The Anne of All Trades Blog

The 3100 finally has a name!

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In June, I had the incredible opportunity to buy my dream farm truck, a 1953 Chevy 3100. My grandpa and I had always planned to restore an old truck together, but he passed away before we got the chance. When I graduated from University, I restored a 63 mustang in his honor, but I had to sell it while I was living in Asia.

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This truck seemed too good to be true, and for a couple of months, it was. As it turns out, when I went to register the truck, there was a title issue which prevented me from transferring the title into my name. I’d done my due diligence, from as far as a lay-person could tell, everything was in order with my purchase, but when I went to register it, all kinds of red flags started going up. To make a very long story short, I’m now on a first name basis with everyone at our local and state DMVs and there have been endless visits to their offices, endless paperwork, and lots of phone calls. The whole situation has been very frustrating in and of itself, but most frustrating is the fact that I can’t start any of the major renovation projects on the truck until the title is clear. That said, it being an old truck, it does need a little fiddling here and there to keep it running in the meantime, and of course I’m happy to oblige.

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Earlier this week, my little buddy, Chairman Meow, who’s been shop and farm cat extraordinaire for seven years, the cat who followed me like a dog, slept at the foot of my workbench in the shop, and ran to greet me when I pulled into the driveway, passed away suddenly. Chairman was my first pet stateside, a gift to Adam and I while we were engaged, and to say we were very attached is an understatement. He was a constant in our young marriage, he made the move to the farm with us like a champion, and he lived the best life a cat could live, and none of that made it easy to say goodbye to him.

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A few minutes after I got the news about Chairman, however, I got the call that the truck was finally mine. I decided to name the truck the Chairman in my little buddy’s memory- a reminder that even on the hardest days there is a silver lining to look for.

Posted on October 8, 2018 and filed under Adventures and Updates, Blog.

Husky LED Lights Review

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

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My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not an expert… anything really. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to working on cars, construction, framing, electrical and renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Ok let’s talk lights: The Husky 200 Lumen LED Magnetic Clip Light $9.97, The 200 Lumen LED Magnetic Hook Light $9.97 (I like to call it a puck light), and the Husky 300 Lumen LED Dual Beam Aluminum Headlight $14.97.

I’ll be honest, at first glance, I made a snap judgment that these lights were just going to be another thing knocking around in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, but I tossed them in my work bag to put them to the test and was shocked at just how often they’ve come in handy. As I’ve mentioned many times, I spend a lot of time working around the farm where there are no power cords. I also have a bad habit of working really late at night, so extra light is usually a huge plus. I have and love the 18v Milwaukee work light, but it doesn’t fit in my work bag and can’t sneak into tight spots for directional lighting.

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It’s important to remember that, especially with tools, you get what you pay for, and Husky definitely does appeal far more to the homeowner and the contractor looking for a good deal than to those making lifetime tool investments, but I really appreciate that Husky backs up their brand with solid warranty and replacement plans. While Husky tools had a noticeable dip in quality several years ago, the brand has made a lot of strides over the past two years to really kick up their product lines and production standards, so if you haven’t used any of their recent tools, I think they are definitely worth a second look.

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These little Husky lights are compact, bright, and have a decent battery life considering the amount of light they are putting out. The magnetic puck clicks onto car hoods, hangs on nails, and provides great directional lighting in tight spaces. The magnetic clip light has a little pull-out stand, and can be set on the floor and angled directly at the area you need to light up. Though I hate wearing headlamps, it’s often the only option when climbing around in rafters, something I’ve been spending quite a bit of time doing lately. The headlamp is comfortable, has four modes- spot, flood, both, and a flashing red light. The incorporation of the reflective backing on the battery pack expands the useability of this light outside the jobsite to biking, hiking, or camping. The lights all have rubber casing, with the intention of giving added protection for drops. The clip lights have Phillips head screws on the battery pack, and while I hate having to grab another tool to change batteries, it is nice that when the lights do get dropped or knocked over, the batteries don’t go flying in ten different directions.

Since I’m planning on keeping these little lights in my work bag, always at the ready, I went ahead and invested in some rechargeable batteries. The lights come with batteries to get you started, but they only had about a three hour run-time on those batteries. I just feel better knowing I’m not running through and disposing of a whole lot of batteries over the life of these tools.

