Hello & Welcome to Boa Online

I would first like to thank my friend, Brian, for his help in creating this website. I had no idea about how to do it! This is my welcome post which will be on the main page of my website, or so I’m told.

So, welcome! You can find out more about me on the About Me page and if you would like to contact me you can do so here.

OK, now let’s talk a little bit about the site and what it is doing here. Now that I am retired, I wanted to get some more hobbies in my life and develop some new skills so that I am not left behind. Using a computer and creating a website seemed like a great one to start with because I know nothing about computers. I do, however, have plenty of information to write down and “blog” about.

Boa Online was created due to my love with snakes. I love the Boa Constrictor and I thought that this name was as good as any to use. I thought it was a little unique and more edgy rather than saying “dougbensononline.co.uk”. Maybe I wasn’t that effective at coming up with such a great name but it’s the thought that counts…

Anyway, I will stop writing my welcome page now and get to writing some other articles that should hopefully be of use to some people out there who are looking for inspiration and ideas for DIY, energy conservation and many other things in the process.

Metal Worker

Career Progression From Carpentry to Metal Work And Welding

The carpentry profession leads the carpenter to work in a variety of fields within the building and ornamental industries. Building tasks are very diverse and construction companies do work to construct, renovate, remodel and do the interiors of a commercial or a residential structure. Carpenters may therefore be found working with construction companies, carpentry contractors or renovation businesses.  The number of carpentry jobs has been in a constant increase especially within the 21st century. It is therefore predicted that in a decade’s time, carpentry work may end up being among the hottest blue collar jobs for grabs.

Carpenters who opt to gain their working skill and experience from reputable colleges are trained to deal with not only wood but also metals. This is the reason why some carpenters will be able to do metal trusses joinery work without having to call professional welders on site. A certified carpenter may well be well equipped with the knowledge and skill of cutting, preparing, repairing, joining and installation of metals by the use of welding machines and equipment. Technically, this is not their major field of study. They can therefore only be able to handle some simple metal work and not the very complex ones. For a carpenter to become a professional welder and metalwork handle, furthering their studies is important.

From a Carpenter to a Welder

Welders spend more time in class in comparison to apprentice carpenters. However, the time they will spend in the field is still considerably more than the time spent in class. On average, a welder will take at least a year of study, 80% of this time being spent on the field and not in class. As a carpenter, before you even think of going to proceed with your studies, you may decide to seek for employment in companies that deal with both metal work and carpentry. As you go by your daily carpentry work, in collaboration with the welders, you will be able to gain skills slowly by slowly till you achieve your goal. In fact, most of those welders who have done their training in the field go to collages only for the sole reason of getting the required papers for certification purposes.

Carpentry and welding work have got a lot of similarities. The two professions are equally competitive but due to interest or other reasons, you may deem it well for you to switch from carpentry to welding work.

This is among the easiest progresses you can make in your career. It is worth noting that it’s easier for a carpenter to progress to becoming a welder than it is for a welder to switch to carpentry. This remains a fact as long as the carpenter in question acquired his professional skills from a reputable, accredited college.

During carpentry training, there is a lot of metal work that is taught. By the time a carpenter goes to the field, or by the time he wants to switch to metal work and welding profession, he will already be having vast knowledge and skill pertaining to metal work. Carpenters are trained to be able to handle roofing work that involves metallic trusses among other responsibilities.

Carpentry Categories and Specialization

Two major categories of carpenters include;

  1. The structural carpenters and
  2. The detail carpenters

Structural carpenters specialize in building and construction of structures such as houses, wall units, cabinets and the rest. Safes, trusses, cabinets, beds are all metallic structures that can be built by either carpenters or welders. Only detailed carpenters may however be able to achieve this. The detail carpenters do specialize in interior designs and the cosmetic appearance of the internal applications of a structure.

There are different carpentry specializations that exist. One of this is the Green Carpentry specialization.

i.            Green carpenters specialize in using only environmentally friendly materials to make their products. The use of metals in carpentry work is considered environmentally friendly since wood from trees are saved. If you are a green carpenter, it’s absolute that you have an upper hand of becoming a welder than all the other carpenters within your profession. It is therefore advisable that before you plan to switch from carpentry to welding, you should first think of specialization into the green carpentry side. By this, you may end up noticing that you probably don’t even need to go for further welding training.

ii.            Finish carpenter: Other countries call these carpenters-joiners. They can double up as cabinet makers. This occupation needs the minimum possible error margin and exact joints to be done. Such carpenters need to have welding skills because cabinets can be made of metals and wood alike.

iii.            Ship Carpenter: This is a carpenter who is specialized in the shipbuilding as well as their maintenance together with and other water vessels. Both steel warships together with the wooden ones need ship carpenters. With welding skills, you will be at the best position to work in this industry

Welding training in reputable colleges will not only guarantee you of certification but also the fine detailed skills. In college, you will be trained in the latest hand and power tools welding technology that’s quite different from the technology used in woodwork. Some of these include computerized machines that enhance the efficiency of your welding work. This will enable you to be able to cut, assemble and fit metallic materials in the construction of a building or any other structure such as the body of a motor vehicle and other machinery.

