Better Wood Heat: Rocket Mass Heater FAQs Answered

Wood is one of the oldest forms of heat, and throughout the millennia, has been used to keep mankind toasty and defrosted. However, now that we’re an older and (presumably) wiser race, we’re seeing how inefficient and unsustainable this form of heat can be. Rocket mass heaters and rocket stove technology offers the solution, and puts affordable, efficient heat within reach of us all.

Solar Backyard Chicken-Coop Building Plans

A community of smaller portable chicken coops are better than one, big, stationary one. Download building plans for a solar heated design that’s also great in hot climates.

The Growing Economy of Salvaged Urban Wood

Megan Offner of New York Heartwoods is salvaging downed and damaged city trees to redirect material from our waste stream, decrease greenhouse emissions, and fuel the demand for local wood products.

DIY Off-Grid Chicken-Watering System

For the same cost as one more indoor waterer, we built an outdoor system with 10 times the capacity that won’t require much extra work from us to keep up.

Reader Roundup: DIY Composting Toilets

Before you set up your own DI composting toilet, read the experiences of several folks who have successfully — and happily — lived with simple bucket toilets.

DIY Decorative Tray

Learn how to make your own decorative tray using repurposed materials!

Building a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven for Full-Barn Farms

Have you ever thought about building your own Wood Fired Pizza Oven? Tim Rohrer with Full Barn Farms, shares how they went about building a Wood Fired Pizza oven for personal and agritourism use.

Build A Simple ATV Sled

Learn how to build a simple sled in less than 30 minutes from scrap lumber and logs!

Home Economics

Learning to do things for yourself at home is empowering. You don’t need a degree in home economics, although it helped Cindy, to get started. She even makes her own blue jeans! Just as important to her are projects such as making a bench grinder stand, which you can learn more about here.

Sane and Sustainable Homesteading, Part 1

Many people in the world long for a life in the country, lived on their own terms, close to nature, honest and hands-on. But too many of these people find that homesteading is harder, less fulfilling and more painful than they imagined. Learn how to thrive on the land without burnout, despair and failure.

Cork the Caulk

Did you know that every caulking tube comes with a cork? Save money by sealing your caulking between projects with this simple hack.

Make Light Fixtures from Old Chicken Feeders

Even with minimal building capability, you can learn how to make light fixtures from old metal chicken feeders. The feeders may be hard to come by, but if you know someone that has been in the commercial chicken-raising business, then you can likely find some in their used feeder pile. The total cost per light was $19.32.

‘The Tao of Vegetable Gardening’ by Carol Deppe

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. She focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.

Easy Homemade Toothpaste

We often want to live a healthier lifestyle, but forget that our mouth health is so essential to living healthier. Here are a few reasons why you should consider making your own toothpaste, along with a quick and easy recipe.

Shaking Off a DIY Fail

Homegrown.org's Amanda Hoover shakes off a DIY fail — an attempt at homemade natural food coloring — and holds her head high.

DIY Solar Power Is a Wise Choice

With photovoltaic (PV) panel technology you can tap into the amazing world of free totally renewable energy from the sun. You generally cannot find a better more reliable source of power on the planet that solar. In our book you will find that a DIY on grid/off grid system is very affordable and a wise choice for almost everyone.

DIY Photovoltaic Power

Doug and Jennie Ostgaard designed and built a photovoltaic system for their home, a project they was completed in six months. DIY photovoltaic solar has many benefits, and they outline a few of them here.

DIY Wedding Flowers

You can stretch your budget for wedding flowers by growing some of your own. Learn how to select, schedule, and plant flowers — then make them into wedding bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces.

DIY Garden Lights

These DIY garden lights reuse plastic bottles and provide soft, natural lighting for evenings spent outdoors.

DIY Whiskey Barrel Chairs

You can make these outdoor chairs for less than $80 by recycling a whiskey barrel and using a few other supplies from your workshop.

Make Your Own Fire Pit Using Concrete Tree Rings

This low-cost, easy-to-assemble fire pit from Instructables is made with concrete tree rings and rocks. Just add a grill and you've got the perfect backyard hangout, all for around $50.

Spray Day: DIY Natural Fabric Spritz

There are some things that you just aren’t going to wash very often, like your curtains, couch cushions, and probably even your favorite jeans. To spare the air, concoct a simple essential oil-infused linen spray, and spritz away until your definition of what “clean” smells like shifts permanently.

DIY Rabbit Hutch From Wooden Pallets

Gather a few pallets and get geared up to make your very own spacious rabbit hutch with just a few supplies for under $25 dollars!

Gutter-Planted Garden Greens

It was becoming pretty obvious the crowding and lack of light were real limitations to my mini garden. Then, the idea of a trough on the windowsill came to mind, combining a way to water all the plants uniformly and efficiently all at once. Great, now how to make this trough? Wood? Sheet metal? The choices all seemed expensive, clumsy, prone to leaking...then the light bulb went on in my head: gutters!

