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.

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.


Wood Furniture

Latest Home Fashion Trends For Wood Furniture

Furniture, among other households attracts attention from lots of guests and visiting friends. By building basis of communications, they become talking points and communication, being an important skill in life, becomes even better when nurtured by simple things like furniture talking points. In relation to furniture, whichever you choose represents your values, taste and preference not forgetting personality. The following are the latest home fashion trends for wood furniture.

  1. Custom Made Furniture

Perceived to be extremely expensive but can be easily accessed and afforded by anyone who loves anything associated with trend and fashion. The secret is seeking services of a person who enjoys making the furniture for passion and not an extortionist who is only after extreme generation of profits.

People have different tastes and preferences. Sometimes their personality is expressed through furniture. Spark a conversation with your wood smith and guide him through what you need for that custom furniture with a personal touch. Individuality in furniture has recently grown to add something uniquely in home furniture and fashion trends. Furniture Customization should therefore be embraced and not considered to be for the rich.

  1. Metallic Leather

Metallic styled materials when used on wooden home furniture blend well into the room background unlike silver and gold finishes that make your furniture ‘scream’ for attraction to the guests and anyone else who enters the house. Wooden furniture with metallic leather add vibrancy and life to your home not to mention confidence and over time lasting impression to all the guests.

  1. Cultured Furniture

Cultured furniture is a good representation of foreign culture into your home. In the latest trends, African Furniture represents great taste and glamour. With patterned upholstery, quality wood and skilled carpentry, it will be a definite outdoor fit and a complement to indoor design

  1. Outdoor Furniture Indoors

Outdoor furniture e.g. deck Garden chairs can be a good indoor fit. Although most people will never go this far, it still remains to be a good definition of trend. When this is done, it should be incorporated by class and purpose and not as a temporary replacement. This idea has for a long time now been embraced in most designs and exhibitions. Apart from natural wood, glass and aged metals provide other good options when trying the outdoor furniture indoor idea.

  1. Pleated furniture

As the latest home fashion on furniture, this trend has been on the high in most furniture on exhibitions and trade fairs. Pleats represent doubled back material which is also secured in place. This trend is mostly demonstrated on sofas for that elegant and classy look.

  1. Furniture with Vintage

Older furniture are usually well made and long lasting compared to modern flat-pack ones. Protecting them so as not to end in landfills by addition of a few items as vintage,continues to grow in popularity as a great way of preservation coupled by fashion. Furniture with vintage are unique and as a latest trend preserves the environment by the fact that it requires no felling of trees.

  1. Technological Furniture

Furniture trends are embracing the fact that smart phones are nowadays indispensable. Hidden wireless charging docks and ports, USB ports, audio and video connectors, WIFI systems among others are all incorporated in latest trendy furniture. This has considerably made life easier and more interesting since you can charge your phone on the bedside, listen to auxiliary audio from your smartphone while in home Spa or sauna or even gaming chairs with incorporated devises and audio that make gaming experience real. With lots of these kinds of furniture options, technology and furniture has been ‘married’ to being one thing.

  1. Environmentally Friendly Furniture

Environmentally friendly furniture is crafted from recycled timber and other sustainable sources that are environmental friendly.

In the current environmental sensitive world where everyone is keen on environmental conservation, recycled timber is a green choice that is constantly gaining popularity. Apart from being eco-friendly, it exudes a natural worldly appearance when used in homes.

Wooden furniture from recycled timber represents personal beliefs on living in a sustainable environment. These furniture are long lasting and do not threaten the environment in any way. Since the inception of recycled timber, latest furniture trends are supreme in pronouncing an environmental friendly environment and surrounding.

  1. Multi-Functional/Multi-purpose Furniture

A dining or coffee table can as well be used as a chair or shelf. A three in one design that offers convenience together with saving your money and space in modern home designs. Multifunctional furniture might not be preferred by people in larger homes but for their counterparts who reside in smaller houses, they are a worth consideration. This latest innovation has also seen beds transform into chairs work desks and drawers among others.

Small trendy Furniture

With increased population, housing shortage has been a long time problem that is yet to Fashionable chairs in the homebe solved. The immediate ‘knee jerk reaction’ saw construction of smaller house units with smaller living rooms, kitchen and bedrooms. Due to this, home furniture has to adopt with smaller house sizes by creation of trendy, smaller furniture of class that perfectly fits into small size homes.

