Soon, a nice hot shower on the farm…

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a shower at the farm. It’s going to be quite some time before we can get a well drilled up there. Normally we carry our drinking water in, but washing is another issue.

Now, we could go down to the creek and wash up, but that’s not a great idea. For one, we really don’t want that gray water going straight into the creek to pollute and contaminate it. For another, in the spring and fall…and winter it will either be super chilly or just flat out frozen.

So, the solution is to be able to take some water (as needed) to the top of the hill. This will give us the opportunity to heat that water for washing and, with the proper drainage, to let the soil filter that gray water long before it gets back to the water shed.

A few years ago I built a small wagon/trailer/cart. I decided to attach a 55 gallon drum to that and add a pump so we can pump water out of the creek, haul it up the hill, heat it and run a shower.

First I had to get some parts and components.

This is a portable, propane fired tankless water heater. Super fuel efficient

There’s the trailer, the drum, a new pump, and a few of the plumbing fittings.

Finally ready for testing. If you notice, its after dark when I finally got this joker put together, I am definitely NOT a plumber. Lol

In the background to fhe right you can see the water heater hooked up. It worked well, except for one thing…I had a leak..a pretty big one. If you look where the green hose comes out of the pvc you can see a black rag wrapped around the fitting. It by no means stopped the leak, but it kept water from spraying everywhere. I’m going to have to change out that green hose to something a bit more rigid. When filling the barrel (simulated creek) the pump was powerful enough to collapse the hose. Even with the collapsed hose I can fill the barrel in just around 3 minutes.

The water heater had a bit of trouble because it has a low pressure safety switch that turns off the burner when the pressure drops. Well, the rag wrapped fitting caused the pressure to drop to the heater. Water still flowed out of the shower head at a decent rate, but not with enough pressure to ignite the burner.

A couple of adjustments and some tweaking is in order, but I think it will be a glorious addition to the farm. After working out the bugs it will be time to build a nice, cedar deck to stand on while showering.

Let me know if you have an outdoor shower and how often you use it. I’d actually prefer to shower outdoors regardless of the weather.

I’d love to hear what you’ve got!

We hope you all have a great week.


I think I’m gonna buy a Bader…..

I have been bladesmithing for a few years now, and I don’t have any big, crazy equipment. As time goes by and as my experience grows I have been gradually upgrading equipment. I started with a Harbor Freight cast iron anvil, home made brake drum forge, and an angle grinder. All functional, but not nearly effective enough to complete the amazing knives I can and want to make.

Eventually I got a propane forge from NC Tool Company, as well as a 112 pound steel anvil. These helped me to heat and move metal much more efficiently.

As far as a grinder for shaping and polishing….well…I converted a Harbor Freight wood lathe into a belt grinder. I made a two wheel arm with a small 4 inch flat platen. It only has a 3/4 horse power motor and I’m constantly overloading it. The biggest reach I could build was for 48 inch belts. Again, it works, but it is very limited in its capabilities.

That’s me with the lathe/ grinder in action.

When I went in Forged In Fire I had the opportunity to use a Travis Wuertz TW 90 2×72 belt grinder. And it was a BEAST! Maybe I got a little spoiled, or I was able to test drive that joker and was able to imagine the possibilities. Either way, I knew it was time to upgrade. Unfortunately, the TW 90 base model is REALLY expensive. None of the decent belt grinders are cheap, but dang.

I’ve been doing a lot of research and after spending time with the guys I competed against and found that the Bader BIII is about the best, all around grinder that will work for me. They’ve got an excellent track record and a ton of accessories.

So, for almost $1500 less than the TW 90 I am going to get a Based. This should be exciting, it only took me 2 years to decide. I’m going to give it one more day to sleep on it, and then I’m going to order one.

Let me know if you’ve used one, or both of these grinders and what your thoughts are.

Hope you have a great week.


Fun and Joyous reunions…

Today was a good day. A day of fun and reunions on two fronts.

First off, my lovely Maria returned home after nearly a week of being gone to Maine. She and her sister travel upta camp so to speak to visit with their ages grandmother. I think it was a great trip for them, but I sure did miss Maria. I was very happy to see her home.

Before that could happen though, I took a day off of work to go out to the home of Tim, one of the guys I competed against on Forged In Fire. The champion of our episode, Andrew, had come down from Pennsylvania for vacation in the outer banks. The fourth member, Tom, couldn’t make it.

