SketchUp Make Review

Thinking of a concept for a design can be a challenge, let alone rendering your design idea to a visible concept. This is where the use of 3D modeling software comes in. For those who are unfamiliar, SketchUp Make is the free version of SketchUp Pro – a popular 3D modeling software.

The software, which was previously known as Google SketchUp, is a 3D modeling software that is used for a wide range of drawing applications such as interior design, landscape, and architecture.

Due to its versatility, it’s also increasingly being used for many different types of applications, from civil and mechanical engineering to designing movies and video games. It also offers those who like to take on DIY woodworking projects to see what their completed project is going to look like and share plans with others.

Those are just a few of the reasons SketchUp Make is the 3D modelling (CAD) software we recommend for woodworkers.

Here’s a link to the SketchUp Download page.

The version we are talking about here is the free SketchUp Make 2017:

Here’s a video from Ron Paulk showing the difference between SketchUp Make vs SketchUp Pro; it also serves a nice intro so you can see what is possible with SketchUp Make:

Why Use SketchUp Make?

SketchUp Make is a free and easy-to-learn 3D-modeling program that gives you access to a few important tools, allowing you to create efficient and detailed 3D models of houses, home renovations, decks, patios, sheds, along with 3D models of woodworking projects.

SketchUp Make allows users to easily add in details, glass, and various textures to their models. For DIY woodworking enthusiasts, the software provides dimensional accuracy and can lead to better project results. Using various plugins, you can also use it to generate your project cut list.

We love to to use it to help generate cut lists, and also for figuring out difficult angles.

We also love that it makes it nice and easy to share our projects with you!

Best Free 3D Modelling Software

SketchUp Make is a free version of the 3D modelling software that can be used for home or commercial projects. It begins with the 30-day trial of the SketchUp Pro version, after which, users can agree to the Terms of Service and continue to use SketchUp Make for free.

Since the developers of the software want to help users migrate to the SketchUp Free version, there have not been any updates to SketchUp Make. That being said, the installer is still active and available for download by those who are interested in using Sketchup Make.

Free SketchUp Courses

SketchUp has recently launched some excellent courses to help beginners or advanced users progress. They are excellently done and very comprehensive.

You will need to create a Trimble login to access it, but it is totally free and highly recommended. Once you’ve created a login, you can access the courses here.

The Units currently available are:

SketchUp Fundamentals

This comprehensive SketchUp course does what it says on the box and will rapidly have you feeling quite comfortable using SketchUp.

It contains 12 courses:

  1. Quick Start – Description: “Jump right into creating your first model in SketchUp. We’ll introduce several of the tools and techniques that you will use often in SketchUp.” 11 lessons
    1. Getting Started: 1 Quick Start
    2. Getting Started 2: Navigation
    3. Getting Started 3: PIllars
    4. Getting Started 4: Components
    5. Getting Started 5: Platform
    6. Getting Started 6: Circles
    7. Getting Started 7: Array
    8. Getting Started 8: Steps
    9. Getting Started 9: Slide
    10. Getting Started 10: Color
    11. Course 1 Review
  2. Core Concepts – Description: “Understanding how edges and surfaces behave and the underlying concepts of SketchUp.” 5 lessons
    1. Edges and Surfaces
    2. Inferences
    3. Inference Challenge
    4. Blue Axis
    5. Course 2 – Review
  3. Push Pull – Description: “Push Pull tool.” 2 lessons
    1. Push Pull
    2. Course 3 – Review
  4. Accuracy – Description: “Understanding accuracy in SketchUp and the Tape Measure tool.” 3 lessons
    1. Accuracy
    2. Tape Measure Tool
    3. Course 4 – Review
  5. Drawing Tools – Description: “Reviewing the drawing tools: circles/polygons, arcs, rectangles, freehand, offset and eraser.” 7 lessons
    1. Circles and Polygons
    2. Arcs
    3. Rectangles
    4. Freehand
    5. Offset
    6. Eraser
    7. Course 5 – Review
  6. Selections – Description: “Overview of the selection tool and modifiers.” 2 lessons
    1. Selections
    2. Course 6 – Review
  7. Grouping – Description: “Grouping concepts” 2 lessons
    1. Grouping Concepts
    2. Course 7 – Review
  8. Components – Description: “Overview of components, component browser and introduction to nesting.” 2 lessons
    1. Components
    2. Course 8 – Review
  9. Layers – Description: “Overview of Layers and how they differ from other programs.” 2 Lessons
    1. Layers
    2. Course 9 – Review
  10. Move Tool – Description: “Move tool, including manipulating geometry, autofold and copy/array.” 5 Lessons
    1. Move Tool
    2. Manipulate Geometry
    3. Autofold
    4. Copy and Arrays
    5. Course 10 – Review
  11. Follow Me – Description: “Using Follow Me including lathed objects” 4 Lessons
    1. Follow Me
    2. Follow Me -Lathe
    3. Follow Me -Practice
    4. Course 11 – Review
  12. Inference Locking – Description: “Inference locking with arrow and shift keys” 3 Lessons
    1. Inference Locking
    2. Inference Locking Practice
    3. Course 12 – Review
    4.  

