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Homemade Gear & Improvised Tools


Peter the eater
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My "exhaustive eG search" for related threads lead me to homemade bread gear, a tandoor, a proofing box and a very cool Caja China and the new ghetto smoker.

I am very interested in reading and seeing to what lengths people have gone to achieve a goal in the kitchen, dining room, backyard, wherever. So here's the pitch:

Do you still use that meat tenderizer that you made in high school? That salad bowl you turned in the 70’s? Maybe you’re a busy caterer who has a pimped up stand mixer, or built a custom fire pit-barbeque-smoker. Do you go to town twice a year to buy 100 lbs of yeast and some copper line . . . because you’ve replicated Hawkeye’s still from M*A*S*H?

If you have built a food-related device or modified something in the name of culinary performance . . . share a picture and some words!

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Okay, I'll go first.

Last summer I had to juice 10 kilograms of lemons (don't ask) so I did a few the conventional way, developed some repetitive motion pain, then realized I could use my old antique-ish drill press. It worked pretty well but I don't think I'll be taking it to the patent office anytime soon.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Okay, I'll go second.

In 2004, I made a place in the backyard to do to some outdoor roasting. I used a bunch of discarded concrete blocks from a jobsite I was on and the cast iron bottom from a 1930 oil furnace that used to be in my basement. As you can see, its been idle the past 2 summers (corresponding to the birth of my kids). We have loaded it up with wood and with charcoal in the past to do rotisserie chicken, fish, etc. It looks a bit lonely and overgrown today:

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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It's not a salad bowl and it isn't turned, but I carved this bowl in '92 because I couldn't find one the size and shape and color I wanted.

I wanted a bowl of natural wood that was not stained or varnished or painted to serve nuts and candies.

I bought a slab of African blackwood, a true rosewood, from a place that sold exotic hardwoods (I had bought a lot of other woods from the store for making picture frames and supports for my crystal engravings.

This stuff is incredibly hard but takes a high polish without needing any finishing oil or other coating.

I used only hand tools for the carving and only a felt ball on a flexible shaft to work on the tight interior curves for the near to final polishing.

The final polish was done with a bone polisher that was loaned to me by a wood carver.

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It isn't perfectly square and a little uneven on the top edges but I decided to not try to make it too precise because I didn't want a machined look.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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It isn't perfectly square and a little uneven on the top edges but I decided to not try to make it too precise because I didn't want a machined look.

That, my friend, is a thing of great beauty. I'm always struck by an art object that is clearly from a single piece of material, like a totem pole or a stone carving. No mysterious extrusion, no endless source.

Have you done any more in the last 15 tears?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I'm impressed! I'll be showing my homegrown engineer Peter's alternative use for drill presses (maybe this is what a bar for engineers should look like?).

I don't think I have the Chinese moon-cake press that I carved years ago anymore - not hard - you carve the design in heavy relief on one piece of wood and insert a couple of pegs, then just make a circular hole in another piece of wood (plus holes for the pegs of course) and fit them together.

My Dad used to replace broken plastic knife handles with nicely finished wooden ones.

A pair of pliers and a strong wrist will make custom cookie cutters out of empty cans, but they are strictly disposable - too bulky to store.

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It isn't perfectly square and a little uneven on the top edges but I decided to not try to make it too precise because I didn't want a machined look.

That, my friend, is a thing of great beauty. I'm always struck by an art object that is clearly from a single piece of material, like a totem pole or a stone carving. No mysterious extrusion, no endless source.

Have you done any more in the last 15 tears?

No, once was enough. It took a very long time because I really didn't know the tricks real carvers use. I was so afraid of ruining the wood I worked it all by hand.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've found that for cutting meats and some spices (particularly the barks and bits of trees I've brought from Laos), a counter top vice grip and a good Japanese saw can do wonders.

Oooh, what a good idea. I use welding clamps for holding various things.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Well I've got wood clamps and a little wooden thing that looks like two goal post uprights that hubby put together for me to hold molds upside down in the fridge without spilling. And a whole bunch of paint scrapers and drywall knives that I can use on the granite sink cutouts for working with chocolate.

