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Spring Update 3_19_2022

March 19, 2022 • jdonahue

This week I’ve been selling lumber but not milling it. The sawmill we’ve been using is borrowed, and is at a location that makes logistics difficult. It looks to me like being able to saw logs into lumber is only half the operation. getting logs to the mill, and getting lumber to the sales location are the other big parts.

So the plan now is to complete the restoration of the bigger green sawmil and use it at the location where we sell the lumber. That will be a lot better. I won’t be disturbing people with the traffic, and can work whatever hours I want. The pictures below are of a small log about to have the final cut, making four 2 X 8s; and the modifications we’re making on a small engine which will save us hundreds of dollars on the green mill. We have to mount this motor, replace a hydraulic line, and rewire the control panel. That should do it.


I have more pictures of the engine modification, but I might use them in a book I’ve thought about writing for years; one about my money saving tips. Other spring activities: we haven’t been diligent to get firewood because most days and nights are warm enough that we don’t need it. For convenience sake, I stopped by an axe throwing place and got their free firewood. It’s shredded in the middle, but pretty solid on the ends. It’s cottonwood; they said it doesn’t split as easily as p[ine. I thought that only grew in the midwest, but it grows here in Tennessee too. The pumpkin sprouts came up really fast, seems like 3 or 4 days only. The thin ones are tomatos from seeds bought in 2018. axeThrowpumpkinstomatos

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Good Activism Spotted

March 16, 2022 • jdonahue

I was in the men’s room of a well known convenience store today, and saw this sticker on the wall. It looks to be well made; and it’s goos to see others spreading information. The attempt to discredit it is interesting too. That’s information, if you know how to analize it, and work with it. I’ll do a search to see if I can find out anything about it. cardiac sticker

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Papa Challenge 3/7/2022 & Decor Idea & Bumper

March 7, 2022 • jdonahue

The Papa Challenge is a friendly challenge to fathers to spend time with their children, and pass on valuable information. This weekend we did two projects together; hewing a couple of old logs to see what kind of wood they are, and putting the decor in part of the barn that’s being converted into a trading post/ thrift store area.

My 13 year old son was involved more than his older brother. he got to learn to use these tools: Small broad axe, foot adze, circular saw, square, drill, impact driver, and pnumatic nail gun. First, the old logs. These were given to me last year, the man said that one is probably American Chestnut, maybe both. They might have both been creosote treated for use as RR bridge abutments; but they’ve been left outside so long that one was seriously deteriorated.

In the picture below, you see the side of the most deteriorated one, and a tool we found out in the field. Until I know the correct name and purpose, I’m calling it a mini broadaxe. It was severely rusted. I cleaned it up and put a new handle on it. It works very well for this purpose. We removed most of the wet and heavy rotten wood, leaving a 5 inch diameter of heartwood. hew1 I wanted to get a better look at what kind of wood it was, so I used a sharp foot adze to clean it up more. Here’s what log 1 looks like: Chestnut possbThe man who gave them to me mentioned that Chestnut had a wider grain pattern, so this might be it. I’ll see it better when I get it to the sawmill. Below is from the second log, the coin is a quarter, so this grain pattern is really wide. It was a lot less rotten, so should yield a lot more wood, so long as I don’t hit a nail. chestnut possb2 For comparison sake, I hewed off part of a telephone section, that I figure is from the 1970s; the wood there looks like typical pine. teleph pole I found two cut nails, which are long and square, on the second log. That seems like a good indication that this log is old. square nailThe nails were removed and I restored one of them, picture later. My son and I took turns working the tools. Me, because I was getting over what must be the Omicron variant, him, because he’s less experienced with these tools. It was a good time to talk about staying is shape. He noticed how many neighbors had difficulty working and were on lots of medications. After this we went and did carpentry work in the barn. I regularly get things, some new, that I think I could sell in a little thrift store; so that’s what this will be. Here’s my son using a pnumatic nail gun to fasten old barn boards to their supports. So far the only expense on this project has been some black plastic and the nails and screws. Nolan here’s a picture from when I was making the first wall. I put black plastic on the wall to hide the stuff behind it, and to make dark black in the gaps between boards. It works well. paneling1 The last project of the weekend I did alone. It’s a replacement bumper for my 2001 GMC Sonoma truck. It needs to be wide so that it will support things I plan to add later. If all goes as well as I hope, this will be the “wildest” bumper you’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to it. In the top picture, you see my first cuts with the oxy/propane cutting torch. After heating and bending the steel to close the gap, it still needs more of the corner to be contoured, but that will have to be later. Had to go in and make supper for the crew. Chili and cornbread, mmmm. bumper1bumper2

