Handy Farm Devices and How To Make Them

Compiled by Rolfe Cobleigh, NEW YORK, ORANGE JUDD COMPANY 1912, Associate Editor American Agriculturist.

Worth Knowing Part IV

To Preserve Shingles

Following is an effective method to prevent the decay of shingles: Take a potash kettle or large tub and put into it one barrel of lye of wood ashes, 5 pounds of white vitriol, 5 pounds of alum, and as much salt as will dissolve in the mixture. Make the preparation quite warm, and put as many shingles in it as can be conveniently wet at once. Stir them up with a fork, and, when well soaked, take them out and put in more, renewing the preservative solution when necessary. Then lay the shingles in the usual manner.

After they are laid, take more of the preservative, put lime enough into it to make whitewash, and, if any coloring is desirable, add ocher, Spanish brown, lampblack, or other color, and apply to the roof with a brush or an old broom. This wash may be renewed from time to time.

Salt and lye are excellent preservatives of wood. Leach tubs, troughs and other articles used in the manufacture of potash never rot. They become saturated with the alkali, turn yellowish inside and remain impervious to the weather.

To Render Wood Fireproof

Rendering the woodwork of houses secure against catching fire can be done at an insignificant cost, and with little trouble. Saturate the woodwork with a very delicate solution of silicate of potash as nearly neutral as possible, and when this has dried, apply one or two coats of a stronger solution.

Another method is simply to soak the wood with a concentrated solution of rock salt. Water-glass will act as well, but it is expensive. The salt also renders the wood proof against dry rot and the ravages of insects. Still another method is to immerse the wood in a saturated solution of borax, heat being gradually applied until the solution reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It is then left for 10 or 12 hours, according to the nature and size of the wood.

Fireproof Wash for Shingles

A preparation composed of lime, salt and fine sand or wood ashes, put on like whitewash, renders the roof 50 per cent more secure against taking fire from falling cinders, in case of fire in the vicinity. It pays the expense a hundredfold in its preserving influence against the effects of the weather. The older and more weather-beaten the shingles, the more benefit derived. Such shingles generally become more or less warped, rough and cracked; the application of the wash, by wetting the upper surface, restores them at once to their original form, thereby closing up the space between the shingles, and the lime and sand, by filling up the cracks and pores in the shingle itself, prevents warping.

Petrified Wood

Mix equal parts of gem salt, rock alum, white vinegar, chalk and Peebles' powder. After the mixture becomes quiet, put into it any wood or porous substance, and the latter becomes like stone.

How to Season Wood

Boiling small pieces of non-resinous wood will season them in four or five hours -- the process taking the sap out of the wood, which shrinks nearly one-tenth in the operation. Trees felled in full leaf in June or July, and allowed to lie until every leaf has fallen, will then be nearly dry, as the leaves will not drop off themselves until they have drawn up and exhausted all the sap of the tree. The time required is from a month to six weeks, according to the dryness of the weather.

Bleaching Wood

Sometimes it is more feasible to bleach a small part of a wood surface, especially in repairing, than to darken a larger portion of the work. This can be done by brushing over the wood a solution composed of 1 ounce oxalic acid in a pint of water, letting it remain a few minutes and then wiping dry. The operation may be repeated if necessary. A few drops of nitric ether, or a quarter of an ounce of tartaric acid, will assist the operation; or a hot solution of tartaric acid may be used alone. Lemon juice will also whiten most woods. Cut the lemon in half and rub the cut face upon the wood.

When the bleaching has been done and the wood is dry, give a thin coat of shellac or French polish, as the light and air acting upon the bare wood will bring back the original color.

If the wood obstinately resists bleaching, it may be lightened by mixing a little fine bismuth white, flake white or ball white (the cleansing balls sold by druggists) with the shellac, and give it a thin coat. This whitens, but it also somewhat deadens or obscures the grain and is, therefore, not so good as the bleaching method.

