11 Types of Woodworking Joints

Carpentry Joinery for Strength and Aesthetic Appeal

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade woodworking putty
Homemade woodworking putty
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There are many types of woodworking joints to choose from. Which to use on your current carpentry project? In my opinion, there are three main considerations.

  • Joint strength is the most important. Some things you build will be more subject to wear and tear than others.
  • Do you have the right shop tools and skills? Some joints, like the dovetail joint, can be made with a jig or with hand tools. Skills? You can always learn them.
  • Aesthetics, or the beauty of a particular joint should be considered after you have satisfied the first to points.

Types of Woodworking Joints

  • Pocket Hole Joinery. This is basically a butt joint with pocket hole screws.; it’s very popular for furniture building and repair. Two drilling steps are called for. First, counterbore the pocket hole itself. This is where the screw head is contained. Second, drill a pilot hole so the centerline is the same as the pocket hole. This allows the screw to go through one piece and into the adjoining piece. You use two different sized drill bits for this operation in most cases although step-bits are sometimes used. Kreg is the most popular brand of jig for this joint.

A dovetail joint
A dovetail joint

  • Dovetail Joint. This is a very strong woodworking joint. It’s known for tensile strength (resistance from pulling apart). The woodworking dovetail joint is often used to connect the sides of a drawer to the front. A number of pins are cut to extend from the end of one board and lock with a number of tails cut into the end of another board. These pins tails have a trapezoidal shape and can be cut by hand or with a jig. I use a Porter Cable dovetail jig. Once glued up, your joint is permanent without any mechanical fasteners. See the video below where I show you how to make glue that matches your project wood perfectly.
How to make homemade wood putty
A woodworking butt joint
A woodworking butt joint
  • Butt Joint. The Butt Joint is a simple woodworking joint. It joins two pieces of stock by just butting them together. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make so in that respect it might be the correct choice if you don’t have many tools at your disposal. It is also the weakest wood joint unless you use some form of reinforcement (like dowels, which can add a decorative touch). Otherwise, it depends upon glue alone to hold it together. Because of the orientation of the pieces, you have an end grain to long grain gluing surface. The resulting wood joint is weak, as you might expect because glue alone doesn’t provide much lateral strength.
  • Biscuit Joint. A biscuit joint is nothing more than a reinforced Butt joint. The biscuit is an oval-shaped piece. Typically, a biscuit is made of dried and compressed wood, such as beech. You install it in matching mortises in both pieces of the wood joint. Most people use a biscuit joiner to make the mortises. Accuracy is important for the mortises. You design the biscuit joint to allow flexibility in glue-up.
A double biscuit joint ready for glue-up
A double biscuit joint ready for glue-up
Biscuit joiner for woodworking
Biscuit joiner for woodworking
  • Bridle Joint. This is similar to a mortise and tenon; just cut a tenon on the end of one piece and a mortise into the other piece to receive it. Cut the tenon and the mortise to the full width of the tenon piece. The result is only three gluing surfaces so it is imperative to use a very high-quality woodworking glue. A mechanical fastener or some sort of through-pin is required.
A bridal joint
A bridal joint
Finger joint or box joint
Finger joint or box joint
  • Finger or Box Joint. This one is much like a dovetail joint except that the pins are square and not angled. It is easy to make if you know how to use a table saw or a wood router with a jig. The Porter Cable 4216 12″ Deluxe Dovetail Jig Combination Kit comes with a box joint template. This finger/box joint was invented as a better way to construct simple boxes for produce from field to market. That, my friends, is capitalist ingenuity in action.
A dado joint
A dado joint
  • Dado Joint. OK, funny name but a dado is simply a slot cut into the surface of a piece of wood. When seen in a cross-section, the dado has three distinct sides. Cut a dado perpendicular to the grain of the wood. Technically, it’s different from a groove, which is cut parallel to the grain. This joint is a good choice for bookcase shelves.
A typical lap joint
A typical lap joint
  • Half Lap Joint. With the half lap joint, remove material from each piece such that the finished joint results in the thickness of the thickest piece. But in the majority of half lap joints, both pieces are of the same thickness. Just remove half the thickness of each piece.
A mortise and tenon joint
A mortise and tenon joint
  • Mortise and Tenon Joint. This is a very strong woodworking joint. In the majority of situations its used to join two pieces at a 90° angle. One end of a piece fits into a square hole in the other piece. The end of the first piece is the tenon; the hole in the second piece is the mortise. The tenon is glued in but if you require additional strength, you can also pin it. This is sometimes done for decorative reasons. It is a generally accepted practice to make the tenon about a 1/3 the thickness of the piece. The mortise can be cut by removing as much wood as possible with a plunge router then cleaning up the edges with a chisel.
A rabbet joint
A rabbet joint
  • Rabbet Joint. This a recess that’s cut into the edge of a board. Seen in a cross-section, the rabbet is two-sided and open to the end of the surface. It can be used in the back edge of a cabinet to allow the back to fit flush with the sides. It can also be used to insertion of a glass pane in a picture frame.
Tongue and groove joint
Tongue and groove joint
  • Tongue and Groove Joint. This is another very strong joint because of all the open grain on both pieces of wood. It’s used in many applications. For example, to make wide tabletops out of solid wood. Other uses include wood flooring, parquetry, paneling, etc. You can cut the tongue and groove in a number of ways. An effective way to make this joint is on a router table.

