Best Tools for Turning Soil: Complete List

Heavy frost has hit our area, and I’ve been busy pulling out annuals and cutting down perennials as they prepare for a season of dormancy. 

Fall is a great time to aerate the soil in preparation for Spring planting as the cold weather prevents weeds from taking root. You can save yourself a tremendous Spring task by amending your soil with organic matter on a dry, Fall day, rather than waiting until a mucky Spring. 

Turning soil with a traditional handheld cultivator is pretty hard on my back, but thankfully, that’s not the only tool for the job!

Here’s a compilation of the best tools for turning soil!

Corded Electric Rotor Tiller

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If you need a bit of help getting your garden ready, or just don’t have the muscle capacity for hard labor, then a rotor tiller is the perfect solution.

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly as you can use electricity to power it
  • 8-inch depth means you don’t have to pass over spots multiple times
  • Adjustable width, between 11 and 16 inches gives lots of choices

Cons:

  • Be careful not to trip over the cord

Cordless Electric Tiller

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Being both cordless and electric is the perfect environmentally-friendly combination.

This powerful tiller will help you dig deep when you’ve got an unruly piece of land.

Pros:

  • Works for 40 minutes off a single charge
  • Rotating tines are removable and easy to clean
  • 5-inch tilling depth is enough to tackle most yards.

Cons:

  • Does not include battery and will cost extra to purchase

Gas Rotor Tiller

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This rotor tiller means business. If you have a yard that is close to pure wilderness, then this heavy-duty tool is perfect.

Whether it’s tree roots or rocky soil, in just a few passes you’re one step closer to the perfect garden.

Pros:

  • 10-inch tilling depth means less time working the soil
  • Gas-powered so you can work as long as needed
  • Powerful 6.5 HP engine means serious business

Cons:

  • Weighs over 200 pounds so you need to be strong to work it

Tiller Attachment for weedeater

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Sometimes the product you have just isn’t right for the job. Instead of purchasing a brand new, expensive tool, save some money with an attachment instead.

This tiller can be attached to most Weedeaters, including brands such as Craftsman, Remington, Greenworks, and many more.

Pros:

  • Works with almost all major weedeater brands
  • Can adjust the tilling width up to 9 inches which is quite versatile
  • Tine technology means rocks and debris won’t fly at you

Cons:

  • Better suited for small tasks

Drill Tiller

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What do you do if you really love your drill, but also need to garden? Create a drill tiller, of course.

This innovative design allows you to attach 3 tools right to your drill.

Not only will it save you money in the long run, but it will definitely lead to a bit of celebrity status on the block.

Pros:

  • Includes 3 attachments: tilling head, hold digger, weeder
  • Easy to use and won’t strain your back
  • Strong construction will last for a long time

Cons:

  • Weeds still need to be manually removed

Disc Cultivator Attachment

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This disc cultivator is perfect for working the soil. It is better suited for farm use and will look very out of place in a backyard garden.

However, those that have farmland, or even untouched land, will do well to dig deep with this attachment.

Pros:

  • Strong and powerful
  • Up to 38-inch width which leads to fewer passes
  • Discs are powder-coated for durability

Cons:

  • Attachment only; need to purchase a sleeve hitch

Hand Tillers

Hoe and Cultivator Hand Tiller

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Want to get up close and personal with your garden soil? Then garden hoes are the way to go.

This two-in-one tool has a hoe on one side and a cultivator rake on the other side.

There’s no need to search for missing tools when you’re gardening.

Pros:

  • Ergonomic handle makes it easy to grip
  • Made of solid oak for extra durability
  • Includes lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Tines may bend but can be put back in place

Twist Tiller

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Need to turn the soil in your garden but are afraid of the effects it will have on your back?

Instead of stooping over, try this twist tiller. It is 38 inches tall which is perfect to allow you to stand up while gently moving dirt.

Pros:

  • Perfect for mixing in soil amendments
  • Padded, ergonomic handle is comfortable to use
  • Able to easily pull weeds out

Cons:

  • Not meant for hard-packed clay

Rotary Hand Tiller

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Sometimes when you see a tool, you just know it means business. With its three tines with multiple spikes, this hand tiller looks like it can get the job done, and it can.

The long handle allows you to stand up while working so you can stay comfortable, making it one of the best rotary tillers on the market.

Pros:

  • Pole can extend from 40 to 60 inches, depending on preference
  • Made from stainless steel and aluminum so won’t break or rust
  • Middle wheel is removable for more gardening options

Cons:

  • Extendable pole has a habit of collapsing

U-Bar Digger (Broadfork)

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When it comes to tilling your soil the old fashioned way can make the most sense.

This double-handled broadfork works to mimic the natural process of soil aeration.

It gets the job done and instead of relying on batteries or gasoline, it is powered by pure arm strength.

Pros:

  • Extremely environmentally friendly
  • All-American made materials and construction
  • Relatively light at 12 pounds

Cons:

  • Need serious arm strength to work it

Soil Knife

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As most expert gardeners will attest, knives are valuable tools.

A soil knife won’t fend off attackers, but it will allow you to complete all your basic gardening tasks, such as planting holes and pruning shrubs.

Pros:

  • Used by Japanese gardeners for centuries
  • Multi-functional
  • Dual edged: flat and serrated edges

Cons:

  • Blade can be sharp; keep out of reach of children

Hand Trowel

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A hand trowel is one of the best tools for the job. Kid gardeners are often given trowels as their first tool, and master gardeners are quick to share their opinion on their favorite brand.

If you have a garden, you need this tool to create your horticultural masterpiece.

Pros:

  • Includes inches and centimeter markings for perfect planting
  • Handle is ergonomic and comfortable for continued use
  • Hole in handle allows for easy organization

Cons:

  • Relatively small; will need extra tools

Digging Shovel

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You’ve tilled the ground and aerated your soil. Now comes the fun part – digging.

If you have a hole to be dug, or just need to move some dirt around, a digging shovel is a tool for the job.

This is a smaller shovel, and perfect for tighter spaces such as planting shrubs.

Pros:

  • Paint is rust-resistant for a longer-lasting tool
  • Easy to store because of its small size
  • Light in weight and easy to use

Cons:

  • Taller people should consider a longer product

Digging Spade

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Unless you’re a master gardener, it can still be hard to understand the difference between a shovel and a spade.

Spades have flat bottoms and look rectangular in size. They are meant for breaking up compact soil.

Pros:

  • Rust resistance construction
  • Handle is made from one piece of wood for durability
  • Evenly distributed weight makes it easy to use

Cons:

  • No tread on spade to rest your foot on

Digging Fork

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If you’ve got tough ground to break through, a digging fork can help you out.

Whereas spades and shovels will remove large patches of dirt, a digging fork works to aerate and break up the hardened dirt.