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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I don't think I have the Chinese moon-cake press that I carved years ago anymore

You know, I have never had one of those famous moon cakes. Now I'm compelled to carve a press and find a recipe!

a counter top vice grip and a good Japanese saw can do wonders.

I have brought my dozuki and ryoba from the studio into the kitchen.

Peter Green, can you bring things like "spicy bark" freely across borders in your neck of the woods? (Are you back from Korea?)

Well I've got wood clamps and a little wooden thing that looks like two goal post uprights that hubby put together for me to hold molds upside down in the fridge without spilling.

Probably a dumb question: Why would you want upside-down molds?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I had the site superintendant at my last job ask the electrician for some pvc that the carpenters could split lengthwise for me to form baguettes...that first batch all went to work with me for paybacks

and in reverse form I have used my Ginsu knife to strip bark from a Cedar tree to make a new front porch support at my cabin, and yes the Ginsu will still slice a tomato very nicely :biggrin:

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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Sous vide excursion recirculator here. Post #73.

I love the recirculator - I keep thinking of trying to make one, but the electronics get me down... I have minimal circuit experience, so would really need a canned PID solution, I think. I read somewhere here on the forums that they were available, but I can't find the post right now.

Regarding the Ghetto Smoker 4000™, I am trying to come up with a good way to a) remove moisture from the system and b) have extended smoking sessions. Something like the Bradley Smoker's pellet-feed mechanism, but that would work with wood chips, and was cheap (and preferably cool-looking :cool: ).

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Middle Eastern bread oven here.

Sous vide excursion recirculator here. Post #73.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

Thanks for not letting me miss those. BTW I haven't seen an AutoCAD LT screen in quite a while, was that the 2002 edition?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Probably a dumb question: Why would you want upside-down molds?

When you are making a solid chocolate figure you turn the mold (which has an open bottom) upside-down and fill it. You then cool it in that position (so the chocolate doesn't run out).

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I forgot to mention I have a rechargable drill I use in the kitchen. Mostly I use it to drill holes in very hard, very large squash when I am going to bake them whole. It's a lot easier than stabbing holes in them with an ice pick (my former method, until I broke one in a large Hubbard).

I also have some sandbags that come in handy in the kitchen, particularly for steadying odd-shaped things such as squash, etc.

These are the kind used by physiotherapists, not the water barrier type.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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.. I'm trying to .... b) have extended smoking sessions. Something like the Bradley Smoker's pellet-feed mechanism, but that would work with wood chips, and was cheap (and preferably cool-looking  :cool: ).

I'm pretty sure, manufacturers of Bradley or others, use pucks or pellets because they have to. Moving measured portions of irregularly shaped wood chips, via gravity or mechanically, can be very complicated.

The difficulties aren't obvious until considerable thought is given to the problem.

I haven't seen a Bradley's delivery system up close, but I imagine it's similar to an upside down Pezz dispenser that dispenses one puck at a time onto a hot plate (correct me if I'm wrong) at timed intervals. Not possible with wood chips

I haven't seen smokers that use pellets either, but I assume they utilize a screw to deliver the pellets to the hot plate (again, please correct me if I'm wrong). This, may be used with wood chips, but not within the realm of the DIY.

I came up with an idea. It's only a thought experiment:

In the drawing below, a chute is drawn twice to show it in two different positions. Only one chute is needed.

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We have a chute 2.5"-3" diameter entering the smoke cabinet at a steep angle, perhaps 45*. The chute has two half circle baffles (Blue and Red), an end cap (green), and a cut out in the chute between the red baffle and the green end cap. The cut out is positioned over the smoker hotplate.

Provided we can get wood chips to flow from a hopper into the chute from the upper right hand side, the chips will reach the blue baffle ( which only blocks half the diameter of the pipe), I bet they'll bunch up and collect at area 1 in the top drawing of the chute.

Now imagine turning the chute 180*. Some of the chips that were lodged against the blue baffle will flow down the chute and rest against the red baffle at area 2 (bottom illustration).

It would take another 180* turn before the chips reach area 3 against the green end cap. After that, every 360* turn, a portion of wood chips is dispensed through cut out 4 onto the hot plate 5.

Couple the turning of the chute with an electronic timing circuit (not hard to do).

