Rustic passive phone speaker

In addition to doing a lot of outdoors adventures I also like to find and create things from dead falls I find when I am out and about adventuring. While visiting my Dad there was an Oregon bitter cherry at the corner of his driveway that had died during the summer and needed removed. This wood has supplied a lot of the crafting wood for my wood turning hobby.

Since my children are home for a school holiday we decided that it would be nice to leave the house a bit and make something that they could use with a phone or tablet when we go on camping trips. The biggest thing they would like is to be able to hear their music better. I am a big advocate for less electronics while we are camping and found a design for a simple passive speaker that I could make on the wood lathe.

Fist step was to bore out the hole and then taper it towards the edge so it in the shape of a cone.
After it is bored out you will need to cut out a slot for your phone to sit in.

Once the basic shape was made and the slot cut for the phone to sit in we gave it a quick test using my phone. The only thing I didn’t realize is that on my oldest daughters phone is that the speaker is in the back of the phone and to the side. This will require a different style and slightly wider base so her phone will not fall out.

Test with unfinished wood. Didn’t want to wait for the oil rub to dry before we tested it.
Still need to sand the bottom flat so it doesn’t roll. But it looks way better after a coat of oil

How to make a stove out of a soda can

If you have ever wanted to make your own stove this is your chance at an easy stove for day trips, hiking, or to cook after the zombies arrive. With all the trash that tends to be anywhere in the world you should be able to find some type of can that can be used to make a simple stove. To make this stove you will need two cans of the same size.  Even though most cans look like they are the same size there is a small difference between brands so if you can find tow of the same kind it would be best.   The fuel used for this type of stove can be any type of denatured alcohol that is over 60% alcohol. If you use 60% rubbing alcohol you will get a sputtering burn and a cleaner burn with a higher percentage of alcohol.  I typically use the bottles of HEET used to treat gas tanks.  They are inexpensive, and as long as they are sealed will last for years until an emergency.  Typically a stove will burn for 10-15 minutes on one ounce of alcohol.  Which if you have a full bottle will give you at least 160 minutes of burn time total. Just remember to let the stove cool down in between adding more alcohol.  I did some testing with different pin hole sizes for the burner, and didn’t get too much variation on the burn time.

Items needed to make a can stove:

  • utility knife
  • two aluminum cans of the same type
  • thumbtack or something of similar size to use to poke holes through the can bottom
  • needlenose pliers

Start off with two of the same type of soda.  Different soda cans may look the same size but often are not
Start off with two of the same type of soda. Different soda cans may look the same size but often are not

Use an exacto knife or utility knife to slowly etch around the bottom edge until you cut through the bottom of the can.
Use a utility knife to slowly etch around the bottom edge until you cut through the bottom of the can.

Remove the bottom carefully.  The edges can be sharp where you just cut.  Some emery cloth or steel wool can dull the edge so it doesnt cut you.
Remove the bottom carefully. The edges can be sharp where you just cut. Some emery cloth, or steel wool can dull the edge so it doesn’t cut you.

Use a marker and mark off 16 holes evenly spaced apart.  then use a thumb tack and poke a hole in your marked spot.  The size of the hole will determine the size of the flame
Use a marker and mark off 16 holes evenly spaced apart. then use a thumb tack and poke a hole in your marked spot. The size of the hole will determine the size of the flame.

Use a book or a block to draw a line around the can with a permanent marker.  This line is about 1 1/2 inches up
Use a cloth measuring tape (or a piece of paper) to draw a line around the can with a permanent marker. This line is about 1 1/2 inches up.

You can poke a hole above the line and then use sizzers to cut the bottoms off the can.  Take one can and cut an even strip as in the top of the picture.  The strip should be just a little taller then one of the bottom sections of can.
You can poke a hole above the line, and then use scissors to cut the bottoms off the can. Take one can and cut an even strip as in the top of the picture. The strip should be just a little taller then one of the bottom sections of can.

Take the strip you cut and insert it into the bottom section.  It should fit right inside the inside rim of the section
Take the strip you cut and insert it into the bottom section. It should fit right inside the inside rim of the section.

use a small pair of needle nose pliers and crimp the edge of the can on the upper section with the pin holes in it.  If you crimp and do it the other way the alcohol will leak out when you light it.
Use a small pair of needle nose pliers, and crimp the edge of the can on the upper section with the pin holes in it. If you crimp and do it the other way the alcohol will leak out when you light it.

And you now have a completed stove.  now you can add one ounce of alcahol to the center of the can and light it up.
And you now have a completed stove. Now you can add one ounce of alcohol to the center of the can and light it up.