Would I buy these tools?

These three lights have earned a long-term spot in my tool bag, because they shed much needed light in tight spaces and have a small footprint in my toolbag. For under $35, it’s a small investment with big rewards.

That magnetic puck light especially, for $10 is pure awesome. I’ve used it all over the farm, working on my old farm truck, and it now lives on the fridge in my metal shop, ready to grab whenever needed.

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Posted on October 8, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.

Husky 9 Drawer Workbench Review

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

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My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional mechanic. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to working on cars, construction, framing, electrical and home renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about this Husky 9 Drawer Workbench:

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Organization has always been a huge struggle for me. Part of my creative process involves a major explosion of all the tools and supplies I own. Logically speaking, I know that cleanliness and organization are the keys to productivity and efficiency, but somehow, despite my best intentions, I’m a tornado in my own space. One way to stave of the hurricane, however, is to make sure everything has it’s place.

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This bench is a real winner. It looks sleek, it’s got a solid base, and it provides an enormous amount of storage, which, for me at least, was a huge step in the right direction.

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Awesome features:

·      Strong drawers

·      Drawers extend fully, and offer full support even when fully extended

·      Bottom drawers offer tons of storage

·      The built in power strip is awesome

·      The handle on the side makes for easy relocation even when fully loaded

·      Comes with grip mats which protect tools and keep them from slipping around

·      The paint holds up well and the welds and fasteners are all solid

Things I wish were better/different:

·      I wish the wheels were made of rubber rather, would be more durable and have better non-slip capabilities

·      The benchtop doesn’t seem super durable. It’s replaceable, but I don’t want to have to replace it. It’s easily damaged by solvents and dents/scratches easily

This bench retails for $309. Would I buy it?

If you’ve got stacks of tools and supplies clogging up your workspace, you owe it to yourself to get organized. If adding more drawer space and another work surface can help you get there, you’d be hard pressed to find a better bench at this price point.

Posted on October 4, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.

Milwaukee 18V Brushless Drill/Driver Set

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

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My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction, framing, electrical and renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about this month’s MAJOR TOOL CRUSH, the Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Hammer Drill & Impact Driver Combo Kit (2-Tool) w/(2) 5Ah Batteries.

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This kit, though a big initial investment is a fantastic value. I paid a little less for my (other brand) 18V drill/driver kit a few years ago and they served me well, but now having used several of Milwaukee’s tools on their 12v and 18v battery platforms, I’m making the switch to Milwaukee everywhere it makes sense. Their battery-powered grinders are nice, the flood/spot light comes in extremely handy, and the random orbital sander has earned its spot in my traveling farm tools bag. I’ve been slinging these tools around the farm, in the shop, and around the tiny house build for the past six months and I love them.

“There is a $179 version of this kit on sale this weekend at Home Depot. What makes these different? As a weekend warrior, do I need the more expensive kit?”

The biggest difference is that the drill motors in these cheaper options are not brushless. As I was trying to find the right words on how to explain the difference between brushless and standard drill motors, I found this awesome article in Popular Mechanics that explains it way better than I could. Will the weekend warrior ever be able to tell the difference between a brushless and non brushless motor? That is debatable, but the real difference between the two kits, at least for me, is the 5ah batteries that come in the more expensive kit. I was a little worried that the 5ah batteries would make the tools a tad too heavy, but that hasn’t been the case. The battery life is great and the weight is surprisingly low considering the power and amp hours available.

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 As I tend to do, I’ve used the drill and driver for a few unconventional applications, and they performed exceedingly well. I got a lot of flack for using the ½” driver with a paddle to mix my drywall mud for the tiny house, but it worked like a charm, and since I didn’t have power cords at the build site this time around, it genuinely was the only option available. The hammer drill has loosened quite a few rusty nuts around the farm (I’m still curious as to why the previous farm owner used assorted sized nuts and bolts SO frequently in the place of regular screws and nails). It’s drilled quite a few holes because it was the handiest option and I happened to have square drive drill bits.

 I used the drill and driver quite a bit in my shavehorse build, installing the subfloor, drywall, steel roofing and concrete board in the tiny house, as I was shoring up the roof of the metal shop, and on the chicken coop build, and I’ve found zero complaints thus far.

