal dowels. make a hinged door at one or both ends, use a rubber strip to seal them. to be able to monitor the heat inside of the box you can add a hole on top and put a thermometer through.

Choosing your wood

Species Smallest Radius
Oak (red/white) 5cm
Hickory 5cm
Elm 5cm
Walnut 8cm
Ash 12cm
Cherry 15cm
Maple 20cm

There are 2 simple rules when choosing wood:
- Exotic woods do not bend well.
- Softwoods do not bend well and should be avoided.

Not all species bend well and not all species can bend as much as others. It is also important to find the perfect board for your steam bend, take a good look at the grain, it should be as straight as possible and not run out to much, especially where the bend will take place. It should be knot free or any sign of knots, damage in the grain or weird patterns should be avoided.

The moisture content of your board is also important. Freshly sawn wood usually has a moisture content of about 70%. Wood bends best between 20% and 30%. It is better to catch this “on the way down” rather then to remoisturize the wood. The proper moisture content is important if you are bending to small radius- and less important when bending shallow curves. Once the wood has air dried to 6% or 8% it may not be possible to bend it to small radius curves. The lignin bond is only partially reversible at this level, especially if the wood has been sitting for a year or more in this dry state, it will not be possible to gain all the elasticity back by remoisturizing the wood, even by steaming or soaking in water for a longer period of time (days or weeks).

Preparing the bending mold(form)

Before you start steaming your wood, you should have the mold ready to rumble! Basically a mold is the shape you want your wood to bend in, it should be fixated to the table or something similar and very sturdy. Bending the wood will take allot of power so if the mold is not fixated well enough you will not be able to bend the wood around it fast enough. a vew examples of molds below. when making your bending mold, take in consideration your wood species, minimum radius etc.

 Steaming and Bending

Now the Steam box and bending shape are ready to go you can start with steaming the wood, Remember the temperature inside the Steam box should be around 100º then steam your board for about one hour per 3cm of thickness (regardless of width). Wood at 30% will require a little less time, wood at 15% a little more. Oversteaming is not advised, as it may cause compression wrinkles to develop as the bend progresses around the form. when your board had enough sauna its time to bend! get your clamps ready and make sure no objects are in between the steam box and bending mold. Once you open up the steam box and take the wood out the lignin starts to harden. so its all about speed, Bend the wood as soon as possible around your bending mold and clamp them. depending on the size of your bend you might need to ask for some help. the faster you bend and clamp it around the mold the better. Once it is clamped in place, leave it there to dry for a vew days. usually after 5 to 7 it will be fully cooled. (or under 10%)

 Springback and  Close in

Springback can occur when the curve is so shallow so that the lignin does not shift enough to hold the new shape, the part is too dry (moisture content too low before steaming or insufficient steaming time), the clamping pressure was to less, the part was not left on the bending form until fully cooled, or the part didn’t dry thoroughly (less than 10% M.C.).

Close-in can occur iIf the moisture content of the wood is too high when bending (above 30%), the displaced and compressed wood fibers continue to contract as the bent wood dries out or If the end pressure is too high during the bending process, the overcompressed inner face of the blank will contract as the wood dries out. To avoid Springback or close in you can fixate the endings with a rule or connect them to another part of the end product fixating them in place. if you are bending legs for a table or chair for example, Experience is all that will help you to avoid both these problems.

Below some nice examples of steam bent furniture.

Wanna see some Steam bending Action? This 6minute video will show you some amazing Steam Bending!

 

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DIY: Rocket Cob Oven

Ovens are awesome! and i’m pretty sure you would agree with me when I say there simply awesome because pizzas are awesome, home baked bread is delicious and cake is no longer a lie when you have an awesome oven to bake dem in.

still not convinced? well let me show you how easy it is to build a “rocket” oven yourself with the use of straw, clay and bricks.

You start by finding a nice spot for you new oven, make sure it is leveld you don’t want a 45º tilted oven, u can use sand to level it, if the ground aint flat enough, afterwards you’re gonna have to decide the size of your oven. in our case we made the base of the oven around 1 meter in diameter, for the dome that will be on top has a +/- thickness of 15 cm. and we want enough space to make huge pizzas. once you’re sure about your measurements start with a single layer of clay then you can start laying the bricks and Rocket system. using a clay/sand mixture for cement, fill the open space with some random dirt and rubble to give the whole structure some mass

Once you reached the proximate height for the oven floor, you can prepare the bricks to optimize the airflow under the oven floor and into the dome. all the hot air will come out of the middle of the base, the vents into the oven will be incorporated into the dome structure so the idea is that the hot air will move from the middle, to the sides. heating up the oven floor ending up in the oven dome itself. we used firebricks for this (these bricks heat up quite easily) and finished the oven floor with a single layer of steel wire and refractory cement. make sure you don’t close it up on the sides and keep space to make the hot air vents

To make the air vents we used beer cans and basically clayed around them,pointing up towards the center. this will also be the base for the dome, try to make it as sturdy as possible and make sure the oven floor and the clay for the vents has dried well enough! before you start building the dome.