  1. Hide with hair

Hide with hair maintains a natural look on furniture. When properly done, it is attractive to the eye and creates a good feeling to touch. As a growing trend, it is in most shows and exhibitions. It also doesn’t have to be natural hide as synthetic options provide similar fashion solutions.

  1. Inventive Solutions to small homes

as earlier discussed, smaller but trendy furniture are manufactured so as to offer a perfect fit for smaller house units as a result of housing problems brought about by increased population and scarcity of land. Another innovative way of solving this problem is by utilizing unused space by creation of wooden fall back floors, pull out draws and the wall storage lockers among others.This technique is a latest trend for solving storage and space problems and is destined to grow even further with time.

  1. Light Toned Woods

Discussed in every trend article, light toned woods are considered the most popular in wood furniture fashion a reason why they are dominant in the furniture market. They are of high quality and long lasting. Light toned wood are natural and crafting can be on any type of furniture. The best example is oak. With its beautiful grains and knots, it is also sturdy and is vastly used in the making of multi-purpose furniture and those used on a daily basis.

  1. Up-cycled Furniture

This type of furniture is made from wood that has been taken through all stages of contraction and expansion. Reclaimed wood from old bridges or railway sleepers is firstly cleaned before being used in the making of furniture. Up-cycled furniture is known for the warmly feeling it brings to the home. With unique history, up-cycled wood furniture is preferred for their touch of mystery and will become a focal point for every guest.

The above latest trends for wood furniture are a representation of opulence coupled with elegance and style. Exude confidence by being trendy and create that ‘wow’ feeling in the mind of your every guest.

Carpenter at Work

How to Become a Carpenter

  1. Developing of Basic Skills

Carpentry is a skill that once acquired needs to be developed. As one of the oldest trades, it has been in existence for hundreds of years. Initially, people used logs to develop them into beautiful inspiring structures but nowadays, Working as a carpenter involves laying out projects, cutting and turning timber into desired structures and being able to read blueprints. A carpenter, after assembly of materials ensures his work is accurate and is compliant with local building standards.

The following are detailed steps through which one can become a carpenter.

Ensure you are Physically Fit; carpentry is a job that involves heavy lifting. Other than that, one spends almost the entire day standing up and engaging in very physical work. You need to maintain a good eye-hand coordination so as to avoid injuries as well as a good sense of stability.

Get to know what carpenters do;carpenters are passionate about wood work. They build and fix items from timber. They are dexterous with their hands and sometimes work on building repairs. For you to succeed in carpentry, you must be artistic in making furniture among other items and derive passion from working on timber

Know your Main Educational Strengths; do you have good communication skills; both written and oral?Can you with ease solve mathematical problems? Do you understand physical science? These are all basic skills important in carpentry. Other required skills include;

  • Problem Solving Skills; without this skills you will not be able tosolve your problems with customers, tools and even timber. Any arising problem, be it from a stalling tool, breaking boards or dissatisfied customers, should be solved quickly and effectively
  • Being a Detail Oriented Person; will be vital skills in measuring timber and cutting pieces of exact measurements. A whole building can be affected by a stairway that is ill-measured. Sometimes one needs to look at a structure and know the associated problems and how to go about them

LearningBasic Carpentry Tools

There are a lot of tools used in modern carpentry. For anyone aspiring to be a carpenter, the following are the basic and most important ones;

  • Hammer; for driving in nails and pulling them out.
  • Saws; saws are timber cutting tools. They are of different types in terms of sizes and shapes. As an aspiring carpenter, learn about the universal saw and get accustomed the others as time goes by.
  • Tape measure; for making measurements, any project will not commence without proper measurements.
  • Spirit level; are vital for general accuracy and symmetry. With spirit levels, perfect horizontal levels will be attained.
  • Marking tools; are basically pens and pencils that make marks on timber that needs to be nailed or sawed
  1. Carpentry schools and training

To join carpentry schools and training facilities, the basic requirement is high school diploma or equivalent. For successful training, one should also consider taking courses that deal with geometry, algebra, mechanical drawing and physics among others.

Carpentry schools enable students aspiring to be carpenters to be efficient and exercise safety measures on construction sites. They also learn on how to frame windows and doors not to mention laying out rafters and walls. Some programmes also educate on how to estimate material for a given job, others, after successful completion offer certificate on exterior and interior finishing.