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Making a Retro Cartoon for a Sign

February 3, 2022 • jdonahue

afetr all these years, I’m changing direction. I’m planning to be in the sawmill business, and do less signs and painting. Here’s a retro cartoon I’m making to go on a Lumber For Sale sign. The first step was to draw it with ink. Lumber guy 1 I posted this image on a social media site called Social Galactic, and asked readers if they could find the big mistake. One guy did find it, but there were funny comments and people pointed out other flaws. In perspective, things farther away appear smaller. That’s why the back leg and boot are smaller than the front (left) leg. But notice the hands, they’re backwards. Also noted was the absence of a boot sole, the wrong position of the thumb on the hammer, and the way a board joins to his overalls. Step two was to use a Bamboo Tablet to change those things. lumber guy1The final step was to import it into Inkscape, a vector editing program, and have the software assign a vector line to the image. A vector file is very different than an image like a JPG. It’s based on math and enlarges clearly. It also is what’s required for vinyl cutting machines, as well as laser cutters and CNC routers. I’ll probably just enlarge it to the size I want, then have the sign machine draw it on paper with a pen. Then I’ll use that as a traditional pounce pattern and paint the cartoon with brushes. here’s part of the image after it’s been vectorized; showing the edit control points. lumber guy2

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This Building Really Needed a New Coat of Paint

February 3, 2022 • jdonahue

My son has a shop on a busy street, where we plan to sell lumber soon. We decided to clean it up with a new paint job. Here are the before and after pictures. It’s not all the way done, it will need paint in corners and along edges, but you can tell what it will look like. I planned to use an airless sprayer, but it wasn’t working right, so it was all dome with rollers.

BC building3A close up of the peeling paint:

BC building1Finally, after pressure washing and paint, here it is:

Boyds Cr bldg

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Papa Challenge and Saturday Activity

January 23, 2022 • jdonahue

The Papa Challenge is a friendly challenge to fathers to spend time with their children.

Yesterday I posted the progress of a tool design . Then I went out to the forge with my 15 and 13 year old sons. We made the tools. It was a great time to work together and impart some of what I know about forge work. I cleaned them up and painted them yellow, so they would be harder to lose in the woods. I’m wondering now if the tool should be welded where it loops back toward itself, but testing will tell. Welding might interfere with the pressure concept expressed at the link. The larger one is tapered to a point, but only on two sides. It will be used along the grain of the wood, not against it. The smaller one was a tent stake I made years ago, but haven’t used. The workmanship is a bit rough, but so are our skills. log tool While cleaning the forge, I noticed a lot of clinker/ash underneath, and remembered that I have a tail leading down to a shed; which is getting slick. So I took a box of the clinker and spread it on the trail. Works great. clinkerWhile stacking lumber earlier this week, I found this leaf skeleton, and thought it was beautiful. leaf skeleton

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Steps of Tool Design

January 22, 2022 • jdonahue

I need a tool that I can drive into a log, and pull the log from one end with a chain or cable. Usually, the tool gets pulled out, these designs are an effort to prevent that. It’s a simple stake like piece of steel that’s driven into the log with a large hammer.

In the top drawing is my first idea. The blue arrow indicates which direction the chain will pull. I quickly realized that it would pivot, and pull the stake out; as indicated by the red arrow.log tool 1 So I changed it so that the pulling force would have less leverage. It would pull more in the same direction as the chain was going, as indicated by the green arrow. It would still be almost as easy to pull out as a straight spike.log tool 2I showed it to my son, who immediately suggested driving the stake in at a back angle, so that when the chain pulls, it will cause the tool to put pressure down on the wood, which will clamp the spike part, as indicated by the red arrow, and hold it in. Great idea. log tool 3I hope to make this into an a Saturday afternoon project at the forge with my sons.

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It’s a Small World…In Sevier County TN.