Old School Beauty Basics: How to Make Glycerin

What’s with glycerin? It’s a soap-making byproduct with antibacterial properties, but it’s often made with animal fat derivatives, which isn’t really our thing. So, we figured out how to make our own veggie version with coconut oil, opening up a whole world of kitchen pantry beauty concoctions.

DIY Patio Furniture Made From Scrap Iron

Looking for a great home metalworking project? Follow these DIY patio furniture instructions to build scrap-metal furniture for your patio.   

DIY Ginger Bug and Lacto-Fermented Soda

Make your own “ginger bug” and natural soda from nothing more than ginger root, sugar, water, and fruit juice. The ginger bug, soda starter culture of healthy bacteria, consumes the natural sugars present in fruit juice and causes carbonation to make a fun experiment and soda pop you don’t need to be afraid to give your children.

SuperTruck: Let's Get the Snowball Rolling!

Feels like I'm finally getting the ball rolling on my DIY Plug-In Hybrid Truck Project. I got a chance to visit Hot Rod Jim, talk about drive shafts, and even got the bed off the truck!

Make Your Own Lotion Bars

Claire finds a recipe for hard lotion and makes molded lotion bars to give as Christmas presents.

Chicken Incubation Tips

Trying to sum up a few of the lesson learned while figuring out the best way to incubate and hatch cute chicks.

How to Make a Fruit Picker

Follow these easy instructions explaining how to make a fruit picker, and you'll never be tormented by out-of-reach fruit again.

Protecting Fig Trees from Cold and Best Wood Chopping Tool

Protecting the fig tree for the winter felt like putting it to bed for a long sleep. Chopping wood with the Chopper 1 is a thing of joy and beauty and that's no joke. Do it yourself corn bin helped our neighbor keep the racoons out.

Fighting Tomato Blight with Copper Coated Pennies?

Tackling the old wives tale I heard recently down at the hardware store how a penny inserted into the flesh of a tomato plant stalk will help that plant fight off or maybe prevent a blight attack along with data on trying to trap a wild rabbit.

End of Summer Intensive Salt Scrub

Use Epsom salt, lemon, aloe vera and other simple ingredients to clean up your kids when they have stubborn, sticky summer grime.

Sunflower Cover Crop

Sensor Plug update along with a report on Sunflowers being used as a cover crop and when to properly harvest onions.

Modular, Prefab, and Compact Green Homes and Structures

A listing of companies that offer green dwellings in the form of modular, prefab, manufactured, compact, or mobile structures. These days, many such options are available that are not only green, but also beautiful, well-made, and often low-cost.

My First DIY Solar Car

What's it take to build your own SOLAR-POWERED Electric Car? How about starting small with some hardware store parts and an old child's ride-on toy? Read how a tinkerer Dad builds a Solar-Powered Power Wheels with just basic tools and skills.

Porch Building and Deer Pressure

Porch building tips along with deer pressure notes and golf cart pickup bed instructions.Throw in a 5 foot high chicken wire fence and a rare appearance from a normally camera shy cat named Strider and you've got an idea of what we've been up to.

Soap-Making for the Beginner Part III - Giving Lard a Try

Have you ever considered using lard to make soap? It is easy to locate, inexpensive, and has a long history as a soap-making staple. This recipe adds a few extras to improve the conditioning qualities of traditional lard soap.

Worm Bins, Coop Door Openers, and Egyptian Onion Giveaway

Building the Cadillac of worm bins, a new barn door, testing the new garlic curing rack, harvesting big potato onions, mulching blueberries, and fabricating a low budget easy to build automatic chicken coop door opener and closer from easy find parts

Flywheel Garlic Bearings

Crushing a truck, harvesting garlic, and fixing a broken flywheel shaft key are just a few of the things that got done over the last week at WaldenEffect.org complete with photos of all the juicy stuff.

Hat Over the Fence: DIY Super Truck!

So here's an idea - why not take existing technology and build a DIY diesel electric pickup truck? Is it even possible? I think it is, but I'll need your help!

Easy Sand Candles

Celebrate all things beachy by making sand candles! Using paraffin, crayons and sand you can make a beautiful sand candle to commemorate a trip to the shore.

Solar Panel Back Up Power for Under 1000 Dollars?

Describing how we are trying to provide a low budget solar panel back up system for under 1000 dollars that will run our laptops and router along with a few other things if the local power grid has any issues.

Aquaponic Trout and Golf Cart Jousting

Summing up the last week of activity by hitting on a few key stories that might prove note worthy to a few of the homesteading folks out there complete with photo montage of golf cart jousting and aquaponic trout.

