POWER TOOLS

tools1.jpg Justin measuring out the plywood to install a new (sustainable metal) roof (2007) with foregoat Lady Fairlight looking on

QUESTION

Love the new blog! I am curious about tools for the various building projects around the urban homestead. Do you use mostly hand tools, or a combination of hand and power tools, and — if many power tools — does it have much of an effect on your solar energy usage. Thanks! – Jen

ANSWER

Justin here, glad you are enjoying our new look. My sisters have put a lot of their time and effort and these new upgrades are made possible by our reader’s support.

My sister passed your question onto me since I was the best person to respond.

Yes, we use a combination of power and hand tools. The power tools that we do use are a cordless drill, a sawzall, and a circular saw.

When we build something on the homestead, we use wood screws to put everything together. So a cordless drill is the one and only power tool that we use the most. We could use more nails but it is much harder to take apart something to reuse the wood at a later date, such as when you make a mistake (hey – it happens!), or change your mind down the road, it is much easier to work with screws. The garden beds and trellises are entirely cut by hand and assembled with screw by the cordless drill.

We do occasionally use a circular saw for big jobs like cutting concrete or for cutting some of the 100 sheets of plywood we used to re-roof the house. However, the plywood was nailed in all by hand – all ~20lbs of nails! Now that is a lot of nails!

The sawzall comes in handy for cutting things like hardwoods or wood pallets into small enough pieces for firewood. Also, this saw is used for cutting the metal pipes for fencing and trellises.

The amount of green electricity we use to power or recharge the tools (and to homebrew biodiesel) is minimal since we don’t use them all the time. There was a spike in electricity usage for major tool usage like when we rented a jack hammer to break up the huge concrete patio.

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  1. Risa says:

    I thought I was the only one who uses screws instead of nails. I have fixed up three houses over the last ten years, and almost all of the materials were scavenged from things that I tore down on the property. My husband laughs when he catches me grumbling to myself about nails. And like you said, you never know if you’ll change your mind and need the materials for something else. I do that a lot.

    I built a barn/milking parlor/hay shed for my cow at our last house. When we moved I had people coming out of the woodwork wanting to buy it. I finally gave in and got the drill out. They left with with four walls, some metal roofing, and a bucket of screws. They had the thing back up in no time, and all I had to do afterwards was fill in a few post holes. Can’t do that with nails!

    It’s nice to see the rest of you posting. A different perspective is fun.

  2. Anais says:

    Thanks for the comment.

    You are right – screws do come in handy. One can easily RE use both the screws and the wood for other projects – giving the screws and wood a second, third, fourth life.

    Good practice for the planet.

    Anais

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