January 8, 2022 • jdonahue

A few days ago, I read this terrible report of the number of deaths in Sevier County Tennessee’s only hospital. A commenter in an online thread said that if Sevier County isn’t in a riot by now, there’s not much hope for this country. Perhaps MPAU is a subset of MPAI. Most People Are Uninformed, which makes them idiots? I have spent time contemplating the thing, but that’s another topic. I posit that the people of Sevier County, where I reside, don’t know the situation.

I’ve lived in East Tennessee for almost thirty years. For most of that time I knew M.D. I’m not sure it’s appropriate to reveal his name at this time, although he was very well know in this area. I met him and his wife in a grocery store parking lot. I had a sign on the camper of my truck, it read: “Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father, but by me”. (John 14:6) He later said that I was influential in bringing him closer to the Lord. He found out that I was a sign painter, and asked me to letter the concrete wall of the shop he was using. Inside he was using his many metal and wood working skills to make things for sale. I marveled at the Cherokee Indian theme chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It featured different metals in its design.

We met his family, and stayed in contact. Both of our families became part of the loosely associated Christians in this area who have large families, homeschool their children, and are wary of communications like television. I have eleven children, and they really took a liking to M.D. He would sometimes take my whole family out to a local restaurant, as that was difficult for me to do on my income. Even very recently, the children asked why we were having an above average meal with lots of extras when I returned from the grocery store, “Mr. D. paid me extra for that job I did, so were going to have a nice meal!” was the answer.

He never lived beyond an average blue collar lifestyle, in fact, he always rented modest quarters. He lived in Sevier County Tennessee. He had a knack for figuring out how to do a large or small job, and the ability to smoothly keep a crew working on it. I would say that was his ministry. He wanted the average guy to have a decent paying job, and there was usually one available to who ever needed one. Guys on the other side of the law, didn’t matter, they always had a shot at a decent paying job. No slacking was permitted, so it was just an opportunity, not a guarantee. More than once he gave me work when I had none other. For months after the economic crash of 2008, he had work for me.

He was not taller than most, but he was a big man. I never heard of him working out, but his wrists were as big as my knees. He could have hurt somebody very badly, but he never would. Once, I got a measure of his strength when we were in a basement of a house being remodeled. We were both using pry bars to move an old beam out of an old block wall. Somehow, my bar slipped and slid between the beam and the wall, with my hands in the narrow area, and all his force pressing against them. It all happened so fast that he didn’t have time to remove his pressure. I thought my hands would be crushed; and realized how very strong he was.

I could tell the stories of a long friendship, of the highs and lows, but I’ll save that for later. He has long had health issues. I received the news this afternoon, Friday January seventh, that he recently contracted the Covid virus, and was taken to the hospital. This information is indirect, but from reliable sources. As it was related to me, while he was there, he became agitated, and started pulling the IV lines from himself. The staff decided to put him in an induced coma, then he died, yesterday, on the 6th. As one who often relies on pattern recognition, I find this interesting in an angering way, but time will tell.

There are take away thoughts from this:

  1. The old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” I would add or change it to “A life of regular labor and careful diet will keep the doctor away” In these times, BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT A VISIT TO THE HOSPITAL, avoid it if at all possible.
  2. What did the big man know or realize when he was tearing out the IV drips?
  3. BE INFORMED. The regular news sources are lying to you, have been for years. Remember when they said “Give us 15 days to flatten the curve” Or when they described the riots that burned cities and murdered police as “Mostly peaceful protests”? Or When they lied about a crowd chanting FJB, and said it was “Let’s go Brandon”? They lie all the time, and PLEASE don’t trust your health or any other important thing to them.
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Snow scenes 1-3-2022

January 4, 2022 • jdonahue

I’ve posted snow scenes like these online before. What Is different this time is that it was raining heavily before it snowed, and it made the snow stick  to everything better.

Here’s a Walnut tree near a few sheds: snow 1A mix of deciduous and evergreen trees: snow 2Trees along the ridge line of a pasture: snow 3High contrast patterns in a hardwood tree: snow 4More patterns in a hardwood tree: snow 5A bird feeder under a large Maple tree: snow 6Maple limbs against a black barn: snow 7Numerous trees at different distances next to a wood building made in the 1940s: snow 9Two of the same trees that are in the picture above: snow 10

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