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Do you Low Tech?

 
gardener
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I find myself preferring low tech solutions to many problems. Largely because I don't need speed and I don't work on a large scale. For me low tech implies few moving parts, quiet operation, and less plastic and gasoline, and a closer connection to the work being done.

- I've been known to spend a few hours to split a log  and handplane it down to flat rather than take it to the sawmill to have it run through a jointer.

- I don't even own a chainsaw, but my extending silky pruning saw does a mean job of pruning my tall trees.

- Scythes and sickles over lawn mowers for me... after all I only have less than a 1/4 acre here and I can't even find the grass...

What is low tech to you? Do you prefer low tech solutions?
 
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I’m unusual in my neighbourhood for my low tech gardening. I call it gardening, my neighbours call it yard work.

I scrub my steps and porch with a bristle brush rather than a jetwasher - I did borrow one for the nest badge, which seemed a little odd at the time.
I sweep my paths with a broom rather than leaf blower. I spread leaves over the lawn with a rake and leave the worms to do the rest.
I cut my grass with a push along manual rather than gas powered ride on. (Most of my neighbours just pay a gang of works to do this).
I ride my bike as a means of transport, to run errands and go to the shops, not a pick up or SUV.
On my trail, I use bow saws, hand axes and pruners, not a chainsaw.
I stay fit and flexible with the above tasks, rather than driving to a gym.

I’m not as far down the road as you, although I’d like to try scything.

I totally understand your mind set. I’ve tried meditating without much success. However, manual repetitive tasks feel good for the mind and soul. The last few weeks I’ve been working on green and dimensional lumber projects and really enjoying the slow speed and tactile nature of manual tools. I think my favourite tool is an old brace. It’s wonderful with an auger bit and excellent as a screwdriver if there’s room.

On the tech side . . . i.e phone / computer, I’m migrating away from complicated to more simple. I was a big fan of evernote and used it for a decade. I’ve cancelled my subscription and found the default notes app to cover all my needs. Three years ago I had powerful desktop, two large screens, all the photo gear and editing software I thought I needed. Today, all my photos are taken on my phone and my iPad is my computer of choice.

Thanks for posting this - it’s good to reflect.

 
L. Johnson
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Edward Norton wrote:
I ride my bike as a means of transport, to run errands and go to the shops, not a pick up or SUV.

...

I’m not as far down the road as you...



I think riding your bike as a means of transport brings your eco level over mine in a heart beat. I love cycling but I haven't had the gumption to force myself to cycle to my farther work places.

Edward Norton wrote:
I totally understand your mind set. I’ve tried meditating without much success. However, manual repetitive tasks feel good for the mind and soul. The last few weeks I’ve been working on green and dimensional lumber projects and really enjoying the slow speed and tactile nature of manual tools. I think my favourite tool is an old brace.



This! For me low tech is half meditation. I was feeling inexplicably anxious for almost a week. Then I finally got back to my axe handle project. Getting some logs on the shave horse completely healed my mental state. And I've felt better since!
 
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Yes, keeping things simple and attainable really appeals to me. Most "high" tech devices, in my opinion, are over-complicated, limited purpose, ultra-precise, high strength or motorized versions of the six simple machines.* Once I learned to see these technologies at work, my perception of what I could accomplish with natural materials (mainly wood, earth and rope), and multipurpose hand tools opened up. I began to see these six mechanisms as the foundation of building and creating everywhere, throughout time. Learning how to use these fundamental technologies to increase my capacity to transport, lift, join, and compress objects and do tasks way beyond my limited strength gave me tremendous confidence to accomplish difficult and heavy tasks. Most problems that I encounter on my one acre homestead can be solved by integrating the six simple machines. When I see a unique hand tool, toy, or building approach that employs one or more of the six, I am taken by the elegant simplicity and find a way to acquire the gadget or replicate the technique to increase my skill in using simple methods. So many ingenious creations can come from six core themes.

*wheel and axle, lever, pulley, wedge, screw, inclined plane
 
L. Johnson
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Amy, I'm really interested in your response about seeing things in terms of six simple machines. I'm familiar from when we learned about them in school, but other than seeing knives as wedges and drill bits as screws that's about as far as my vision can take me right now.

If you have time and could elaborate with an example or two and pictures from your experience I would be really happy to see them!