It especially works well in the spring when you’re getting your raised garden beds in order.

Pros:

  • Uses muscle strength, not batteries or electricity
  • Constructed to not break or bend
  • Handle makes it easier to grip and prevents wrist strains

Cons:

  • Large width is unsuitable for compact areas

Cultivators

Cultivating Claws

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We’ll forgive you if you seem a little confused with this gardening tool. These cultivating claws are exactly that – claws. Simply hold onto the hand in each hand and start raking your dirt.

You can get back to nature and digging in the dirt, and might even realize that your spirit animal is indeed a bear.

Pros:

  • Lets you really experience your garden
  • Allows you to target hard-to-reach areas
  • Materials are strong and durable

Cons:

  • Hands can get quite dirty

Small hand cultivator

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This cultivator is described as a ninja rake, which is pretty apt considering its design.

Based on a classic Japanese gardening tool, the cultivator will easily rake through shallow soil in flower beds.

Pros:

  • Includes 5 prongs instead of the standard 3
  • Excellent at removing weeds
  • Prongs are very sharp and powerful

Cons:

  • Small and only good for shallow dirt

Ergonomic Hand Cultivator

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Gardening is strenuous. If don’t have back issues to begin with, you can quickly develop them after a hard day’s work in the garden.

As a result, finding good ergonomic tools is a must.

This hand cultivator works to break up soil but because of its design, you can remain standing up.

Pros:

  • Ergonomic design eases tension from back
  • Bright orange color means never losing it
  • Can be taken apart for easy storage

Cons:

  • Can be hard to assemble

High Wheel Garden Cultivator

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No, you haven’t traveled back in time with this contraption. Garden cultivators have existed for centuries, and if the wheel still works, why re-invent it?

For those looking to gently hoe their garden without straining their back, this unique design can work wonders.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and very comfortable to push
  • Handles are adjustable to fit different heights
  • Shallow cultivation won’t harm root crops

Cons:

  • Some customer service issues with the manufacturer

Garden Rakes

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What garden is complete without a garden rake? As with many gardening tools, there are different types of rakes.

This flat, metal rake is perfect for both raking leaves and combing through dirt.

Pros:

  • Handle is light in weight and easy to hold
  • Strong steel construction in rake head
  • Good customer experiences

Cons:

  • May still need a fan leaf rake for larger trees

Spading Fork

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A spading fork is necessary to aerate your soil. Without oxygen, nutrients, or water, your soil will suffer, as will the roots of your plants that depend on dirt for nourishment.

To work this tool, simply place it in the earth and pull up.

Pros:

  • Can place foot on forkhead for better leverage
  • Works best with raised flower beds
  • Even has the ability to move hay or compost to cover crops

Cons:

  • Might be too cumbersome for some

Garden Hoe

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If you’re looking to sow a large swathe of seeds, a garden hoe will help you with your task.

Made with a long, flat bottom, a garden hoe works a bit like a rake, but with a more singular purpose.

Pros:

  • Disc blade is made from recycled agricultural tools
  • Edges are nice and sharp and will last a long time
  • Blade and socket are welded together so won’t fall apart

Cons:

  • Blade can nick if hits rocks

Pickax 

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If you come across a tree stump or a compacted piece of clay, it’s time to pick up your pickax.

This tool is small enough to hold in one hand but strong enough to be a formidable weapon on your quest for a cultivated garden.

Pros:

  • Dual-head combo for all matter of rough terrain
  • Handle grip is made from rubber and won’t slip

Cons:

  • Handle could be longer to reach more objects

Hands

If all else fails, just use your hands! Gardening should be fun. Unleash your inner kid and start digging.

After all, what’s the point of fingernails if you can’t get dirt stuck under them?

Related Questions:

WHAT EQUIPMENT IS GENERALLY USED TO LOOSEN AND PREPARE SOIL FOR PLANTING?

Once you have decided to plant seeds or flowers, you will need to prepare your garden soil.

To loosen the soil, a cultivating fork will work best. Its large tines work to quickly aerate the soil which will make it easy to start digging holes for your garden.

You can use a stand-up cultivating fork or get down on the ground and use a smaller-handled fork.

Which shovel is best to break through soil?

When it comes to shovels, there’s actually a lot to understand. Shovels are tools and you will want the right tool for the job.

To break through soil, choose a spade. This will have a flat edge at the bottom which will allow you to break through hard ground.

A pointed, or rounded-bottomed shovel will help to move dirt but will be too cumbersome to break more solid ground.

How do you turn soil?

Garden soil needs to breathe. If there is a hard crust on top of your dirt, then air, nutrients, and water can’t penetrate. As a result, any roots or even seeds won’t be able to grow.

You can use many different tools to turn your soil, depending on your needs. First, start with a shovel to turn large areas of soil.

Then, use a hoe to work on more tedious parts.

Finally, use a rake to smooth out the soil and capture any large-sized rocks you want to remove.

What do you use to loosen soil?

To loosen soil, you can use a hand tiller. Made with rotating tines, tillers can move large areas of ground.

If you have a much larger piece of land, you might want to consider a rotor tiller, which is a large machine.

If there are other trees or plants around the area you want to loosen, you can also consider a shovel.

While not nearly as fast as other tools, it is more precise and will only dig up the area you want it to.

That sums up our list of soil turning tools! What do you use and love? 

Free Farmhouse Table Plan

free farmhouse table plan

We outgrew our little golden oak table when Baby #4 arrived.

I dreamed of having a long farmhouse table that could seat a large family and still have ample room to accommodate guests, but buying one new was so expensive! We didn’t need chairs (ours were still in good condition), just a table and a bench.

Walking through the lumber department in Home Depot one day (my idea of fun!), I noticed that the 4×4″ pressure treated pine deck posts were shaped just like farmhouse table legs!

They were also much cheaper than buying actual table legs made from a harder wood like maple.

Photo Credit

I told my husband about the idea of using the deck posts for table legs, standard lumber for the brace and apron, and spending a little more on nicely planed boards for the table top.

My idea was to sand down the legs until they were relatively smooth, paint them white, then distress and seal them. That way, you couldn’t really tell we were using outdoor lumber for an indoor project! The Farmhouse look is only improved by distressing, so it seemed like a good fit for life with six kids. 🙂 

farmhouse table plan

Brad was totally on board! I quickly sketched out what I envisioned the table looking like, and we set to work!

I bought the lumber and finishing materials, and he built the table in our basement with our oldest son, who was six at the time, and more than happy to operate the drill! 

farmhouse table

In all, this Farmhouse Table and Bench (plan for the bench coming soon!) cost us around $300about $700 cheaper than buying one new! It comfortably seats our family of 8, with plenty of room for a few guests. 