Wood Polish

Rub evenly over the wood a piece of pumice stone and water until the rising of the grain is cut down; then take powdered tripoli and boiled linseed oil and polish to a bright surface.

Furniture Polish

Take equal parts of sweet oil and vinegar, mix, add a pint of gum arabic finely powdered. This will make furniture look almost as good as new and can be easily applied, as it requires no rubbing. The bottle should be shaken, and the polish poured on a rag and applied to the furniture.

Size Stains

By the aid of glue in the solution, the colors are fixed in size stains. They are employed for the purpose of giving a color to cheap work in soft woods, such as chairs, bedsteads and common tables and ordinary bookcases. The colors usually wanted are walnut, mahogany, cherry color, oak and even a rosewood.

For Mahogany -- Dissolve 1 pound of glue in a gallon of water, and stir in 1/2 pound Venetian red, and 1/4 pound chrome yellow, or yellow ocher. Darken with the red and lighten with yellow, as desired. If the Venetian red does not give a sufficiently dark look put in a pinch of lampblack. Apply hot.

For Rosewood -- Same as mahogany, omitting the yellow, and using 3/4 pound Venetian red (or more) instead of 1/2 pound. Give one coat of this and then add lampblack, one pinch, or more, to the color; with the latter put in the figure or dark parts of the rosewood.

For Oak -- In a gallon of glue size (as above) put 3/4 pound powdered burnt umber. Lighten with yellow (chrome or ocher), if need be. Hot.

Dark Wood Stain

White woods may be given the appearance of walnut by painting or sponging them with a concentrated warm solution of permanganate of potassa. Some kinds of wood become stained rapidly, while others require more time. The permanganate is decomposed by the woody fiber; brown peroxide of manganese is deposited, which afterward may be removed by washing with water. The wood, when dry, may be varnished, and will be found to resemble very closely the natural dark woods.

Red Stain for Wood

Boil chopped Brazil wood thoroughly in water, strain it through a cloth. Then give the wood two or three coats, till it is the shade wanted. If a deep red is desired, boil the wood in water in which is dissolved alum and quicklime. When the last coat is dry, burnish it with the burnisher and then varnish.

Liquid Glue

Dissolve 1 pound of best glue in 1-1/2 pints of water, and add 1 pint of vinegar. It is ready for use.

Cement for Metal and Glass

Take 2 ounces of a thick solution of glue, and mix it with 1 ounce of linseed-oil varnish, and half an ounce of pure turpentine; the whole is then boiled together in a close vessel. The two bodies should be clamped and held together for about two days after they are united to allow the cement to become dry. The clamps may then be removed.

Cement for Broken China

Stir plaster of paris into a thick solution of gum arabic till it becomes a viscous paste. Apply it with a brush to the fractured edges, and draw the parts closely together.

Cement for Crockery and Glass

Take 4 pounds of white glue, 1-1/2 pounds of dry white lead, 1/2 pound of isinglass, 1 gallon of soft water, 1 quart of alcohol, and 1/2 pint of white varnish. Dissolve the glue and isinglass in the water by gentle heat if preferred, stir in the lead, put the alcohol in the varnish and mix the whole together.

Mending Glassware

Broken dishes and glassware may be easily mended as follows: Fit the pieces in their proper places and tie a string around the vessel to keep the parts from slipping out. Then boil the entire dish for two or three hours in sweet milk. This will firmly glue the vessel together and it will last for years with proper care.

Armenian Cement

This will strongly unite pieces of glass and china, and even polished steel, and may be applied to a variety of useful purposes. Dissolve five or six bits of gum mastic, each the size of a large pea, in as much rectified spirits of wine as will suffice to render it liquid; and, in another vessel, dissolve as much isinglass, previously a little softened in water (though none of the water must be used), in French brandy or good rum, as will make a two-ounce vial of very strong glue, adding two small bits of gum galbanum of ammoniacum, which must be rubbed or ground till they are dissolved. Then mix the whole with a sufficient heat. Keep the glue in a vial closely stopped, and when it is to be used set the vial in boiling water.