I remember when I did a summer of working demo and construction for a local proprietor I felt like I gained x-ray vision because I knew how the walls and floors were put together behind the facades!

I can imagine that same kind of enlightened vision with regards to tools, but I haven't achieved it yet.
 
Edward Norton
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L. Johnson wrote:
This! For me low tech is half meditation. I was feeling inexplicably anxious for almost a week. Then I finally got back to my axe handle project. Getting some logs on the shave horse completely healed my mental state. And I've felt better since!


Interesting. I wonder if it’s fundamentally tied to sense of purpose. I certainly feel purpose and fulfilment when I’m working on projects even if it’s something far less important that, say, cleaning the house. I’m going to bump a shaving horse up my list of priorities. I’ve found working with a hand axe to be deeply satisfying and I’d rather use it than a knife or chisel even though it might not be the best tool.
 
Edward Norton
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Amy Gardener wrote:Most "high" tech devices, in my opinion, are over-complicated, limited purpose, ultra-precise, high strength or motorized versions of the six simple machines.*

*wheel and axle, lever, pulley, wedge, screw, inclined plane



This is totally new to me. Probably more to do with context. I’ve never lived on a homestead or farm.

I was looking through all the PEP categories yesterday and I often think about the seven foot high hugelkultur air badge. Lots of folks have completed, mostly at Wheaton labs with logs cut by chainsaw and holes dug with a digger. I don’t blame them, if I was there, then I’d be tempted. I just wonder what they learn?

It’s a bucket list task for me which I will perform on my own land one day. I will carry out the task without the aid of machines. For one thing, I’ll learn far more about the top soil and subsoil, I’ll get an understanding of how much dirt I can move in a day, which will be useful if I dig a root cellar, make berms or swales. No doubt I would have to devise most of the six machines to move large pieces of timber. A good thought exercise - thanks Amy
 
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Having grown up with and had extensive discussions with grandparents and or older friends about "Low Tech". I am always looking at how the American pioneer did things.  They weren't even technical back then.

For a long time, we never had a cell phone, when we did finally get one, it is only used as a phone.

When we upgraded to a more modern cell phone it was still used as a phone only.

I don't take pictures with it and I don't cruise the internet.

I had two manual typewriters that were both given to me.  One was from my grandparents and another was from an aunt who used it in her husband's business.  I had to let them go when we sold our homestead.

I have always had a manual meat grinder as they come in handy for so many different things.  Besides grinding venison, beef, pork, etc, it makes great pimento cheese.

I try to keep my life as simple as I can.  Life is complicated enough without adding a lot of headaches from high-tech items.
 
Edward Norton
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Anne Miller wrote:
I have always had a manual meat grinder as they come in handy for so many different things.  Besides grinding venison, beef, pork, etc, it makes great pimento cheese.



My grinder isn’t manual but gets a lot of use. I’ve found it’s the best way of making peanut butter, just have to run the stuff through three times.

I’ve just looked up pimento cheese, not being a southerner - wow, that sounds fantastic and dangerous. If I made tub, I’m not sure I could put any back in the fridge.
 
Amy Gardener
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Amy, I'm really interested in your response about seeing things in terms of six simple machines. I'm familiar from when we learned about them in school, but other than seeing knives as wedges and drill bits as screws that's about as far as my vision can take me right now.  



The easiest way to think about the six simple machines is to imagine a common project such as the hugelkultur challenge that Edward mentioned. The many large berms that I’ve built around the property wouldn’t be possible without basic tools that integrate the six machines:
Wheelbarrow: wheel and axle, wedge under the handles, lever (handles)
Shovel: wedge (blade), lever (handle)
Hand auger: screw (blade), lever (T-handle)
Wooden planks: inclined plane (moveable 2” x 8” temporary board ramps)
Strap puller: pulley (crank mechanism), lever (handle)
Bench vise (for sharpening the tools): screw (spindle), lever (handle)
Dolly: wheel and axle (wheels), lever (handle and toe plate extension), wedge (toe plate)
Wedge point bar: wedge (tip), lever (handle)

The meat grinder that Anne mentioned probably uses a lever (handle) and a screw (grinder feed mechanism).
 
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I like low-tech in terms of not having things run by computer chips. But my muscles don't work right, so I am depending more and more on tools that have their own power source.