Knowing these 11 types of woodworking joints, you’ll most likely find one or more to fit the needs of your woodworking project.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Why Grow Sage in Your Garden?

This Medicinal Herb is a Must-Have in Your Garden or Flower Bed

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

The many health benefits of sage
The many health benefits of sage
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Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a medicinal herb that offers a powerful effect against both viruses and microbes which makes it important in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been used for centuries by herbalists worldwide. The name Salvia comes from the Latin word “salvus” which can be translated as “I save” or “I heal.”

Many plants in your garden perform more than just providing food. Whether you are a prepper or not, you likely grow some of these plants to repel mosquitos, for example. Some herbs, like mint, do double-duty. Sage is primarily medicinal. The Romans were the people who began using sage extensively so it has a long history.

The Medicinal Benefits of Sage

  • A Powerful Disinfectant. A sage decoction (boiling in water to extract the benefits) and gargle to clean your mouth and treat various inflammation of the mouth. Use it externally to treat skin wounds and inflammation. Rub it on or add it to your bath.
  • Sage as an Anti-Inflammatory. It can treat inflamed gums, mouth ulcers, and many other irritations. Chew fresh leaves or make a poultice and apply it to your cold sores on your lips or nose. It’s no wonder that sage is one of the most common ingredients in toothpaste.


  • Use it to Eliminate Indigestion. Do you suffer from indigestion? Like the medicinal herb lemon balm, sage is your friend. Just add it to your line-up of bread baking ingredients or to your cooking.
  • Gallbladder Booster. Adding sage to your daily meals will stimulate the gallbladder.
  • Sage Tea for Cleansing. Some believe that half of a gallon of a mild sage decoction can cleanse your intestinal wall, helps cure polyps, and kills harmful parasites. That’s a lot of curative power. Some believe it is effective as a liver detox method.
  • Cell Protection. Sage can help protect your body’s cells from damage resulting from free radicals due to its high antioxidant capacity. Free radicals often cause cells to die and can lead to impaired immunity and chronic disease. They can be formed either naturally in your body by means of your normal metabolic processes or from external factors like X-rays, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and exposure to industrial chemicals.


  • Alzheimer’s Treatment. An article in the US National Library of Medicine reports, “In vitro and animal studies have confirmed that several Salvia species contain a large array of active compounds that may enhance cognitive activity and protect against neurodegenerative disease.” It goes on to say, “In this 4-month study, participants allocated to the active-drug condition (60 drops of S. officinalis daily) experienced significantly greater improvements in cognitive function as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale.”
  • Lowers Blood Glucose and Cholesterol. Another article in the US National Library of Medicine reported, “Conclusions: S. officinalis leaves may be safe and have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid profile improving effects in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients.”

Growing Sage

  • Sage is resistant to both cold and heat; its cold hardy to -30°.
  • It flowers during the summer.
  • Plant it in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade but the flavor will be reduced.
  • Cultivate it in well-drained soil. Sandy loam is preferable but it will grow in average soil too. It prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.7.
  • You can start sage seed indoors as early as 6 to 8 weeks before the average last frost date in your growing zone.
  • Or, sow seed in your garden during late spring after the last frost. Sow seed shallowly, ¼ inch deep.
  • For companion planting, grow sage with chives and calendula, cabbage, carrots, strawberries, and tomatoes. It is believed to deter cabbage-family pests such as imported cabbage worms and root maggot flies. The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. Sage will stunt the growth of cucumbers and has a negative effect on onions.