Note: A quick half turn in one direction and back, using solenoid action might even be better. The jerking action might encourage the chips to move.

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.. I'm trying to .... b) have extended smoking sessions. Something like the Bradley Smoker's pellet-feed mechanism, but that would work with wood chips, and was cheap (and preferably cool-looking  :cool: ).

I'm pretty sure, manufacturers of Bradley or others, use pucks or pellets because they have to. Moving measured portions of irregularly shaped wood chips, via gravity or mechanically, can be very complicated.

The difficulties aren't obvious until considerable thought is given to the problem.

I haven't seen a Bradley's delivery system up close, but I imagine it's similar to an upside down Pezz dispenser that dispenses one puck at a time onto a hot plate (correct me if I'm wrong) at timed intervals. Not possible with wood chips

I haven't seen smokers that use pellets either, but I assume they utilize a screw to deliver the pellets to the hot plate (again, please correct me if I'm wrong). This, may be used with wood chips, but not within the realm of the DIY.

I came up with an idea. It's only a thought experiment:

In the drawing below, a chute is drawn twice to show it in two different positions. Only one chute is needed.

gallery_39290_5073_143.jpg

We have a chute 2.5"-3" diameter entering the smoke cabinet at a steep angle, perhaps 45*. The chute has two half circle baffles (Blue and Red), an end cap (green), and a cut out in the chute between the red baffle and the green end cap. The cut out is positioned over the smoker hotplate.

Provided we can get wood chips to flow from a hopper into the chute from the upper right hand side, the chips will reach the blue baffle ( which only blocks half the diameter of the pipe), I bet they'll bunch up and collect at area 1 in the top drawing of the chute.

Now imagine turning the chute 180*. Some of the chips that were lodged against the blue baffle will flow down the chute and rest against the red baffle at area 2 (bottom illustration).

It would take another 180* turn before the chips reach area 3 against the green end cap. After that, every 360* turn, a portion of wood chips is dispensed through cut out 4 onto the hot plate 5.

Couple the turning of the chute with an electronic timing circuit (not hard to do).

Note: A quick half turn in one direction and back, using solenoid action might even be better. The jerking action might encourage the chips to move.

Just bought my dad a smoker at Canadian Tire to give him for his birthday, brand name Centro. They have stolen your idea!!!!

It has a pan that sits on the heating element and on the side it has a pull out cylinder that you fill, insert, then turn over to dump the chips into the pan. Theirs however is entirely manual requiring you to refill the cylinder at intervals.

I was considering a Bradley for him, but he likes using his own chips rather than depending on the pucks.

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Just bought my dad a smoker at Canadian Tire to give him for his birthday, brand name Centro.  They have stolen your idea!!!!

It has a pan that sits on the heating element and on the side it has a pull out cylinder that you fill, insert, then turn over to dump the chips into the pan.  Theirs however is entirely manual requiring you to refill the cylinder at intervals.

I was considering a Bradley for him, but he likes using his own chips rather than depending on the  pucks.

D'oh!! They stole my Idea before I could conceive it?! :laugh:

They have those at Sam's club. Like you said, it utilizes a tube which has to be manually pulled out by hand, and manually filled by hand, then reinserted into the cabinet by hand manually, which then will have to be rotated by hand you guessed it... manually. :biggrin:

You have to do that every time you want to add wood chips.

They're not even close.

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We have a chute 2.5"-3" diameter entering the smoke cabinet at a steep angle, perhaps 45*. The chute has two half circle baffles (Blue and Red), an end cap (green), and a cut out in the chute between the red baffle and the green end cap. The cut out is positioned over the smoker hotplate.

This is great! I think maybe a wider diameter would be better, but otherwise I think this is very workable. In fact, if a wide enough diameter is used, then the tube could be made sufficiently long to serve as its own hopper. Also, maybe use the mechanism to drop the chips onto a chute of some kind so that the whole thing can be placed external to the smoker. That way it doesn't have to be heat-resistant and can be made out of PVC.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Perhaps you could adapt something like

automatic feeder for pet food

as long as it is shielded from heat, it should work. I had a couple that could be set to dispense food several times a day, but I gave them away when I no longer had multiple dogs in kennel runs and wasn't spending all my weekends at dog shows.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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