Generally, as a welder, you need to study how to read a blue print, how to measure and to mark the project layout, cutting and the shaping of the materials as well as the final implementation of the project in question. With this knowledge, you will have different areas where you can work and practice your skills. Such areas include

  • Starting your own welding contractor firm
  • Working for a welding contractor in a contractor firm
  • Arranging work for sub contractors
  • Preparation of cost estimates and quotation
  • Writing of progress reports
  • As a carpenter and welder, clients will prefer you because they get all the services under one roof, obviously at reduced rates because of reduces cost of production.

Just like carpentry, welding needs lots of physical and intellectual skill and attention. You need to be very keen when cutting, metals, grinding or joining the metals using the welder. Carelessness in welding will obviously result to more serious injuries than in carpentry. More fatal accidents have been reported in welding than in carpenters’ shops. You therefore need to go to school so that you can gain the organization skills together with safety measures.

In Review

The formal welding and metal work training is available in certificate programs, seminars, high schools, online classes, associate degree together with advanced college degrees. These programs are in many times referred to as pre apprenticeship training and will help the learner to be able to construct, restore and preserve welding fields. In the modern construction industry, it’s important that you do not just rely on one construction material but train to use different building materials. This will make sure that you are always ahead of your competitors. For these reasons, it’s very prudent for you to progress from just being a carpenter to a carpenter who also brags of certified welding skills.

Wood house

Where In the World They Still Build Wood Homes

Wooden houses and structures are unarguably among the oldest structures to have been constructed by man. However, today many people have migrated from timber to other forms of building and construction materials. Reinforced concrete, ironic structures, mud houses and others are today more popular than the wooden houses. However, there are some places that still do hold wooden houses with lots of value.

China and its Appetite for Wood

One of the places that are known to be heavy users of wood is China. Statistics say that more than fifty percent of the global timber shipment is destined to China. Several Companies in China have been blamed for being responsible for the high levels of deforestation in the world. This is because the unscrupulous companies in this country have resorted to buy illegally logged wood from all over the world.

Timber that’s imported to china is not only used for making furniture but also wooden houses. Most of the companies that either sell prefab houses or construct wooden houses on site are either of china origin or have a branch in china. The Chinese do not only make wooden houses for themselves but they also export these structures. Prefab houses range in size and design starting from a very small single roomed structure to a whole family house with several bedrooms in it.

Wood a Necessity in Housing

Although the times have made people to shy away from wooden houses, there is no society that can completely overrule the importance of wood in their structures. It is possible to construct a wooden house without adding concrete or other materials on the structure. However, it is almost impossible that the same can happen when you are constructing a concrete house.

Most of the modern standard and high class interior and exterior designs employ the use of wood. The fisher boards, wall panels, the best tiles and ceiling boards, trusses and others are all made of wood. In essence, we may say that we do not live in wood houses but partially, we do.


Contractors who have been contracted to build an industry, road or any short term project will always prefer prefabs to the concrete houses. Contractors, especially the Chinese cones, have been able to transfer the wooden home technology to several places of the world. There are several reasons why prefabs are preferred to other forms of houses and these include;

  • They are easier to construct
  • Setting them up is not time consuming
  • In some cases, they may be cheaper than the reinforced concrete house
  • Demolition after the completion of the project is easy
  • It is easy to carry them from one location to the other.

After completion of contracts, most contractors have left the prefab houses on site. New residents occupy such homes while others tend to borrow the technology to set up their own new homes. Due to this, wood houses have virtually been made available in almost all the corners of the world

Proposed 18-storey UBC wooden tower which will become the tallest of its kind in the world


The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Point Grey Campus has resorted to design and construct buildings that enhance sustainability and green design. The upcoming multi-storey project will stand out not only in the university but in the whole world. The building will be 53 meters in height and is to have between 16-18 storeys making it to become the tallest of its kind in the world.

Tall wooden buildings have also been seen in Austria, Norway and Sweden. So far, in almost all the corners of the world, it is common to come across low rise wooden structures. It is only in such few areas like the countries mentioned above where high rise wooden structures have been done. Proponents of tall wood buildings  have claimed that such structures are safer than steel houses save for the fact that they seem to be fire hazardous. This is because the underneath wood in such structures is protected by the charred wood surfaces unlike steel structures which happen to be weakest at the post supporting areas.

The Predictable Future Trend

In addition to the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Point Grey Campus building, a 14-storey, 51-metre tall building under construction in Bergen near Oslo is also underway. These two will surpass the tallest wooden building in the world which happens to be a ten storey apartment that is 32 meter in height. This building is found in Melbourne, Australia.

Such buildings may definitely change the perception of people towards timber as a home construction material. Structural engineers have been able to prove that timber houses have got high structural strength. Architects have also been able to prove to people that a wooden house may even be more beautiful than the concrete ones. For these reasons, it is very likely that soon people all over the world will soon start embracing timber as a home construction material.

China is of course the country that boosts of the highest number of wooden houses. However, other countries such as Poland, Greece and Asia in general also do have a good number of wooden houses still coming up. The other parts of the world are also not left behind even though the count of their wooden structures is negligible.

Wooden Ornament

A History of Furniture and Wood Carving for Ornamentation

Furniture making has been in existence for a very longtime with records dating back to 3000 BC where discovery of preserved furniture was made in Orkney, Scotland. The furniture definitions at this time were so broad enabling human beings to continuously improve on those basics. The design concepts and forms of new furniture has thenceforth gradually been improving to satisfy the wants of man both within the decorative arts such as ornamentation and home furniture, security doors and the rest. Today, an artist can just think of something attractive after which he goes ahead to make wood carvings that will represent the ideas he has.