Rendering: SketchUp to Photoshop

This fun and easy learning track demonstrate the process for setting up specific scenes with rendering styles applied in SketchUp in order to export and enhance using Adobe Photoshop.

It contains 3 courses:

  1. Creating & Exporting Scenes in SketchUp – Description: “Here we’ll provide a brief overview for the goals of this track along with the process of working with scenes, styles and shadows together to create specific exports for post-production in Photoshop.” 6 lessons
    1. Getting Started
    2. Model Overview
    3. Layers Overview
    4. Styles & Scene Setup
    5. Exporting Scenes
    6. Course 1 Review Quiz
  2. Post-Processing Scenes in Photoshop – Description: “This course walks you through the process of importing and working with your SketchUp scene exports in order to modify the look and feel of the SketchUp view, transforming it into a one of a kind illustrative. This exclusive method is repeatable, meaning it’s not dependent on the model, scene or artistic styling of the creator.” 10 Lessons
    1. Importing Scenes into Photoshop
    2. Photoshop Layer Organization
    3. Base Color Overlay
    4. Shadow Adjustments
    5. Linework Adjustments
    6. Entourage Adjustments
    7. Effects: Paper
    8. Effects: Color Wash
    9. Final Adjustments
    10. Course 2 Review Quiz
  3. Bonus: Ground Level Walk Through – Description: “This course takes all the techniques learned in the previous two courses and applies them to an additional view – this time from the ground. This walk though explores how the process is applicable to a number of different model and rendering conditions and still achieves a consistent and beautiful result.” 2 Lessons
    1. Ground Level Walk Through
    2. Course 3 Review Quiz

LayOut Essentials

Want to share your SketchUp model with others? Turning 3D models to 2D documents and presentations have never easier using LayOut. This track is intended for beginners who have never opened LayOut before but are familiar with the basics of SketchUp Pro.

It contains 3 courses:

  1. Getting Started in Layout – Description: “Get started using LayOut by learning several ways to create new documents from scratch while also exploring the LayOut’s interface, preferences, drawing setup, and customization features.” 6 Lessons
    1. Getting Started
    2. Creating New Document
    3. Preferences Overview
    4. Document Setup & Customization
    5. Document Navigation
    6. Course 1 Review Quiz
  2. Tools Overview – Description: “Explore and practice creating custom content with each of LayOut’s drawing and annotation tools.” 7 Lessons
    1. Selection
    2. Drawing Lines
    3. Drawing Arcs
    4. Drawing Shapes
    5. Adding Text
    6. Labels & Dimensions
    7. Course 2 Review Quiz
  3. Modifying & Styling Content – Description: “In this course, we’ll take our lines and shapes to the next level by learning how to edit and apply different styles to them.” 7 Lessons
    1. Working with Objects
    2. Modifying Lines
    3. Moving & Copying Objects
    4. Rotating, Scaling, & Arranging Objects
    5. Styles: Fills & Patterns
    6. Styles: Stroke
    7. Course 3 Review Quiz
  4. Working with References – Description: “Learn how to insert, style and annotate various drawing references such as SketchUp models, raster images and CAD dwgs.” 11 Lessons
    1. Pages Overview
    2. Inserting Model Reference
    3. Changing Model Scenes
    4. Creating & Applying Model Styles
    5. Adding Labels to Model Reference
    6. Dimensioning a Model Reference
    7. Stacking Views
    8. Reference Images & Clipping Masks
    9. Working with CAD Files
    10. Scaled Drawing
    11. Course 4 Review Quiz
  5. Layers, Scrapbooks, Templates & Tables – Description: “Once we have a model referenced, we can add additional details and content to help complete our document set.” 6 Lessons
    1. Working with Layers
    2. Title Blocks & Templates
    3. Scrapbooks
    4. Tables: From Scratch
    5. Tables: From Spreadsheet
    6. Course 5 Review Quiz
  6. Presenting & Exporting – Description: “Finally, learn how to share your document with others by exploring LayOut’s awesome built-in presentation and exporting tools.” 4 Lessons
    1. Presenting within LayOut
    2. Exporting to Image or PDF
    3. Exporting to DWG / CAD
    4. Course 6 Review Quiz