It’s easy to see why you should grow sage in your garden. Whether you plan to use it for natural medicine, as an ornamental, or for companion planting, it will enhance your property. Always grow organically; what you put in your soil ends up in your body.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How to Use a Barometer

Using Atmospheric Pressure and Short-Term Changes for Weather Prediction

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

An aneroid barometer
An aneroid barometer
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Getting the weather forecast or current conditions these days is easier than ever and we have become somewhat complacent about it (yawn, yawn). Just check one of the many sites on the internet. One hour from now, no problem. 10 days from now, likewise. If you want conditions and a forecast for a very specific area, such as your home or neighborhood, go with a personal weather station (PWS).

In the old days, tools like the barometer had to be used to anticipate rain or storms in the near future. Your PWS, in fact, has barometric functionality. Electronic pressure sensors measure pressure utilizing a force collector which measures the strain resulting from an applied force over an area. Changes in electrical resistivity of a semiconductor or metal are measured when a mechanical strain is applied. The resulting voltage output may be analog, which can be converted to digital.



What is Atmospheric Pressure?

First, a little conceptual science. Atmospheric pressure (barometric pressure) is just the weight of air at ground level. Consider the concept of water pressure as an analogy. The deeper you get in the water, the more the pressure increases because as you go down, the built-up weight of the water above you increases.

Consider land as being the bottom of your atmospheric sea. Air is actually not weightless although in daily life it seems so. Atmospheric pressure is the weight of the air from the top of the atmosphere straight down to you; a column, if you will. As you might imagine, pressure is lower as you get higher in elevation because there’s less air on top of you.

This pressure measurement is usually made in hectopascals which is in effect a measure of pounds per square inch. On any modern consumer barometer, the measurement will be indicated in either inches or millibars.

Forecasting the Weather With a Barometer

If you have an aneroid device, you’ll need to manually calibrate it. It’s easy; all this entails is adjusting a small screw on the back to set the hand, like on a clock, to match the current barometric pressure where you are. weather.gov is very comprehensive by zip code. Once you’ve done that, it’s all set. Digital barometers do this step for you.

Barometer measurements are either in inches or millibars. Your readings will usually be between 28 and 31 inches, generally measured to the hundredth decimal. However, the number itself isn’t going to help you much. The thing to focus on is which direction the numbers are moving. You’re looking for the change in barometric pressure to forecast the weather. What does this mean? The static numbers that exhibit no indication of rising or falling aren’t very useful. So, you need to keep up with the change.

Aneroid barometers have two hands. One shows the barometric pressure reading The other one is a manual dial that you align with the pressure reading at the time that you take a measurement. This way you can quickly and easily see which direction and how far the needle has moved between your readings.

Digital barometers usually have indications of “rising” or “falling,” and some models even display a graph called a barograph showing earlier readings and trends. This is more helpful and accurate for you, the amateur meteorologist. Instead of having to write down or memorize previous readings, your device does it for you.



A wind/barometer table
A wind/barometer table

Those are the basics of using a barometer. The more you use it, the more adept you will become at understanding weather patterns in your location. Other than just doing it as a hobby, knowing how conditions are changing is very useful for work and outdoor recreational activities.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ambient Smart Wi-Fi Weather Station

Model WS-2902C WiFi Product Review

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
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So, this Ambient Weather Wi-Fi Smart Weather Station is my latest project. I’ve always been interested in weather conditions and here in South Texas it’s always a good thing to stay informed of. I do a lot of running and dog-walking so knowing how to dress before venturing outside is always a good idea. It gives me a bit more freedom as I go about my day.

I bought it from Amazon.com. Yes, Walmart sells small sensor units, of which I have had one for years. It was just time to ramp up my game. This model is mid-range in price for Ambient stations, but it does everything I need it to do. For example, knowing how barometric pressure works is imperative; I do live in a hurricane zone.



Weather Station Installation

Right out of the box, putting this gadget together is a simple task. Just a few basic assembly steps and viola! You will need to procure and put up a mounting pole. I used:

  • A 10′ length of electrical conduit, about $10 at Home Depot.
  • A post-hole digger.
  • About 4 cups of Quikrete. No mixing, just pour it into the hole and pour water over it. This is definitely DIY concrete, mixing not required.