Over the last 3 years, this Farmhouse Table has stood up to 3 meals a day with the whole family, homeschooling, crafts, food preparation, fellowship meals, potlucks, cupcake decorating with friends, and hours and hours of of playing card and board games.

It’s a constant hub of activity, and while we would build it again in a heartbeat, it’s so durable, we probably won’t ever need to! 

We’ve had so many requests to build this Farmhouse Table for others, but we’re pretty pinched for time and space, so Brad drew up the Farmhouse Table Plan on SketchUp Make (read his review of SketchUp Make here), so you can do this project with your own family!

It’s very easy to put together (we’re total newbies at this!), affordable, and you can build the whole thing on a Saturday afternoon with standard size boards from your local lumbar yard. 

Here’s the Free Farmhouse Table Plan!  

Free Farmhouse Table Plan

Free Farmhouse Table Plan

This Free Farmhouse Table Plan is easy, affordable, and can be made in one afternoon with standard size boards from your local lumbar yard. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 4 hours
Finishing Time 2 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $250 plus finishes

Materials

  • 4 pcs 4” x 4” x 40” Wooden Deck Post
  • 1 pc 2”x4”x8’
  • 1 pc 4”x4”x8’
  • 7 pcs 1”x10”x60”
  • 3 pcs 1 ¼”x6”x7’ 0
  • Wood Glue
  • Plugs
  • White Paint
  • Stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Pocket Hole Screws

Instructions

Overall size:

NOTE:

Be sure to glue each joint before screwing together.

Step 1

Start by cutting all the pieces to size. This build uses lumber very efficiently and you will only need to make a few cuts for this table.

Cut list:

Cut 2 pcs 2”x4”x42”

Cut 2 pcs 4”x4”x42”

Cut 2 pcs 1 ¼”x6”x42”

Cut 2 pcs 1”x10”x46 ¼”

Cut 2 pcs 1 ¼”x6”x84”

Step 2

Cut one end (or both) of the  4” x 4” deck posts. Just locate the shaped part of the post where you like it.

It starts out roughly like this:

We left about 1 ½” of the flat part of the leg underneath the shaped portion of the post, to serve as the bottom of the table leg like this:

Step 3

Add 4 pocket holes to the top of all 4 legs like this:

NOTE: It depends on which pocket hole jig you're using so just set it up as per the instructions

Step 4

Take 2 of the legs and one 1 ¼”x6”x42” board and screw them together using pocket holes screws after gluing. Pretty important to glue this before screwing as this is a critical joint of the table 🙂

You might even want to bolt this joint; we didn’t, and our family of 8 has used this table for over 2 years at the time I wrote this post.

The ends of the board should align with the legs. Make sure everything is square and both legs are parallel.

Repeat the same step with other 2 legs and 1 ¼”x5”x42” board.

Step 5

Use the 2 leg assemblies made in previous steps and two 1 ¼”x6”x84” boards to make tables frame.

Joint these pieces using pocket holes in the legs of the table.

The end of the boards should align with the ends of shorter boards on the leg
assemblies as shown.

Step 6

Once the table frame is standing stably, screw-in 2pcs 4”x4” pieces to the inside of the frame on each end of the table.

If only 3 legs are touching the ground, letting it sit overnight on a flat surface will let things settle out the way they should be.

There should be 1 ⅞” gap between the edge of the leg and the edge of the 4”x4” pieces.

Step 7

Screw in the middle supports for the table.

Use 2 pcs 2”x4”x42” pieces and attach them 20 ½” from the 4”x4” supports.

Step 8

Now that the base of the table is completely done apply white or any other color wood paint you prefer to the base of the
table.

Step 9

Once the base is painted and dry its time to make the tabletop for the table. It will be made from 1”x10” boards.

In order to hide screw holes used to attach these boards to the tabletop, you will need to stain them in 2 steps.

First, stain all the edges of the boards and one surface boards as well.

Leave one surface of the boards unstained. This will become the tabletop at
the end and will be stained after the boards are put in place.

Step 10

Now that both the base of the table and boards for the tabletop are dry, screw all the boards to the frame using predrilled
holes.

First, take one of the 1”x10”x46 ¼” boards and place it stained side down so there is 1 ⅛” gap between the frame and the edge of the board both on the sides of the table and end of the table.

Make sure this first board is screwed in accurately. It will be used as a guide for all the rest boards.

Using 5 pcs 1”x10”x60” boards, assemble the middle of the tabletop.

Take the first board and align it with the end board. Make sure the corners align perfectly and the board is straight.

Once this board is screwed in place the rest 4 boards putting them right next to the two boards already attached.

Lastly, take the remaining 1”x10” board and screw it in aligning its ends with the edges of other boards. Screw it in like the rest of the boards.

Step 11

Using wood filler, fill in all the screw holes left in the tabletop.

Let it dry according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Step 12

Once dry, cover the base of the table with plastic and stain top part of the table using wood stain.

Step 13

After the stain dries you can apply a clear coat to the desired finish.

Notes

Be sure to glue each joint before screwing together.

THM Challenge! No Cheat November: Intentionally Nutritious

Your comments to a recent post I shared on my Facebook Page helped me not feel so alone in my need for some accountability; apparently, I’m not the only one struggling to optimize the nutrition content in my meals!

Busyness, laziness, unpreparedness – maybe it’s a combo deal – but in any case, I’ve discovered there are good ways to eat on plan and BETTER ways to eat on plan! 

Sure, eating on-plan Chocolate Cake for breakfast is better than a sugary bowl of cereal, and scraping the toppings off a pizza slice for lunch is better than a slice of white bread with margarine and jam, but by not making an effort to include more fruits and vegetables in my diet, I’m missing out on loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients! 

It’s time for a THM Challenge! No Cheat November: Intentionally Nutritious

No Cheat November: Intentionally Nutritious begins Nov. 1 and you are warmly invited to join me for a whole month of consciously choosing foods that are better than good! 

This THM Challenge is unique in that it will help us to think before we eat.  

Here’s how the Intentionally Nutritious Challenge will work.

At the end of each day (8 pm EST) in November, I will spotlight a different food on my Facebook Page. It will look something like this:

Included in each spotlight, will be a recipe featuring the food of the day and an invitation for you to share what you ate and why!

Those are the only 2 rules of this challenge: record and reveal!

THM Challenge Rules!

To help us consciously improve the nutrient-content of our meals, there are 2 rules for this Trim Healthy Mama Challenge:

  1. You must record everything you’ve eaten for each day. You can share this in the comment thread of each Accountability Post shared on my Facebook Page (and Instagram Stories) at the end of each day (I’ll schedule them for 8pm EST). 
  2. You must share why you ate what you did! Recognizing why we eat what we do is the first step in improving our choices! 

