Sunday, June 30, 2013

It’s Easy to Make Your Own Liquid Hide Glue

Here’s the liquid hide glue recipe I’ve been using the past few years. It's really easy... It requires three ingredients and three minutes.

Measured by weight, here they are:

1 oz 192 gram strength hide glue granules
.2 oz Urea Prills
1.5 oz distilled water.

To mix, simply place a small glass jar on your scale and tare it out. Add your granules followed by the urea. I give these a quick stir and then add the water.

Once the three ingredients are poured, I stir it together well and cover it to leave it sit overnight.

The next morning I heat up the glue to 140 degrees in my homemade $3.00 glue pot. I let it cook for at least 2 hours and it is ready to go. In order to use this it will need to be slightly heated in the glue pot, warm water, or simply placing the jar in the microwave for a few (and I mean a few!) seconds.

I often make a double batch but I would not advise making a batch larger than you will be using up in a few weeks. The fresher the better.

I know Don Williams uses and recommends canning salt instead of urea. I have tried this but have to play around a little more to find the right ratio of salt for what I like. Don told me once that the urea can potentially cause a problem in the glue down the road. (Titebond and Old Brown Glue are both urea depressed however.) Don, if you’re reading, can you enlighten us as to what the potential issue with urea specifically was? If I find the right ratio I will be sure to post about it as the canning salt is way cheaper and more readily available than urea prills. (Unless there is some supplier I am not aware of.)


Hide Glue Granules – Eugene Thordahl
Urea Prills – Homestead Finishing Products
Distilled Water – Your local grocery store

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Do You Know Who I Am?

For guests of the blog, I decided to put up an "About Me" page. You can click on it on the side bar under my picture or click here: About Me.

It's kind of weird putting this info up but I figure that it might be of interest to people just stopping by and curious about what in the world this blog is all about anyway. I mean, really, what do historic furniture, antique woodworking tools, chickens, bread baking, and photogenic four year olds have in common anyway?

Me, I guess.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June's Progress

This weekend I had granite blocks delivered from Freshwater Stone in Orland, Maine. I purchased these offcuts from the Spring sale they had a couple weeks ago. They will be used as foundation for the studio. The sills will sit right on top of the granite keeping the building nice and dry.

Andy showed up in his truck as we were packing up to head out to church on Sunday. Fortunately it didn’t take too long to unload them and we made it to the service in time.

I am finishing up a pine table top for a client right now. The top had years of surface grime. I removed the grime and old coating with ethanol and applied an oil/varnish blend for a more protective “oiled” look. The texture is nice and satiny now.

In other news, we cut the door to the oven and pulled the sand out yesterday. It was pretty amazing how packed the sand was making it sort of a chore to dig out. But all went smoothly and we lit a fire inside to help the drying process. Even though we have yet to do the outermost layer of cob we plan to try a bake in the oven tomorrow night for a trial run.

(Ps. Anyone who can make it next week for the next step in cob stomping, you are welcome to come. It’ll be a lot of fun again. I promise no bees this time.)

I took a fire lit video of the inside of the oven.

Julia’s preparing the dough for tomorrow’s bake.

Monday, June 24, 2013

When Do You Have Time to Work?

In response to my posts about our plethora of homesteading activities, I was recently asked when I have time to work. This question could be answered multiple ways:

1. Any moment I’m not working on projects at home. (I get up pretty early and go to bed pretty late.)
2. When the immediate income need rises I find myself back in the studio more.
3. My income making time is woven into and around homesteading projects. This makes my schedule not very predictable but it is sort of dictated by weather, client demands, etc…

This question got me thinking again about how Julia and I have had a goal for years now to get to a place of very little expenses due to the extensiveness of our homesteading investment. We do already grow almost all of our year’s vegetables, we will again be raising meat chickens this year, and we (Lord willing) will be buying two goats to be milked next year. So I think we are are onto a good start.

I know personally a family in the area whose expenses are around $13,000/year (no mortgage, grow own food, little frivolous spending). This lifestyle is not one of laziness or disdain of hard work. Growing your year’s food supply is a lot of work… work we would love to do more of. What this lifestyle does is it brings nutritious delicious food to our dinner table without paying through the nose because someone was paid to slap an “organic certification” label on it. This life of bypassing much of the money earning / spending cycle by producing yourself what you need is what Julia and I have our sights set on. We know it will be a longer term goal for us as we are slaves to a mortgage for at least another decade but goals are good things to have.

The bees seem to be thinking about making comb now!

The way homesteading fits in with the business is developing well. When the studio is finished, a work day at home will enable even more fluid transition all day long from furniture conservation to farming. Picture a day that begins by gathering eggs and letting the chickens out of the coop and then moves to veneer patching a 19th century dining table or consolidating a flaking painted surface to helping Julia harvest kale or dig potatoes, followed by amalgamating an aged natural resin spirit varnish and then milking my goats before dinner.

This blended life is beautiful and vibrant. I expect that the interplay between my clients and the animals will occasionally produce interesting circumstances. For example, I always enjoy when I answer my phone “Klein Furniture Restoration…” and you can hear clucking hens in the background or like the time I was making a materials order and Timothy our tenacious bantam rooster was crowing at the tops of his lungs. The woman taking the order on the other end of the line couldn’t stop laughing. “I can’t wait to tell Jeff about this!” she said. It feels good to be so connected to our source of sustenance while at the same time bringing a smile to someone’s day.

