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Kelly Craig

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since Oct 09, 2021
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Recent posts by Kelly Craig

I'm not a tiny house type of person, but I like looking at what some accomplish in a small space.

My house isn't overly big, but my shop is eighteen hundred square feet. Aside from work areas to assemble things, every square inch is spoken for by a tool or piece of equipment (cabinet saw, re-saw bandsaw, scroll bandsaw, scroll saw, sandblast station, electroplating station, etc.).  Every time I bring in a new piece of equipment (e.g., sanding-carving station, lathe, welder, long bed jointer), a whole lot of rearranging goes on.  In the end, I have as much packed into my little shop as many of the bigger shops have. I only have to pull one or two items out (when reasonable, everything gets casters) to use the item (i.e., carver, router table, router crafter).

Looking around at the photos, this and many tiny homes like it have as much going for them, square footage aside, as homes several times their size. Accordingly, it's obvious a whole lot of planning AND re-planning went into it.

If I were starting anew, on a place to live, there are a few things that would be a must:

(1) Thick walls so I could insulate them well.

(2) An attic I could be sure did not give up any of that protection from the elements gained at the walls.

(3) Drawers rather than lower cupboards, so I didn't have to remove anything to get to the things at the back.

(4) A heck of a pantry - probably tied to a root cellar.

(5) A daylight basement approach to some or all of the construction, so I could take advantage of the relatively stable ground temps for heating and cooling.

(6) A lot of cabinets, many with glass doors, to minimize the complications of dusting.

(7) A LOT of stolen ideas from pages like this, to crank up the efficiency.

2 days ago
Another possible alternative to using nichrome wire (heating elements) MIGHT be, a parabolic lens.  

I have a large screen television parabolic lens, which has to be stored carefully, because a bit of sunlight shown through it can be enough to melt a brass padlock. In other words, it concentrates enough energy from the sun to do some major heating and could, easily, take out a shop, garage or house, if not stored right.

I long wondered about burying a culvert vertically in the ground, filling it with basalt rock and focusing the beam of the parabolic lens on it.  

Mindful of that heat rises, piping could be ran through the basalt to allow the heat focused on them and the liquid in them to transfer to radiators inside a green house or other structure.

K Eilander wrote:Another interesting option... what about using a homemade "sand battery" as a foot warmer?

Sand would be super comfy on the toes.  Your own personal tropical beach!

Like this, only lower voltage...

4 days ago
Another possibility is, conductivity and infrared heat from a light.  That way, you can walk on the heat conductive surface all day and not worry about problems mentioned above.

Granite fabrication places have, literally, tons of granite they have to dispose of, so it is free for the taking, upon request, from many.

If a person wanted, they could cut the granite down just using a circular saw and a diamond blade.  All it takes is a dribble of water to keep the blade cool. I've gone this route for pieces too big to cut on my tile saw many times. Of course, you have to apply common sense rules when using electric tools around water.

If need be, you could layer something like diatomaceous earth on top the stone, to act as insulation against heat loss in areas not used for the actual heating process and just to get the heat from the lamp to point B.

Somewhere on the Net, it may have been on the Instructables web site, I saw plans for making your own heater for dog dishes. Large 10 watt resistors were laminated to the bottom of a galvanized trough.

If I were going that route, I'd opt to toss in ground fault protection and a way of monitoring how much voltage I was pumping into the resistors (e.g., a volt meter) and a means of checking the heat (e.g., a laser thermometer).

The latter would require an investment, but would have all sorts of uses.  You could start with a Variac and feed it to outlets AND a rectifier module, for DC outputs [along with a DC meter].  Power lights for clear indication of power in and out could be handy too.  

5 days ago
I have a shop with an over-arm pin router, carving machine, re-saw and scroll bandsaw, cabinet saw, etc., etc. The wood working equipment is supplemented with granite working tools, plastic forming tools, sandblaster, carbide metal cut off saw, a welder and so on. As such, I can build a lot of things. For example, I built all the cabinets for our kitchen. It took a lot of time, but saved us thousands of dollars, including for the granite work.  It was worth it.

On the other hand, there are things other people can do far more efficiently than I can, so it's the smart move to spend the money to let them, then use my time to do what I can do efficiently, or for pleasure.

Of course, there is that problem of finding people who can or will do projects. Kids seem to think they're worth $50.00 an hour these days, so I may get stuck with doing my own digging and rock stacking.
1 week ago
One is part Mastif and part mouse (so can get his butt through holes he makes 1/4th the size of himself). The other is an Anatolian-Sheppard mix.  Both should be able to weather the weather, BUT they spend a large portion of their lives inside, out of the subzero.  Since acclimation is everything with any species. . . .