The me from 20 years ago would probably consider that a betrayal, but it's a reality. If I can't mechanize the job, there's a good chance I won't be able to get it done. It sucks, because I hate the noises that motors make. Even small ones, like an electric screwdriver. But, I can get 10 times more done for the same amount of pain, so it's a trade-off.

On the other hand, I will NEVER live in a house controlled by a computer! I don't care how handy people think it is to run the thermostat with their cellphone, or get an email reminder when they're low on milk. I've spent too many years in tech support to trust a computer that much. I'd rather sew on a machine from the 1930's than one of those fancy touch-screen deals. Even when I'm designing my own robots (like I said, I need the assist) I keep defaulting to a corded controller rather than AI, or even wireless.

So, while I might not fit some people's definition of "low-tech", I definitely prefer things that are "lower-tech".
 
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It was once pointed out to me that the screw could also be seen as just another form of the inclined plane.  It's really just wrapping that inclined plane around a rod.  Thanks, Amy, for bringing up the conceptual framework of the 6 simple machines.  That is a valuable way to view things esp. when thinking in terms of low tech.

In my work as a metalsmith artist I made a conscious decision to focus on simple tools for my work.  Primarily it is the hammer (lever).  I also work with various chasing tools, which can be thought of as punches or chisels (wedges).  I decided to go this route early on because these tools tend to be cheaper than the various complex powered machines I could get to do similar things.  They take up less space.  They are safer to operate.  They rarely "break down".  In most cases I can easily make them myself, or make adaptations to them.  Though one of the biggest issues to me as an artist was that these simple tools gave me a much wider range of forms I could make.  As an example of the type tools others suggested I get to make my vessel forms there is metal spinning on a lathe, or getting a bunch of specialty dies and working with a deep draw press.  Both these options could be good if one were looking to make the exact same shape over and over again, but they are awful for making unique pieces with character.  At least that's my opinion.  :)  

I scythe my lawn too, and use my bike for most transportation.
 
David Huang
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I don't know if any of you have seen the things Wally Wallington has done regarding moving very heavy objects with very low tech, but it is fascinating.  The basic concepts have helped me move more than one heavy rock by hand.  Here's a link to a video that covers some of the basics, though it's not a great in video quality.

 
Edward Norton
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Funny how ideas come together. I’m now thinking about grinding corn with a Manos y Metate - big flat pestle and mortar. When I was in Thailand a lot of street food salads were made in huge wooden pestle and mortars, similar ones that were used to mash corn in pre industrial North America. I might see if I can make one. I wonder which of the six machines could be described as bashing!
 
L. Johnson
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Is a pestle a lever? It's mostly downward and rotational movement. Are some tools even too simple to be labeled a simple machine?

Ultra low tech solution performed by birds  


Of course, birds have wings... Which is pretty advanced biotech.
 
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So scissors would be an axle, 2 levers and 2 wedges?
Are you allowed to have axles without wheels?
 
David Huang
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Jay Angler wrote:So scissors would be an axle, 2 levers and 2 wedges?
Are you allowed to have axles without wheels?



I think they would just be 2 levers sharing the same pivot point, and 2 wedges.
 
Amy Gardener
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Edward wrote:

I wonder which of the six machines could be described as bashing!


Edward, that's called a "compound machine."
 
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Interesting topic ... I still need to read most of the posts.
I read here a bicycle is considered 'low tech'. But in fact that's the highest 'tech' thing I use in my daily life. It is my means of transport (except when I have to travel a long distance in less than a day, then I take the train).
But if a bicycle is low tech, then this thing is low tech too ...

Making smoothies with pedal power!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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As I said my bicycle is about the highest 'tech' I use*. In the garden I have a few tools: shovel, spade, scissors, loppers, wheelbarrow ... But the 'tools' I prefer to use most are my own two hands.
There's no other power than muscle power at the allotment plot. Only when my son comes, to help building the shed, he brings some battery powered tools ...

*edit: sorry, I did not think of the laptop I am using right now ... That is 'high tech' of course!
 
pollinator
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Hello,

I use everything,
I use advanced technology of drones, satellites, 3D printers, Custom programs and apps, Laser scanners,
I use standard technology like Light vehicles, powertools, Chainsaws, drill presses, welding gear, drop saws, Power drills, jackhammers, bench grinders, angle grinders,
I use hand tools, like Madoc's, axes, shoves, crowbars, hand saws, wood and stone chisels, knives, brush hooks, planners, wrenches, screwdrivers. wire, tape, pliers, hammers,
I use on hand natural resources, like stones, fibres, hard and soft surfaces, fungi, bacteria, acids, alkaline, chemical reactions, physics, soil, grains, fire, heat, cool.

