Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Smoked Bacon from Scratch

8607805603_6fc396469f.jpgEvery meat-eater I've ever met has a very special place in their belly for bacon. Quite simply, it is delicious, almost any way you cook it. In fact, we love it so much that we raise a couple of pigs each year to meet all our bacon needs, not to mention ham, lard, sausage, pork chops, ribs, etc.

Within this article we hope to run you through the real basics of bacon. How to raise pigs holistically, a summary of butchering, curing the ham and bacon, and finally how to smoke it (we even have another Instructable on how to build a smoker). Admittedly, this isn't for everyone, but the quality of meat you get from happy, healthy, pastured pigs is unsurpassed. If you don't have the space and resources to raise a pig yourself, it pays to get in touch with someone locally who can, or organize a pig-share.

Unfortunately, all our photos of smoked meat, seem to be of the shoulder or of hams. Sorry, you'll just have to think bacon when you see them!

For more information on raising and processing pigs, click here.
For other stuff we do, visit our website here.

5643505764_b98b0dd39b.jpgHere's a few facts about pigs for those of you who are considering raising your own pig or finding someone else to do it for you. The size of a litter varies with each sow, her age and breed playing a big role. But let's say the average is 8 piglets. Of those 8, there will normally be a runt (which will always be on the smaller side and is best to avoid buying if you can) and a couple of extra big ones. The latter is what you want ideally when buying a piglet to raise.Any pig will produce bacon, but a Landrace is usually longer than most breeds and thus will produce more bacon. It is also a fast growing breed.Piglets are usually weaned between 4 and 6 weeks, and this is when they are sold to people to feed up. Prices for a feeder pig vary according to your location. Near us, they sell for about $40.The perfect butcher size for a Landrace is about 240 lbs, which will give you about 150 lbs meat. A healthy animal on a good diet can achieve this weight at 6 months old, so 4 1/2 months after purchasing a Feeder pig.If you have to buy all the pig's food (no pasture, kitchen scraps, etc.) you will need between 650 and 750 lbs of feed, costing roughly $150. This puts the cost of your meat at about $1.30 a pound, for all kinds of different cuts.Pigs are omnivores, which means they eat a large variety of food, including grass, weeds, vegetables, grains, all sorts of kitchen scraps, any slaughter wastes from other animals (like poultry or rabbits). To grow well, they need a fairly high percentage of protein in their diet. So if you can't give them something like slaughter waste or meat scraps, give them a high protein plant like soy. For one or two feeder pigs, you can supplement their food considerably by picking weeds for them and giving them scraps. This will bring down the cost of raising them, and pigs love the variety.Pigs are easy to house. They don't need much shelter really, except when they're small or about to give birth. They do however get sunburned, so shade is absolutely essential. Rain isn't much of a problem - our pigs always run out in the rain to play in the mud.Pigs can't climb, so you don't need to make your fencing very tall. We use a three-strand electric fence, which they respect very well once they learn what it is. Pigs are very intelligent and usually learn fast.For more information on managing, breeding and feeding pigs, click here.

View the original article here

Cribbage Board Jig For A Drill Press

jig3.jpegCribbage is a great card game (full of weird jargon, like when you get to yell "Muggins his knob!" at your grandpa) with score kept on a classic wooden peg board.  There are some good Instructables for making cribbage boards out of plastic with a laser cutter, out of wood with a CNC router, and out of wood by hand.  For those of us without CNC/laser abilities and lacking super-steady hands for free hand drilling, how to get neatly aligned cribbage board holes?  A cribbage board drill press jig!

I'm working on a hardwood box and cribbage board combo, so I knew I wanted very precise peg holes.  The internets is full of suggestions for jigs to allow you to do precise drilling on a drill press.  The idea is to brace the work piece against a backstop and use stop blocks to gradually move the piece horizontally for drilling each hole.  American Woodworker had a photo of a jig using flip blocks that looked cool, but no Instructions on how to make one.   Sounds like a project!  Read on to learn how to make your own cribbage board drill press jig.