History together with inference gives us an idea of what the wood carving works of the Assyrians, Romans and Greece was. The Assyrians were considered to be pacesetters of the Greece carving and refinement works during the old civilization era. Pausanias and some other classical writers did a good job of describing to us some of the important wood carving pieces of the Roman sculpture. Most of the images of the roman gods had to be preserved to the late years of the historic times. Some of these wooden figures to have been preserved till such times include the Palladium- the sacred Pallas figure that was guarded by the roman Vestal Virgins.

Archaeologists have been able to find classical era wood carvings that date back to the 8th century BC. These have been found in Gordion Turkey and they comprise of tables, inlaid serving stands and relics used in worship by Muslims.

The first eleven centuries during the AD era has got extremely rare examples of wood carvings. Some of the few sculptures that can be associated with this Christian era include the carven panels found at the main doors of the St Sabina of Rome. These doors comprise of several small square panels with each of them being carved from a New Testament scene. Some fine fragments of Byzantine art- eleventh or twelfth century- can be found at Mount Athos, Macedonia in a monastery.

Gothic period- the 12th-15th centuries

The wood designer of this period cannot be competed with any other designer of any time. This is the period when wood carving received the greatest transition and revolution. A lot of credible architectural works were seen during this era in all the sectors. The roodscreens, roofs, choir stalls and retable’s of France, England together with Teutonic countries within Europe received a transformation that had never been seen before and has never been seen thereafter. Details were seen in carving works in minuteness, in detail, in mechanical accuracy and great architectural conception for the enhancement of decorative treatment

During this time, the keynote of any scheme work was color. The gorgeous vestments of the priests, the crucifix, the incense, and the lights all overshadowed the walls to crown the glorious gothic art work.

17th-18th centuries

During the early AD era, wood was the raw material that was dominant. It was therefore highly used to heavily decorate carved designs since ornaments were mainly made from it. During these times, Palladianism style was majorly characterized with Great Britain, Neoclassic and Rococo associates with Western Europe while opulent and at times Baroque designs were characterized with the southern and the northern Europe.

Grinling Gibbons, a great school arose in England. Gibbons name is highly associated with decoration that was directly copied from nature. His carvings and moldings were very beautiful and of conventional form i.e. Chatsworth, Hampton Court Palace etc. during this era, ornaments such as earrings and others were crafted in the design of birds, fruits and others. The masterpiece during this time naturally became a rule that carvings were done using pine wood after which they were painted white.

19th century up to present day

The demand for carved decorations has greatly reduced during this time. There is also little that has been done to come up with new improvements in the wood carvings of ornaments. People are not so much in to these forms of ornaments and carvings. For those who love them, they use what was designed during the previous eras. The only new wood fashion of this era is the collection of old oak. Sculptures in church today get the work of repairing old wood carvings and productions of imitations and nothing new.

In Review

Religion receives lots of credit for the development of ornamental wood carvings. When we look at all areas where wood carvings were gaining momentum in development, a religion is associated with the people of that land. In Greece, most of the ornaments were in honor of Mithras while all the ornaments discovered in Istanbul turkey were either directly used in the Islam worship of Allah or indirectly giving honor to those in the Islam hierarchy. During the roman era, wood carving ornaments sprung up for the decoration of the saints’ images as well as relics for worship. Hinduism is also not left behind as well as Buddhism and other religions.

Several dynasties also came up with different wooden ornaments to honor those on authority. The furniture found in the palace of the pharaoh of Egypt was not as plain and simple as that found in the houses of commoners. The furniture in such palaces had to be ornamented with the finest wood carvings. As time went by, the rich started embracing these ornaments, something that moved down the hierarchy to the commoners. This is the same thing that happened with the Babylonian empire, the Greece Empire, the Roman Empire.


Although wood carvings seem to have come to a standstill and no more development is being seen today, wood carvings still remain to be very important aspects for the decoration of our furniture, places of worship etc. A lot has already been done and what may be seen today as a new design might just be a revival of a design that was done long ago.

Carpenter Tools

5 Best Woods For Carving

Different wood carvers have different preferences on the type of woods they will pick for carving. Some prefer soft woods like white pine while others prefer mahogany due to its straight grains. Others will go for woods without difficult grains or knots and those that are able to hold details.

Before wood purchase, it is important to note the most obvious problems that might interfere with wood working e.g. loose or large knots, cups and wanes not forgetting shakes, twists or any sort of warping. Consequently, wood affected by fungi and with stains might not be appropriate.Unless considering enhancing twisted or interlocked grains when carving, straight grains are always easy to work with and produce shiniest, smoothest cuts.

Whatever the choice, below is a summation of the best five woods that will offer extra satisfaction to any wood worker.

I.                  Basswood

Bass wood is the best wood for hand carvers. This is because of its relatively soft nature.  It is closely grained for well holding of details and is non-toxic. Although it is mostly white, it sometimes contains brown grains and its sapwood and heartwood can easily be differentiated.

With the brown grain patterns not fully developed, basswood may sometimes look bland and this often calls for painting. To bring out the grain and seal the carving, it is usually advisable to mix boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits then apply to the finished carving.

In Europe, most wood carversuse lime wood which shares similar characteristics to basswood although Northern states e.g. Minnesota and Wisconsin produce the best basswoods. For beginners, basswoods with patterns are the most recommended and proper research should be done before purchase to ensure quality wood is obtained at a reasonable price.