Apart from classroom instructions, training is also hands on and takes place in a workshop or lab. Course programmes include; carpentry tools and techniques, construction materials, woodwork calculations and blue print reading among others.

Sometimes carpentry laws and building codes are covered.Other career options e.g. stair construction, finishing techniques and wall construction are covered for one to develop insight in the area of interest.

Some students find work immediately after college graduation. Some enter apprenticeship programmes for valuable hands on experience while others choose to advance in studies via associate degree programmes.

  1. Vocational training programs

Some schools offer vocational training in carpentry. Some of these classes are important in equipping one with basic carpentry skills. Also, one learns how to safely operate drills and use saws. Basics of simple carpentry are learnt and little carpentry experience attained.

Consequently, you can organise with your teacher to assist in grading papers and projects. With access to the workshop, you can use your free time to work on personal projects

Also, talking to another party about your aspirations can be of much help. By speaking out, you will find openings that will lead to apprenticeships, vocational programs or building trades that show different aspects of how one becomes a carpenter.

Some communities offer carpentry classes for beginners. It is therefore important to check out on this. Again, find out if community centres in your township teach carpentry. If none, get to know if there are any such plans in future. Internet searches can also provide valuable information on area carpentry and classes to attend.

For experience, joining a volunteer group is of utmost importance. Some volunteer programmes support construction projects important for gaining hands on experience.

Through the above programmes, one acquires the basics needed to become a carpenter. Career opportunities also increase with experience, plus formal certifications and education.

  1. Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is the initial stage of formal training. It lasts for approximately three to four years. A lot of time is dedicated to practice and on the job training (technical).

Technical training involves reading of blue prints, knowing about code building requirements, carpentry mathematics and carpentry safety regulations. Sometimes specialised training like building scaffolds and rigging are offered.

Apprenticeship requirements

To get apprenticeship opportunities, some basic requirements have to be met as below

  • Having attained more than eighteen years of age
  • Being physically fit for hard carpentry work
  • Proof of residency or citizenship
  • With high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Passing a drug test

With the above requirements, professional apprenticeship can be attained. Still, if unable to find apprenticeship opportunity, be an on the job helper which you can do freely without minimum education. Being a helper is a proper way of substituting carpentry classes. The company with which you are helping gets to teach you all the merits and demerits of carpentry, its challenges and how to go about them.

  1. Carpentry job opportunities

After training and with a certificate, find yourself a job that involves carpentry. Carpentry is not only about furniture design and construction from timber; it involves construction among other jobs. So, when seeking opportunities, do not confine yourself only to carpentry workshops.

Leaving Behind a Good Work History

In the carpentry profession just like in other careers, you will only be hired if you have a good work history. Learn the carpentry trade well, relate well with colleagues and as times go by you may end up practising as an independent contractor or foreman.

  1. Starting an own carpentry business

With work training and work experience, you now have the confidence of working on your own. With considerable savings, obtain tools and be your own boss.

  1. Keep updating your skills

Refreshing yourself with newer courses will only keep you updated and abreast in the latest carpentry trends. Enrol in any local community college and with the latest skills, seek on ways to improve in the delivery of services.

In pursuing your career goals of becoming a carpenter, it is important to exhaust all avenues including speaking to an experienced carpenter so as to gain insight on what is really expected. Ask as many questions and if you are a person of physical labour and have dexterous hands, carpentry may be for you. Lastly, follow the above provided information for that rewarding carpentry career.

Man Using Wood Lathe

Top Tips on Wood Lathing for Beginners

A wood lathe is a machine used for shaping pieces of material e.g. timber by rapid rotation along its axis while pressing abrading or a cutting tool against it. Wood lathing is the act of using a wood lathe in timber shaping to attain a specific or desired shape.

For beginners, to learn simple wood lathing tips, it is firstly recommended to get accustomed to the wood lathe machine and other cutting tools. The following are important wood lathe machine parts

  • Tailstock Barrel; can be turned by a hand wheel to provide fine positional control to the work piece.

  • Spindle; mounted to the headstock with bearings, it’s what a powered motor rotates

  • Motor; it’s what powers the lathe machine, causing rotation of the spindle

  • Saddle; provides support to the tool rest

  • Lathe Bed; offers supports to the tailstock and headstock. It is important in keeping all other lathe components aligned

  • Headstock; consists of a motor, belts, pulleys, spindle and the drive train.