Awesome Features on the Hammer Drill:

·      Light and compact- allows for access to tight spaces while still delivering surprising power

·      ½” chuck expands the applications of the tool significantly

·      Variable speed trigger

·      2 speed gearbox, 1200 lbs of torque

Awesome Features on the Impact Driver:

·      Single handed bit insert on the ¼” hex chuck

·      Self-tapping screw function for metal roofing screws

These tools retail for $379. Would I buy them?

Absolutely. It is definitely an investment, but a valid one, especially if you’re already on the Milwaukee battery platform. If you’re not, I’d strongly encourage you to look at the brushless options within your current battery platform before making the investment. The Ridgid and Makita brushless drill/driver kits are also really great options.

 





Posted on October 2, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.

Review Roundup: Ridgid MEGAMax, Bosch Paddle Bits, Diablo Recip Blades

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

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My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction, framing, electrical and renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

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First- let’s chat about Bosch Spade/Paddle bits:

On products like these, I like to run an initial test, and then report back after months or even years of hard use on how they hold up. I put these to the test drilling holes in a walnut scrap board to create lathe chisel organization, interested to see how quickly they cut and how bad the blowout would be on a semi hard wood like walnut without a backer board. The brand new bits cut cleanly and quickly and there was minimal blowout.

I tried again making a hanger hole on a walnut cutting board with similarly acceptable results. Obviously, without a backer board, a little blowout is inevitable, but it was pretty minimal, certainly better than other paddle bits I’ve used, and easily fixed with a router and roundover bit, a step I was intending to do regardless.

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The real test though was the hundred++ holes drilled in the studs of the tiny house as we ran electrical wire. The bits held up great even as they heated up from use.

Any time you’re using threaded paddle bits, you’ve got to be careful because the bits have a major tendency to want to grab in the wood and take your arm for a ride, and those can be real (literal) wrist breakers. The safest way to use the bits in a hand held driver is to cradle the driver against your torso while drilling so if it does grab, there’s a stop. Better to get the wind knocked out of you a bit than to snap your arm.

The manufacturer claims the full thread tip, the contoured paddle design and spur and reamer tips allow the bit to cut 10x faster than a conventional paddle bit. While my tests aren’t nearly scientific enough to assign a number to the increased cutting speed, it is definitely noticeable.

These bits retail for $19.99. Would I buy them? Absolutely. They are a great value for the dollar. They cut fast and clean and should have a significantly longer lifespan than their similarly priced “competitors” which aren’t worth the steel they are produced with.

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The coolest feature of the Ridgid MEGAMax is that you can switch from drilling function to cutting function by switching out the heads. After the holes were drilled for electrical in the tiny house, we switched to the reciprocating saw head and in went the Diablo blades.

 I’ll be honest, testing these Diablo recip-saw blades couldn’t have come at a better time…

because between doing demo work in my metal shop, working on the Tiny House, and building a chicken coop, I had more use for a reciprocating saw these past three months than ever before in my life. These blades have actually held up shockingly well, though having used and abused Diablo blades in most of my tools since I started building seven years ago, I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve said before and will say again that Diablo blades are my go-to blades because of price point and durability. I don’t have much more to say about them aside from the fact that I made it through all three builds with just three blades- no small feat. Most of the recip saw work I was doing wasn’t in clean, fresh wood, it was in heavily nail and bolt infused boards. The only time I actually had to replace blades was when I kinked them from trying to cut too close into a corner (which happened twice and I have the busted knuckles to prove it).

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So now let’s talk about the Ridgid MEGAMax, the Reciprocating Saw Attachment, the Rotary Hammer Attachment, the Right Angle Drill Attachment, and the Ridgid 18v 6AH Octane Battery System.