Here’s an example of what that might look like:

Breakfast: Mrs. Pamela’s Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, Double-fermented Kefir, and a handful of raspberries. I chose an E meal for breakfast because I woke up feeling sluggish and need the energy for the day’s long to-do list!

Don’t be ashamed to share the whys behind poor choices, too!  In fact, I’d encourage you to do so! This is a judgment-free challenge where we’re all encouraged to learn from our own mistakes while simultaneously helping others avoid the same ones. 

An example of the “why” behind a poor choice might look like this:

Snack: 3 Oreos, leftover coffee with cream, and a Reese. I chose this because I was unprepared! I was craving carbs and had nothing on-plan on hand. Note to self: Stock the freezer to avoid this happening again. The sugar crash was horrible! 

What you can do now to prepare!

Here are 3 things you may wish to do now to help you thrive the challenge, even on days when you’re super pressed for time and energy!

Make and freeze meals ahead of time.

Some of my favorite fiber-laden, nutrient-rich foods to freeze are soups, chili, muffins, and pancakes . A few good ones:

I’m also going to make a batch or two of my Pickle Juice Ranch Dressing  to store in the fridge for easy salads! It’s a Fuel Pull dressing, so it can go on everything, including sandwiches! 

Stock up on fruits & veggies!

You’ll probably want to do this closer to the start of our challenge so they don’t go bad on you, but a good supply of Fuel Pull freshness like berries and leafy green will help make adding nutrients to any meals, shakes, and desserts a cinch!

You can can even wash, peel, and/or chop them ahead of time, and store them in an air-tight container for maximum ease. 

Download The Slim of Satisfied Handbook 

This is totally optional, but if you feel like you need some assistance with this challenge, my digital download, The Slim & Satisfied Handbook, tells you exactly what to make and eat for every single meal, snack, and drink of an entire month. It even includes grocery lists for each week, so you can buy everything ahead of time! 

You can read more about The Slim & Satisfied Handbook and purchase it here, if you’re interested. 

Follow Northern Nester on Facebook or Instagram (Or Both!)

That way, you won’t miss the accountability posts! We’ll use the hashtag #intentionallynutritious on Insta! (Bonus: we’ll be super good at spelling nutritious after this. 😀 )

I can’t wait!

Do We Self-Contract Or Hire A Builder? The Story of Our Homestead | Pt. 2

Part 1: Should We Build Or Buy A House?

Once we had purchased our land, we needed to decide if we should self-contract or hire a builder to oversee the construction of our home. 

We spoke to several trusted friends and family members who had built their homes both ways, and came to the conclusion that whether we chose to self-contract or hire a builder, there were pros and cons to both. 

You will receive plenty of advice (solicited or otherwise!), but there is no right or wrong answer; it ultimately boils down to what makes the most sense for your own family.

Pros and cons to self-contracting and hiring a builder.

Self-contracting 

Pros:

  • Most economical. Self-contracting can save you 15% on construction costs if all goes well. Sometimes more!
  • You’re in full control. If you have unique tastes (such as using reclaimed or vintage materials), it can be tricky to convey your vision to a general contractor. 
  • You get the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Building your own home is the ultimate DIY!

Cons:

  • It’s easy to overestimate cost savings. There’s no shortage of resources that will tell you the joy and ease of self-contracting and how much money you will save, but according to Building Advisor:

Most exaggerate the savings and minimize the time commitment required, the difficulties, and the risks. There are owner-builder success stories and owner-builder nightmares. Before going too far down this path, take a hard look at what is required to succeed at this and a clear-eyed view of the potential savings. Then decide if it’s worth it.

Estimated costs are often vastly different than real costs. When you take into consideration cost overrun, time commitment, and unexpected expenses, your actual savings may not be as much as you think – so be careful!

  • It takes a lot of time. From planning, to scheduling, to monitoring, to researching, to recruiting, to hiring and overseeing, everything takes a lot of time and concentration. This is multiplied when it’s a first time project! If you have the time and energy to take on another full-time job (25-40 hours a week), it works, but if you’re already wishing for more hours in a day, hiring a contractor may save your sanity.
  • We’re not contractors. Professional contractors have professional contacts for every trade. They know who does the best work for the best price. They understand all that’s involved with obtaining permits efficiently, and building to code. They have an in-depth knowledge of the building process and won’t be rattled if one of the sub-subcontractors is a no-show. They know how to work through roadblocks and keep the project moving. 
  • You have to bear the brunt of the stress. Your custom windows don’t fit? The electrician does a sub-par job? Your flooring guy laid the right tiles in the wrong bathroom? The carpenter slices off his thumb? You have to deal with that. 
  • You’re just a small fish. Contractors can make you wait, since they need to prioritize their large contracts over your one-time job.

In summary, if you have time self contracting seemed to us to be the way to go. Almost all of the above “cons” can be mostly or completely erased by time – for example, being able to spend more time learning the ropes, spending more time gathering quotes and talking to customers of the contractors who make your shortlist so you make solid decisions, etc. 

Hiring A General Contractor

Caveat: these Pros only apply if you have access to a reputable builder. If you sign a contract with the wrong guy, you could wind up in a much more expensive project with all the negatives of self-contracting and then some! 

Pros:

  • They bear the bulk of the stress. A professional builder will contract out, manage, coordinate and supervise the entire project from beginning to completion. 
  • They save time. A project this size benefits by having someone who is experienced with obtaining permits, construction schedules, and getting things inspected. 
  • They know who does the best work for the best price.  They will evaluate multiple bids from subcontractors and can get discounted contractor rates with suppliers.
  • You can usually get a better construction loan from the bank if you are working with a licensed general contractor.
  • A licensed builder carries all the insurance coverage you need for the build. This means that they are responsible for the risks and liabilities associated with the job.
  • A professional contractor can provide a home warranty. Commercial home warranty companies typically only provide coverage to licensed builders.
  • A home built by an experienced contractor should require less maintenance and fewer repairs.
  • A professionally built home can have better resale value. 

Cons:

  • A professionally build home costs more. 

Yep.

That is literally the only negative Brad and I could think of regarding the hiring of a builder for our home, and to us, that extra cost was worth it! Honestly, it was the only option for us, too. 🙂 

Neither of us have any experience with building a home, nor do we have the time. Brad’s job is experiencing exponential growth right now, and as Chief Operations Officer, he’s doing the best he can to keep his head above water! Homeschooling our kids and coordinating our provincial homeschooling conference take up much of our remaining time.

We dreamed of self contracting, but after all options were considered, we simply did not have the time or energy to take on a project of this magnitude by ourselves.

Plus, we know and trust our builder – the Project Manager was actually a classmate of Brad’s! They are part of our church community and have done many projects for friends and family, all while maintaining an excellent reputation for being honest, timely, and flexible.