15-Minute Mini May Baskets

Make a cute, no-sew May Day basket using felt. Embellish it with buttons, beads and trim and it is ready to be delivered. Fill it with flowers and candy and you can hang it on a neighbor's doorknob like people did a century ago.

Top Bar Hive Experiment

Breaking down the last week of homesteading we've done over at WaldenEffect.org, and the Top Bar project we started as well as talk on Brix, biodynamics, and Plant Secondary Metabolites. Also have details on an external frame backpack modification.

Dyeing Yarn With Tang and Jell-O

You can use items you find in your pantry like powdered drink mix, Jell-O and food coloring to make a beautiful dyed skein of yarn.

New Chicken Webcam Goes Live

Announcing our new webcam that will be showing the latest flock of new born chicks in all their cute and feathery glory.

Three Easy Easter Basket Crafts

Here are three easy Easter basket items for you to make. Children can act as helpers, or you can surprise them. Make rainbow crayons, mini soaps and bath bombs.

DIY Electric Fence Wire Holder

Talking about how to make a DIY electric fence wire holder and how we got a tailgate transplant for around 150 dollars and some signs of spring.

Homesteading Book Deal Gets More Real

Talking about the excitement of Anna's new book cover that we got to preview from the publisher this past week and the anxiety of our new born chicks as they go out into the big world. Also have some details on how to make your own cleft graft.

Foolproof Reverse-Cast Stepping Stones

This very simple indirect stepping stone technique allows you to make multiple stepping stones that will be beautiful and long lasting. It is good for individual stones and for large group projects involving all ages.

Dedicated Roofers Cross Dangerous Creek

Talking about the recent past week where we got several items crossed off the Spring to-do list and managed to have some fun while doing it complete with pictures to illustrate the good times.

Soap Making for the Beginner, Part II

Part II of a tutorial on how to make cold-process soap. The directions are intended for the absolute beginner and use easy-to-locate materials.

Composting toilet compromise

The last week of the month has been a busy one with are preparations for the ending of winter and the start of a new growing season. We've got some details on a new cover crop and why we choose and simple composting toilet system compared to others.

Soap Making for the Beginner, Part I

Part I of a two-part tutorial on how to make soap for the absolute beginner. Readers will assemble materials and prepare the mold this week in anticipation of combining the ingredients to make a batch of cold-process soap.

Fixing an old barn roof

Finally getting the barn roof repair project started was a big deal for us as well as a few other things that are worth checking out if you are interested in modern homesteading.

Best way to sharpen an axe?

Summing up the past week with a few highlights that help to illustrate how we've been getting along in the ending days of the 2012 winter season.

Children's Bedtime Tea

How to quickly and easily make a soothing herbal tea blend for children, plus bags and boxes to hold it.

How to cut planks with a chainsaw

Our experiments with an Alaskan small log mill attached to our chainsaw had variable results making planks from downed trees.

Transformation Tuesday: Trash Turned Giftwrap

Forget the time and money that goes into conventional giftwrap. Use these inspirational ideas to wrap lovely gifts with materials otherwise bound for the recycling bin.

Make an Herbal Tincture

Learn how to make an herbal tincture with The Herb Companion team at the Mother Earth News Fair.

DIY Seed Starter Pots

It might be the middle of the summer, but you should start thinking about getting your fall garden ready. If you don’t have much space, to plant everything outdoors, then you can certainly start your seeds indoors.

Paint With a Cause

Offering paint that saves the rain forest and a full list of ingredients, this natural finishes start-up aims to change the industry. Unearthed is making a bold move by providing full ingredient disclosure for all of its products.

Gardening Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

People often dismiss gardening as an expensive hobby that they can’t afford. While that can be true, it doesn’t have to be. There are way to make gardening cheap.

Two Ways to Use a Shipping Pallet in Your Garden

When you are apartment gardening in a small space, you are forced to be creative due to your space constrictions. Most traditional pots and containers might not work, so you become reliant on reusing objects to better fit your space.

Three Ways To Reuse Soda Bottles in Your Garden

Growing your own food doesn't have to be an expensive activity. There are plenty of ways to cut back the costs and be earth-friendly as well. You can do this by giving a second life to items that have outgrown their initial purpose.

DIY Top Bar Hive

Thinking about bees? Check out this DIY top bar hive!

Chic Crafts From Upcycled Clothing and Homemade Recycled Paper

You can upcycle (make crafts from recycled materials) to beautifuly and simplify your world! Have a few old T-shirts that are past their prime? Make them into a rosette pillow! Use homemade recycled paper to send friends and family chic, personalized greetings cards. Overrun with stuff to recycle? Transform tin can lids into a melodious windchime! Have fun and get creative turning your old stuff into treasures!