Another type of wood called Northern white pine is soft and has similar characteristics to basswood. The same applies to sugar pine which is consequently cheap.

II.               Butternut

Another good wood for carving is butternut though extremely difficult to find. What makes it popular is its beautiful light colour, grains and ability to be easily carved. Though prone to insects, it contains wormhole features that make it a natural wood for carving.

Butternut is white walnut and is generally softer than black walnut. They both contain similar grain patterns with almost dead narrow sapwood, light brown heartwood, pink tones and sometimes dark brown streaks which are very effective for carving when done by a professional. Butternut wood is preferred for its light weight and course texture. It again holds details well and is very easy to work with making it appropriate for beginners.

Compared to basswood, butternut is browner and therefore the best option for carvers who do not prefer white from Basswood. Consequently, it offers a nice polish making it good for furniture. Despite the fact that this type of wood is prone to insects, it is resistant to rots. Its lightweight nature also makes it comfortable to use.

III.           Cherry (Prunusserotina)

Also called Prunusserotina. Even though basswood and butternut is easier to work with compared to cherry, it produces attractive carvings due to its gentle figure and reddish brown colour. It also shrinks a lot when drying but thereafter it becomes very stable.

Cherry is most appropriate to use with hand tools since power tools, if not utilized we can burn it. With age, it darkens with the colour eventually getting lighter.

Cherry wood holds up well in terms of detail and as at now, it is the highest priced in America curving woods making it very popular for overall wood working.

IV.           Maple (Acer saccharum)

Maple wood is of the Acer saccharum species. Compared to other woods, maple contains grain patterns that are not as straight.  When finished, they have a tendency of blotching (which comes up in different densities when carving). With numerous grains i.e. the tiger, fiddle back, Birdseye and curly among others, maple needs special planning before being worked on since the grains sometimes make carving harder but ultimately complement the general carving outlook. Maple holds details well and produces high shine quality products.

V.               Mahogany (Swieteniamacrophylla)

Mahogany (Swieteniamacrophylla) is also called Honduras mahogany. Most of this type of wood comes from Central America and has heartwood colour that varies from dark reddish brown to light or deep red grain. With its majorly straight grains that may be interlocked and medium to course texture that vary according to the rate of growth, mahogany is considered among the best carving woods. It exhibits resistance to shock loads and is of low stiffness nature. It is consequently not distorted with drying and offers stability during use. The fact that it is easy to work with makes it appropriate for use even for long hours. Apart from carving it is also suitable for making furniture and decorative woods.

The type of carving is likely to influence the type of wood to be used. Wood workers who use power tools often consider different woods to their counterparts who use hand tools. For small hand held objects, basswood is recommended due to its softness and easy to curve nature. For sculptures, most wood carvers prefer mahogany, butternut or cherry. Butternut is soft and easy to curve; cherry has dense grains and is rich in colour while mahogany is lightweight.

It is also important to note that when air dried, wood dries slowly thereby releasing tension slowly. Drying in kilns require close monitoring so as not to add stress to wood. Therefore, for better and quality carving results, wood should be air dried in ambient environmental conditions. Wood for carving should also be allowed to adapt to the surrounding for approximately eight weeks before utilisation

Hard woord

3 Durable Woods You Should Be Using In Your Home

Before purchase of wood, it is important to remember that, darker heartwood located at tree centers are considered to be much more durable and resistant to rot compared to sapwood. Always choose ‘heart wood’ material for all your household products including indoor or outdoor furnishings

Other than priority, suitable wood for home use should be durable. Well sustainable and pocket friendly in terms of cost of acquisition. Its aesthetics should also be considered for that impressive look.

Most durable woods resist rot since they contain chemical compounds that create unfavorable environment to bacteria, bugs, ants and other decomposition agents. Also, durability can be as a result of use. Some home structures or products protect wood from moisture thus prevention of decay causing creatures from existence.

It does not matter the nature of durability adopted i.e. chemical or physical. What is important is that durable woods thrive season after season. The following are three most durable, attractive and natural woods you should be using in your home.

I.                  Cedar

Cedar is a name used to refer to cedar wood. Cedar originates from coniferous trees and includes Deodar cedar, Atlas cedar and Cyprus cedar just to name a few.

Both northern white cedar and western cedar contain resins which are important in making cedar resistant to rot and infestation by insects.  In terms of weight, cedar is very light making it the most appropriate for home use.