We spent the day showing off knives we made, swapping techniques, and tool and equipment building. We had some fun and learned some cool things. Being the rookie of this crew, I’m not sure how much I contributed to the learning, but it was a good time. The short time we all spent together was a great bonding experience, especially since we all have a common interest.

Maria made some gifts for the guys and their wives for me to take. She tie dyed some No Harm In Farmin tee shirts and tote bags. They were a big hit.

And as true bladesmiths we also swapped the gifts of steel. I gave each of them a huge bar of 4140 stainless steel, and Tim gave Andrew and I each a couple of bars of 1090 modified steel. These might seem like strange gifts, but it was like Christmas to us. Lol

Here are some photos from today:

That’s Tim on the left (second place), Andrew in the middle (champ), and me….umm first eliminated?!? Lol. Another thing we traded were tee shirts. Andrew is wearing Maria’s tie dye, Tim and I are wearing shirts from Andrew’s shop.

Spending some time pilfering through Tim’s tools in the forge, admiring his forge set up and formulating plans. We made some tentative plans to make this a yearly get together, next year will probably be in my shop.

We even took some time to play with the donkey and the goats…ahh good times.

I’m not sure if anybody is ever going to plan a big get together of all the contestants from all episodes, but I think it would be a whopping good time.

They are some really great guys and are super talented bladesmiths. I enjoyed spending time with them, but I also looked forward to getting home to see my lovely Maria.

We hope you all have a great week.


The next step and big projects..

Maria and I are working (as always, lol) on building and trying to expand our business.

She got up super early this morning to work on the giant tie dye project. She’s got to hem the edges of this massive piece of material prior to dying it. Today was pinning and ironing day.

There will be more photos when she starts slinging dye.

I had a friend come over and help us with some video of me testing some knives, we’ve now branched out to YouTube so that people can see the tests I do on the knives I forge. It shows the quality. I think JD did a great job with the video.

Let me know what you think, and any suggestions are always welcome.

Have a great week!


Always busy, but always loving it…

As usual, the lovely Maria and I are steadily working. There always seems to be something to do.

We have figured out that in early summer each year Maria gets a big, crazy order for tie dye. Last year she made a tie dye banner for the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival. Very cool, and great exposure.

Well, this year she got an order for a tie dyed piece of material that measures 8 feet wide and 18 feet long! This one will be a canopy for a tram ( formerly of Disneyland) that will be used to haul people around at Burning Man. How crazy is that? We will definitely post some pictures of her wrestling with that behemoth when she ties it up.

I don’t have the big news as she does, but I’ve got plenty to do. I have the cabin at the farm all dried in and its ready for metal roofing and siding. I think that can wait until the weather cools down a bit. However, things have been growing like wildfire up there and that means it will be bushhog-a-palooza this coming weekend.

In the meantime, the competition chopper I made and a hoplite short sword I made sold after only a week and a half of being on Etsy. With the growing popularity of blade sports I’m working on more choppers.

I have been working on two different models based off of the same design and specs. One is just like the first one I made from 5160 spring steel with a differential heat treat. I added gray and black g10 for the handle. Its thick, heavy, and SHARP!

The other one is still in the same style, but I made it thinner and a little lighter. I’m trying to see if speed can overcome power. This one is made from 1095 high carbon steel with orange and black g10. After the next couple of days of the necessary day job, come on retirement, I will do some testing to compare the two blades. That should make for some decent videos.

Here are some photos of both of those choppers in process.

Very rough forged, and of course my nemesis from Forged In Fire, those hammer marks. Not a big issue today though.

One half done, the second forged.

Cleaning em up on my home made Harbor Freight wood lathe/ belt grinder. Anybody want to invest in our business and hook us up with a Travis Wuertz belt grinder? It’s only $3700. Lol

Initial epoxying of the handle material.

Handle material now rough profiled and pin holes drilled. No helicoptering this time.

And finally all finished up. They could stand a little more time on a scotchbrite belt for polishing, but I will wait until after the testing frenzy.

So, that’s about what we’ve got going on. Oh yeah, did I mention that we both still work full time day jobs? Sleep? What is this you speak of?

We hope you all have a great week!