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Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

The driving factor behind this project is the belief that simple design is high design, particularly when working in the developing world.

For the Love of Earthbags (F.L.O.E.) is an interactive design project that aims to prove that it’s possible to approach high-design in a manner that is tasteful, modern, and groundbreaking by using only the most basic materials, such as the dirt beneath our feet.

This project is an initiative led by architect Travis Hughbanks and supported by Edge of Seven (www.edgeofseven.org) in partnership with the local community of Basa, Nepal.

Edge of Seven is a nonprofit organization that generates awareness and volunteer support for projects that invest in education, health and economic opportunity for girls in developing countries. According to the World Bank, 30 percent of Nepalis live in poverty and this population is most concentrated in rural areas where people survive off of agriculture and subsistence farming. For Edge of Seven, earthbags offered an opportunity to improve rural educational infrastructure and combat poverty in the most low-cost, efficient and sustainable way possible.

How will the funding be spent? The money raised through this campaign will be used for supplies to create the earthbag school, educational tools, and the production of the graphic materials.

F.L.O.E.’s end goal is to elevate the practice of earthbag construction by producing several engaging and creative educational materials that will be used both to promote earthbag construction and teach local residents how to build with this method. The materials to be produced are an animated video and a graphic print manual.

To read more about this innovative project and see more of their interesting graphics check out this website: www.indiegogo.com

We have profiled the Nepali school project on several other posts:
finished-earthbag-school-in-nepal
earthbag-building-spreads-in-nepal
earthbag-school-in-nepal

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Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)

Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)


Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)

Demonstration wall showing cordwood stacked on earthbag bag foundation (click to enlarge)


There are a lot of little details you can search on the Internet. This is just a basic introductory video to show you the cordwood/earthbag concept. What I like to do is have the mortar recessed slightly. It looks a little better if the wood is protruding slightly. You smooth this out. The mix is very similar — it’s basically cob. You could also call it earthen mortar.

Here is my general impression of cordwood construction. It’s extremely beautiful. It’s very practical in certain areas where you have an abundant wood supply. But it’s very labor intensive. Earthbag is several times faster. So it’s very slow. What I would recommend for most people is maybe just use it around a doorway, an entryway, because it’s very beautiful. Maybe around your fireplace, something like this, because it’s very beautiful. You can search the Internet and see some really beautiful examples of cordwood construction.

You can watch almost 100 videos at Earthbag Natural Houses YouTube channel. Each step of instruction, including how to make gravel bag foundations, is shown in detail.
Earthbag Instructable: steo-by-step earthbag building instructions

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Custom Log Furniture
Fastest Tenon Cutter
Rustic Log Bed
Rustic Woodworking
Rustic Log Benches

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Natural twig bench

Natural twig bench


Twig rocking chair

Twig rocking chair


Twig furniture by Andrew Gardner

Twig furniture by Andrew Gardner


Twig dining set

Twig dining set


You’ve built your sustainable home with low cost, natural materials. Now you want to look at furniture options that match your new home. Rustic twig furniture can be built practically for free if you make it yourself, and is quite attractive.

“Rustic furniture is furniture employing sticks, twigs or logs for a natural look. Many companies, artists and craftspeople make rustic furniture in a variety of styles and with a variety of historical and contemporary influences. There are two basic types of rustic-furniture construction: bentwood (sticks are harvested fresh or steamed to make them supple, then bent into a variety of structures and decorative shapes) and twig work (sticks – straight, curved or forked – are assembled into structures and decorative shapes within a structure). Sometimes both types are used in the same piece. Some rustic furniture makers use mortice and tenon construction; others simply nail or screw members together. Dan Mack is a well-known furniture maker who has authored several books on the subject. Ralph Kyloe has written books on rustic furniture and related topics.

Rustic furniture was originally made from whatever natural materials were in greatest supply, and often by poor people as items of trade for food or cash. It is associated with the Great Depression and other hard times in America; however, it is also associated with the Great Camps built by wealthy Americans in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Various rustic styles reflect the personality of their maker, with techniques such as chip carving, silver or gold brushwork, milk paint, peeled bark and other decorative enhancements. The basic wood used for rustic furniture was usually willow, although many other hard- and softwoods were also used. In the American South, palm fronds were occasionally employed. Historical examples of rustic furniture may be found in museums and antique shops, although fine historical pieces are rare outside a museum setting. One showcase for this style of furniture is the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. Typical items of rustic furniture include chairs, love seats, tables, desks, clocks, chest of drawers, rockers, coat racks, mirror frames and lamps.”

Source: Wiki
Image source: Natural Tree Furniture.com
Image source: Log Cabin Rustics
Image source: Twig Furniture
Image source: Custom Rustic Furniture.com

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Homes built with natural materials are beautiful and less expensive than homes built with concrete, steel and milled lumber.

Homes built with natural materials are beautiful and less expensive than homes built with concrete, steel and milled lumber.


The way to save the most money on your new home is to build it yourself. Anyone who has priced new houses or gotten bids for remodeling knows how expensive contractors are. If you build with conventional modern materials, houses tend to be quite complex and beyond the scope of DIYers, so most people end up paying contractors to build their home. Building with natural materials provides a way out of this debt trap. People have been building their own homes with earth, stone, wood poles, bamboo and other natural materials throughout human history. Anyone can do this if they really set their mind to it and move to an area with minimal building codes. In the past, building everything by hand was very arduous. Things are much easier now thanks to ready availability of good tools, machines (low cost if rented), and books and articles that explain the process.