Most people prefer it for furniture or household furnishings because of its good paint characteristics. Its grains, if not treated eventually end up being rough. Therefore, maintenance every year through cleaning and sealing is of utmost importance.
Cedar being a soft wood dents and scratches more easily and shows signs of knotting but all these do not in any way affect its durability nature. It is known to retain moisture, does not give splinters like other woods and does not die out easily. It is also good in resisting cracks and weathers naturally to adopt an elegant, silver grey color.
With extreme durability of more than 20 years even in outdoor conditions with no signs of warping, rotting and splitting coupled with interesting wood grain patterns, cedar is a valuable investment.
II.               Redwood
Like cedar, red wood is soft and can dent and scratch easily. Its deep brown beauty can therefore be enhanced and protected by the use of coats or clear seals. It also has natural tannin that might stain clothing thus the origin of the name ‘red wood’. With coats or clear seals, staining is well constrained.
Redwood’s most pronounced characteristics are stability and resistance to warping and shrinking. It is also resistance to rot and insects, weathers well and when used, it gives a very good finish.
The fact that Red wood contains cell structures with a lot of air pockets makes it suitable for insulation. It is also a very safe home material sue to the fact that it is very slow to burn. Consequently, unlike teak that blunts tools when working, red wood does not. It is also very attractive with a lot of aesthetic features.
In terms of cost, it is relatively cheap compared to other types of wood. The only setback posed by redwood is its insufficiency in supply and the long growth to maturity duration. But as long as it is harvested in the long run, redwood will always have a five star recommendation.
III.           Teak
Teak is from hard wood species and is obtained from deciduous trees characterized by hairy leaves (from below their surface) with fragrant white flowers.
Unlike red wood, Teak is relatively expensive.Initially, the use of Teak wood experienced setbacks due to misrepresented information that negatively affected its sustainability. Thanks to the western world plantations that have carefully managed the growing of Teak Wood.
Teak is resistant to decay; it also has water repulsion qualities, has dense straight grains and does not swell nor shrink. For the Long term, Teak is superior, incredibly strong and ages well. Reasons why it has a higher price tag.

Regarded as the ‘king of durable woods’ teak products are passed from generation to generation. They only need maintenance in terms of occasional cleaning and sanding for removal of dirt.

With high mineral content, Teak doesn’t rot even in the wettest of conditions. As times go by, it weathers into silver grey patina.

It also has high oil content, is of high tensile strength and preferred for outdoor furniture because of its tight grains. Some people prefer it for framing, planking, flooring, making counter-tops and boards.

In as much as it is very easy to work on, Teak contains Silica that can severely blunt edged tools.

Although the above woods are durable and long lasting, it is important to exercise measures of protecting them so as to maintain their beautiful and natural look. Their clean surface needs to be maintained. For reduced maintenance costs, painting and use of clear covers is recommended. Covers will also save much of your time in clean ups.

Technophobe Tech-ing…

I’ve had this website, Boa Online, for a while now and wanted to continue posting to it which I have done regularly and I’ve actually written a load of content which I have scheduled to post out over the coming days and weeks.

The one thing I was missing were any social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. So, today, I can proudly announce that I have created my first Facebook Page and a Twitter account. I had to get a little advice about how to do it but it’s all good now and I will shortly be adding some of my old posts to the account and making sure that going forward all new posts get added to both Facebook and Twitter.

If you are on either of those two sites please swing by and say hello! That’s all for now, next post will be in a couple of days time.

Boiler Room - Central Heating

Best Ways to Heat Your Home Without Central Heating

Heating your home without central heating basically means keeping your house warmth without the use of heat from a central source or the mains. Among other measures, additional curtains can be incorporated so as to insulate the house and protect from thermal loss. The following are some of the best ways of home heating in without central heating.

Use of curtains

For homes with radiators, it is usually advisable to tuck curtains behind radiators so that they don’t trap heat.If no central heating is in place, curtains should be used to keep the available heat in the house. Because most heat escapes through windows, it is recommended to always keep curtains closed. Consequently, use of additional curtain lining (double layered curtain sheets either self-made or locally obtained)should be practiced.

Curtain use should not be entirely restricted to windows but doors too. Appropriate door curtains should be long, wide and lined with heavy material e.g. duvet. As soon as darkness approaches, all window and door curtains should be closed to help in keeping the house warm and insulated.

Shutting doors and windows

This is an obvious measure but one worth noting especially for homes with playing kids where a window can mistakenly be left open. Counter check that no window or door is left open. Also inform the family on the importance of this measure during winter. Ensure all the rooms that will be used at night are on the recommended habitable temperatures then shut that heat in.

Utilize natural light

In as much as window, doors and curtains should be closed to minimize heat loss, opening them when sunny is appropriate for natural heat from the sun to warm the room up. Use of sunlight should be embraced since it’s absolutely free.

Watching for draughts

Draughts are leakages that may occur via electrical outlets, window frames, Baseboards and switch plates among others. To minimize on unnecessary heat loss, small holes around pipes and vents should be sealed. Again, rolled up towels or unused clothing can be placed at the door bottom to keep the cold outside. Hanging curtains in front of draughty doors and windows can also help.

If your house has a cat flap or letterbox, it is vital to fill it with sheep wool, unused blanket or any other insulation material to prevent loss of heat or influx of unwanted cold air.

Use of double glazing windows is also encouraged. Because they are of different types, the best ones are those with an energy saving trust seal. Double glazing windows ensure sufficient heat is trapped inside the house thereby minimizing on the overall efforts made in home heating.

Again, revamping windows is also essential in minimizing heat loss. This can be through the use of multiple panes for effective insulation or sealing of edges and cracks. Always check and practice simple repairs such as replacing damaged wood and missing putty.

Layering up

This can be through different ways. The easiest is the use of blankets on sofas and arm chairs for that cosy and warm feeling. Consequently, the use of extra blankets in beds will also provide additional warmth. When it comes to floors, covering them with rags and towels will help protect your feet from their coldness.

A warm mode of dressing should also be considered. Wear tights and leggings under trousers. Also sleeveless T-shirts and tops should be worn under shirts for provision of another layer. Consequently advise every family member to wear a hat, hand gloves and booties.

Use of hotties

In addition to layering, heat the body from inside by taking tea, soup or hot drinks. Keep fingers warm by holding the warm or hot mug from outside.