So far the time commitment required from our end has been very minimal, and all is going exactly as we had hoped it would – allowing us to focus on the main things that demand our attention.

Do we self-contract or hire a builder?

The answer depends on an individual’s preference, and for us, we decided to hire a builder. 

Have you had a home built? Which route did you choose? 

Feel free to share your story and top tips below 🙂 

Note: Please do keep in mind that every situation varies! This is a no judgment zone, so please do share what worked for you without prescribing it as the “right” or “only” way. 🙂 

Next in The Story of Our Homestead: Designing Our Home 

 

 

Should We Build Or Buy A House? The Story of Our Homestead | Pt. 1

Our search for a new home began at the beginning of 2019.

After welcoming our 6th child into our family, we started to feel the confines of our space. It wasn’t that our old house was too small (1,300 square feet), but our outdoorsy loving children were yearning for more freedom to roam! 

A homeschooling family, with 3x the average number of children in our neighborhood, we drew attention to ourselves without meaning to.

Our 12-passenger Transit took up the entire length of our driveway, and our postage stamp-sized backyard, despite our minimalist tendencies, was littered with evidence of wild imaginations!

Salacious language on the playground behind our house, a stressful neighbor situation, the desire for more privacy, and space for the kids to adventure freely were the biggest factors in our decision to move. 

build or buy a house

Should We Build Or Buy A House?

Once we were sure the Lord was leading us to move, the big question on our minds was:

“Should we build or buy a house?”

Almost immediately after we purchased our home four years earlier, the housing market in our area went insane! Houses in our subdivision were now being sold for 40-45% more than what we had bought ours for. If we could sell for 40% more, that price, plus the equity we already had in our home, would enable us to afford a decent house on a few acres of land.

Or so we thought. 

The problem was, in the rural areas surrounding us, house prices had jumped far more than 40%. We could purchase a good house, or good land, but not both. 

We didn’t mind the idea of living in an older home on more acreage, but our family dynamics are a bit unique.

We needed a house large enough for 8 of us.

At the time of this writing, we’re living in a rental with a 758 square foot footprint. When the weather is nice, it suits us just fine, as the kids spend much of it outdoors; but the lack of personal space and elbow room becomes more apparent when it’s cold or rainy. 

Since we usually have snow on the ground for 5-6 months of the year, and we homeschool, enough square footage for each member to spread out a little would be ideal.

We wanted a place with a home office.

Brad works from home full-time for Human Proof Designs, a company that helps people earn money online through affiliate marketing, dropshipping, and local lead generation websites. He is often in meetings or creating video tutorials, so a quiet space, preferably away from the noise and traffic in the rest of the house, was pretty important for him to be able to do his job well. 

We wanted to be closer to our church and church family. 

Depending on whether we hit a red or green light at the major intersection before the highway, our current drive to church takes 25 minutes. Doable, but the further you are from church, the more challenging it is to be involved. 

Other House Considerations 

There were other things on our “wishlist” too, but we were flexible and didn’t consider a lack of them to be deal breakers if the acreage panned out. Ideally, our next home would also have:

  • 4 bedrooms (A master bedroom, and 3 for the kids to share. A 5th bedroom for overnight guests or any additions to our family would be over the top!)
  • 2 bathrooms (4 daughters. ‘Nuff said.)
  • An open concept living area (We love to have guests over; room to feed and fellowship with a crowd would be so welcome!)

It didn’t need a designated homeschool room. We’ve always done our book work at the kitchen table or on the couch anyway. 

It didn’t matter if the kids had to share a room.

It didn’t matter if there was no laundry room. I don’t even own an iron. As long as there was a place to hook up a washer and a dryer, I was happy. 

We don’t have a lot of “stuff.” With the help of our friends, it took just 1.5 hours and a 26ft UHaul to empty out our old house, drive to the rental only a few minutes away have a coffee break, and move into our rental. We didn’t need a mansion; we were just looking for privacy and freedom to adventure in the great outdoors! 

We couldn’t find a house.

Not one with a bit of land, in our budget, close enough to church, and large enough to accommodate us all anyway. 

Our realtor looked at every house within an hour’s radius of our desired location, and there was nothing to be found that made sense to us. Slim pickings meant sellers could ask an arm and a leg, and get it, too. 

The search for land.

After 3 months of searching for a house to buy and finding nothing, we started to entertain the idea of building a home instead. We loved the idea of doing a project like this with our family, and building a house that would perfectly match our family dynamics.   

Our search for land began in March 2019. 

You can’t get a mortgage for land, so we needed to find something we could pay cash for, and still be able to build a house without taking on a mortgage that would stretch us beyond our means. 

We found 3 different lots to investigate.

The first one was priced cheaply because it couldn’t be accessed from the road without a driveway going through the neighboring property. A previous neighbor experience had left a bad taste in our mouth and that was not a risk we were willing to take.

The second property was a gorgeous,  10 acres of woodland with a stream to boot. It was perfect for 6 adventurous kids who love to be outside! We toured the property and small, uninhabitable house that needed to be taken down or gutted completely at the very least. Upon further investigation with the city, we discovered that the entire property was zoned Conservation. No new building was permitted to be built on the land, and even if the original shack was renovated, a 6-month environmental impact study had to take place before permits would even be considered. It was a no-go.

Third time’s the charm. 

We found our lot somewhat accidentally. 

Actually, that’s not true.

We found it providentially.

God was in all the details!

I was looking for land online in an area we hadn’t really considered before, on the North side of the highway we take to church, instead of the South. It wasn’t listed on Realtor.ca, so I was actually surprised to find it in my feed. 

The first time we looked at our new lot, in early Spring, and fell in love with the view.

It was “only” an acre, but by this time, we had realized we could not afford much more than that. Despite it being a smaller parcel of land, it still had all the features we were looking for!

It was:

  • 15 minutes away from church
  • 10-15 minutes away from most of our family
  • flat enough for a skating rink, pool, and soccer field/volleyball court
  • enough room for a few animals and plenty of gardens

Plus, zoning regulations allowed a roadside stand or other home business, another dream of ours! 

Though the lot was deemed residential, immediately behind was a Conservation protected wetland and forest, which made the actual property for sale appear much larger than it really was. No one would ever be permitted to build behind us, and the Conservation land included all the things we love: a creek, a forest, a tobogganing hill, and wildlife.

2 minutes away was a lake with a beach, 10 kilometers of biking and hiking trails, swimming, kayaking, and fishing spots. 

The only downside was that it was located on a very busy road. We decided we would need to build a fence for privacy, protection, and as a sound barrier. It was still worth it to us.  

Pictured above: the lake down the road. 

The cost of the lot was within our budget, too, which first had us concerned. It was priced lower than everything else in the area.

