Home Improvement For (& by) Imbeciles
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At The grindstone
garden tool use and care.

The Outlet
general home maintenance, (more power arg arg).

The Vise
furniture building and design. I have lots of advice to give in this category because I have made just about every mistake and created some pretty nice stuff too.

The Wrench
How a car works, what you can do yourself & when.

Have I mentioned I like to work with my hands?

First a note on cooking: It's long been known that some of the best gourmet chefs are men. Well here in the shed we may not be le petite fromage but we can put together a meal when the wife's away.

The following recipes are quick, easy, nutritious or tasty.

Toaster Cheese Sandwiches:
Toast bread first, then put cheese in the middle and nuke until the cheese drips out. Let sit for a few seconds for the cheese to melt a little more. Less sinful and easier than pan-fried and no clean-up!

Indian Crock Curry:
At indian restaurants meat falls apart with a fork and the flavors of the stew are fully developed and fresh. The only way I know to duplicate it is in a crockpot. Crockpot cooking takes some planning, but no watching, so it is one of the easiest ways to cook.

The Grind

Shovels:
Don't bite off more than you can chew. That flat area on the back is for breaking through topsoil, held togrther with roots. If you try to push the shovel all the way into the ground, you will bend any shovel made. Take it easy, never fill it over half full unless you are moving preworked soil. Don't rush and don't lift with your back. Always use the weight of the shovel as a counterbalance for your butt, doing so will keep your legs bent and protect your back.

Hoes:
Sharpen them. Usually all you need to do is cut the weed seedlings. The types of weed which will grow back from being cut, must be clawed out with a cultivator. Ripping the soil up with a hoe only makes it more inviting to sprout even more seeds.

Lawnmowers:
Sharpen the blade only once, then replace it. Change the oil every year. Use HD-30 oil. Automotive weight oil burns out lawnmower engines alarmingly fast. If the bottle says 5-30 or 10-40 or such, it is for cars.

The Outlet

The Vise


Saw: Hello my name is Saw and I am here to-
Vise: I'll tell them about it.
Saw: Okay, go ahead.
Vise: Okay we are here to tell how to make things out of wood.
Saw: And other things
Vise: No just wood
Saw: nails
Vise: Of course nails
Saw: You said just wood.
Vise: Obviously you need nails
Saw: Not so obviously. You could use fancy joinery
Vise: Too hard. I like glue though.
Saw: You admit to using glue?
Vise: Yeah, wood, glue and nails.
Saw: We use screws too.
Vise: Anything else?
Saw: I thought you wanted to tell them.
Vise: Not anymore
Saw: Okay then be quiet. We use wood, nails, glue and screws to make furniture.
Vise: Anything else?
Saw: No.
Vise: What about hand tools?
Saw: Hand tools aren't a material. Anyway, we mostly use power tools.
Vise: Name one.
Saw: Table saw.
Vise: That's it, just a table saw? Ha!
Saw: No. You said name one.
Vise: Okay, name two!
Saw: Drill.
Vise Aha! That's only one! Another one is a circular saw!
Saw: A circular saw is almost the same thing as a table saw.
Vise: More versatile.
Saw: Less accurate. Are we making fine furniture or would we be better off using particle board?
Vise: I happen to like particle board for certain things.
Saw: Do you cut it on a table saw or with a circular saw?
Vise: Never you mind.
Saw: They're almost the same thing anyway.
Vise: Okay I see you're point. Especially if you clamp a straightedge to the board.
Saw: A table saw can do lots of fine cuts. Bevels and perfect parallel cuts. If I had my choice I'd get a table saw. Then I'd get a good solid jigsaw for little work.
Vise: We treat our tools pretty well. We always let the tool do the work. Sometimes it's hard to go be patient and concentrate on the cut at the same time.
Saw: For you.
Vise: What do you do?
Saw: I buy really heavy duty tools.
Vise: Often.
Saw: Heavy duty, not invincible.
Vise: I'm never lending you my tools.
Saw: Yours are all old anyway. Oh; I see your point.
Vise: I paid through the nose for my tools buddy. I'm serious, keep away from my tools.
Saw: I swear I won't even think about them. Can I borrow your 3-in-1 oil?
Vise: Get your own. I need all of mine.
Saw: I was just kidding. I don't really oil my tools; I'm not stupid.
Vise: I oil the bits. That way they don't burn the wood.
Saw: I never thought of that. It works?
Vise: Look into my eyes...
Saw: I am getting sleepy.
Vise: Okay see ya tomorrow!

The Wrench


There isn't any great mystery about what goes on in an engine.

  • The sparks fly
  • which light the gas
  • which pushes the piston
  • which pushes the crank
    • which pushes
    • the distributor
    • the camshaft and
    • the driveshaft.
      The distributor times the sparks. Every time the piston comes to the top, the spark goes off.

      The camshaft times the valves. Valves control when the gas goes in and the smoke goes out.

      The driveshaft connects to the gearbox. If you have a problem with your gearbox, get somebody who knows more about cars than me. Basically the driveshaft makes the car go.

    VOCABULARY QUIZ
    Okay one question, 100pts.
    Describe a four stroke engine:

    Beep. Time's up.

    If you said:
    Four stroke refers to the number of times an engine's piston goes up or down before each valve has opened and closed once.
    I give you a C.

    If you added:
    There are two main cycles, intake and exhaust
    I give you a B.

    If you added:
    why it happens what the piston does how the valves are What it's called
    As the fuel burns the piston is forced downward Both the valves are closed This is called the power stroke.
    Momentum of weights on the crank forces the piston back upward. The exhaust valve is open This is called the exhaust stroke.
    Momentum continues to drive the piston downward and gas is sucked in. The exhaust valve is closed and the intake valve is open This is called the intake stroke.
    Momentum continues to drive the piston upward and the gas in the cylinder gets pressurized Both valves are closed This is called the compression stroke
    Then you get an A!

    lesson 2
    Those were the big impressive metal parts.

    The intake system is also important to the proper workings of a car. It looks cool too. It usually has cool(ing) fins cast onto the outside and is all sorts of wierd businesslike shapes. Did I mention it's on top?

    What it does is mix the gasoline and air to make (gas?) the fuel mixture.

    It also contains the throttle. Basically your engine is designed to go faster and faster until it bursts. Except for the throttle, it is a flap which closes off the flow of air to the engine. No air, no burn, no go.