Category Archives: DIY Projects

Garage born and raised projects that are done because no one else seems to be able to build it like you would. In another words, you did it yourself and it rocked!

Hardtack

by Woodsbum

For those of you who are not sure what hardtack is, think of it like a horribly thick and hard cracker. What is nice is that it will literally last forever. It doesn’t go bad. What I like it for is tossing some hard cheese and meat on it, honey, or use it to dip into a soup. People also eat it as is, but it is a bit bland.

Here is the recipe:

 

  • 3 cups of white flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of water

Mix it all together and roll it out into a big square. Cut the dough into about 9 equal portions or just make them about as equal as you can get. Once you get these portioned and cut, use a nail to poke about 14 holes to make it resemble the holes on a saltine cracker.

Bake the pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove them from the sheet and let them cool. They should look like slightly browned, puffy crackers.

Each piece of hardtack is about 150 calories.

 

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Homemade Applesauce

by Woodsbum

I searched for quite a while before I found a good applesauce recipe. Most call for all sorts of weird things. I really like this recipe because it is simple, basic and tastes great.

Here are the ingredients per my batch. Some math may be required:

  • 18 lbs of apples
  • 3 cups of water or apple juice/cider
  • Juice of 3 lemons (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed of course)
  • 5 teaspoons of Cinnamon

First thing you will need is your apples. I used half Gala and half Granny Smith. They are much better if you use them before they get too soft.

Make sure you pick up one of these:

Apple slicer

Apple slicer

These slicer things make short work of peeling, slicing, and coring an apple. When you pull the apple meat off the device, just cut the whole apple coil in half, then throw it into the pot with the ingredients. There is no need to play games with adding things one at a time. Just toss it all in and put it on low heat to start cooking down.

Cut and ready for cooking

Cut and ready for cooking

Once it is all cooked down and the apples are soft, you need to pull the apple out and blend them. I use a Ninja like this one:

Ninja

Ninja

The hot applesauce will be a bit running, but it will be perfect to just jar up and can. I left about 1/2 inch of headspace on my jars and then water bath canned them. The 18 lbs made a little over 6 quarts of applesauce.

Ready for canning

Ready for canning

The whole process took about an hour and half from start to finish. The best part is how great the applesauce turned out. I don’t think that I have ever had any store bought or homemade applesauce that tasted better.

As a side note, I do things a bit different with my cinnamon. I purchase the sticks in bulk and then grind it myself as I need it. This gives a stronger taste without the bite that you get with the preground stuff in the stores. Even the smell is better.

Have some fun and good luck. I am getting ready to can some peaches that we picked up in Wenatchee sometime this week.

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Plum Preserves

by Woodsbum

Due to travel, it has been a been over a week since my last post. I tell you, life is really crazy.

When I got home I found that the French improved plum tree in my backyard was ready for harvest. We grabbed several bags, one of which was pitted and put into my dehydrator. The other one was pitted and put into a pot for preserves/jam. The recipe we use is a 2 ingredient variety that just takes longer to complete than one that calls for pectin.

The recipe is as follows:

  • Use about a 20 small plum/prune to 4.5 cups of sugar ratio. 12 fruit to 4.5 cups of sugar for the bigger plums.
  • Stir the fruit and sugar up, then leave it to sit for about 2 hours.
Coated and slowly heating plums

Coated and slowly heating plums

  • Heat the mixture up slowly until all the sugar is melted. This should be done on 3/10 or 4/10 on your heat setting. Once the sugar becomes mostly liquid and not all grainy, bring your heat up to 6/10 and get it steadily bubbling.
  • Once your mixture is completely bubbling, turn your heat up to the lower portion of your high setting, 8/10, for about 10 minutes. Stir the mixture constantly.
  • Turn the heat down to about 3/10 and stir it until the bubbling subsides dramatically. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and let it sit until it is cool enough to comfortably sit on the skin without burning.
After first heating

After first heating

  • Repeat the heating process another 4 times to complete a full 5 heating cycles.

Once the final heat is done, take the mixture off the stove and fill your sterilized jars. Just follow current canning standards.

The more times that you heat the mixture, the thicker the preserves/jam will be. If you happen to add too much sugar, you can always just use it as syrup or a sauce. The nice thing about making jellies and jams is that there is no such thing as a bad batch. You just improvise the label and use it a bit differently.

We were finishing our 3rd heating cycle last night so I don’t have any pictures of the finished jam yet. The whole process can take 2-3 days due to the heating and cooling cycles. Because of all the sugar you don’t have to worry about bacteria growing. It is fairly well preserved once the first heat cycle is completed, but the follow up cycles set your consistency and thickness.

Happy jamming!

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Finishing My Pipe

by Woodsbum

Actually, this is my son’s pipe that I made.

In woodworking, I have always had problems with finishing the project. For some reason, I can bend metal or carve very intricate things without issue. Getting it to look all nice and shiny after I am done has always been an issue. The folks over at Woodcraft actually steered me in the right direction this time.

The product and method that the Woodcraft guys suggested was similar to the method that people turning pens use. Doctor’s Woodshop Pens Plus polish and finish is what they suggested. Here is what they had me do:

  1. Load up a polishing wheel on my bench polisher.
  2. Polish up the pipe using several loads to the polishing pad.
  3. Coat the pipe, let it dry, and then buff it back out.

I still have to do the final polish/buff on the pipe and apply a couple more coats. It did turn out really nice, however. The final wood color was only a shade or two darker than when the wood was wet.

Mostly finished pipe

Mostly finished pipe

The color and the way that the grain was made to just pop is really exciting. Both of the other blanks I did had a much lighter colored wood. With the etching that Jerry is doing I am thinking a dark stain to the etched area and then use this polish for the rest will be perfect.

Due to my son’s inability to wait to test the pipe out I still have another coat and some polishing to do on this build. He said that the draw was actually quite nice and the tobacco stayed lit longer than his other pipes. This made me feel pretty good about the time and energy I spent building this thing.

Here is a good picture to the polish/finish that I used:

Polish/finish

Polish/finish

Again, just load your pad and go to buffing. It will polish and apply the finish all through the use of the buffing wheel.

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Carving Pipe Blanks

by Woodsbum

Well, the wife has another reason to be completely annoyed with me. I discovered that there is ANOTHER way for me to waste time and money. The pipe store has drilled briar wood pipe blanks. That is correct….  PIPE BLANKS!!!!

Now I not only have the opportunity to sit and smoke my pipe, drink beer, and hang out with my dog. I have the opportunity to make it look like I am doing something OTHER than smoking my pipe, drinking beer and hanging out with my dog. By finding these little gems I now look like I am working on some sort of project.

The pipe blanks are actually pretty simple. The stem is already set as are all the drilled holes. All that is required is some elbow grease to form the bowl. Here are some pictures of where I started and the progression until almost completed. It is not done yet because I have to get my friend to etch in a Navy Chief’s Anchor onto it and then polish.

Briar Block

Briar Block

After some sanding, filing and carving, I got to this point.

Pipe in progress

Pipe in progress

Here is another angle after some more carving, filing and sanding.

Pipe in progress

Pipe in progress

Although I have got it to the point where I am ready to do final sanding and polishing, I want to wait until I get it actually done in case I have to go back and fix something.

These pipe builds are actually pretty sweet. Thus far I have got 3 to the point where I just need to polish them. The shape for all 3 has been the same, but I will soon be doing some creative work on one or two. Although I am not fond of straight stem pipes, I will probably grab one because that is all the local store has left in stock. I can do a shorty, rounded bowl straight pipe that won’t look too bad.

Once I get the polishing done I will post some more pictures.

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