I find its not about what you have but knowing how to use it. I have known many people who have all the gear and no Idea.

I do love hand tools compared to power tools, With skill, they are pretty efficient time wise, and they are lighter, smaller, quieter, and do a more precise and cleaner job. They last longer if maintained and quality is acquired, I often find myself buying countless bad tools and products and having to learn from my mistakes.

So for a while I have been acquiring antique tools, made of quality, and restoring them, with electrolyse.  I have even tried using Hydrogen peroxide in with the tools to harvest hydrogen at the same time.







 
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I find myself similar to Alex, I generally love my tech.  But I still appreciate low tech as well.

One area where I reduced my tech was in preparing garden beds.  When I first established garden beds at my current home I tried to dig them up with a spade, but our heavy clay made the work absolutely backbreaking (I was also breaking sod to boot!).  It was my pre-Permies days and even though I was already concerned about the effects of tilling soil, I broke down and bought a tiller which quickly tilled up a couple of garden beds.

I really only used the tiller to break ground and then incorporate leaves to add organic material, but I quickly stopped using the tiller because I found something better.

A couple of years after buying the tiller I discovered quality grub hoes.  I used the grub hoe to prepare garden beds for years.  The grub hoe is a simple, heavy, forged head attached to durable handle.  It is far different from the more common lightweight, stamped steel hoe.  The latter requires the user to swing down to break soil.  The grub hoe is heavy enough that it’s weight does most of the work.  I wished I had dug my first bed with the grub hoe instead of the tiller.  

Since getting the grub hoe, I have acquired a nice collection of quality forged steel tools including small rakes and razor sharp swan hoes for weeding.  I ended up selling the tiller years ago because it was just sitting unused and taking up space in my garage.

Eric
grub-hoe-rear.jpg
[Thumbnail for grub-hoe-rear.jpg]
 
pollinator
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We use high and low tech as well. Guess our way of thinking is just don't go overboard with the high tech if we can accomplish something efficiently with our skills and physical abilities with low. But I'm not ashamed to use high tech when really needed or something is beyond our skill or physical level.

My biggest concern about high tech is keeping deadly EMF's at bay. (Something I'm hugely adversely affected by.) So we have paid particular attention to location of power lines, proximity of local cell phone towers, and the way we have chosen to wire our new house. And, most especially where we chose to buy land to give us the freedom to not be close to adverse conditions. Even if it meant moving far, far away. Far further from friends and family than we originally planned--but a decision that has proved to be wonderfully right in terms of our health, distancing for covid and all the deadly fires on the west coast we left. (The house we sold to move here burnt to the ground a year after we sold up and left.)

We have cell phones but only use when on a supply trip in case we get stranded in the middle of nowhere. At home we only use a corded land phone. And absolutely no wi fi in the house; laptop internet use is wired. Because, why oh why, does anyone think it is healthy to live in a wi fi / 5 g world??? We are remote enough and on 35 acres where any local electrical smart meters are far enough away to not bother us. We intentionally had our power lines put underground. Our house definitely has electrical and gas power. But I intentionally did not have the walls in back of the headboards wired so our sleeping heads weren't close to that live wiring all night. So, no, we don't live by candlelight which I consider a wee bit dangerous if you live in a wooden house and the smoke and soot would flare up my asthma anyway.  And, yes, I did inherit my grandmother's laundry "stomper" which requires a Huge amount of backbreaking labor and a washboard as well. But NO, I will not be giving up my washer and dryer. Good excuse: I have a spinal injury which would make this impossible anyway. Just lifting heavy wet clothes out of the washer is too much for my damaged back as it is. Thank Goodness for this high tech technology!

I drive a 20 year old truck that I LOVE and won't give up until absolutely necessary. We also recently bought an almost new big Dodge truck to haul in construction supplies and it also allows us to safely traverse snowy and icy mountain roads in the winter. (Mine's useless after one snowflake.) I'll stick to judicious use of high and low tech to keep us and Mother Earth as healthy as I possibly can...and not have a guilty conscience about it.
 