These are very simple stoves to make and cost very little.  They are surprisingly durable considering that they are made out of aluminum cans.  I have used them for cooking many times while out in the woods.  The only thing you will need is a way to keep your pan above the stove.  Two flat rocks side by side work very well to rest a pan on.  If you would like to see one burning you can go to this you tube link.  There are many variations to making this stove.  I have tried several of them and they all work well.  This version is the easiest to light out of the ones I have made.  But if you make one try different hole sizes and designs until you find one you like.

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Stream restoration project

This is my own little personal stream project to restore part of Wildcat Creek into better salmon, trout, and steelhead habitat.  Like many streams and rivers over the years in Oregon there have been several decisions over the years by private landowners and public departments that have caused a huge impact to these fish.  One of the worst was one my father remembers from when he was a youngster.  According to him ODFW decided in the 1960’s that the log jams in the creek were keeping the steelhead and salmon from migrating upstream during spawning season.  Their solution to this was to take a bulldozer in the summer and drive down the middle of the creek and push all of these log piles out of the stream.  The impact of this was that during the first high water levels of the winter there were no logs to slow down the water.  This caused all the gravel from the creek bed to wash away all the way down to bed rock. All of these fish species are dependent on gravel to spawn and lay their eggs.

Over the years there has been a few trees that have fallen back into the creek but not large numbers like there used to be.  Most of the deepest pockets of water are now only 2-3 feet deep during the summer. Also several areas of the bank are unstable and are washing away during the high water.  This first project is to work on stabilizing the bank and narrowing the channels so the water gets deeper.

bare dirt collapsing into the creek.
bare dirt collapsing into the creek.
Now if only the blackberries were better at holding the bank together
Now if only the blackberries were better at holding the bank together

There are several things that can be used to stabilize the bank.  The best thing to use would be planting rushes and sedges along the bank so the roots would keep the dirt from washing out.  The hard part about that is that if they don’t put down deep roots in the first year than during high water they will wash away also.  I am going to use a technique I learned about in my fisheries classes in college.  It involves using small trees that are tied into place along the stream side.  The reason that this works is because the faster water is moving the more dirt it can carry with it.  When you slow it down even a little bit the dirt will settle out of the water.  I have several small firs to clear out of the field so I am taking advantage of them to use them in this spot.  The main thing to remember is to fix the trees in place so they don’t wash out.  I am going to use some stakes made out of willows and tie them into place with some biodegradable baling twine.  By using green willow poles I might be able to get some of them to sprout out and help with shading the stream in this section also.

First bit of tree's brought over and put into place
First bit of tree’s brought over and put into place.
the tops of the trees are pointed downstream so that the bottoms can be anchored into the bank
The tops of the trees are pointed downstream so that the bottoms can be anchored into the bank.

I still need to put the stakes in to anchor them into place but it is a good start for what I would like to do.  Next will be some rock weirs to channel and create some deeper pools for the fish fry during the summer months.

 

Making sausage links

Now that I have made some ground sausage it is time to put it into link form.  I am doing this from start to finish to make it easier if anyone would like to make sausage on their own.  Which honestly is very easy to make.  You need a few items other than meat to make sausage links.

required items:

  • Meat (yes i know that is a given)
  • grinder
  • hog casings (or other kinds if you prefer)
  • seasonings
  • sausage stuffer (if you want bulk sausage you can skip the stuffer and casings)

For this sausage i am using pork and the seasoning mix i used for making the jimmy dean style sausage.  I added garlic and onion to the mix for more flavor.  I like lots of garlic in everything.  The first thing you need to do is cut your pork into strips or chunks that will fit into your grinder.  I don’t add any extra fat to my meat so it is a lot leaner then you will be getting in the store.

Pork picnic roast cut into strips and chunks to go in the grinder
Pork picnic roast cut into strips and chunks to go in the grinder

Grind up the meat once through on the largest size die that you have.  Then put the meat into a bowl or pot and mix in the spices.

spices all mixed and ready to go into the ground pork
spices all mixed and ready to go into the ground pork

After you have added the spices to the meat mix them as well as you can.  After they are mixed run them back through the grinder on a smaller die or the large if you prefer.  The size used depends on the type of sausage being made.  Chorizo and andouille are usually cut bigger then Italian sausage.  The second run through the grinder will mix up the seasonings evenly throughout the meat.

Pork coming out on second grind with spices mixed in
Pork coming out on second grind with spices mixed in

After the final grind put your sausage back in the fridge to cool it back down.  When pork starts to warm up it gets sticky and hard to work with when doing links.

feed all the casing onto the sausage stuffing tube.
feed all the casing onto the sausage stuffing tube.