Ambient Features

  • It comes with the unit and a tablet-sized display console suitable for setting on your desk or table or mounting on the wall.
  • Solar-powered.
  • Wireless all-in-one integrated sensor array measures wind speed/direction, temperature (indoor/outdoor), humidity (indoor/outdoor), rainfall, UV and solar radiation, barometric pressure, time and date.
  • Supports both imperial and metric units of measure with calibration available.
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity option that enables your station to transmit its data wirelessly to the world’s largest personal weather station network.


Predicting weather with the barometer
Predicting weather with the barometer

Do I recommend this Ambient Weather Smart Weather Station? Yes, I do. For my purposes the data reported is all that I could ask for. Assembly was easy, about an hour and a half including installing the pole mount. Finally (for a very rare occurrence with today’s products), the instruction booklet is comprehensive and detailed.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Woodworking Design: Estimating Lumber

A Material List (Cut List) Tells You the Material You Need; This is How to Buy It

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

A woodworking project plan for a table
A woodworking project plan for a table
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So you’ve conceptualized your next woodworking project and it’s time to plan. Most woodworkers go one of two ways, depending on the situation:

  • You are working from a cut list from a plan that you acquired from a woodworking project book or magazine.
  • You are making a custom project and it makes more sense to ferret out your dimensions as you go along. This was the case with my recessed medicine cabinet project. Since every home and bathroom is framed differently, it was insightful to go long on the instructive photos and short on actual dimensions when posting the plans.

Understanding Lumber Grades

Are you a frugal and common sense woodworker? I hope so; the money you can save on one part of your project (usually the unseen parts) can be used to great effect of the decorative parts. That being said, I abhor particle board in furniture construction. Chinese knock-off furniture, we ain’t.

Knowing lumber grades, and shopping accordingly, will stretch your budget and ensure that you work with the appropriate materials. The lumber grades are defined by the National Hardwood Lumber Association, and have been for over 100 years.

Step one, of course, is choosing the appropriate grade. Step two is checking for bark pockets, splitting, checking, bug damage, warping, and more. Take the time to pick through the stock. Don’t take the mis-step of ordering online, going to your Home Depot or Lowes and just let them load it up for you. COVID-19 pandemic or not, this is a hands-on job.



Understanding Lumber Dimensions

Dimension lumber (2 x 4s, 4 x 4s, etc.) is usually softwood stock. Hardwood lumber is at times milled to dimensional sizes, however it is more commonly encountered in random widths and lengths. It is marketed as roughsawn lumber and in variable surfacing options accompanied by these letter and number codes:

  • S2S: Surfaced on two sides.
  • S3S: Surfaced on two sides with one straight-line ripped.
  • S4S: Surfaced on four sides, meaning that the two wide faces are planed and the two edges have been straight-line ripped.
Lumber thickness guide
Lumber thickness guide


Rough lumber is sold in multiples of 1/4″ thicknesses. This means that 4/4 lumber (read as four-quarter lumber) is one inch thick. You will also encounter 5/4, 6/4, and 8/4 thicknesses. Regardless, with any rough lumber thickness, the rule of thumb is to subtract 1/4″ to determine the “finished” lumber thickness following the surfacing procedure.

Calculating lumber board feet
Calculating lumber board feet

Lumber stock is generally offered by the board foot (BF), which is actually a volume measurement. Think of it this way — one board foot of lumber is 1″ thick, 12″ wide, and 12″ long (essentially 144 square inches of 1″-thick lumber). So a 1″-thick board, 6″ wide and 36″ long would be 1.5 board feet of stock. The formula for determining the BF of a specific piece is: (Thickness x Width x Length)/144; QED. See the formula chart above for examples of calculating BF. Note: 3/4″ surfaced lumber is considered 1″ when calculating board feet because it is originally derived from 4/4 rough-sawn lumber. Confused yet? Don’t be.

Buying Lumber

Calculating just how many board feet of lumber you need for any given project is only your first step. Next, you will need to peruse your material list for pieces that have specific length requirements. As an example, if you have coffee table legs that need to be 14″ long or 90″ long bed rails, you should select stock long enough to make those components. Then an excellent guideline is to add 20 to 30 percent more to your estimate for waste (defects, poor grain pattern, building mistakes, etc.). So if your project requires 10BF, procure 13BF instead. Buying a bit of extra lumber is always a good idea, and experience will prove the truth of it. Keep in mind that at times you will need to resort to your biscuit joiner to save the expense of ordering a special width of lumber.