Here are just a few ways to save tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of hard work.
• You can save an enormous amount of time and effort over traditional methods by having soil, sand and gravel delivered right where you need them. This one step could save you 100 hours of hard labor.
• Buy bags for earthbag building instead of building time consuming wooden forms for rammed earth.
• Buy poles from a woodsman if you’re too busy, or harvest them yourself from a local forest. Either way is far less expensive than milled lumber that has been shipped 1,000 miles and marked up in price by numerous middlemen.
• Build tamped earth floors or another type of earth floor and save a bundle on materials. Tamped earth floors are dirt cheap because you don’t need beams, joists, special hardware, sheathing, glue, nails and so on.
• Earth plaster is another way to cut costs. People have been plastering their own homes for thousands of years, so obviously there’s no need to hire contractors for this. Earth plaster creates a superior wall finish on the interior and is suitable for exterior walls with wide roof overhangs.

Image source: Caribbean Living Blog
(excellent blog that I just discovered!)

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Southwestern style distressed wood finish on weathered wood creates a timeless look.

Southwestern style distressed wood finish on weathered wood creates a timeless look.


Antique finished cabinet

Antique finished cabinet


Old world style furniture with wipe off antique finish

Old world style furniture with wipe off antique finish


Most people choose standard wood finishes for cabinets, furniture, doors, trim and other woodwork around the home. The most common finishes include wipe on oil finishes, paint, lacquer and varnish. These standard finishes work quite well, but sometimes it’s fun to explore artistic options to make something out of the ordinary.

If you’re working with recycled wood such as barnwood and wood from pallets, the wood is already distressed and so you might consider highlighting the weathered look with a distressed wood finish to save time and effort. It’s far easier to work with what you have than milling and sanding rough salvaged wood and trying to make it look perfect. For example, the grit buried in the wood will quickly dull planer and joiner blades. And keep in mind a little bit of distressing goes a long way. I don’t know about you, but subtlety looks far better to my eye. You might want to practice on a small piece and gradually add distressing to discover what looks best.

There are many types of distressed finishes and so you’ll want to search and read up on the details. Techniques include: highlighting the pores and cracks with colored paste-wood filler or paint, rubbing or sanding through the finish, removing some finish with paint thinner, applying multiple coats of different colors and exposing lower coats, rubbing darker finish into trim or recesses, flyspeck and splattering, chipped off finish, crackle finish, glazing finishes and a whole host of others.

Many times, multiple techniques are combined. As an example, one time I made a bathroom vanity cabinet out of white cedar. I wire wheeled the wood to create an interesting texture, and applied a medium dark wood stain and let it dry. Then I lightly rubbed on different colors of paint (turquoise, dark blue and gray) – just a little here and there! – and quickly rubbed it off to create an antique look. A little color was left behind in the pores and recesses. After drying, I sprayed the cabinet with clear lacquer. The final antique appearance looked great with custom wrought iron hardware.

In addition to distressed finishes, you might want to explore alternate ways of physically distressing wood to achieve an antique/aged look: weather the wood naturally with water and sunlight, wire wheel (for softer woods), sand blasting, wood rasps and files, hand sanding with sandpaper or steel wool, power sanders, chisels, sharp instruments such as nails and awls to simulate insect damage, heat/fire, chemical treatment.

To learn more about distressing wood and distressed wood finishes, search these keywords: antique finish, distressed wood, distressed finish, rustic finish, faux antique wood finish, rubbed painted finish, weathered wood finish, whitewash, pickled finish, wood glaze.

Image source: Great Southwest Furniture Design
Image source: Airlass.com
Image source: Wisno Furniture Finishing.com

Related:
Wood finishing PDF
Sundance Furniture and Décor
Pallet Craft

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Developing a network of friends can be a big help for achieving your dream of home ownership. A quick search on Meetup.com for ‘earthbag’, just one of numerous social networking sites, turned up the following groups that may prove helpful.

Texas Natural Builders “This group is for anyone interested in Natural Building. We explore and experiment with strawbale, cob, cordwood, pallets, rammed earth, earthbags, wattle and daub, papercrete, earthships, adobe, and all other natural building methods. This group is not centered around the Waller location — it is intended for all of Texas locations and all members can set their own meetups in their areas!”

Portland Natural Building Group “Meet other locals who explore a variety of building techniques that use in-situ materials for housing: earth, clay, cob, rammed earth, earthbag, straw bale, wattle & daub, round wood, bamboo.”

Another search on Meetup.com (again, just one possible site to consider) for ‘natural building’ turned up dozens of groups in Chicago, Vancouver, Great Lakes, Syracuse, Louisville, Los Angeles, San Diego and elsewhere. Some groups seem more interested in permaculture or holistic living, but you might find some people with common interests in natural building.

Search for ‘earthbag’ or ‘natural building’ on Facebook and you’ll find loads of interesting sites and most likely find others with common interests who live nearby.

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