Do not tie the end of the casing until all the air is out of the stuffer and the meat starts to come out.

casing all filled and twisted into foot long links
casing all filled and twisted into foot long links

After your links are done you can package them up and freeze or bbq.  It is easier to cook them if you cut the links apart.

Links cooking for dinner
Links cooking for dinner

Finish and enjoy

 

 

Homemade pork sausage

A spiral of italian sausage that we made at the same time as the copycat Jimmy dean
A spiral of italian sausage that we made at the same time as the copycat Jimmy dean

One of my favorite memories as a kid was my parents cooking some Jimmy Dean sausage for breakfast.  Now as it was then it is still my favorite sausage.  This will be my first attempt at a copycat recipe for making my own version of this sausage.  This recipe is for the normal version of their sausage.  I prefer the sage sausage but it was requested that I make some that has less sage in it.  Maybe i will do a little of both. Since I have a nice picnic roast that I got on sale I will be grinding it up to make my sausage.  This recipe can be adapted for wild game also just mix a little pork into your game meat to add some more fat to the blend.  I usually do a 3:1 ratio of wild to pork.

Regular sausage:

  • 16 ounces ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage (or more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh course ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander

Hot sausage:

  • 16 ounces ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh course ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander

Building of a new desk

My wife saw something like this when she was looking at random things online.  It looked like such a good idea that I thought I would give making a new computer desk a try.  The design is fairly simple.  It is just a wood desktop that is resting on two shelves that are the same height as you want the table to be.

Step one is lots and lots of sanding
Step one is lots and lots of sanding

For the desktop I used 2″ x 12″ utility cedar from our local hardware store (Jerry’s home improvement) .  Three that are 5′ long and two that are 3′ long. All of it is held together with some decking screws

desktop with stain
Tabletop with first coat of stain on it

Tabletop after 2nd coat of stain
Tabletop after 2nd coat of stain

Nice short shelf with my little helper removing the stickers
Nice short shelf with my little helper removing the stickers

Finished desk with one of my two monitors hooked up
Finished desk with one of my two monitors hooked up

Overall it came out very well.  Only cost me about $70 in materials to build it including the shelves.  Now to screw together another one for the wife and everything will match

Emergency water filter

In the event of an emergency getting clean water is the most important thing you can do (other than shelter from the elements).  After a natural disaster water lines maybe broken and local water sources would be contaminated.  Boiling the water will destroy any microorganisms in the water, but you will still have bad flavors and murky bits in the water.  It is easy to make a water filter out of easily accessible items.

Needed items

  • empty 2 liter soda bottle
  • clean piece of cloth
  • knife or other cutting tool
  • sand
  • gravel
  • charcoal from a fire or aquarium filter

First cut the bottom off of the soda bottle.  Only cut off the very bottom of the bottle, you want to use most of it as a funnel for the water.  Put the cap back on the bottle and put a small pinhole into the cap for the water to drain out of.  Wad up your cloth and put it into the bottom of the bottle.  Next put the charcoal into your filter.  This will filter out the flavors and smells from the contaminated water.  Also it will remove some of the toxic metals from the water if there are any present. Then add a layer of sand than a layer of gravel.  You have now completed your basic emergency filter.  You can get about 10 gallons of water filtered with it depending on how bad the water coming in is.  A simple cloth filter used on the water before you use your purifying filter will prolong the lifespan of it.  This filter will not filter out microorganisms, and the water will still need to be boiled to kill them off.  Just because water is clear doesn’t mean it is safe to drink!  Always be careful!

A good variation that you can store of this filter is to use a 2 inch PVC pipe in place of the 2 liter bottle.  Seal a pipe end cap on one end and make it as you would the 2 liter.  When you finish you can seal the top with food grade wax to keep the layers from shifting or getting contaminated.  When you need it drill a small hole in the capped end and pull the wax off the other end.  And you have a ready-made filter for an emergency.

Long term food storage in case of a disaster.

It doesn’t matter what you are prepared for as long as you are prepared for the worst that nature can throw at you.  In the advent of a disaster there are three important things for surviving; shelter, water, and food.  They should be done in that order.  Today we will discussing the food part of it.  When a disaster strikes most people only have a little bit of food in the cupboards and what is in the refrigerator   During most disasters your power will be out so what you have stored in a freezer or fridge will only be lasting you a short period of time until it goes bad.

At a minimum you should store up to two weeks of non-perishable foods.  If your disaster lasts longer then that then you will have a lot more to worry about then how much food you have stored up (can you say Zombies!) But that is a different type of disaster that we can talk about later.