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There was mention of moving logs and the like.

Rigging is the skill you want for moving or lifting heavy things.

I owned junkyards for years and got some fantastic salvage by being the only one who could get it out of where it was.

Resources -

This is a gov publication so can be found for free online:

TM 5-725
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY TECHNICAL MANUAL
RIGGING

Best books in all my reading on the subject over the years:


Construction Safety Association of Ontario Rigging Manual

Link to used copies on Addall :

https://www.addall.com/SuperRare/UsedRare.cgi?title=&author=&title=construction+safety+association+of+Ontario+rigging+manual&keyword=&isbn=&exclude=&binding=Any+Binding&min=&max=&dispCurr=USD&order=PRICE&ordering=ASC&match=Y&timeout=15&store=ABAA&store=Alibris&store=Abebooks&store=AbebooksAU&store=AbebooksDE&store=AbebooksFR&store=AbebooksUK&store=Amazon&store=AmazonCA&store=AmazonUK&store=AmazonDE&store=AmazonFR&store=Antiqbook&store=Biblio&store=BiblioUK&store=Booksandcollectibles&store=Ebay&store=EbayUK&store=EbayFR&store=LRB&store=ZVAB&via=used


Moving Heavy Things - Jan Adkins

Link to used copies on addall:

https://www.addall.com/SuperRare/UsedRare.cgi?title=&author=&title=moving+heavy+things&keyword=&isbn=&exclude=&binding=Any+Binding&min=&max=&dispCurr=USD&order=PRICE&ordering=ASC&match=Y&timeout=15&store=ABAA&store=Alibris&store=Abebooks&store=AbebooksAU&store=AbebooksDE&store=AbebooksFR&store=AbebooksUK&store=Amazon&store=AmazonCA&store=AmazonUK&store=AmazonDE&store=AmazonFR&store=Antiqbook&store=Biblio&store=BiblioUK&store=Booksandcollectibles&store=Ebay&store=EbayUK&store=EbayFR&store=LRB&store=ZVAB&via=used

The rigging books (in my opinion) don't emphasize understanding center of gravity nearly as much as they should. It's the single most important thing to understand to avoid getting hurt or doing major property damage by having a load tip over unexpectedly:

https://www.google.com/search?q=center+of+gravity&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwimkMqk58L0AhXuk2oFHXOjDRMQ_AUoAXoECAEQAw&biw=1280&bih=867&dpr=1


 
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When my father-in-law died some years ago and we were sorting out his belongings, the rest of the family thought me strange (nothing new there then) because I kept his (or were they his father's) old hand tools. I am quite happy using modern electrical tools also but sometimes it's just easier to pick up a hand drill than find the battery one needs charging before you can use it. I also have an old hand sewing machine which I use more than my electric one (bought over 30 years ago because it does buttonholes). It is good to know how to use the old technology too and it can prove very useful during power cuts.
 
Jay Angler
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

I read here a bicycle is considered 'low tech'. But if a bicycle is low tech, then this thing is low tech too ...

I think many people define "low tech" in different ways!
However, is that smoothie maker operating direct-drive off the bicycle, or is the bicycle generating electricity to run the blender?

A bicycle is certainly not as low-tech as a chisel, but if you think of the engineering involved in a hand operated meat grinder, the tech in most basic bikes with 3-5 gears is not that much higher. I included it in my posts because there are jobs which women and slaves used to have to do for hours every day, such as grinding grain with two rocks while kneeling on the ground, which were fairly abusive to the body. If some of those jobs can be replaced with direct drive machinery run off a stationary bike, that is fairer to all concerned.

The flip side is that some modern machinery is abuse to our bodies or our land - I've seen a friend of mine struggling to turn his diesel-powered tiller at the end of a row, and it seemed dangerous and abusive to both. Returning to solid, basic tools that do those jobs  seems gentler even if it takes longer. That said, I've seen video of how quickly some people can scythe and when our field out-grows the geese in the spring, I'm not convinced my husband's noisy, modern way of fixing the problem is any better.
 
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David Huang wrote:It was once pointed out to me that the screw could also be seen as just another form of the inclined plane.  It's really just wrapping that inclined plane around a rod.


Well, if you look at it carefully enough, you can see that it all reduces down to combinations of first- second- and third-class levers, anyway. :D It just makes it easier to talk about, to say that there are six simple machines.