  • My favorite features at a glance:

  • Trigger lock for continuous use

  • Customizeable head placement

  • Cordless Rotary Hammer Drill attachment

  • Variable speed trigger

  • Safety lock

  • Easy blade change twist lock on the recip saw attachment

  • LED light illuminates dark working conditions

Ridgid toes the line between providing tools for personal and professional use really well. This tool is a perfect example of that. You’re getting WAY more power out of a tool like this than, say, an 18v drill motor, but I’d also argue that this is one of those tools that is far better suited for a professional user. It’s powerful, but that power from a battery operated unit comes at a pretty big price- the weight of the tool. There are a lot of places on the farm I need tons of power but I can’t get electricity, so this tool has come in extremely handy when I needed to drill bracket holes in pier blocks, secure locking bolts in concrete while building barn stalls, etc. Using a rotohammer to drill concrete without a cord is a pretty incredible thing. The right angle drilling attachment is a nice feature, but again, one probably far better suited to the professional user rather than a weekend warrior or DIYer. I don’t really love the reciprocating saw attachment. Not because it’s not quality, but simply because most of the reciprocating saw use for my projects is done on ladders at awkward angles, and often above my head. I’m pretty strong for my size, but even for me, that weight is pretty tough to wield away from my body or above my head for any length of time at all.

 

Plus, with the incredible power you’re getting from the newer, smaller 18v single purpose tools in the Ridgid toolkit, (like my favorite battery powered recip saw) there are few operations I can think of the average homeowner facing that this tool would be better suited to accomplish. All that said though, if you are already on Ridgid’s battery system and you want to invest in a multi-tool with monster power, I think this is a solid investment. One of the things that really sets this multi-tool apart from its competitors is the inclusion of the new Ridgid Octane battery technology. The tool is able to communicate with the battery depending on which head you are using so the battery can deliver the proper amount of power for that particular head. Pretty mind blowing stuff. Along with the ability to replace the heads of the MEGAMax depending on which operations you’d like to complete, you can also change the orientation of each of the heads for maximum comfort and convenience in use. That comes in handy when trying to get into tough spots and when working at weird angles.

SO. With all that in mind, the bare tool with three heads retails for $287.00 Add a 6ah Battery ($129) and Charger ($79) and you’re looking at $495. Would I buy it?

If I was already on the Ridgid battery system and I had need for battery powered rotary hammer, (which I was and I did), I’d buy the bare tool and rotary hammer attachment at a much easier to swallow $218 price point. If I were looking at starting fresh with the Ridgid system just for this one tool, and didn’t have a specific project in mind for it’s use, I’d definitely say the average weekend warrior would be much happier investing in a brushless drill/driver combo kit (I like this one on the Ridgid battery System, and this one on the Milwaukee battery system) and smaller, dedicated reciprocating saw (read my review on the Ridgid here).

 

 

Posted on September 30, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.

Reflections as I turn 30

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This post is in partnership with Joseph Carr Wines. They have invited me to share my journey and to celebrate it with a glass of wine.   

It’s 1:30 a.m., and I’m sitting in the rocking chair I built last winter next to a roaring fire in the woodshop, drinking a glass of wine, listening to the rain outside and looking at the bookshelf I just finished building across the room.

My thirtieth birthday is this week. I’ve done my best to pack as much life into the past 29 years possible. I have a few regrets, but also a whole lot of hope for the next chapters. I’ve traveled the world, worked on fishing boats, behind bars and computer screens, started businesses, failed, and tried again. I picked up a few hobbies and turned them into my livelihood. I’ve reinvented myself multiple times in multiple places and built new lives from the ground up in each new locale.

Seven years ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on my favorite bench playing my mandolin on the waterfront in Taiwan, where I was living at the time. I was sure exactly Who I was and What I was going to do with my life. A recent university grad with a degree in International business and a solid grasp on the Chinese language, I was going to be a business tycoon, traveling Asia and making money I couldn’t even have imagined as a poor kid growing up in rural Montana. I was going to live in a high rise in the city, with every modern convenience, and dang it, I was probably going to be famous too. What. A. Joke. 

My adult life has been a hilarious dichotomy, a constant struggle between my insatiable ambition, wanderlust, and the discovery that, in fact, I was not built for city life, board meetings, business plans or untold hours in front of a computer screen, I was made to live on a farm, surrounded by a close knit community, working with my hands.

Every year, life has sped up. This past year seems to have gone by especially fast. That might have something to do with the fact that I did more this year than I did in the six years prior combined. I built my dream woodworking shop between 7pm when I’d get home from work and 2am when I’d fall in bed dirty and exhausted. I shored up walls, became proficient with a sledgehammer, pulled wire, hung insulation and sheetrock and hung lights. I quit my job and went full time working for myself. I traveled to Europe twice, crisscrossed the US teaching and speaking, attending conferences and building relationships. I milked goats and trained donkeys and planted the biggest garden I’ve had yet. I found a soulmate kind of friend and we built a tiny house together. I built shavehorses, barn stalls and outdoor kitchens, whiskey cabinets and writing desks, workbenches and tool chests. I carved spoons and turned bowls. I forged tools, knives and hinges, welded table legs and steel frames.