Was there something wrong with it? 

Our realtor did a little digging for us, and discovered that it had originally been bought together with 3 other lots by the same person. At the time, the buyer wasn’t sure which piece of land she wanted to build on, so she scooped them all up. Now that her house was built, she wanted to sell the remaining lots quickly before wasting too many property tax dollars on them. She was only asking what she paid for them the year before, when the market was at its peak! 2 lots were already spoken for, and this was the last one left.

We realized just how urgent she was to be rid of properties that were of no use to her anymore, when she immediately accepted our offer of less than asking price! It was a win for both of us!

We knew that selling our home would cover the cost of the land, but we still had to sell it!

After 2 months on the market, we sold our house for asking price, and paid for our new property in full on August 23, 2019.

During the last week of July, we moved into a 758 square foot rental where we’re currently living until our new house is finished!

Now it was time to plan our first home build….and save like crazy! 

Next in The Story Our Homestead: Do We Self-Contract or Hire A Builder

A Simple THM Sweetener Conversion Chart!

Have you ever been confused about what sweetener you can use on THM, and how much of it you should substitute with?

Me, too!

Behold:

The simple THM Sweetener Conversion Chart!

Nowadays, there are many low-carb sweetener options available, but not all of them are Trim Healthy Mama-friendly. Even though they may be low in carbs or have a good rating on the glycemic index, they might contain other ingredients that can be harmful to our bodies in the long run.

In this THM Sweetener Conversion Chart, I’ve kept things as simple as possible, by only including sweeteners that have thus far been approved by Trim Healthy Mama, and by using traditional cane sugar products as the guideline for substitution measurements.

In addition to regular white sugar alternatives, I’ve also included on-plan, low-carb, low-glycemic substitutions for:

  • brown sugar
  • Confectioner’s or icing sugar
  • honey & maple syrup

Scroll to the bottom of this post for the printable THM-friendly Sweetener Chart! 

But first,

A FEW Tips For Using THM-Friendly Sweeteners

1:1 substitutions are my favorite. Aside from the obvious bonus of not having to do any math 😉 , 1:1 subs generally provide the best results in baking because they have a similar consistency to their traditional counterpart.

Often, the bulk of a granular sweetener is needed for a baked good to turn out properly, which makes erythritol or xylitol based sweeteners (i.e. Lakanto Classic, Swerve, and THM Gentle Sweet), a better choice for baking than pure monkfruit or stevia.

Pure monkfruit and stevia are only needed in minuscule amounts, and can have a bitter aftertaste if too much is used. These sweeteners are better fit for drinks like Good Girl Moonshine, Singing Canary, and The Shrinker. Any aftertaste is usually masked by the stronger flavor of apple cider vinegar and flavored teas. Adding a pinch of salt in drinks sweetened with pure monkfruit or stevia also helps take away any bitterness and diminishes the cooling effect.

A Quest FOR THE PERFECT THM-FRIENDLY SWEETENER

For the longest time, I used xylitol for all of my baking and liquid stevia drops in my THM drinks.

Xylitol has a nice granular consistency, a bit larger than real sugar, which gives volume and substance to baking. Some people use a coffee grinder to decrease the size of the granules, but I don’t find it necessary.

Xylitol is not a perfect sweetener. It doesn’t dissolve quite as well as real sugar, so it requires whipping or beating longer than normal to get it fully incorporated. Xylitol is also not a good choice if you have pets; it can be fatal to furry animals, especially dogs. Additionally, xylitol can also cause digestive distress in some people if they consume excessive amounts.

To me, the perfect THM Sweetener should:

  • not have a bitter aftertaste
  • measure cup for cup like regular sugar
  • taste like real sugar
  • dissolve easily
  • be available in granular, brown, and icing sugar consistency
  • be available locally
  • be pet friendly
  • be easy on the digestive system
  • be affordable

My quest for the perfect sweetener found me experimenting with all kinds of brands: Pyure, Swerve, SweetLeaf, Trim Healthy Mama, Truvia, Xyla, and generic Bulk Barn sweeteners. In the end, one sweetener stood out among the rest.

Lakanto Monkfruit Sweeteners

Disclosure: I am a Lakanto Affiliate because we use and love their sweeteners! We earn a small commission from purchases made through our link.

Lakanto Monkfruit Sweeteners were the last ones I tried, and I kicked myself for not giving them a go first! They were the only sweeteners that met my long list of “perfect sweetener” qualifications.

Lankanto’s Monkfruit Sugar Substitutes:

  • measure and taste like real sugar
  • dissolve easier than xylitol
  • are on the digestive system
  • are pet friendly
  • are available in classic, brown and Confectioner’s consistency
  • are available locally (In the U.S., you can find them at Costco; in Canada you can often find them at Winners or Home Sense)

Bonus:

  • Lakanto Monkfruit Sweeteners are affordable! If you use the Coupon Code “NORTHERNNESTER,” you save 15% off all your online purchases (plus, they offer $5.99 flat rate shipping, and free shipping on orders over $75!).
  • Lakanto also offers a variety of other sugar-free sweeteners and THM-friendly products, including:

Enough about me and my favorite sweetener. 😉

Here’s that THM-friendly Sweetener Conversion Chart you’re after! You can right-click to enlarge the image and print it off, or click here to download

thm sweetener conversion chart

Trim Healthy Mama GIVEAWAY! 6 Winners!

It’s time for a Trim Healthy Mama Giveaway! We haven’t done one for a while, and with the big holidays coming up, we thought this would be a fun way to gift you with a few of our favorite things to help you start (or stay!) on plan! 

There are actually 6 different giveaways to choose from, with a total value of $169

Your votes on Facebook indicated separating one giveaway into six would be preferable as it give more opportunity for others to be blessed, and allows you the option of only entering the things you really want! Enter one, enter all – totally up to you! 

This giveaway is open to both Canadian and American residents!

(With the exception of the Pristine Chocolate Whey Protein Powder)

This Giveaway runs from Saturday, September 28 – Monday, September 30, 2019.

Winners will be selected and contacted on Tuesday, October 1!

Special thanks to Canadian THM distributor, Amanda, from Joyful Journey To Wellness for donating the Pristine Chocolate Whey Protein Powder, and to Lakanto for donating their Baker’s Bundle! 

The Trim Healthy Mama Plan by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison – Value: $23

The most visited page on this site, by far, is this simplified explanation of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan! You know what’s even better than a blog post about it? This beautiful book, written by the creators of Trim Healthy Mama themselves! This is such a fun and informative read! Enter to win a copy below.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Lakanto’s Baker’s Bundle: Classic, Golden and Powdered Monkfruit Sugar Substitutes – Value: $44

Y’all. I didn’t plan this, but guess what?!