I always prefer low-tech solutions, to the point that ideally, I would use draft animals as my primary transport. Horses or donkeys, probably. Even when woodworking, I prefer to use no more tools than a hatchet and a knife. It almost feels like cheating to use better-suited tools. I dig swales with a shovel, and I want to add a mattock to that tool. If I have to mow some patch of ground, I use a scythe, and my go-to garden tool is a small rice knife, that my brother made in his forge, and I put the handle on myself.
 
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Often, low tech looks suspiciously like other than a tool or piece of equipment. For example, consider exterior finishes.  If you use something like a polyurethane on a fence, sign or other wood item subjected to weather, you are going to have to stay up with maintenance to avoid having to strip the initial finish, before applying follow coats.  Even if you do keep up, it's probable you're going to see the surface coat crack and split, which would allow water to penetrate the cracks and splits, accelerating the problem [of the surface coat de-laminating from the wood].

An old solution is, non-hardening oils. Thinned, they can penetrate the wood without leaving a surface coat, avoiding the problem of having to strip them.  The oil, rather than evaporating, wicks to adjacent dry parts of the wood.  When that happens, more oil can be applied, until, eventually, the wood becomes saturated with oil.

If wood is saturated with oil, it will not taken on and lose moisture. This means it's more stable than untreated wood which, as it loses moisture, shrinks, resulting in cracks and splits, like we see on our fences, decks and cedar shingle or shake roofs.

SIDE NOTE: Hardening oils, like linseed oil, tung oil and walnut oil offer poor protection. However, added to poly finishes in higher than usual quantities than found in interior finishes (short oil finishes), they become what is called long oil finishes. Though they are not as durable against abrasion as short oil finishes, they are more flexible, so can flex more, allowing them to move with the expansion and contraction of wood, as it gains and loses moisture.
 
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I rather use low tech.  I was an engineer for years on large large mobile equipment.  My darn brain tends to make everything too complicated.  I found over the years simpler is better for sales to sell, manufacturing to build and for service to service.  Engineering simple is the hard part.  Luckily I was raised on a poor farm where if we couldn't fix it we didn't have it.  

Years ago I ran across Amy Smith from MIT looking for permie ideas, before I knew what permie was.  She had designed a simple hammer mill that was bike powered.  She made simple hand corn shellers from scrap cans.  She made charcoal from corn cobs.  If you look her up, she has some wonderful speeches about simple designs.  

Living here I am so spoiled with cheap energy I sometimes loose track of where I think I should be going.  Lately I have studied solar panels and making the systems as low tech as possible.  I'v got a few battery charging systems without any thing but, a battery and panel.  Some systems I just run a simple motor directly from a panel.

We get made fun of quite often for not buying a corn picker.  We only raise about 1-1/2 acre of corn,  easily done by hand with a few friends that only cost a meal.  We get the added benefit of a good time with good friends.

We make hay by cutting it with a large push weed-eater.  I can mow all the hay for the year on about a gallon of gasoline. I can't hardly fire up an old tractor with that little bit of fuel.  

Our tillers consume huge amounts of fuel compared to harrowing for our corn and sorghum.  We took a 2 wheeled tractor harrow weeder and put it on the back of a little tiny 6-1/2 hp tractor.  Tilling would consume about 4 gallons of fuel.  Harrowing maybe only took 1/2 a gallon, it is hard to measure under a gallon.

We have a bunch of hand crank shellers and grinders to prepare the grains for use.  On thing I have notice that is a con is that I can't feel my fingers on my right hand and the other I can only feel pressure now.  Maybe all the days running a computer and mouse mixed with all the nights cranking wrenches wore out my wrist bones.  Luckily I don't have any pain with it.

I sure enjoy all the ideas here.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Interesting topic ... I still need to read most of the posts.
I read here a bicycle is considered 'low tech'. But in fact that's the highest 'tech' thing I use in my daily life. It is my means of transport (except when I have to travel a long distance in less than a day, then I take the train).
But if a bicycle is low tech, then this thing is low tech too ...

Making smoothies with pedal power!



I want to learn how to make one of those!

I own a second hand (underutilized) stationary bicycle.  That could be a good start. Now, just need to find out the how of it!
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I like low-tech in terms of not having things run by computer chips. But my muscles don't work right, so I am depending more and more on tools that have their own power source.