Following these lumber estimating guidelines for your woodworking projects will save you time, money, and extra trips to the lumber yard or local home improvement store.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Endless Crop of Green Onions, Chives

How to Propagate Organic Green Onions, Scallions, and Chives

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Green onions grown from cuttings
Green onions grown from cuttings
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Do you like to use green onions or scallions in your recipes? Do you like them as fresh as they can be? Do you prefer organic produce? Do you like to save money? Are you really big on convenience? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need this gardening tip! It applies whether your vegetable or herb garden is outside or if you rely on hydroponic gardening for those fresh edibles all year round.

Green Onions, Scallions, and Chives, What’s the Difference?

To begin with, green onions and scallions are the same thing, different name. That one and chives look and taste quite similar, but they are different plants. They have different practical uses as well as different nutritional profiles.

The primary difference from a botanical point of view is that green onions are a vegetable but chives are considered an herb like basil is. Surprisingly, chives also have a higher nutrient profile than green onions do. This makes sense because since herbs in general usually have a denser nutritional content.

Botany can be perplexing and befuddling for us mere mortals. For example, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal.”



How to Get Your “Free” Produce

You will be amazed at how simple this is! When most people (almost all, actually) cut off the root section, they throw it in the trash; they don’t even compost vegetable scraps including these gems. Composting is important, especially if you are a prepper, homesteader, or just living off the grid.

So, here’s the process. Cut off the root section as usual, leaving about 1/2 inch of the bulb on it. Plant it, root section down, about 2 inches deep. As you can see from the picture at the top of this article, a simple ceramic pot works for my needs. Yes, I’m ready to put some fresh hardwood mulch in there. A top-dressing of compost periodically is a good idea. The idea is to harvest the biggest one, plant its root section; it’s a two-minute operation, easy-peasy. Water daily. Check out the size of my home-grown organic scallion (I’m making Panamanian-style ceviche today).

A huge, home-grown organic green onion, or scallion
A huge, home-grown organic green onion, or scallion


Well, that’s just about all there is to generating and enjoying an endless crop of green onions (scallions) and chives. Do it in your herb garden, kitchen window, or hydroponically. It’s all good in the culinary universe.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

8 Prepper Tips for Beginning Survivalists

by Kelly R. Smith

A prepper in a devastated landscape
A prepper in a devastated landscape
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From Dictionary.com, “A prepper is someone who actively prepares (preps) for worst-case scenarios, such as the end of the world, by practicing survivalist techniques, including hoarding food.”1 Some would say preppers are living on the fringe, but perhaps the idea isn’t so crazy. Witness the Anifa and BLB antics during the past year. Witness all the left-leaning municipalities de-funding police. But it gets even more mundane; remember when COVID-19 hit? Forget finding toilet paper on store shelves. I had a substantial stock in our walk-in pantry. And, plenty of Spam and tuna fish. Crazy like a fox.

So let’s look at 8 prepper tips for beginning survivalists. They don’t all have to be done right away or in any particular order. It really is a lifestyle shift and just like a fitness program, it’s practical to approach it incrementally.