In 2014, I started a business that failed miserably. There are a lot of reasons why, lack of self-discipline, poor business planning, high overhead, and an as-yet unidentified struggle with anxiety and depression that was getting out of control. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. I was too “busy” for everything I know to be important- family, friends, animal snuggles. I laugh about that feeling of “busy-ness” I had then, now because I cannot, for the life of me, tell you how I was filling my time. I was working twenty hours a week, had a couple pet bunnies and a few raised garden beds. No kids, no debt, no real responsibilities of which to speak. Today, I’m running a business. I’ve got a four acre farm, a half finished tiny house, a 5,000 sq ft garden, 50 animals, I’m writing a book, building furniture and releasing videos and creating social media content like there’s no tomorrow. Do I sometimes get overwhelmed? Yep. Exhausted? I might as well get tattoos under my eyes, these bags are never leaving. But I’m not busy. I’ve realized there is no truth in the statement “I don’t have time for…”

I’ve tried to eliminate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. I’m learning to reframe my thought process to understand where my priorities lie. If I don’t have time for something, it’s because I don’t value it enough to make time for it. I have learned this year that I am capable of infinitely more than I ever thought before. I have a finite amount of time, but even now, am only utilizing a fraction of it productively, and that is exciting to me. As I look toward year 30, I see a whole lot more dreams being realized. I see my business growing and the scalability of my projects increasing. I’m immeasurably grateful I get to live on a farm and build awesome stuff and hang out with so many truly incredible people. I’m proud of the success I’ve found by 30, not in the financial sense, but rather in the “figuring out what’s important” sense. I’m willing to reinvent myself as many more times, learn any more skills I need to be able to live in such a way that the way I spend my time reflects my priorities: building community, being available to family, actively engaging my body and my mind, and being able to stop, smell the roses, watch sunsets, bake pies and indulge in miniature donkey cuddles because Buddy, that is the stuff of life.

It’s now 2:30am and the fire is dying down as I sip the last of the cabernet in my glass and get ready to call it an evening. I love this #sharethejourney campaign Joeseph Carr is hosting and am thankful they’ve given me the chance to sit back and reflect this week. My 20’s sure were a wild ride, and I expect my 30’s to be even better.

Posted on September 19, 2018 .

Outdoor Kitchen Update: WOOD FIRED PIZZA OVEN!

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After another extremely busy few weeks on the farm (hello summer harvest! hello new animals!), the days are shortening and the mornings are a little chillier. We've been enjoying more farm to table dinners than ever before thanks in big part to the huge inspiration that came with the first step in my dream outdoor kitchen build- the installation of a wood-fired oven.

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To make room for the 1100 lb brick oven from Authentic Pizza Ovens, I had to pull up a few boards on the porch and build a sturdy stand. The stand is a little sparse for the time being, but that is intentional, I wanted to be able to easily work around it for the rest of the outdoor kitchen rebuild, which involves replacing the deck, adding roof cover, building an enormous farmhouse table, and installing a food prep and bar area. Ideally, this outdoor kitchen will become our more-used kitchen. Fenagling that enormous thing up there was quite an adventure in and of itself, but thankfully, when my own tractor failed to lift it, my buddy Clint was able to trailer his tractor over to lift the oven and get the oven mounted on the stand.

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I spent five days "curing" the oven, building increasingly hotter fires inside it so as not to dry it out too quickly and crack it. By day five, I had a major hankering for wood fired- EVERYTHING. And so I've spent much of the last few weeks experimenting and doing a whole lot of entertaining. 

Though I've been doing a whole lot of cooking and baking my whole life, folks online started getting a whole lot more interested in my recipes when cooking with fire got involved, and, really, I can't blame them for that. To that end, I have actually also started a cooking segment as part of the homesteading topics covered on YouTube, and the first was, naturally, my mom's failproof dough recipe. 