To shape the dome we use a pile of sand, close the air vents with something so the sand wont be able to fall in those gaps. then shape the dome as you like. on top of the sand you should place some damp paper so the sand wont stick to the clay on the inside. this makes it easier to smooth the inside of the dome. then you can start building up the dome with your straw/clay mixture. and shape the door.

Meanwhile we filled the gaps on the outside of the base and also added a layer of sand/clay to make it more round and smooth. to speed up the drying process of the globe, you can carefully start digging away a little bit of sand on the top of the dome (only if the first layer is dry enough) and start a small fire. carefully dig out more layers of sand while you make a fire in between the digging of those layers until you have dug out all the sand. its very important to do this carefully. if you go to fast and the first layer is not strong and dry enough it could collapse. or you could just wait until the first layer has dried completely before removing any sand.

Now the globe has its shape and is completely dried you can start adding layers to isolate it and finish it. we made the brick arch first to be sure what shape the door would become, and from there it is easier to shape the final layers of the globe. the second layer you add to the globe should have straw again, for this isolates better. every layer you add should be as thick as the first layer +/- 5 cm, and completely dried before you add the next. while we were at it we also made a little door :)

So now the oven has its finished shaped. but its still only from clay right. either you need to have a roof over your oven. or you should finish it with some lime or lime/clay finish for it to be able to survive some heavy rain. we still have to do this. so a finished picture will be added sooner or later. but its really important that you do so. if you leave it unfinished and rain hits the oven. things can turn out to be bad for your awesome oven.

you might be thinking. whats the deal with this chimney brha? basically a chimney is not needed. but we like our things to be multifunctional. we build the chimney and a hot air flow “system” so we can boil some water or keep a pan heated up while we use the oven. we will make a special lid for it, for you have to be able to close the chimney because you don’t want to lose the heat in the globe. but for now this aluminum lid will do.

the hot air flow “system” is pretty simple. through the hole on top of the globe the heat is able to leave. if you put the lid on, it will be pushed down over the outside of the globe. where it will eventually will be pushed up again being able to leave the oven. basically the Mohawk has 2 shafts. 1 going down from the top of the globe and 1 going up like a U

Mohawk

Mohawk

Dont forget to clean the inside of the oven before use!

NomNomNom

NomNomNom

 Curious how to make a Barrel Oven? Check out DIY: Barrel Oven!

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Dovetail Joints

The Dovetail joint is one of the joints I personally like the most, not only does it look beautiful. Its super strong and makes whatever your making instantly cool showing it off! Most people think dovetails are very hard to make, and although it requires some skill (for if you never used a chisel before its like driving the bike for the first time) The principle is very simple and anybody can do it with some patience and practice.

there are different types of Dovetails, the most commonly used dovetails are

So lets start with the tools needed to make a Dovetail joint, Of course there are different ways to make a dovetail joint so lets just go for the most common.

Once you have all your tools gathered and your wood ready. you can start with some Dovetailing! once again I would like to note that it can be done in different ways depending on the person making them, its just a matter of opinion. So when I make Dovetails I start with the Tails first.

the angle of the tails is usually 1:6, after marking your tails Use your marking gauge to make a little cut on the waste parts (this so you can put you chisel in after sawing) afterwards you can make the first cuts with your saw, when you cut all the sides of the tails you can place a board along the shoulders to remove the waste material with your chisel and make sure you will go straight down. then just clean the tails with the chisel so they will be all smooth and ready to go into their “not yet made” sockets.

the next step will be to mark the sockets, the best way to do this is to place your tailboard on the pinboard, and use the already made tails as a template for your sockets, marking the angle and width on the end grain of the wood. Once you have your Sockets perfectly copied you should mark the depth of the socket which is the same as the thickness of your Tailboard. Again use your marking gauge to cut the waste parts for easy chiseling. Once done you can make the cuts with your saw, remove the waste material and smooth out the sockets. Be careful this time!! cuz everything you remove to much you cannot put back!! Rather remove less and a bit more afterwards then to much the first time. Try to make the sockets a perfect fit for your tails, Not to tight but Definitely no gaps either!

If you are doing everything right, your tail and pin part will not fit at first, keep removing little slices of wood from your sockets untill eventually they will fit without huge gaps or to much sounds pushing them together. they can be tight, just not to tight for you will also have to add some glue when clamping them.

Fitting Dovetails Fitting dovetails

This say it all

This say it all

Some other nice Examples of Just Right Dovetails to inspire your on your future journey to Dovetail making!