So what kinds of food should a person have in storage?  The obvious ones are canned goods and prepackaged foods.  These are good to have but can be heavy if you have to leave your home to find somewhere safe for shelter.  Most canned foods have an expiration date on them so remember to rotate them before it hits this date.  As long as the food is sealed in and the can is not dented it will still be good past the date but the flavors start to go the longer past it you get.

If you are going past having more then two weeks of food you will want to go to the foods that have long storage lives.  There are four basic foods that will last for incredibly long times if stored properly.

  • Oats: A very healthy food source with strong nutritional value; 10% of your grain store should be allotted to oats.
  • Wheat: This one should make up 50% of your food stores, and is the base of all your preparation
  • Beans:  A major source of fiber and protein, beans should make up another 20% of your total grains stored.
  • Rice: Commonly used throughout the world as a basic food source. Rice should make up approximately 20% of your total grain storage.

To actually use your wheat it is a good idea to grain mill to grind it into a flour.  You can find several online that are not to spendy.  Depending on what type of oats you get will determine if you need to use a grain mill on them also.  The best way to store your grains is in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers.  Stored correctly in airtight containers all of these grains will last 10 years or more with out going bad.  I use half gallon jars for mine with vacuum sealed lids on them.  The only bad thing about storing them in jars is that in an earthquake you have a good chance of them falling over and breaking.  So I also have some stored in vacuum mylar bags.  Storage in the bags is nice because if you are careful when sealing them you can flatten them down and make it so they are stackable.

Always remember to rotate your foods to prevent them from going bad in case of an emergency   Even being prepared for a small disaster puts you ahead of many of your neighbors and friends.  Be prepared and survive the coming Zombie apocalypse  or the whatever the world throws at you.

Homemade trail bars

There is nothing like having made your own trail bars when you are out hiking, fishing, or hunting.  You know exactly what is in it and how much energy it can provide you.  This is my favorite recipe to use when making my own bars.  It has peanut butter for a high amount of energy for a small size bar and steel cut oats for a nice chewy texture.

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or any other dried fruit)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (2 ounces/60 grams)
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Total time to make this is about 50 minutes.

1. First preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. Blend the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Then beat the peanut butter, sugar, and honey in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until blended (I love having a kitchen aid). Blend egg and egg whites with a fork in a small bowl. Add to the peanut butter mixture, along with oil and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Mix in oats, dried cranberries (or other dried fruit/berries), nuts, and chocolate chips. Scrape batter into the prepared baking dish. Use a piece of plastic wrap to spread batter into an even layer.

3. Bake the bars until lightly browned and firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack before cutting into 24 bars. One serving is one 2 x 2-inch bar.

You can store these in a jar for several week or you can individually wrap them and store them in the freezer until you need them for a trip.  There are about 170-200 calories per bar depending on the exact mix you use.  For a little pick me up you can also add instant coffee to the mix.

How to make yogurt

Homemade yogurt

For someone starting out wanting to make cheese the easiest type to make is yogurt.

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon Milk (whatever % you would like.  Skim milk makes a nice fat free yogurt)
  • 1 cup of your favorite plain yogurt (must contain a live culture)
  • stainless steel pot and lid
  • optional: you can add 1 cup powdered milk to make a thicker yogurt
  • heating pad

Heat the milk in the pot slowly until it reaches 180 degrees. Heating it up to fast will result in burnt milk on the bottom and an off taste to your yogurt.  By heating it to 180 you will kill of anything that might still be alive in the milk and anything that could possibly be living on your pan.  After you hit 180 remove the pot from the heat and cover.  The milk now needs to drop down to around 115 degrees.  This may take a couple hours depending on the pot used. Once the temp has dropped down add in your cup of yogurt and whisk it into the milk.  Replace the lid on the pot and set on a smooth counter with the heating pad below it.  Turn the pad to low and cover with a bath towel to keep the heat in.  Let sit undisturbed for 6-12 hours.  If everything turns out like it should you will have a nice batch of yogurt that is ready to eat.  For those of you that have never had homemade yogurt it will be thinner  then the kind that you buy in the store.  Adding in the powdered milk with thicken it to closer to what you are used to.

If you make more yogurt then you can eat you can turn some of it into yogurt cheese aka Labnah.  This is one of my favorite treats to make.  It is great to use in place of cream cheese (since cream cheese from the store is not really cheese).  Take a clean handkerchief and line the inside of a strainer with it.  Then slowly pour your yogurt into it.  Take up the corners and tie them together and hang it over the sink or a bowl to catch the whey.  Let hang over night and voila you have labnah. Use on your favorite type of bagel.  This can also be used to substitute for anything that needs cream cheese.

Crock pot yogurt

Basic yogurt