As is the case with every project I tackle trying to restore this old farm to its former glory, I’ve got my work cut out for me. To add strength to the stand, I used lap joints. The stand will eventually be fully enclosed, with wood and pizza paddle  storage underneath, but I will wait to do that after I’ve replaced the deck. My biggest priority was getting the pizza oven lifted to it’s final destination so I could use it this harvest season, and as long as I can use it to cook, I can make do with everything else until I can finish the rest of this project. I got it mounted and cured just in the nick of time, just as the tomatoes and basil hit their peak.

If you haven’t already guessed, I LOVE to cook. I grew up in a house where the making and eating of dinner was a family affair, and I was su-chef in my mom’s and grandmother’s kitchens as soon as I could walk. My family spent much of my young life living and traveling abroad, and my first experience with wood fired ovens was baking bread with my babushka in rural Ukraine, when I was a kid, and I was hooked. I loved stoking the fire and the smell of burning wood and baking bread.  I’ve had plans of building a wood fired oven from scratch on the farm since we moved in, but there are so many other, more pressing projects I’ve had to deal with before I could get to a quote “luxury” project like that, that I started looking into commercially produced ovens, and that’s how I came across Authentic Pizza ovens. There are tons of sizes, styles and price points available, and I chose the one I did because I didn’t want to be limited to cooking pizzas in it, this is actually going to become my primary oven. Authentic Pizza Ovens are handmade in Portugal, they are beautiful incredibly well built. And, this model especially, is a total tank. Such a tank, in fact, that I couldn’t even lift it with my own tractor, I had to hire my good buddy Clint to haul his tractor over and help me out.

Preheating these ovens actually takes about the same time as preheating an electric oven, especially if you jumpstart the process with a torch.  It takes a few tries to get used to controlling the temperature of the oven based on the amount of wood added and moving around the coals efficiently, but just like driving stick, it quickly becomes second nature. Those first bites out of the oven were pure heaven, so reminiscent of so many awesome memories from my childhood, but also just super rewarding to see some of my longterm dreams come to fruition.

I used my mom’s failproof dough recipe and some farm fresh ingredients to make what I kid you not was the best pizza I’ve ever tasted in my life. That pizza was followed by the best cinnamon rolls, then the best steaks, and now I’m basically just walking around the farm all the time looking for more stuff I can cook in that oven.

Yes, it’s a tad more cumbersome to cook in a wood fired oven than an electric oven or even a gas powered bbq, you need to have enough foresight to light the fire in time for it to be hot when you’re ready to cook, but you can save about 25 minutes in heat up time if you use a torch, and since I’m outside all the time anyway. It’s not hard to make a few extra trips over to the oven in the day to tend the fire, especially knowing the delectable goodness that will be my reward if I do.

Authentic Pizza ovens makes a gorgeous oven that is built to last. Though I loved the idea of building my own oven, getting a ready made oven was quite literally the difference between being able to start cooking this summer as opposed to waiting two or three more years before I could set aside the time to do so, so it was a no brainer for me to opt for a ready-made oven and take a couple days to build the stand and get the oven properly mounted.

A few notes on the things I’ve cooked thus far in the oven- the pizzas- use a ton of flour on the bottom of the crust, it helps enormously when it comes to sliding the pizza on and off the peel. Never walk away from the oven, your stuff cooks FAST in there. I’ve never made 6 minute cinnamon rolls before, but there you have it. When cooking steak, I pre-heated the pan on the cooktop before adding the steaks and putting it all in the oven. I don’t know if that’s a necessary step, but it gave me peace of mind.

So I hope I haven’t got you drooling too much with all this food, I look so forward to tackling the rest of this outdoor kitchen build later this year. As always, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, make sure you go out and make something with your hands this week. Cheers!

Posted on September 3, 2018 and filed under Blog, DIY and Home Renovation, Farm / Garden, Adventures and Updates.

What happened to the Hand Tools?!

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I got an email recently that made me realize that while I've been running around like a crazy person trying to start a business, finish writing my book, run my farm and keep my family alive, I haven't been doing a great job of keeping all my audiences apprised of some of the key "behind the scenes" things that might seem relevant, especially those following along specifically for the handtool woodworking and fine furniture building. For those that don't want to read this entire post, here's the quick answer: I don't do fine woodworking/handtool projects in the summer. Between the farm and my traveling teaching schedule, I simply don't get the shop time and focus required for large scale, complicated projects like that. My woodworking mentor, Frank (who is 97 by the way), has always told me that in Seattle, if the sun is shining, we stay out of the shop. I take full advantage of every sunny day we get to do construction projects around the farm, work in my enormous vegetable garden, snuggle my animals, cook outdoors, can, and preserve our harvests so we can eat well through the winter. Summer is also the time for nightly bonfires and long chats with friends and family. Mandolin playing in the sunshine, and trying to fit a huge mountain of work in the in between times.