Lived in 50 below country and had everything from a Collie and a Lab to a Norwegian Elkhound. To find him at night (checking up on him when the temps hit the 50 below mark), we learned to check the snow backs the plow had made.  Even on the coldest nights he could be found snoozing on top one.  However, those dogs lived their lives
outside the home, except in nasty weather.

Matt McSpadden wrote:Hi Kelly,
I'm not a dog expert, but we did keep a couple dogs in Maine, where it gets fairly cold. I don't think you mentioned what kind of dogs? If you did, I missed it, and I'm sorry. Naturally a long haired dog won't need as much protection as a short haired dog. If the dog house/fort is small enough, you shouldn't need any kind of light for heat. We built ours small and put lots of straw inside for bedding. I don't recall exactly the size, but it was less than counter height and couldn't have been more than 2 and a half feet wide and not more than 4 feet long. The dog we built it for was a husky/chow/lab mutt to give you an idea of size. Our second dog used it too for a while. That dog was a lab doberman mutt. Our dogs would move the straw around and make a sort of nest on the side away from the door. We did add some foam insulation to the sides to help. We had some of the roll roofing left over from a shed, so we used that on top. I don't know if it would be any cheaper than metal roofing. But building them smaller would use fewer materials and help the dogs to stay warm easier.

2 weeks ago
Don't know, absent trying

Jan White wrote:I was going to suggest pallets, too.

Do you know your dogs will go in a shelter? I've got three different dog houses and a bunch more temporary shelters and one of my dogs won't use any of them. The most he'll do for himself is lie under a pine tree, which isn't much help in a heavy rain. 🙄 My old lab was the same.

2 weeks ago
Though pallets are free for the asking, I hadn't even thought about that one. Too simple and common sense, I guess.

Heather Staas wrote:
However you end up doing it, post back results!  This is so creative, can't wait to see how it evolves

2 weeks ago
Pros and cons to any approach.

I thought about standing them up. I would have to deal with leaks where they joined [and there will be major leaks].

I'd still cut them, for various reasons. Those range from that we had 70-100 mph winds the other day to that I'll have to work on aesthetics (it is next to my house). Anyway, cutting them is no issue. A Sawsall and a bi-metal blade makes cutting them very quick work.

In the end, that one is still on the board, as a potential.

Heather Staas wrote:Why not do them standing up?   Seems that might save some cutting and roofing work?   Bolt them together.   Fit a solid back over one opening.  Make a flexi-door for the front side out of something that lets light in?   drill some drainage holes?   I can imagine my dogs finding that a pretty cool fort?

2 weeks ago
I wasn't thinking enough and ended up in a last ditch scenario regarding shelter for our two, medium sized dogs.   I hadn't thought much about it because they live inside, with us, except when we go to town.  It dawned on me they need significant shelter in the hours we are away (town is an hour away, so. . . .).

The commercial stuff I looked at on line was a sad joke.  Nearly everything was too small, the equivalent of buying a tiny home, or both.

I priced building one and even that ends up around $275.00, after buying a couple sheets of ply ($150.00), a few 2x's (trusses, corners, etc. $30.00) and some metal roofing $80.00).

I'm starting to eyeball combine, or, in a pinch, stacked tractor tires.

Any ideas?


(1)  The door would be flaps of treadmill fabric layered so it made a good barrier to wind.
(2)  I'd cut a "window" and install a piece of Plexi from my hoarded stock.
(3)  I'd leave a 40 watt bulb running to warm the house
(4)  The floor would be a pallet covered in layers of old carpet.
(5)  I'm out to lunch on the roof. It may be some heavy gauge metal from the side of a combine in my buddy's scrap field.  It may be two 2x's (arched) for temporary support of a tarp.
2 weeks ago
My first hand experience is, even standard (e.g., 1/8" thick) glass can be worth its weight, if used right.

I did a ton of work on the Byrd House in Olympia, Washington. It's the oldest Queen Ann in town.  One of the things I did was, rebuild the front door, which just had a single pane of glass when I got it.

After rebuilding the door, I focused on the window. I wanted it tight enough you could slam the door and there would be none of that rattle many of us were familiar with over the years.  Too, I wanted more sound proofing and insulation.  Too, I wanted to make it relatively easy to access the glass, in case it broke.

Just adding a second pane completely changed the characteristics of the door.  With it closed, you could no longer hear normal traffic noise from the street.  Holding your hand near the glass, it did not feel nearly as cold as before the second layer of glass.

I, too, relied on nothing more than airgap (1/2") between the two pieces of glass.

Sealing everything was key to success on fighting both sound and cold. That is, stopping air movement.
2 weeks ago