Cheap hot water bottles can also be used to treat each family member by snuggling before bed time. If it is entirely cold, hot water bottles can be put in bed some few hours before bed time to create an electric blanket feel.

Spreading the warmth

An oven can be a very important source of heat to your kitchen and house as a whole. After preparation of the evening meal, the oven door should be left open (with the oven switched off) to spread the already used heat to the entire kitchen and the surrounding areas. This way, a lot of heat which could have easily been wasted is preserved.

Another way of getting the most out of the heating source is to dry clothes in front of fire. This way, warm air rises to the living room and with all openings closed and draughts taken care of, sufficient heat is kept in the room.

With the current unfavorable economic conditions and high cost of maintaining a central heating system, the above are some of simple ways that can be utilized to heat your home.

Wood Fire

How Bad For the Environment Is Burning Wood on a Fire

Burning wood on fire when done inappropriately can have adverse environmental effects or concerns as stipulated below;

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon a particular activity (in this case wood burning) subtracts or adds to the environment. With regards to carbon, burning wood on fire has almost neutral effects. This is due to the fact that trees remove carbon from the environment as they grow. When they are burnt, they release the same carbon into the environment therefore completing the carbon cycle. The advantage trees pose is that they are a renewable source of energy since they regrow to reclaim air carbon and to replace the already cut or burnt down trees.

Besides releasing carbon on burning, trees also release it during rotting and decomposition process. The only difference is that, the form of oxidation during burning is regarded as rapid compared to the slower oxidation during decomposition.

If consideration is based on gas and oil used in tree harvesting, then carbon foot print will not be entirely neutral. A lot of particulate matter released into the atmosphere becomes a major concern, a reason why is advised to use burning stoves that are certified or the ones that are well maintained. Certified and well maintained stoves are known to burn wood more efficiently and cleanly. Wood to be burnt should also be properly dried so as to minimize smoke and particulate outputs. If this is taken into consideration, carbon footprint and other environmental effects of wood burning can be mitigated.

Depletion of Forests

Harvesting trees for wood burning is a major environmental concern for maintenance of a stable ecosystem. Unless harvesting is done to ease congestion and to ensure healthy growth of other trees, it threatens the habitat and the ecosystem as a whole.

Trees should not be cut down for the short term aim of making profits. Proper maintenance and management should be enhanced to ensure a more attractive and vibrant ecosystem. Wood for burning should be obtained by tree surgeons and maintenance crews and burning must be done in modern stoves and fireplaces.

Smoke Pollution Outdoors

Smoke emission results to all lot of effects. When locals heat wood, smoke accumulates resulting to invisibility. The climatology and topographical effects trap smoke resulting in unpleasant smoke smell that causes nausea and even sickness to some people.

Most stoves used in wood burning are with filthy smoke emission departments. This makes them emit up to sixty grams of particulates in any given hour. Only well maintained and modern wood burners emit a lesser rate of below 7 grams of particulates in any given hour and are highly encouraged for use to mitigate the effects of smoke pollution.

Wood has a higher percentage of carbon with hydrogen and oxygen taking lesser percentages. When wood is burnt, it smokes and turns black in color due to faster vaporization of hydrogen and oxygen. Smoke therefore leaves pure carbon behind in form of charcoal.  The vaporizing smoke contains filthy, big and gooey hydrocarbons with a few of them being carcinogenic.

When wood is burnt properly in hot fire, black tar droplets vaporize leaving carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vapor and hydrocarbons not fully oxidized and easily regulated by EPA. Stinking hydrocarbons called poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found in smoke usually from smoldering wood fire. When the tar like droplets leave the chimney, their chemical composition changes leading to heavy molecules falling to the ground and thus mixing with soil and water to form humus.

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution results when a wood burning system spills smoke from burning wood into the room. Any smell of wood smoke in the house is regarded as pollution. Proper maintenance on wood stoves should therefore be enhanced to prevent this kind of pollution. Other than using the EPA certified wood burning stove, the following should also be observed;

  • Use of seasoned wood i.e. before burning, wood should be cut, split and dried in stacks for a period of approximately six months. Cutting and splitting should correspond to the heater size.
  • Ensuring flaming when wood is burning until only charcoal remains.  Absence of flame is an indication that something is not right.
  • Proper regulation of air setting should be ensured so as any new load of wood ignites almost instantaneously.
  • Firebricks should always be tan in color and not black. The glass door should also be clear and the steel iron parts maintaining a dark brown color and not a black or shiny one.
  • Smoke from the chimney should not be grey or blue but whitish or clear. Grey smoke is an indication of stove inefficiency.
  • Wood to be used in burning should be selectively harvested through uneven age cutting so as to maintain the correct level of biodiversity and biomass.

It should be noted that advanced or modern stoves are very efficient and burn wood producing more than 90% clean heat. This means that less smoke is produced and less deforestation as a result. They also do not spill smoke in the house.

Responsible Wood Heating

Responsible wood heating is important for environment conservation and sustainability. The following should be taken into consideration.

  • Use of right equipment; it’s advisable to restrain from acquiring recreational and decorative wood burning appliances as they are never considered environmental appropriate. Fireplaces that are conventional and without any recovery mechanisms are not good either due to their polluting and wasteful nature. Chimneys should also be made straight for reliability and reduced maintenance.

Maximum consideration on EPA certified stoves should be ensured. This is because they emit less smoke and are much more efficient thus more heat obtained from very little amount of wood.