  • Keep your physical fitness level up. When SHTF you’re going to have to be prepared to do everything yourself or with limited help. Many tasks will be strenuous. If you’ve got to bug out, your backpack may weigh up to 50lbs or more just stocked with the bare necessities.
  • Formulate a variety of plans. Plan for any of the major scenarios that are likely to occur: these include, but are not limited to natural disaster (hurricane, fire, earthquake), government collapse or martial law, and disease outbreak (think COVID-19). Each of these situations would require a slightly different plan of action, modified to reflect what will be lost/needed if that specific event comes to pass.
  • Involve your household. Don’t make the mistake of expecting that one family member can do the prep work of the entire family unit all by themselves. This would put a major strain on you, but it also leaves your family at a at a loss if something were to happen to you. Everyone in the household should be able to fend for themselves as well as playing their designated role as a team member. This means the burden of survival will be somewhat evenly distributed among everyone. A reasonable starting point is by making sure that everyone is familiar of the family plans in the case of an emergency.
  • Stay out of debt. OK, we live in the real world so some debt is unavoidable. Look how fast the federal government curtailed currency production when the pandemic started. Many would-be preppers jump in with both feet and try to stock up right from the get-go. Spread out your purchases on a prioritized basis. Avoid the temptation. Food? Throw a few long-shelf life items into your basket every time you grocery shop. Actively begin to get out of debt. Dave Ramsey has some good advice. For example, “Break up with your barista. If you don’t know where all your money’s going each month, we’re pretty sure your favorite coffee shop can find it for you. Brewing your own coffee at home is a simple way to save money fast.”2 I started doing this a long time ago. I picked up a coffee grinder and order my espresso coffee beans from Black Rifle Coffee. Head and shoulders above Starbucks in quality. Start putting back some physical cash somewhere in your home on a regular basis. Precious metals make good bartering mediums after a crisis.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded preppers and homesteaders. Cooperation will expand your group of resources, which can mean the difference between survival and failure if you’re all left to your own devices. Your own neighbors are your best bet for pooling resources and bartering. In fact, you can allocate responsibility for particular things to different people. One neighbor might be an avid vegetable gardener, another may be adept at ammo reloading. Which one has the MacGyver gene and a garage shop full of tools?
  • Arm yourself. This point is hard to over-state. When disaster strikes and local first-responders are overwhelmed, nobody cares about your 911 call. As a matter of fact, if you live in a place like Seattle, Minneapolis, or Austin, your elected officials are going to tell the police to stand down and green-light the radical mobs. The mobs will come for your stuff. The three most recommended items are a handgun, a rifle with a scope, and an assortment of knives. A stun gun or two never hurts. And ammo; plenty of ammo.
  • Keep things in perspective. Being prepared is important but don’t get overwhelmed. Start with the essentials and take it from there. Focus on defense, food, water, shelter, and medical supplies.
  • Get a dog if you don’t already have one. Rescue dogs are always a good choice. Shelters are always looking to unload them and chances are good that Fido will already be housebroken. If the bad guys have to choose between attacking a home with a big bark and one with no bark, it’s kind of a no-brainer which way they’ll go.


So, there it is. These 8 prepper tips for beginning survivalists are in no way an exhaustive list but they will certainly give you food for thought. Take your time, educate yourself, and be safe out there.


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References

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/prepper/?itm_source=parsely-api
  2. Dave Ramsey, Ramsey, 25 Ways to Get Out of Debt in 2020, https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/ways-to-get-out-of-debt

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

September is National Preparedness Month

Be Prepared for Natural Disasters Like Hurricanes, Fires, Floods, Tornados, and More

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Street flooding leads to disaster
Street flooding leads to disaster
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This article was updated on 07/16/21.

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Ready.gov (owned by the Department of Homeland Security) says, “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” Good point. We never thought our neighborhood would flood, but it did. While we had flood insurance, others did not and had to rely on FEMA. The city has been ignoring drainage issues for years, all the while issuing building permits willy-nilly. Concrete surfaces don’t absorb rain water. At some point, we will all experience fire, earthquake, or a hurricane. This is how Ready.gov suggests that we prepare.

Week 1: Make a Plan

Make your plan now. You and your family may not be together if a disaster happens, so it is key to understand which types of disasters could affect your area. You should all know how you’ll contact each other and reconnect if you become separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find. For example, a neighborhood park or a local school that might be serving as an emergency shelter.

Week 2: Build a Kit

Following an emergency, you might need to survive on your own for days. Being prepared means having your own stock of food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. You don’t have to be an all-out prepper but having the essentials on hand is, well, essential.

Walk-in food survival pantry
Walk-in food survival pantry

In my own home, I built a pantry off the kitchen. We keep it stocked with food, water, prescription medicine, and a camp stove. Basically, the room is our kit. And we even keep a stock of toilet paper. We all remember the empty shelves when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out!

Week 3: Prepare for Disaster

Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage because of storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. Don’t wait to do things like removing old dead tree limbs and securing things that have the potential to become projectiles. It’s a good idea to have a firearm or two and a stock of ammo. Just look at what Antifa and BLM are doing in our streets and society hasn’t broken down yet! No one is going to respond to your 911 call after a certain point.

Know what disasters and/or hazards might affect your area, how to get emergency alerts (an emergency crank-operated radio), and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate.  Make sure your family has a plan and practices it often.

Don’t wait until the day before to try to find plywood, batteries, and other items.

Week 4: Teach Your Kids About Disasters

Talk to your children about being prepared for emergencies. They need to understand what to do in case you are separated. Make them feel at ease by providing information about how they can get involved. Work out scenarios and the proper responses.

National Preparedness Month is easy when it is broken down like this. The process of divide and conquer works well and gives you time to consider things you have not anticipated.