Lakanto is running a 20% OFF sale the entire duration of this giveaway

…and these 3 sweeteners are included in that sale! 

Also Trim Healthy Mama-friendly, and included in Lakanto’s Weekend Sale for 20% off:

I think I’ve officially tried all the low-carb sweeteners available now, and I would rate Lakanto’s Monkfruit Sugar Substitutes the highest of them all for:

  • versatility
  • flavor 
  • digestibility
  • consistency 

You can read my full review of Lakanto’s Monkfruit Sweeteners here! Enter below for a chance to win their Baker’s Bundle! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keto Soups & Stews by Carolyn Ketchum (Paperback) – Value: $12

This cookbook if perfect for the cold weather months! It’s full of cozy, mouth-watering soups and stews for the cold weather months…and they’re all on plan! They’re all S Soups & Stews, so you’ll want to round that out with some E’s if you’re a Trim Healthy Mama (I have a bunch of E soups for you here!), but it’s such a great cookbook to have on hand! Gorgeous photos and no special ingredients in these recipes. Enter to win a copy below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pristine Chocolate Whey Protein Powder (Canadian Residents Only) – Donated by Joyful Journey To Wellness Value: $35

Canadian THM distributor Amanda, from Joyful Journey To Wellness has generously donated this bag of Pristine Chocolate Whey Protein Powder! It makes a deliciously quick FUEL PULL chocolate milk on the run! You make want to hide this bag from your family (it’s better than Nesquick in more ways than one! 😉 ). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Slim And Satisfied Handbook by Jacinda Vandenberg (3 WINNERS!) – Value: $30

Since it was released last year, 2000 copies of my digital, downloadable 4-week Menu Plan, The Slim and Satisfied Handbook, have been sold! It comes complete with menus, meals, recipes, schedules and grocery lists…everything you need to get started – or restart! – and stay on plan! (Okay, everything but the actual cooking and dish washing. Sorry!You can see what it looks like inside, here! Enter below to win 1 of 3 copies! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Abalone Shell Butterfly Earrings (not exactly as pictured)- Value: $25 

What is more perfect for a Trim Healthy Mama than a pair of butterfly earrings?! These abalone shell earrings are a beautiful reminder of endurance, change, hope, and life. They shimmer different colors, depending on the light, and look lovely with any outfit. Enter to win the pair below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Farmhouse Sofa Table – Free Plan

This Farmhouse Sofa Table has made a great addition to our living room!

It’s perfect for displaying home decor, or you can lighten up a room by using it as a ledge for lamps to sit on.

The bottom shelf is large enough to hold big book baskets (that’s what we use it for!), or if your guests aren’t interested in using the throw cushions on your couch, you can tuck them away in here!

The free Farmhouse Sofa Table plan is at the bottom of the page so you can make one, too. 

This project can be done for less than $40 with pretty basic tools.

Compare that to a (much less sturdy 😉 ) one like this for over $100!

Have to admit, before my wife asked me to make her a sofa table, I didn’t even know what they were! Turns out it isn’t anything too complicated.

According to Overstock.ca, the general idea is that it can sit between a sofa and the wall if there’s a vent in the floor and you don’t want the sofa blocking airflow; or if you have electrical outlets you want access behind the sofa, it’s good for that too.

Or, you can use it as a front entry console table. In our house, it doubles as a staging area for my wife’s food pictures too! She’s an amazing food blogger, as you well know. Check out her THM recipes here

This was also my first time using a grey stain and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Need to do more of that!

(We are big fans of the Farmhouse look around here if you haven’t noticed; check out our Farmhouse style headboard project too!)

The “X” part of this took me a LONG time, not gonna lie. Once I got the first side done though, the second one took me only 5 minutes.

You get to skip all that since I have all the steps listed below! 😉

If you use our plan, we’d love to see your finished project! Tag us on Instagram, or send us an email! 

Free Farmhouse Sofa Table Plan

Free Farmhouse Sofa Table Plan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Finishing Time 1 hour
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $65

Materials

  • 1 pc 2"x8"x8'
  • 1 pc 2"x6"x8'
  • 3 pcs 2"x4"x8'
  • 1 pc 1"x3"x10'
  • Weathered Grey Stain
  • Wood Glue
  • Pocket Hole Screws

Instructions

Step 1

  1. Start by cutting all the pieces to size. Cut list:
  2. 2 pcs 2'x8"x45" (For the Top)
  3. 2 pcs 2"x6"x38" (For the Shelf)
  4. 4 pcs 2"x4"x28 ½" (For the Legs)
  5. 2 pcs 2"x4"x36"
  6. 4 pcs 2"x4"x9 ⅜"
  7. 2 pcs 1"x3"x18 ⅞" (for the long piece in the X)
  8. 4 pcs 1"x3"x10" (for the short pieces in the X)

Step 2

  1. Add 2 pocket holes to each of the 4 pcs 2"x4"x9 ⅜ " pieces like this:
  2. This is the Pocket Hole Jig I use: https://amzn.to/2XKJxCR
  3. NOTE: It depends which pocket hole jig you're using so just set it up as per the instructions 

Step 3

  1. Start assembling the legs. You will need these pieces:
  2. 4 pcs 2"x4"x28 ½"
  3. 4 pcs 2"x4"x9 ⅜"
  4. a) On one of the long 1 ½" sides of the 9 ⅜" pcs, mark the center on the edges like this: b) On the 28 ½" pcs, mark the center near the edge like this:

Step 4

  1. Now line up the two center lines like this:
  2. Use 2 ½" pocket hole screws to fasten the 9 ⅜" piece to the 28 ½" piece. Do the same thing with 1 more 9 ⅜" piece to another 28 ½" piece.

Step 5

  1. Make a center mark 7" up the inside of the 2 28 ½" pieces:
  2. Line up a 9 ⅜" piece with pocket holes facing down; Use 2" pocket hole screws to fasten the 9 ⅜" piece to the 28 ½" piece. Do the same thing with 1 more 9 ⅜" piece to another 28 ½" piece.
  3. Now, you should have 2 pieces that look like this:

Step 6

  1. Using the pocket holes again, screw on the other 28 ½" pieces to complete this portion of the legs:

Step 7

  1. Now we're going to do the "X" shaped portion of the table:
  2. This part gets a bit tricky because the dimensions of everything aren't perfect. I found that it was best to do it this way:
  3. On the 2 pcs of 1"x3"x18 ⅞", cut a 21° angle on each end, being sure not to cut anything off the length. Basically we want to cut off these sections of the board:
  4. It should be too big, but this allows you to get a pretty close fit so you can mark how much more you need to cut off. Cut off a bit more (you might have to do this a couple times to get an exact fit, I know I did!) but just be sure each time to take a little less off than you think you need so you can test it and trim it again if need be until it fits exactly.
  5. Once you have a perfect fit with one piece, using light markings, note which way it fits in, and which set of legs it goes with since the other side might not be exactly the same. Lumber isn't perfect!
  6. Then, repeat for the other side.