  • Use of appropriate firewood; appropriate firewood is obtained by consideration of sustainable forest management practices. These practices strive to maintain species diversity and forest integrity. The best example of this practices is selective harvesting through thinning or removal of dead woods while leaving special species trees for wildlife habitat.
  • Efficient daily practices; these are general daily practices i.e. following operating instructions supplied with the heater, burning wood in cycles by placing several pieces on coal thus maintaining that desired heat output, never letting the fire smolder and frequent removal of ashes since its build up interferes with proper loading that ends with ash mess that needs clean up.

Smoke being the pollutant in wood heating causes varied effects to children and the elderly people with sensitive respiratory systems. Dense smoke can permeate clothes and sometimes drive people indoors but if the above measures are taken into consideration, not only will these downsides be mitigated but also a better ecosystem will be maintained for desired sustainability.


A Post I had to Write…

Good morning to you all and merry Christmas. I hope you all had a great time, got lots of presents and ate a lot. I know I did. Well, I didn’t get lots of presents because i’m a little old for all of that now but I made up for it by eating and drinking more than my fair share…But that’s not the reason I am writing a post today.

It’s boxing day and I am down in New Zealand visiting relatives and friends that I have down here. I have a friend who has a reasonably sized garden so he got a new lawn mower for Xmas. It is a McCulloch M46-125wr. It’s really good at its job and delivers a fantastic cut so that’s well worth checking out if you are looking for a new mower. I found a pretty decent review of it already which I linked to, but on the same site I found that they also have a load of other petrol lawn mower reviews. In fact, I found that their social media channels of G+ and Facebook were a pretty good follow because they have trustworthy and reliable information that they share, but not too often! Anyway, I digress…

I haven’t posted in over 6 weeks. Part of that is because I have been down in New Zealand for a while but another part is because I started with a flurry of posts and then ran out of things that I thought would be of interest to talk about.

New Zealand

While I’ve been down here in NZ, I discovered that their history is littered with stories of log mining and some of the early settlers to Australia in fact came across to New Zealand looking for work in mines and log mining. A large number of the workers were English or Irish.


I’m currently on the North Island of New Zealand, which is apparently the lesser good looking island out of the two, but if that’s true I can’t wait to see what the south is like because the north island is pretty stunning.

Aside from travelling around, I have been doing a little woodwork while down here on holiday. Like I said before, I love my work and I don’t see it as work because it’s my passion so I like to practice and learn whenever I feel like it, which is a lot of the time much to the annoyance of my wife and friends.

A friend that I am staying with is actually a carpenter as well (that’s how we know each other) so I am in good company and we have spent many an hour out in his workshop creating, working and chatting away.

Hopefully you can see my attempt at getting creative with the camera based on the featured image (main image of the post I think it is) where I have my sunglasses held in front of the lens while you can see a beautiful ray of sunshine shining down through the clouds onto an island. I thought I would attempt to expand my creative side a little out of my usual comfort zone of carpentry and into the photography world. I’ll admit that I got some tips from my friend who is a keen and very good photographer so it was not all my own work…But, then again, whose work is ever truly original. We are all influenced by our environment and what we see, do, feel and experience each day.

Anyway, it’s time for me to get on and do something with my day now that I have written up this little piece. I wish you all the best for the new year and hope that it’s a good celebration and you don’t have too much of a hangover on New Years day…

Wood Fire

Wood Burner Heater vs Electric Heater

Wood Burner

Due to innovation, the latest wood burner heaters are highly efficient and can be relied upon in terms of energy saving. They also emit little or no carbon therefore ensuring limited air pollution from their renewable source of energy-wood. The following are other benefits associated with the use of wood burner heaters

  • To those who purchase firewood, running them is still cheap. Some people have free access to firewood and this will drop the running costs to almost zero
  • Due to the fact that they do not operate on electricity, they work freely and efficiently despite blackouts and power cuts, unlike electric heaters, even cheap halogen heaters.
  • Wood being a renewable and sustainable source of energy, trees can be successfully generated and harvested for firewood
  • Recent wood burners can be used to heat household water, thanks to the incorporated wet back system
  • When trees grow, they take in carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is released when the same trees die, are processed or burnt. This therefore completes the cycle of carbon neutrality.
  • Open fires are very inefficient and they lose a lot of heat. In as such much they are important for warmth, they create draft by drawing cold air into the room. The same applies to pot belly stoves and older wood burners. Also known for air pollution. Problems. all these are solved by newer wood burner heaters.

When deciding on the purchasing a wood burner, a lot of factors have to be taken into consideration. Including;

  • Building consent; usually obtained from the district council to allow installation of a wood burner. To be given this consent, other requirements may come into play.
  • Seeking authorised wood burners;for installation in properties situated in less than two hectares, certain efficiency and emission standards have to be met. These standards are usually spelt out by the Regional council or the ministry of environment.
  • Insulation; before wood burner installation, ensure proper insulation is done to the floors and ceiling. This will make heating easier and cheaper in the long run.
  • Size of the burner; the size of the burner will depend on the size of the rooms to be heat. By professional guidance and the heater calculator, specific heat requirements can be easily matched to the size of the heater.
  • Number of rooms to heat; the number of rooms to heat will also influence the type or size of the wood burner. Most burners produce sufficient heat that can reach other rooms if internal door openings go high up to the ceiling. Heat transfer kits are also recommended to assist in pumping air to other rooms
  • Heat Emission; wood burners work by both Radiation and Convection. Radiation is essential for heating objects and convection for heating air. Both radiation and convection vary depending on the burner model. For large rooms with high ceilings, drought problems and poor insulation, wood burners with more radiant energy are advised. Air heat by convection wood burners rises to the ceiling leaving the lower air layers cooler. A ceiling fan for mixing higher hotter air with lower cooler one is therefore recommended.
  • Certified installers;for maximum performance, quality installation by certified technicians is key.

