Caleb Mayfield

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since Dec 15, 2016
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Western central Illinois, Zone 6a
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Recent posts by Caleb Mayfield

Oh no! Injuries are never good.

Anyone looking for a good quality leather glove, I recommend the ones from Red Wing Shoes. They make a leather glove out of some really good leather that has a Kevlar lined palm, even all the way down the fingers. They are pricey, but you do get what you pay for. I'd also recommend getting some of the All Natural Boot Paste and working it into the leather. It really extends the life of them.
2 months ago

Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.

Shifting when everything is new is normal. There is some spring in the metal of the collar and the wood in the snath that needs to essentially be stretched and compressed out of the parts until they settle in. It took me a few weeks of use for 30-45 minutes about 3 times a week to get it settled in and now I just have to snug up the collar before I go to work.

One thing that I know I didn't realize when I started and was fighting the blade angle on was just how tight to tighten the collar. How tight? As tight as you can make it with the key they provide, alternating between the screws until you think you can't tighten them any more or are starting to bend the key.
2 months ago
Best of luck on this. My wife and I lived in Alpine for a year 10 years ago and it's a beautiful area.

Judith Browning wrote:
I did get a second blade, called a 'garden' blade but have not used it much at all and after reading about the Tops blades I might be tempted to get one of them.  What I have on it now is a ditch blade.

Judith, I have one of the "Garden" blades from Scythe Supply and it is a great blade for picking out heavier stuff. It is definitely not a mowing blade. I use mine only a couple times a year to clip the woody stuff that I am concerned might damage my grass blade. We have bush honeysuckle that will take over if not kept in check. The Garden blade is what I've used on that and I have a feeling it will do well on the wild blackberries that have sprung up by one of our barns.
3 months ago
This is my second year using my scythe and I just ordered another stone and a 28" TOPS blade to supplement my 26" grass blade. The biggest tip I have is to slow down. I still have to tell myself that. I could cut grass with my scythe and wear myself out in short order, then I realized I was fighting the scythe on both ends of the stroke. I felt like I was trying to really push it forward into the swing then pull it back to stop it at the end. This spring I recognized exactly what was going on and slowed myself down. It made a WORLD of difference in the overall experience. It will take time to settle into a technique that really fits you, but when you find it and you get the timing down on the swing it's really an enjoyable, meditative time.

So start slow. Practice the stroke. Build the muscle memory. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
3 months ago
Oh man. So many good options, but this it always the first one that comes to my mind.

Dream River - The Mavericks

3 months ago
I've been researching cordwood construction for years as I plan to build a house using timber frame and cordwood techniques. I have a few books on the topic and the one thing that comes up in all of them is that the wood will shrink and expand and you will get cracks. The books give several ideas on how to minimize the cracks, but from everything I've read you cannot eliminate it with a solid in-filll like cob or mortar. That being said, the idea of using something like a spray foam to seal in the middle of the wood and then do some form of cob tuck point to give it the traditional aesthetic is the most solid idea I've heard of on small dimension cordwood building.

A couple other notes on the cordwood;
Softwood will have less shrinkage than hardwoods.
Adding sawdust to your mortar can reduce the cracking and shrinkage.
Cutting and stacking your wood for two years to cure before building the walls is highly recommended to minimize shrinkage. Logs laying for two years is not sufficient, it should be cut to your 6" length and stacked to dry.

That said, I'm really interested to see how this turns out as I've need contemplating a similar build as a chicken coop/poultry house. I may timber frame or roundwood frame it with sycamore and cottonwood and do the walls with the same using the spray foam to at least create a draft barrier.
3 months ago
Take this with a grain of salt, but if you are willing to venture outside the realm of using things as they were intended I have a bit of a secret to share on finding 99.9998% Isopropyl Alcohol.


BE ADVISED: THIS ONLY APPLIES TO THE RED BOTTLE ISO-HEET. The yellow bottles are totally different.

I ran across this while working on a different issue and found it to be quite a handy bit of knowledge. This can be used with lanolin to make a lubricant for resizing things made from brass.

The SDS for this, Section 3, states the ingredients as 99.9998% Isopropyl alcohol and 0.0002% Xylene.

While the Xylene gave me pause at first I did recognize that it is 0.0002% or 2 ppm. Borderline trace amounts. Considering that of the 3 SDS sheets I looked at for standard 70% rubbing alcohol only one even listed water and the others didn't even list the % of alcohol in it, I personally am not that bothered by it considering the amount that you could be exposed to. But that's me.

Educate yourself and use at your own risk.

6 months ago
I'm on the other side of the state from you, so just bumping your post and wishing you the best in your search.
7 months ago
That is really incredible Thomas. Thank you for sharing!
7 months ago