I am right there with you. I have chronic lyme/fatigue and who knows what else makes my body hurt terribly when I overexert (which doesn't take much). But it doesn't stop me from getting to work. Yes, I use a chainsaw, weed whacker, and lawnmower but it's the only way it's going to get done. Trees like to fall on my fence-lines every single winter! I tilled my garden with a tractor the first time, but after that, my husband did it all with a broadfork. And the tractor (which belongs to my dad) has saved our bacon on too many occasions to mention from moving round bales to burying a horse.  I am steadily reducing the amount I need to mow via geese and turning lawn into garden, but I also choose not to look like I live on a condemned property.  I'm in complete agreement about not letting computers run everything. My house was built in 1920 so no worries there.  My car is 20 years old but frankly, I'd be happy with my little 1979 VW Rabbit I drove growing up, lol! I think there is room for all of us that are attempting to get to the same place any way we can.  I can preserve food through water bath and pressure canning on a gas stove, but my dehydrator is electric. I have an electric grain mill I got as a hand me down from my mom but I use it to mill wheat berries so I can bake my own bread. I milk my own goats but my hands can't handle milking so I have a nifty battery powered milking machine that was made in the U.S. by a veteran. I'm looking for a hand crank cream separator so I can make my own goat butter, but I found a higher quality one that is electric so do I stick with the hand crank or go ahead and get one more kitchen utensil that needs electricity? I believe it's all relative.  If I could physically do it, I'd drop the fossil-fueled tools one by one, but I try to use them judiciously. I'm not having lawnmower races or anything! 😉
 
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L. Johnson wrote:What is low tech to you? Do you prefer low tech solutions?



Proud to employ my grandfathers' gardening tools which includes a sickle.
The intimacy of using simple and reliable hand tools encourages me to create for the family.
The christmass tree we have decorated the last five or so years is a simple arrangement of augured branches supported by a heavy wood base. This is my comfort level.

I purchased low-tech magazine to examine the potential of combining a rocket-mass-heater — yet to be built — with a thermoelectric generator (TEG) in order to store energy in slowly compressed air (tires).
I lack confidence and have made slow to no progress thus far.
 
L. Johnson
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A moment to address high tech, because when talking about low tech it becomes part of a dichotomy.

I love technology. I think the ingenuity that results in solutions that help people overcome problems is wonderful. I still follow leading technology news avidly.

I certainly don't personally eschew all high tech. I think it has its place and in some cases is really indispensable. Several people have talked about higher technology helping them because of physical challenges. High tech allowed Stephen Hawking to continue sharing the brilliant ideas inside his mind that would have been locked away for the rest of us. The internet allows us all to share our ideas with each other. GPS saves lives.

Now, if I can, I want to steer the thread a little bit...

We have touched on the point in a few replies, but I'm really interested to know, in your opinion, What is low tech?
 
Alex Moffitt
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L. Johnson wrote:A moment to address high tech, because when talking about low tech it becomes part of a dichotomy.

I love technology. I think the ingenuity that results in solutions that help people overcome problems is wonderful. I still follow leading technology news avidly.

I certainly don't personally eschew all high tech. I think it has its place and in some cases is really indispensable. Several people have talked about higher technology helping them because of physical challenges. High tech allowed Stephen Hawking to continue sharing the brilliant ideas inside his mind that would have been locked away for the rest of us. The internet allows us all to share our ideas with each other. GPS saves lives.

Now, if I can, I want to steer the thread a little bit...

We have touched on the point in a few replies, but I'm really interested to know, in your opinion, What is low tech?



I think based on common references in this thread, hand tools, without power sources as low tech,
I think that if it requires a power source other than a human/animal. then its probably high tech,

I think many permies as well as non permies, have very dogmatic views on what should be, I try to stay unbiased in most things and try to work with a logical mind frame with aims for world denitrification! Mwah ha ha! Lol!

I also find many aspects of environmentalists behaviour and beliefs to be counterproductive to positive action, such as environmentalists trying to get the government to buy golf courses to turn into public parks.
This is divisive and creating opposition when people need to work together, we do not want people to have negative views of us or have hostility towards us,

I have also surveyed right next to Golf courses where this unused land gets filled with burnt out cars and dumped rubbish, like microwaves, oil drums, stoves, lawn mowers, lounges etc. these add heavy metal right into water ways.