Using the Wood Burner

Like other heaters, proper measures should be ensured when using the wood burner. Safety recommendations coupled with the manufactures’ instructions should be adhered to the latter. Some other measures include;

  • Using the right wood at the right time. For starting fire, use soft woods like pine.After burning coals is attained, denser hardwoods that will burn for longer periods are then used.
  • Fire wood to be used must be well-seasoned and dry. Storage should be under cover and in a sunny place
  • Unless specified by the manufacturer, coal should not be burnt in the wood burner since it might cause damages.
  • Do not dampen the air control in the name of adjusting the heat output, do it by adjusting the amount of fuel loaded into the burner
  • Some woods are salt impregnated e.g. driftwood. Such types and chemically treated ones will corrode the wood burner and therefore should not be used.
  • Too much or too low air will lead to unclean burns and production of smoke. The air settings should therefore be set to standard and wood placed on glowing coals for high temperature.

Maintaining the Wood Burner

For longevity, safety and performance, the wood burner should be maintained as per the manufactures instructions. Some parts can be cleaned or replaced. For regular servicing, seek services of a qualified professional or consult your manufacturer.

Electric Heater

An electrical heater is an equipment that uses and converts electric current to heat energy by the use of resistors. Resistors work by joule heating and are supported by a Nichrome wire as the active element. In as much as electric heaters are cheap, they are costly to run and maintain.

Note: You can find out a lot more information from this Facebook and Google plus page which has some relevant posts on the topic of halogen heaters.

Electric Heater

Electric heaters are safe and suitable in heating smaller rooms so as to cut on costs. In larger rooms or poorly insulated ones, more than one heater will be used for sufficient heat energy to be produced. When this happens, it is always recommended to employ the use of one power outlet per heater so as not to overload the system.

Electric heaters are very efficient (except heat pumps) as they tend to convert all electric energy into heat energy. They are also of different types and each type should be used for different heating needs. Examples include;

  • Radiant heaters; it has a heating element and a reflector. They are suitable for object heating and can be mounted on walls. Radiant heaters are suitable for large rooms with high ceilings for instant heat. The only problem is, they are not safe to children and are great fire risks if kept close to flammable materials.

Latest models include; marble, panel and stone-store. They are known for good distribution of lower temperature heat but are not more efficient than other electric heaters.

  • Fan heaters; also referred as ceramic heaters. They efficiently distribute heated air throughout the room. Their only setback is the noise produced during this process. The fact that they are very safe makes them suitable for use in homes with small children. With better heat distribution, they are most effective for providing quick warmth in smaller rooms.
  • Panel heaters; most panel heaters are very cheap and do not get hot to pose risks to pets and children. Despite this, they emit relatively low heat energy and cannot be relied upon for standard home heating.

An alternative to panel heaters is a high wattage heater controlled by thermostats. It will heat the room quickly with thermostats switching on and off for desired energy levels and temperature.

  • Convection heaters;a column heater is the best example of a convection heater. Having a heating element with grills that allow air flow, they heat the air rather than surfaces.

by constant air Warming and circulation through convection, Convection heaters are suitable for use in bedrooms, living rooms and other medium size rooms that require heating for long time durations.

When hot, convection heaters can burn the skin. It’s therefore advised to be cautious when getting too close. With their weight and sharp oil fin columns, convection heaters are not very safe to children.

  • Electric under-floor heaters; this form of heating is installed between the floor board and floor covering. For efficiency, the floor should be well insulated to prevent from downward heat loss. Although it is an expensive form of heating, it is efficient and reliable in heating large areas.
  • Night store heaters;considered very economical, they utilise cheaper (night) off peak electricity to store heat energy in masses e.g. bricks and release it during the day. They are only suitable for houses that will be preoccupied during the day.

When purchasing an electric heater, it is always important to take into consideration some features as below;

  • Timers and fans;timers allow on and off turning of heaters a few hours before going to bed or getting out of it. Fans on the other hand are vital for warm air distribution throughout the room
  • Thermal cut-outs and tilt switches; being an important safety feature, heaters with thermal cut-outs automatically switch of if overheating occurs. A tilt switch is another safety feature that turns the heater off in the event that the heater overturns
  • Thermostats;although they are not accurate resulting to temperature fluctuations, thermostats can maintain desired and standard heater temperatures. For optimum results, temperature sensors are located far away from the heated parts e.g. below the heater, a position where unheated room air is drawn.

Using the Electric Heater

When using the Electric Heater, adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and safety measures so as to be free from burn injuries and sometimes electrocution. Also remember to heat only the rooms that are in use so as to cut down on wastage and costs. Again, conserve heat by closing doors, windows and sealing drafts. Lastly, do not forget to set the thermostat to standard, recommended temperatures.

Considering all the above information, it is important to choose a heater that is efficient, cheap to maintain and one that solves all your heating problems.

Or you could have a look at this video and take some advice from it to create a great source of energy for your home this winter.