A “down to earth”, debt free, barter-based, agrarian/furniture conservation rural family economy is what we’re after.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When It Rains It Pours

Adventures in Beekeeping and the Building of an Earthen Oven

As you may recall, I had mentioned a while back I have been building a top bar beehive as well as getting the foundation ready for an outdoor earth oven. I had the beehive completed about three weeks ago and have been waiting to catch a swarm to inhabit it... Looking for a swarm to come across my radar screen. Since then I’ve been working on the oven…

The Earth Oven

Our interest in sourdough bread baking began about 6 years ago. We started by reading books and surfing the internet for advice. The past 4 years we’ve been using a Cloche to bake inside our conventional oven. It does a really good job but I always had my sights set on a real deal wood-fired earthen oven for baking these wild yeast loaves. Since we finally now have a place of our own we decided to build one.

I started by digging a hole 48” diameter 3’ deep. Then I hauled rocks in a wheelbarrow from the other side of our property to fill the hole. Once I reached ground level, I began dry stacking them into a wall to support the hearth floor. The three primary keys to successful dry stacking are 1. Use flat rocks 2. Overlap the rocks in each subsequent layer 3. Build it leaning slightly in toward the middle so settling doesn’t send it tumbling outward. The foundation layers consist of a cob ring filled with empty glass bottles buried in a mortar of clay and jointer shavings, followed by a dense cob mass on top, with fine sand to level the hearth bricks once set in place.

This is where the friends help really comes in handy! Now we need cob. Lots of cob. A mixture of sand and clay and straw poured on a tarp and stomped to an even mixture. The more feet the merrier. We had friends from church come down to help as well as one of our close friends from the peninsula. And all the kids running amuck.

After the hearth bricks were set out, the sand form was made and wrapped with a barrier of wet newspaper. Then it’s time for building the cob walls. The method is to pack it firmly without crushing the sand form and build up in layers.

The Great Bee Adventures

Here’s where the interesting part comes in… right in the beginning of my planned project day with friends driving from an hour away, I get a call from my father in law. He’s found a bee swarm. Now’s the time. Oh man... What timing! The ironic thing is that this work day was actually rescheduled twice already due to serious downpours of rain. So here everyone is and I get a call that I have to leave to get these bees in the next few hours before they fly off and find a home elsewhere.

I decided to make the quick run to get them. I met my father in law with his extension ladder and drove over to Brooklin across the road from The Cave. The swarm had come out of the wall of an Odd Fellows Hall. There they were 20ft up the wall under the window sill balled up a little bigger than a grapefruit. This was a very small swarm which is good for me because I ain’t never done this before. We positioned the ladder, I suited up, lit the smoker, and ascended to meet my fate. It went so well. The bees were so docile and happy and were singing and humming away seemingly delighted to meet me. I held a cardboard box under the swarm and scraped them down into the box which was smeared with honey and dripped with anise essential oil. They couldn’t have been happier. I knew I got the queen because all the bees were so content to stay in the box after being brought down the ladder. I wrapped them in a blanket and drove them home.

At home, they were not as willing to get in the hive. They were buzzing pretty loud after that 20 minute bumpy drive. When I removed the top, the bees all scattered in the air and refused to get in box. I set the box and the blanket down and walked away to let them cool down.

So I went back to the oven building project and I kept an eye on the bees from a distance. I became disheartened as their numbers diminished slowly over the next half an hour. I was sure I’d lost them. Bummer.

My generous hardworking friends headed off for home and Eden and I finished off the last bit of the mud oven. With the dome finally completed at 7:30, we began cleaning up from the day’s events. Feeling pretty sad for myself for having lost the swarm, I walked over the hive area and began collecting the stuff. I lifted the blanket to fold it up and what did I see? Bees! There they all were hiding under the blanket. Glory! Glory! Thinking quickly, I picked up the blanket and laid it over the open hive. And then I walked away fast. Real fast. I left them alone to get acquainted with the hive. About twilight time when they began feeling calm and sleepy I suited up and began placing the top bars in place, hoping the clusters would leave the blanket and cluster to the bars (laced with beeswax). Success!

Feeling pretty excited I slept that night with anticipation to check on them in the morning. When I lifted the blanket my heart stopped for a moment because not a one of them were moving. I brushed them all into the box and they didn’t even as much as twitch a limb. Having never done this before, I thought that this could be a normal part of the process, I just never read about this happening. It turns out they were cold from the chilly morning. Fortunately after the sun began warming them up they revived and have been happy buzzing around the field all day long.

In a few days, we will cut the door into the mud oven and remove the sand form so that the drying is hastened. Then we will begin building the outer insulation layer and final finish surfacing.

Oh and today I bought a car.

So the past few weeks during the relentless rain, I kept saying “When it rains, it pours”. I guess I didn’t realize how true that really is. These two days have been insane.

Peaches are coming on now...

and Julia's been perfecting our bread recipe.