  • Tail Stock; located at the end of the lathe bed and contains a tailstock spindle, a hand-wheel and the cup centre. It offers support to the end of work piece

  1. Basics of wood turning

It is so inspiring to watch an experienced wood turner come up with a shaped wood form raw wood material. The secret is to know how to use the lathe safely and constant practice coupled by simple knowledge of lathe tools. The following are simple basics and tips to help improve on wood lathing skills. After learning the basics, similar wood turning techniques are used to obtain table legs and bedposts not forgetting stair rail spindles.

  • Choice of Tools; Sharp tools are usually safe. Sharpened skew chisels, gouges and scrapers cut cleaner and are much easier to work with compared to the unsharpened or blunt ones. Sharpening can be done on a bench grinder or a wet sharpener. The curve of a sharpening wheel will help maintain the concave edges of tools.

  • Wood Turning Speed; Lathe machines have variable speeds that can be regulated from about 500RPM to 4000 RPM. The rule to be adhered to is; the wider the work piece, the slower the speed

Narrower stocks of approximately 2-1/2 inches in thickness can be turned from 1500 RPM to 2000RPM. Thicker ones should be turned at half the above speed.

  • Hand Positioning; ensure your hands are kept at safer positions for tools control. If right handed, place the left hand against the tool rest and use the right hand in holding the tool. The left hand should be placed in such a way that the forefingers are under the tool resting against the tool rest side with the thumb on the tool for that steady holding. If you are left hander, observe the above but with reserved hands i.e. left hand for the right and vice versa.
  • Tools and Tool Rest; when wood lathing, the tools i.e. chisels, gouges or scrapers should always be in contact with the tool rest before the wood.

Consequently, the point of contact between the tool, the tool rest and the wood should be of limited distance. The bigger the distance, the lower the support provided by the tool

  • Use of Bevel; for safe wood turning, the bevel should always be kept behind the sharp edge of the tool that is resting on wood. This will prevent the tool from taking too much at any given time.

If using a gouge, with the tool on the tool rest, ensure the back edge of the tool is on the spinning wood to create a point of contact behind or on the bevel. With safe contact, your right hand should be tasked with sliding the tool away from the lathe machine but towards the body until the cutting edge starts cutting. For the entire cutting duration, the bevel should be in contact with the wood.

  • Cutting With the Grain; the rule is to ‘always cut with the grain’ when lathing. Cutting with the grain is always regarded as downhill cutting. It is usually recommended to cut from the edges towards the centre. uphill cutting i.e. from the centre outwards is more difficult to control at the same time keeping the tool bevel on the wood.

Wood Sculpture

  • Leading Cutters and Trailing Scrapers; Cutters refer to chisels, parting tools and gouges. When working with them, the fore hand should be kept higher to the rear hand. I.e. the hand on the tool rest should be kept higher than that on the handle. When using scrapers, the opposite of the above is observed, i.e. the forehand should be lower than the rear hand to allow the scraper’s cutting edge to be beneath the tool rest thus taking a trailing position in scraping the wood.
  • Always Practice; constant practising will lead to perfection. Every experienced wood turner was once a novice who developed his skilled through constant and continuous practise.

Focus should also be turned to following above tips and having firm grips on tools. After sometime, one begins to relax and at that time, lathing significantly becomes easy. It is only a question of continuous practise and patience

  1. Safety Measures

Wood lathing involves the use of machinery and sharp tools that can cause harm and fatality if safety precautions are not observed. By practising the following safety rules and turning them into a habit, wood turning processes can be fun.

  • Following Safety Rules and Precautions, severe injuries can be caused by failure of reading safety instructions. Therefore, like in any tool, read and follow the recommended safety rules.
  • Wearing Safety Glasses, A Face Shield and Respirators: When wood turning, be assured that debris and wood chips will fly in all directions. Therefore, for face and eyes protection, a face shield and safety glasses are of utmost importance. A face shield also protects from distraction. Respirators will protect from inhalation of dust particles that may affect the mucous membrane and long term lung irritation.
  • Wearing Proper Work Attire; it is recommended to be in a long sleeved shirt and pants to protect the body from flying debris. Loose fitting clothes might be entangled in the machine and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
  • Always Observe Use of Tool Rest; never ever should you ‘free hand’ a tool into the turning wood. A tool can get ripped off your hand while free handing. Flying tools can cause immense injuries. For proper use of lathe therefore, the tool rest should be kept close to the work and proper tightening done.
  • Consider Stock Sizes When Turning Speed; as earlier discussed, lathe speed varies from 500RPM to 4000 RPM. Regulation of speed depends on the stock size. The higher the stock size, the lower the recommended speed and vice versa. Always set the speed of lathe before turning on the lathe motor