Where as if we said, hey, you know you could save a lot of money, on fertilisers and water if you watered and fertilised through subsoil irrigation, it would also be better for the environment, and more pleasant for your players!

I want to achieve positive outcomes towards a more sustainable earth, I do not want to tell people that they need to stop working or sell their businesses. I think the best way to make a difference is to find ways which people and the planet both can benefit!

That's my views, and I think the utilitarian approach is needed rather than using a universal system of ethics.

But this is a great discussion and its important to discuss these things!


 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Jay Angler wrote: there are jobs which women and slaves used to have to do for hours every day, such as grinding grain with two rocks while kneeling on the ground, which were fairly abusive to the body. If some of those jobs can be replaced with direct drive machinery run off a stationary bike, that is fairer to all concerned.

The flip side is that some modern machinery is abuse to our bodies or our land



For me, this is the important part. Not whether a tool is "high-tech" or "low-tech", but does it make the work more painful, or less painful?

There are some modern machines I just can't use, no matter how fancy they may be. There are some old-world tools I can't use, no matter how simple or reliable they may be. Life with a chronic pain disorder means every task is approached with the question "Is this worth the pain it will cause?" And therefore, tools are chosen based on how they change the answer to that question.
 
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I have a road bike that doesn't get much use, and I've wondered about creating a recumbent pedal-power station, where you create a bit of a power take off that you could attach different machines to. I have a manual plunger style clothes cleaner that you use in a 5 gallon bucket but also considered a recycled clothes washer that you would spin the tub with pedaling; a blender/processor; a thresher; and a simpler alternator and charge controller for providing a 50-75w trickle charge on cloudy winter days.

L Anderson wrote:I want to learn how to make one of those!

I own a second hand (underutilized) stationary bicycle.  That could be a good start. Now, just need to find out the how of it!



Free plans for one design that uses pedal power to spin a magnet are found here: https://foodshare.net/custom/uploads/2018/11/Bike_Blender_BuildingGuide_HIGH_Updated.pdf

They also have a youtube video regarding the design:

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jay Angler wrote:Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

I read here a bicycle is considered 'low tech'. But if a bicycle is low tech, then this thing is low tech too ...

I think many people define "low tech" in different ways!
However, is that smoothie maker operating direct-drive off the bicycle, or is the bicycle generating electricity to run the blender?

...


Hi Jay. It works directly, not generating electricity. There's a thing against the tire, it turns around when the wheel turns and that makes the blender turn. The faster you move the pedals, the faster it turns. It works great!

 
Christopher Shepherd
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Thank you for finding the blender plans Mark.   Here I go down the rabbit hole!  As I looked at the build I just couldn't help to think, a nice coiled rotor like that could use a few permanent magnets around it to get a little electric going when you don't need to blend.  Maybe we could call it the gen blend.  

L, my view of low tech is any machine that is reduced to the simplest it can be.  I keep a copy of the old Tab: Mechanicks on my office wall to remind me of simple constantly.

I once designed a carriage drive for a drill that usually took about 20 parts and made it 3 parts.  The fabricator had me called to the shop, because there was only 2 weld symbols on the print.  He was quite huffy with me.  It only took him 10 minutes to build something that used to take most of an 8 hour shift.  Less parts and labor saved the company tens of thousands of dollars.  From an engineering point of view it was a great design, from the fabricator point of view I almost eliminated his job.  Sometimes engineers can not win.
 
David Huang
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L. Johnson wrote:
We have touched on the point in a few replies, but I'm really interested to know, in your opinion, What is low tech?



For myself I tend to think of low tech as being human or animal powered technology.  Though I suppose as I think about it I'd probably include wind and water power too if the power generated is being used directly to do work, rather than going to electric generation which then does the work through another tool.  It can certainly be a fuzzy thing to define.

I'm don't know that anyone has linked to Low-Tech Magazine yet on this tread.  I found this years ago and was particularly enamored by the article on the Chinese wheelbarrow.  I even went out and bought some large wheels at the local flee market, but then never quite got around to trying to make one.  Still seems like it could be a fun project, and/or a potential business venture.
 
Beware the other head of science - it bites! Nibble on this message:
Paul will be at the Idaho Panhandle Preparedness Expo on October 1-2, 2022
https://permies.com/t/190477/Paul-Idaho-Panhandle-Preparedness-Expo
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