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References and Further Information



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Biscuit Joiner; Why You Need One for Woodworking

by Kelly R. Smith

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A Ryobi biscuit joiner on a router table
A Ryobi biscuit joiner on a router table

Granted that the biscuit joiner is not a power tool that you use everyday on your woodworking projects. It falls into the category of go-to tools when nothing else will do the job so well. On projects that require mating planks, this tool is invaluable. On some projects, just gluing them up and clamping them is sufficient but on others a stronger bond is required. And why not err on the side of caution? The right tool is just as important as adequate shop lighting.

For years I relied on dowels to do the job. That worked, but getting that precision can be difficult. Drilling the holes at the exact angle and in the exact location can be dicey, especially when using a hand-held drill rather than your drill press. This is where the biscuit joiner comes into its own.

Using Your Biscuit Joiner

For the sake of argument, let us assume that we are joining several boards to make up a table top.

  • Biscuits can “telegraph.” This means that as the glue dries, it can warp the surface plank wood down towards the biscuit. To avoid this minor imperfection in the end product (you’re the only one who will notice, but still), don’t cut your biscuit slot in the exact center of the planks, rather, a bit lower towards the bottom of the finished product.
  • Biscuits don’t add a lot of strength. So the argument goes. Some carpenters use biscuits simply to assure themselves that the planks will stay aligned as the glue dries. I’m from the other camp that believes that they do add a lot of strength, especially when the end product comes under stress because the length of the biscuit distributes the load better than a cylindrical dowel..
  • You can add biscuits for additional strength after the glue-up on 45 degree corners. Use your joiner as a plunge tool after the glue has dried. For example, you might do this on the underside of a picture frame after you remove your 45 degree clamps or spring clamps. Plunge the slot, glue-up and add the biscuit, and use your belt sander to level it up later.
  • Bring the motor up to full-speed before engaging the joiner. Easy, cowboy.

So, do you really need a biscuit joiner for your woodworking projects? The short answer is “no,” but the long answer is, “yes, because it will make your life so much better and your range of carpentry skills broader.”

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Teriyaki Beef Jerky Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Beef jerky, ready to eat
Beef jerky, ready to eat

I love beef jerky and I suspect that I am not alone in that respect. But, there are three issues that I have with the commercial variety:

  • It’s too expensive.
  • The texture tends to be to hard.
  • God only knows what kind of chemicals and preservatives are used.

And that is one reason why I invested in a food dehydrator. Now I can make my own marinades and control the texture. I made a batch yesterday so my new appliance is paying for itself already. Next, I’m going to run a batch of apples. But here is the simple jerky recipe.

Beef Jerky Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 pounds of thin round sirloin tip. Any lean cut will do. Organic grass-fed is preferable. If you’ve got deep pockets, substitute bison. I know my sister will. That woman knows her food.
  • 1 12 oz. bottle of Lawry’s Teriyaki with Pineapple juice.
  • Spices to taste. I did not add salt due to my high blood pressure.

Jerky Preparation

Marinating beef for jerky
Marinating beef for jerky
  • Slice the meat thin. I prefer about 1/4″. Remember that the meat will shrink as it cooks. As for length, about 6″ is what I like but take into account the geometry and size of your food dehydrator. You will likely end up with some irregular pieces, but that’s OK; it’s jerky after all.
  • Put the slices in a container. The Pyrex dish you see above worked well.
  • Pour the marinade over the beef and mix it up well to ensure a thorough coating.
  • Put in in the refrigerator overnight. Some recipes only call for a few hours but the way I see it, I’m already in it this far. Do it up good. I know Perry’s smokes their famous pork chops for several days. If you’ve had one you know that patience is a good habit.
  • Stir it all up every few hours. I get up sporadically during the night for a bodacious swallow of ice water so no problemo, friend.
  • Pat the slices on paper towels to remove excess marinade.
  • Arrange slices on your dehydrator trays. Allow space for air circulation.
  • Set the temperature for 160 degrees F.
  • Set the timer for 4 hours.
  • Check it every so often for your desired degree of done-ness. Mine was perfection at 3 1/2 hours. Turn off the unit.
  • Leave it in the dehydrator until it cools.
  • Enjoy!
Beef jerky properly spaced on the dehydrator tray
Beef jerky properly spaced on the dehydrator tray

That’s all there is making your own teriyaki beef jerky. Of course, any other marinade works just as well. Buy your favorite or make your own.

Other Recipes You will Enjoy (I Did)



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.