Oct 292013
 
heavydutyrake

One of the most important steps to building a Log Cabin is clearing the land in order to build on it.  There are several tools that can be used in this process and we are going to go over each one in depth. We want you to be able to make the best possible decision for yourself:

  • Stump Cutter – Also known as a stump grinder, a stump cutter is designed to do exactly what its name says which is cut stumps.  If you are looking for stump cutters we have a few resources for you. First, here is a video we found that we feel contains the best information when looking for Stump Cutters/Stump Grinders:

  • Lopper – The word lopper may look foreign to you, but really they are just oversized pruning shears.  This guy is kind of crazy (end of the world type so maybe not) but he has a great demonstration as to what a lopper is, how to take care of it, and how its used.

  • Mattock/Pickaxe – If you have ever played MineCraft than you know what a pickaxe does. Same concept applies here. Take a look at this video if you have never used a pickaxe:

  • Heavy-Duty Rake – When you think heavy duty rake I am sure you are thinking something along the lines of a really thick rake…and your assumptions would do what they always do. These are huge machines that I would recommend renting at some point if you have a lot of semi-open land to clear. Here are a couple of videos that show them hard at work:

Mar 232012
 

Students from Cornell University (you know this has to be good if it’s from those Big Red Bears) have figured out how to generate electricity from the vibration of wind passing next to lightweight pads.  So we have all see Wind-Turbines and understand how they work.  The blades cut through the wind and spin around generating electricity that can be stored and kept for a while.   Vibro-wind is nothing like that.  Even the slightest breeze will cause the pads to vibrate and by using a piezoelectric (or lots of smaller ones) transducer which is made out of ceramic/polymer and it emits electrons when stressed.  Here is a video that shows exactly how it works for the most part.  They will not tell you the secret goopy stuff they put on one side of the ceramic plate, but it will give you enough idea to start trying your own.  

You can see one in action in this video.  Its pretty amazing how this works.  I am interested in seeing how this ends up in the next few years.  I think this is going to be the cheapest alternative to living off the grid.  With this, I believe that most everyone will be able to micro-generate their own electricity.  Plus, on top of everything else, this is perfect for a cabin in the middle of nowhere. 

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Some of the ultra conservatives out there believe that wind-generation leads to major problems with birds, bats, and other sensitive habitats.  Most of the people who live near these huge wind-turbines have complained about the noise that is attributed to the huge towers and also vibrations.  It almost feels like an earthquake at times.  Francis Moon of Cornell University (Professor of Mechanical Engineering) has created a panel of 25 lightweight pads that oscillate at the slightest breeze.  The pads are then attached to piezoelectric material that will produce electricity from the vibrations off the pads.  Professor Moon has been working tirelessly working with a team of undergraduates to create a working prototype called “Vibro-Wind.”  You see examples of these in the videos and pictures. 

Feb 282012
 

broadaxeProbably one of the most important tools that you can have if you are hewing the logs yourself.  Hewing is basically the process from taking a round log and making a flat edge.  This is essential with stacking the locks on top of each other to build your wall.  A broadaxe is used in the final steps to create a much smoother edge to the log for stacking.  You have to make sure its smooth and very flat and the broadaxes’ large sharp one sided blade allows you to cut a smooth side to a log.  Check this video out because it actually shows you how you can hew a log completely with a broadaxe.  This guy does it pretty quickly but you get the idea.  If you want to make it more pretty, just take your time with it.

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Feb 212012
 

Everyone know what a chainsaw is and what it does.  Its portable, mechanical and is usually powered by electricity, compressed air, hydraulic power, or in most cases a two-stroke engine.  Chainsaws are used for cutting down trees.  They are much easier to use than an axe but there are also a lot more safety standards that come with using one.  If you want a full list of safety regulations and tips for using a chainsaw, try this website.  Its a really great source to have if you are a newbie.  There are several classes offered all around the world also.  Here is an example of a class if you live anywhere near Maine.  If you want  some inside knowledge on a class, here are a couple of PowerPoint presentations. 

Gas-Powered Chain Saws vs. Electric Chain Saws

Gas Powered

Pros:  They tend to cut more quickly and smoothly than an electric chain saw.  They tend to be easier to cut with because there is not as much pressure needed to cut due to the faster chain speeds.  16-18 inch chain bar length.
Cons:  They are usually a bit heavier than electrics along with being very noisy.  There is also the health hazard of the exhaust fumes.  They need to be tuned-up more often than electrics.  They also tend to be more expensive. 

Electric Power

Pros: Most are corded, light and cost a lot less than gas powered chainsaws.   They start every time pretty much and a lot easier than the gas powered ones.  You just plug them in and squeeze.
Cons: They are a lot smaller than gas powered chainsaws so you are pretty limited to what you can and cannot cut.  You are also tethered so unless you  have a REALLLY long extension cord, you are limited to the distance you can be from an outlet. Chain bar length is usually 14-16 inches.

Features

Chain saws are all different.  They come with quite a few features these days if you are looking at newer models.  Some of the features that you should look for in a chain saw include but are not limited to the following:

  • Reduced-kickback bar and chain
  • Chain Brake
  • Bar-t0 guard
  • Chain catcher
  • Bucking spikes
  • To0l-free chain adjuster
  • Visible bar oil level
  • Anti-vibration
  • Trigger lockout
  • Shielded muffler
  • Cases
  • Wraparound Front Handle
  • Automatic Chain oiler

Brands

There are lots of brands to choose from when it comes to chain saws.  Most outdoor power equipment companies make several types of chain saws.  There are a total of five companies that I trust when it comes to chain saws.

  • Craftsman
  • Echo
  • Homelite
  • Husqvarna
  • Stihl

Places to Look