Other Important Safety Measures Include;

  • Not using a finger to check on the roundness and smoothness of wood work while the lathe is still running
  • Cleaning the sawdust and shavings as they are potential fire hazards
  • Not leaving the lathe unattended and unplugging it from power source when not in use
  • Not wearing lose fitting clothes or jewellery
  • Protecting ears with ear muffs or plugs
  • Having an easily accessible first aid kit around
  1. Wood Turning Tools and Shapes

Basic shapes when wood turning include; Hollow, Ogee, V-Cut, Fillet, Bead, Cove and flat among others. For the above shapes to be attained, specific tools are required. These tools include; the skew chisel, parting tool, the spindle gouge and roughing gouge. Different widths of spindle gouges are used to create coves of different widths and depths.

Using a Roughing Gouge

A roughing gouge is usually the very first tool employed when wood turning. It is used in the initial stage of turning to round over raw stock into a piece that can be easily worked on by other tools. Sometimes it is used for hollowing. Basic rules should be followed so as to be free from injury and not to damage the work piece.

Before using a roughing gouge, ensure the tool is on a tool rest before engaging the wood. The tool rest should be positioned within a quarter inch of the wood and the heel of the gouge placed on the rest. At this point, the handle should be below the work piece and by raising the handle slightly, the heel will be allowed to engage the wood.

To stabilize the gouge, place your free hand under the heel with the forefingers against the tool rest base then ease the tool downwards keeping it in close contact with the work piece and the tool rest. now angle the tool approximately about 15 degrees to the direction you want the gouge to travel and move your rear hand, off hand and gouge evenly to the right taking off small amounts of wood stock. Repeat the above process until desired level of smoothness and roundness is attained.

Using Skew Chisel

A skew chisel is the most dangerous of the wood turning tools. Any slight misstep can cause injury and damage to the wood piece. Therefore great care and caution must be adhered to when dealing with this tool.

A skew chisel has two parts,

  • Toe; the long part of the cutting edge
  • Heel; the shortest part of the cutting edge.

Before using the skew chisel, it is important to learn how to use it safely. In most cases, the toe should not be in direct contact with the wood as this might cause dig INS. For proper use of the skew chisel, one should be conversant with the following;

  • Smoothing; a Skew Chisel can be used for that fine smooth finish. This is attained by the use of the central portion of the chisel. Holding the chisel handle with the right hand and the left on the rest, tilt it about 25 degrees with the heel side on the tool rest ensuring only the centre of the skew chisel edge is in contact with the spindle. To get rid of dig INS, the toe should be kept off the spindle. While maintaining the 25 degrees angle, work from right to left to smooth the spindle. (Proper care should be taken to ensure the toe does not come to contact with the spindle).
  • Tapers; making long tapers is almost the same as smoothing. It works with the heel part of the skew chisel. a parting tool is firstly used to make grooves on the spindle with the skew chisel used in obtaining the desired shape.
  • Beads and V-cuts; both are attained by using the toe of a skew chisel. With the tip eased into the wood, rolling the tool to one side creates a V-cut or bead. This being a learned skill, repetition and constant practice will eventually lead to perfection.

Using Parting a Tool

The parting tool is used to remove finished parts from a spindle. It can also be used for making grooves of specified depths. When using this tool, the front hand should guide the tool into the wood stock. This will be successful if the parting tool is kept square to spindle axis.

As you use the parting tool, it is important to keep checking the thickness of stock that remains in the groove with the help of a vernier. Just ease the parting tool forward and use the free hand to check thickness.

Keeping the parting tool sharp is also vital. Sharpening should be done for a few seconds with a bench grinder. When sharpening a proper angle should be ensured to the tool rest.

Wood lathing Skills can be developed by constant practise. Also follow the above simple tips and in a short span of time, wood turning will be a hobby, difficult to turn away from.