Magnetic Knife Block

by Ben N on April 8, 2014

For some time now, I’ve owned a santoku , a Japanese-style kitchen knife. It’s great, I love it. It’s become my favorite knife, but the problem is that I’ve had no good place to put it….. until now.

When I got back home the other day, doing something with this knife ended up being on my “Honey-Do List”, so I headed from the kitchen to the garage to see how I could fix the situation.

We already had a knife block. I don’t even remember when and where I got it. It must have been a wedding gift. It’s a decent set of fairly good but not over-priced knives, including a honing steel. However, there is no space for an extra knife.

Another tool I happen to have in my arsenal is MAGNETS. I have a small assortment of powerful magnets that make great creative toys when combined with nuts and ball-bearings. Some of the magnets are quarter-inch diameter rare-earth. They are very powerful in a compact size.

In my garage, I got out my drill, drill-bits, and some super glue. I laid the knife in question over the top of the knife block and marked with pencil where I would add three of the small magnets.

Next, I put the 1/4″ bit in the drill and drilled the three holes, each about a quarter-inch deep. Then, I test fit the magnets to see if they would go in the holes and be flush with the wood. Sure enough, it worked pretty well.

I pulled the magnets back out. (I just laid the knife over them and the magnetism to the knife is stronger than the friction of the wood. Pulling the knife back away takes the magnets out.)

After that, I got out the good ole tube of Super Glue and tried to get just a drop or two in each hole, then put the magnets in. Even though there was a little drip of glue, once it dried, I could sand it off.

I did make sure to not let the knife back anywhere near the magnets until the Super Glue has totally dried! Nothing more embarrassing than permanently gluing down a kitchen knife during a project….

With the Super Glue dry and a light sanding, the hacked knife block was ready to go. Just slap the santoku on top and it stays firmly in place. An intentional pull disengages it from the block. With it on top, it’s easy to get to and the other knives don’t block the way.

Now, is a magnetic knife block going to save the planet? Is it on par with becoming a full-time vegan? Is it going to stop climate change? No, none of those things. However, I think it’s the right mind-set. If we can learn to take the things we have and make them better, if we can be clever and use what we have, instead of wasting money and creating pollution with new manufactured goods, if we can think differently about design and the objects around us, then WE ARE making a difference, and we start living in a better world right away.

And if not that, at least I know where my knife is when the zombies show up!

Until next time, Keep Making Something of Yourself!



DIY Yogurt

by Ben N on March 23, 2014

The last couple of days, I’ve been playing around with “Sous-Vide”, a cooking technique that depends on carefully controlled water temperature.

What other things really like just the right temperature? How about yogurt-making!

I made yogurt once before, just following some basic recipe on the web, which goes, essentially:
Heat 1/2 gallon milk to 200 degrees F.
Chill it down to 110 dF.
Mix in 1/2 cup commercial yogurt (make sure it’s with LIVE cultures)
Hold at 105-110 degrees F. for 4 to 8 hours.

Sounds pretty easy overall, right? Well, sure it is. But there’s a few things to think about. For one thing, my oven can’t be set to 110 degrees. Some DIY yogurt recipes call for heating to 120 degrees, then put in your oven with the light on, and the LIGHT and insulation is supposed to keep the heat about right for all those hours.

Generally, I like “seat-of-your-pants science”, but I start getting just a little more picky when it comes to things I’m going to be eating.

In this case, why not use my MUCH more exact Sous Vide temperature controller?! (And free up my oven to boot!)

Besides my Crock-Pot, I also have a “Scientific Water Bath”, that’s basically a rectangular stainless steel crock-pot. It has a spacer to keep food containers ABOVE the electric water-heater element. In this case, I used the Scientific Water Bath, as three Weck (brand) jars fit nicely in it.

Wecks are German-made traditional canning jars that also make good refridgerator containers. They are ultra-wide mouth and easy to wash. The best part is that I can make yogurt in them, and then put them straight into the fridge with glass or plastic lids and eat right out of them if I want!

So…. I heated half a gallon of milk in a pot on the stove, then poured it into a large glass measuring bowl that I said in another bowl of cold water to chill it. I whisked in the half a cup of commercial yogurt. Next, I poured the dairy mix into three Weck jars and placed them in the water bath. I plugged that into the Sous Vide controller and set it to 108 degrees.

With the glass lids on the Weck jars and the stainless steel lid on the water bath, all I have to do it wait!

Unfortunately, I could only fit about HALF the recipe into the temperature controlled water bath. So, I tried doing the other half in the oven. I filled three more jars with the liquid yogurt mix, set them on a sheet pan, and put it in the oven, TRYING to hit 105-110 degrees as best I can.

Right now, I’m just waiting. I’ll let you know how the yogurt turns out and how the two halves of the batch compare to each other!



DIY Sous Vide

March 23, 2014

Recently, I started playing around with “Sous-Vide”.
For those of you who don’t know, this is a cooking technique where food is sealed in a vacuum bag and then cooked in hot water AT THE TEMPERATURE YOU WANT TO FINISH IT AT. That means it’s pretty much impossible to overcook your food, and it’s great for [...]

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Lock Your Truck with a Wrench

March 20, 2014

Today, I decided I was going to clean up my garage a bit. It’s finally starting to feel the slightest bit like spring, and I felt my time might be best used by being outside, moving around, and DOING something.
I quickly got distracted by my pickup truck. I had some ugly decals on the cap [...]

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Etched Glass Pi Pie Pans

March 11, 2014

Recently, I’ve been doing some work sandblasting. Since Pi Day is coming up (March 14 – 3.14), and I just happen to have a stack of Pyrex pie pans handy, I thought I’d go ahead and try making my own custom Pi Pans.

I started by designing a logo in Illustrator. Well, that’s not quite right. [...]

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DIY Oil Lamp

March 1, 2014

I was wandering through the thrift-store this morning, looking for materials for projects, and I was amazed at the variety of glass ware. There was everything from beer glasses to sundae cups to every variety of  vase you could think of.
I had recently seem some photos of some nice oil lamps, and figured it would [...]

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Soup Can Forge

February 25, 2014

A few days ago, I attended UMBA’s winter blacksmithing event with a friend. We saw blacksmithing demonstrations and got to talk with a whole lot of interesting people who make amazing things. All of this really left me wanting my own forge. As a member of the Milwaukee Makerspace, I have an LP forge available [...]

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What you need to know about your furnace

January 28, 2014

There’s something you need to know about your furnace. But first, a little background.
In my area (south-eastern Wisconsin) most people use modern and efficient natural gas furnaces to heat their homes. They burn very clean, and piped natural gas is very affordable compared to propane, electric, and other typical heating methods. However, a furnace is [...]

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Crafty Dry Erase Board

January 2, 2014

Ever wanted to leave a note for a family member, but NOT do it on scrap paper that falls off the kitchen table? Now you can, with this Crafty Dry Erase Board.
No, you don’t have to run out to your office supply store and spend good money on bad products. Instead, make your own for [...]

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Manly Magnetic Bracelet

January 1, 2014

I was at a craft store the other day, getting ideas, and noticed they had a nice collection of unusual jewelry. Many of the items featured unusual closures and several bracelets had MAGNETIC latches.
A while back, I salvaged a whole bunch of very small cylindrical magnets. I keep them in a plastic container, along with [...]

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