I made this jig in the woodshop at Tech Shop in San Jose.  If you live in the Bay Area or one of Tech Shop's other locations, it's a cool place to check out - lots of tools and interesting classes.  And, if you write an Instructable based on your work there, you win a free class.  Check out their website: http://www.techshop.ws - maybe I should take the CNC class so I don't have to build a jig next time I need a zillion holes drilled :)

-2 two-foot pieces of poplar stock (or another wood - someone recommended poplar to me, but it was a little too soft. I had some splitting when it came to drilling holes)
-2 four-foot pieces of 1/4" thick poplar hobby board, 1 inch wide
-1 long wooden dowel (needs to be the same length or longer as your wood stock)
-A few screws
-Your cribbage board wood and some test scraps

-Drill press and bits
-Hand drill and screwdriver
-Table saw with cross-cut sled
-Measuring tape
-Clamps and stop blocks

View the original article here

Father's Day Fabric Fortune Cookie

IMG_50344.jpgHere's a cute fabric fortune cookie that would be a perfect, straight-from-the-heart gift for Dad on Father's Day. It's really easy to make, and you can add your own personalized fortune!IMG_4978.JPGWhat you'll need for this project:

-Some sort of thick fabric (felt is ideal, but I used an old pair of my dad's jeans)
-A mug or cup to trace circles with
-A sewing machine or a needle and thread
-A pencil
-A pen or thin Sharpie
-A Post-It note

View the original article here

outdoor fireplace made from a reclaimed gas fireplace

outdoor fireplace 015.JPGSo, I had this L.P vent free fireplace that we haven't used in a couple of years, mainly because it used a lot of propane, and the oxygen censor always would get dust in there causing it to shut off all the time. I placed an ad on craigslist hoping that I could get at least 25 bucks for it, but I couldn't find any takers. I set it outside thinking maybe someone would want it, but that didn't work either. Today, I decided that I would convert it into an outdoor fireplace. It took me about an hour to do. I used a piece of extra stove pipe, my cutting torches, screwdriver, (Philips), end wrench, and a pair of pliers. instructable project 3 005.JPGThe first thing I did was look it over, and figure out if it was even possible to get the gas stuff out of there. To my surprise, everything was mounted to a plate inside there, and all I had to do was remove all of the nuts and bolts that held the plate to the structure. It was nice that it all came out as one unit, instead of piece by piece!

View the original article here

Dancing, Magnetic Robots

Make a pair of dancing robots using magnets!

While messing around with some magnets I purchased from Ebay I discovered something really cool.  If you put a small washer on a flat surface and move a magnet in a circle motion underneath the washer, it will spin one way and then another.

As soon as I saw this I just had to incorporate it into a project.  In the end I came up with robot dancers - the ideas a little left of centre but the end result looks great.  The robots really look like they are dancing and the cool thing is you can’t see any mechanisms moving them. 

I chose a book to have the robots dancing on as I wanted it to seem that the robots were casually being displayed on top of the  book.  You could use a wooden box (or cardboard box) to hide the motor etc, but a book does the job pretty well.

Here's a video of the robots in action

And here’s how you do it…

View the original article here

HomeMade Modern DIY $5 Bucket Stool

Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix
Purchase at Home Depot
Quikrete 5000 is my go to concrete mix for all sorts of DIY projects. It’s stronger and cures faster than standard mixes and has a nice grey color. Quikrete 5000 is available at Home Depot. The only thing challenging about working with Quikrete is the moving the 80lb bags it comes in.

1 ¼" Diameter Wooden Dowel 48" long
Purchase at Home Depot
A single 48” dowel is all you need to make three sturdy legs. 1” diameter and 1 ½” diameter dowels would also work just fin. If you have some old tool handles you can try that as well.

5 Gallon Bucket
Purchase at Home Depot
I picked up a bucket in the paint aisle at home depot. Look for a bucket with a smooth bottom.

Copper Pipe Caps and Washers
Purchase at Home Depot
Copper Pipe caps and washers can be used to even out the legs if you don’t get them to set evenly in the concrete. Simply put more washers in the caps that go on the shorter legs. Construction adhesive can be used to keep the pipe caps on the dowels.

Clean Tap Water
Always use clean water for mixing with concrete.

View the original article here