Foamy Shampoo Bar Recipe

Skip the packaging and synthetic chemicals and learn how to make your own, cold-processed shampoo bars.

Leasing Solar Panels

Leasing solar panels may be a way for you to have a solar electric system on your home. See what our expert has to say on leasing solar panels, from an operating lease to a capital lease. Plus, learn about the federal tax incentives that come with solar electric systems.

Tasteful Handmade Gifts

Giving handmade gifts will save money while showing the recipient that you care. Homemade sugar scrub, rice pillows, glass magnets and iPod covers are all easy to make and exciting to receive. Spend time, not money, to give the perfect holiday or birthday gift.

Inspiration for Solar Projects

Scott Davis’ “Solar Projects, Big and Small” video offers inspiration for both solar energy enthusiasts and folks who are just curious. Tips and advice pertaining to solar energy can be found at the Yahoo! group Simply Solar, and you can make your dream project a reality with Gary Reysa’s instructions.  

Parallel Chord Pallet Trusses

If you have access to small diameter trees and wood pallets, and live in an area not restricted by building codes, then this truss design is one good low cost roof option. If you do all the work yourself, these trusses are virtually free.

Key Considerations for Building Affordable Housing

Building housing projects in developing regions is extremely rewarding, but also quite challenging. It’s prudent to draw ideas from as many resources as possible to improve the process. The following guidelines have proven effective.

Small Diameter Roundwood Trusses

The roundwood truss system described here enables DIYers to build their own trusses at very low cost. You can gather truckloads of poles from national forests, enough for several small houses, for the cost of one $25 firewood permit.

Make Giant Bubbles at Home

Learn how to make giant bubbles like a professional bubble artist at home with this DIY video. Complete with a recipe to make a giant bubble wand and your own homemade soap solution, you’ll be ready to impress everyone on your street with human-sized bubbles.  

Wild, Wacky and Wonderful

Have you ever let your imagination run wild and built a fanciful, unique … (spinning wheel, bat house, garden tool)

Exterior Home Painting for Beginners

If you want to learn how to paint your house without the help of professionals, this article from the archives is for you. Exterior home painting can be a snap with the right tools and information.

How to Build Your Own Desk

Finding the perfect desk with just the right amount of work space can be a hassle and a financial drain. Build your own desk with this do-it-yourself tutorial, and you’ll have room for your computer, notebooks, phone, printer and any other work-time necessities, and you’ll save some serious cash in the process.

Photo of the Week: Dome Home

User of our CU photo-sharing website submits photo documents the building process on their new biomass and solar dome home. Don't forget to submit your photos to our CU photo-sharing website. Your favorite moments could become famous on our homepage!

Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panels

Yes, you can make your own solar panels, but it won’t necessarily save you much money compared with buying commercial solar panels.

Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

 You can build a low-cost, squirrel-proof bird feeder using simple tools and inexpensive materials. All you need is some plastic drain pipe and caps, hardware cloth and a bit of wire (or a wire hanger). In no time at all, you’ll have all sorts of birds at the feeder — and the squirrels will be perplexed!

Where Do You Find Used Building Materials?

Recycling building materials from other sources is a great way to cut the cost and reduce the environmental impact of your DIY projects. We want to know where readers go to find reclaimed or used building materials, and how they use these materials in home projects.

Marvelous Macrame

Macrameing has been a popular craft medium for decades. Share your most outlandish macrame project.

Creative Uses for Wooden Pallets

Wood pallets can be used as is or stripped and remade into new forms. What creative uses have you found for wood pallets?

Recycle Your Jeans

Convert your old jeans into brand new items without spending a cent.

Some Assembly Required

Holiday gifts frequently come with "some assembly required" and can cause frustration for late-night Santas. What is your most memorable some-assembly-required experience?

A Handmade Roof

You can shingle your roof with hand-split shakes, crafted using a froe and mallet, and dry, straight-grained wood.

Toys for Tots

Create memorable gifts for a youngster with a handcrafted toy or game.

Cheap, Easy-to-Build Wood Storage Shelves

Need more storage space? Who doesn’t? You can make better use of the space you have available with some wooden shelves. Building free-standing shelves is easy and can be inexpensive. This is a great woodworking project for beginners.

Feed For Animals - To Go

Put a barrel or two on wheels and you can feed your flocks and herds with ease, including diagrams, photographs and instructions.

A Highchair to Grow With

Build a highchair that will follow your child through years of growth and development.

Ultimate Paper Recycling

To make the pulp for homemade paper, look no further than your waste and recycling bins.

Learn Something New from These How-to Online Videos

How-to online videos are a valuable resource for any do-it-yourselfer. But there are a lot of videos out there, so we’ve picked noteworthy ones and provided a few links to help you find more in the future. From building a workbench to changing your car’s oil, these engaging and instructive videos will inspire you to start a fun, new DIY project.