Japanese Cement

Thoroughly mix the best powdered rice with a little cold water, then gradually add boiling water until a proper consistence is acquired, being particularly careful to keep it well stirred all the time; lastly it must be boiled for one minute in a clean saucepan or earthen pipkin. This glue is white, almost transparent, for which reason it is well adapted for fancy paper work, which requires a strong and colorless cement.

Roofing Preparation

Take 1 pint of fine sand, 2 of sifted wood-ashes, and 3 of lime ground up with oil. Mix thoroughly, and lay on with a painter's brush, first a thin coat, and then a thick one. This composition is not only cheap, but it strongly resists fire.

Fire Kindlers

Take 1 quart of tar and 3 pounds of resin, melt them, bring to a cooling temperature, mix with as much sawdust, with a little charcoal added, as can be worked in; spread out while hot upon a board, when cold break up into lumps of the size of a large hickory nut, and you have, at a small expense, kindling material enough for one year. They will easily ignite from a match and burn with a strong blaze, long enough to start any wood that is fit to burn.

Mending Pipes with Water On

Many farmers have had trouble in repairing pipes where the water could not be shut off conveniently. A lead pipe which has been cut off accidentally in making an excavation, for instance, may be repaired by the following plan: The two ends of the pipe are plugged, and then a small pile of broken ice and salt are placed around them; in five minutes the water in the pipe will be frozen, the

plugs removed, a short piece of pipe may then be inserted and perfectly soldered. In five minutes the ice in the pipes may be thawed and the water set to flowing freely again.

To Join Water Pipes

Water pipes may be united by using a preparation made by combining four parts of good portland cement and one part of unslaked lime mixed together in small portions in a stout mortar, adding enough water to permit it to be reduced to a soft paste.

Welding Metals

Welding together two pieces of metal of any kind can be accomplished only when the surfaces to be joined are equally heated, and both surfaces must be brought to such a temperature that the particles will form a perfect continuity between the pieces united. This embraces the entire theory of welding, soldering or brazing metallic substances of any kind. In addition, however, to the equal and adequate heating of the surfaces to be united, every particle of coal dust, cinders or scales of oxide must be removed, so as to present two perfectly clean surfaces at the very moment when the union is to be effected.

The piece of metal that would fuse at the lower temperature must be the guide, when bringing the surfaces of conjunction up to the proper heat. If, for example, two pieces of wrought iron are to be welded, the part that will melt at the lower temperature must be brought just to a welding heat, and the surface of the other piece must be heated quite as hot, or a trifle hotter than the first piece. Then, if the surfaces are clean when the parts are brought together, the union will be satisfactory. The degree of heat aimed at must be, not to produce a fluid, but simply to bring the metal into a condition between the fluid and plastic.

Grinding Tools

All steel is composed of individual fibers running lengthways in the bar and held firmly together by cohesion. In almost all farm implements of the cutting kind the steel portion which forms the edge, if from a section of a bar, is welded to the bar lengthwise, so that it is the side of the bundle of fibers hammered and ground down that forms the edge. So, by holding on the grindstone all edge-tools, as axes, scythes and knives of strawcutters, in such a manner that the action of the stone is at right angles with the edge, or, this is to say, by holding the edge of the tools square across the stone, the direction of the fibers will be changed, so as to present the ends instead of the side as a cutting edge. By grinding in this manner a finer, smoother edge is set, the tool is ground in less time, holds an edge a great deal longer, and is far less liable to nick out and to break.

Plane irons should be ground to a level of about 35 degrees -- chisels and gouges to 30. Turning chisels may sometimes run in an angle of 45. Molding tools, such as are used for ivory and for very hard wood, are made at from 50 to 60 degrees. Tools for working iron and steel are beveled at an inclination to the edge of from 60 to 70 degrees, and for cutting gun and similar metal range from 80 to 90.