Step 8

  1. Now, add pocket holes like this:
  2. This might make it easier to see where I mean:
  3. NOTE: Again, consult the manual with your pocket jig to ensure you are locating the holes correctly.

Step 9

  1. For the small pieces of the X, again some custom fitting is required (depending on how fussy you want to be :D)
  2. Take the 4 pcs of 1"x3" that are 10" and cut a 21° angle on one end only. Then, fit each piece making sure to mark them for which position they go in (right side, top piece, for example).
  3. Then, cut the other angle. In my case, it was roughly 47°. Most miter saws max out at 45° but mine allows me to go just over. If yours doesn't, you can check out this video where he explains how to cut over a 45 degree miter on a saw that maxes out at 45°.
  4. To measure this, you can just hold the 21° angle side roughly in the position it will sit, and then draw a line along the long X part for where to trim it down like this:
  5. Then, adjust your miter saw until the blade rests along the line to get the right angle.

Step 10

  1. Once the angles are cut, you can add pocket holes. I just set up my jig for a 1 ½" setup but be sure to check the instructions on yours.
  2. Add the pocket holes like this on all pieces:

Step 11

  1. Now that you have everything fitting, it's time to assemble the X piece. It is much easier to assemble the whole X outside of the leg.
  2. Making sure to mark everything accurately for what pieces go together, and what is the left/right, top/bottom, etc. the next step is to add glue to the areas where there will be contact.
  3. Then, I used 2" brads through these parts as well:

Step 12

  1. After everything is brad nailed together and glued, add glue to the top and bottom areas:
  2. and insert into the legs. Drive the screws into the pocket holes:
  3. X is complete! It's the most finicky part of this project, there are no doubt :).

Step 13

  1. Take the 2 pcs of 2"x4"x36" and add pocket holes in these positions:

Step 14

  1. I found it easiest to lay the legs flat on the floor and then adding the screw in this pocket hole:

Step 15

  1. Same thing on the other side:

Step 16

  1. Then put it upside down to make screwing the other leg on easy:
  2. Now it should look like this:

Step 17

  1. And we're ready to add the shelf on the bottom.
  2. Take the 1 piece of 2"x6"x38" and add pocket holes like this:
  3. On the other 2"x6"x38" add pocket holes like this:

Step 18

  1. Join the two pieces together using these pocket holes; 2" screws are good for this:

Step 19

  1. Now that it is joined together, you can cut out the corner sections to make it fit inside the leg. Cut out a 1" long by 13/16" wide notch out of the outside corners using a handsaw or jig saw:

Step 20

  1. Screw on the shelf using the 4 pocket holes as shown, and 2" screws:

Step 21

  1. Now take 1 pc of 2"x8"x45" and add pocket holes 15" in from the ends like this:

Step 22

  1. Mark the center as shown:

Step 23

  1. Mark the center on the legs as well, as shown (same on both sides):

Step 24

  1. Using the center marks, locate the top in the orientation it will sit when complete, and then drive 1 1/2" screws into the pocket holes as shown:

Step 25

  1. Apply Stain if desired! I used "Weathered Grey" by Varathane:

Step 26

  1. After the stain dries (I left it overnight) you can apply a clear coat to the desired finish.
  2. This is what I used:
  3. I went with only 1 coat, and we love the finish!

Finished Product

  1. Here’s a picture of the actual product and where it sits in our home:

Notes

Be sure to glue each piece before assembly

Overall size:

Be Thankful Manuscript Copywork

In our affluent North American culture, a genuine spirit of thankfulness is becoming increasingly difficult to come by! Our failure to acknowledge our Creator’s Sovereign hand in all the millions of minuscule details that taken place every second has resulted in the misplacement of our gratitude.

Glimpses of God’s common grace towards sinful humanity are too quickly attributed to developments our “own” minds have conceived, rather than to the God Who made our minds, sustains us with breath, and deserves our worship.

How quick we are to express our gratitude for lifesaving technology, advancements in education, warm homes, freedom, and families that loves us, and how desperately the devil desires for us to credit ourselves as originators of these things, instead of recognizing that they come from the hand of a loving and merciful Father who delights in giving His children good gifts.  (Matthew 7:11)

True thankfulness can only occur when we have:

  • 1) a proper understanding of ourselves
  • 2) a proper understanding of God.

When we recognize what we deserve, and what we have been given, we eliminate the temptation to feel entitled or victimized,  and discover a deep sense of joy and worthiness that is triumphant through adversity.

With these things in mind, we are pleased to present a manuscript version of our latest Charlotte Mason style copywork: Be Thankful Manuscript Copywork for 5-12 year olds!

We have chosen 26 poems, quotes, and Scripture verses on the theme of thankfulness to not only teach proper penmanship, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar, but more importantly, to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness for the mercies of the Lord within the hearts of our children.

Manuscript | Ages 5-12 | 1 Month of Worksheets | Lesson time: 10 minutes | $4.99


A month’s worth of copywork is provided in this printable download. How perfect for a season of Thanksgiving! 

Quotes from Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Jeremiah Burroughs, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss (among others), are featured along with Scripture and poetry from traditional Thanksgiving hymns.

Charlotte Mason encouraged short lessons (5-10 minutes), with special attention to detail. 

Be blessed.  Be thankful!

 

The Book of Proverbs Cursive Copywork

 

The Book of Proverbs Cursive Copywork is a compilation of verses from Scripture that been organized into 12 different topics, to provide you with a whole year of copywork for children ages 9-12!

The main goal of copywork for young children is to teach beautiful handwriting, but many other language skills are reinforced in the process:

  • spelling
  • grammar
  • vocabulary
  • memorization

These are all instilled in a child who carefully copies a simple, short, succinct bit of wisdom daily.

The Book of Proverbs is filled with verses that guide us in our every day life. Our prayer is that as your children and ours copy these precious pearls down, they will learn much more than good grammar and penmanship; we want them to learn how to conduct themselves wisely and make decisions that please the Lord and are in accord with His will.

The Book of Proverbs Cursive Copywork series is made up of verses that can be copied in a 10-minute time frame.

Discuss the meaning of each verse with your child.

  • What does God command us to do?
  • What does He command us not to do?
  • Can you figure out the meaning of a word from the context in which it is used?

Observe your child closely as they work. Encourage them to try to copy the model exactly. Applaud observation, good effort, and attention to detail.

Reward beautiful copywork with the opportunity to artfully decorate or draw in the margins around the verse.

We hope this resource proves to be a beneficial tool in your homeschool!

You can view all of our copywork material here