If you'd like to know more about my business, and how things have changed for me over the past few months, check out this interview on the Made For Profit Podcast https://madeforprofit.com/episode55/ 

Some fun summer highlights thus far:

  • Teaching handtool basics at Port Townsend School of Woodworking
  • Buying my dream project truck, a 1953 Chevy 3100
  • Working the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks Open House
  • Assisting Ashley Harwood with her week-long turning intensive at the Center For Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine
  • Building a tiny house on the farm with my best friend April for my mom, who has always dreamed of living in a tiny house.
  • Cultivating our four season garden
  • Building an outdoor kitchen (pictures to come)

So for those who are here just for the handtools, stick around, they'll be back for a few really fun projects this winter- another windsor chair, a dining table, another hanging cabinet, and more. For those expecting ONLY handtools, this is a gentle reminder that my handle is Anne of ALL trades for a reason- you can expect snippets of huge range of stuff on my channels, from the restoration of my 1953 Chevy farm truck, building my metal shop, working with the animals, processing the alpaca fiber, expanding the garden, continuing the restoration process on the farm, expanding my blacksmithing efforts, woodshop adventures and outfitting the rest of the tiny house. 

 

 

Posted on July 28, 2018 and filed under Adventures and Updates, Farm / Garden, Furniture Making.

Extreme Accuracy with Bosch

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This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot. 

My first order of business with this and every power tool review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

This laser tape is the bees knees, and I think it should be another staple in every homeowner’s toolkit. There are a lot of bells and whistles to this tool that have made it especially useful for me. I’ve talked a lot about the frustrations I’ve faced with my dyslexia and apparent inability to use a measuring tape efficiently. The numbers get jumbled in my head and I always seem to forget I’ve burned an inch, then my boards end up too short.

The first project this tool came in handy on was measuring for trim on my shop build. Nothing in that whole place is square, and there’s not even one place in the whole shop where I’ll be able to put in a solid run of trim, but the digital bubble level assured me I was taking precise measurements and nothing was getting longer or shorter because of a bowed tape. I saved each measurement and it CALCULATED THE LINEAR FEET of trim I needed for the whole project automatically. That right there sealed my love affair with this tool.

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It can also calculate square footage for flooring, wall material, and paint. It can calculate volume (hello well maintenance on the farm!!), calculate pathagrean theorem (a2+b2=c2) to get the length of roofing material needed on a pitched roof, and for that matter, can also calculate pitch, slope, and angles, and might just be the ticket I desperately needed to stop making gross miscalculations on the jobsite.

I was also able to use it for site prep on the tiny house, measure trees and branch heights when choosing the exact location for the tiny house, as well as planning my means of attack when demolishing the old shed at the tiny house build site.

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The only limitation of this tool is that it requires a stop point to be able to measure distances accurately, so in instances where you’d hook the tape to measure something, you’re still tied to using a tape- at least for now. There are, of course, workarounds, you could tack up a stop block for the laser to register against, but sometimes it takes more work to be lazy than to just do things the old fashioned way. 

Awesome Features:

·      Takes precise measurements in tough to reach spots

·      Calculates angles, run, distance, pitch, square footage, volume and more

·      Built-in memory storage

·      Calculates linear feet needed for specific operations

·      Also functions as a level

·      Has 1/4/20 thread so it can be mounted on standard clamps and tripods

Things I wish were better/different:

·      It’s weird to me that you can’t set it to read 16th’s of an inch, only 32nd’s. In instances where I’d be using this level, it seems like 16th’s are more than adequate.

This retails for $99.97 Would I buy it?

Absolutely. The money/time/headaches I’ll save doing the trim and flooring in the shop and tiny house would pay for it three times over.

*I acknowledge that the Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in the Prospective 2018 Campaign. As part of the program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

 

Posted on July 27, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.