Coming Soon

  1. SketchUp Fundamentals – Part 2
  2. SketchUp for Landscape & Site Design

Loads of Online Resources

Since SketchUp Make is offered as a freeware, it has resulted in previous users creating scores of pre-programmed add-ons that are available to download to put into immediate use. The wealth of add-ons and plugins, coupled with a powerful photo-realistic rendering engine makes it a great option for those who like to take on DIY woodworking projects either on their own or at a professional level.

For those of you who are still not sure about using it, there are dozens of online resources that are dedicated specifically to SketchUp for woodworkers where you can find cool ideas or share yours.

Pros

  • Creates surfaces from lines and extrudes 3D solids from surfaces.
  • Offers a huge library of pre-designed scenes and objects.
  • A good option for those who are already familiar with AutoCAD.

Cons

  • Only allows the import and export of raster files and static graphic images that can’t be edited.

Get SketchUp Make Today

For the woodworking hobbyist, SketchUp Make is an excellent option! Download it here.

I Tried Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener And This Is What I Thought Of It

Disclosure: Lakanto sent me their monkfruit sweeteners to try, free of charge, but all opinions are 100% my own. I may receive a small commission if you choose to choose to purchase any of their products through my link. 

A couple weeks ago, I received the sweetest box ever in the mail; Lakanto had sent me three of their best-selling monkfruit sweeteners to try and experiment with! 

I had never tried monkfruit before, and was excited to give it a taste. I read nothing but rave reviews about it in the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook Groups, so I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. 

Lakanto sent me 3 sweeteners:

  1. Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitute

  2. Golden Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitute

  3. Classic Monkfruit Powdered 2:1 Sugar Substitute

If you’ve been making my recipes, you know xylitol has always been by sweetener of choice! My reasons for this are:

  • xylitol measures almost 1:1 to regular sugar, making recipe conversion easier
  • xylitol tastes the most like sugar, in my opinion 
  • xylitol has a bulky, granular consistency that’s needed for the proper texture in most baked goods

However, xylitol has its downsides, too:

  • xylitol can be fatal to dogs
  • xylitol can cause digestive distress in some people (we have no problems with this in our family, but I would not serve something made with xylitol to guests, unless they confirmed they were okay with it)
  • xylitol is bulkier than regular sugar and takes longer to dissolve
  • xylitol has a slight cooling effect, but no bitterness
  • though low enough to work in THM recipes, xylitol still has one of the highest glycemic indexes of plan-approved low-carb sweeteners. 

A bit about Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitutes

 The reason Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit Sugar Substitutes can be substituted 1:1 in baking is because they are not straight monkfruit. Monkfruit by itself is potently sweet (Lakanto also sells monkfruit extract), even sweeter than stevia extract, but mixed with erythritol (a sugar alcohol that isn’t nearly as sweet, but provides the necessary bulk to work like regular sugar), you get an excellent, low-carb sweetener that’s easy to bake with and doesn’t spike your blood sugar. 

In comparison to xylitol, this is what I thought of Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitutes.

  • Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitutes have the same granular consistency to them as regular sugar. It is finer than xylitol.
  • Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitutes are as sweet as xylitol, which is slightly sweeter than regular sugar. I found the substitution to be a scant 1:1. 
  • Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Golden Sugar Substitute didn’t taste very brown sugar-ish to me. I would compare it more to raw cane sugar in flavor. It was still delicious!
  • Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitutes have a lower glycemic index than xylitol, so they’re even easier on your blood sugar. They also have zero calories, and zero net carbs.
  • Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit Powdered 2:1 Sugar Substitute replaces traditional Confectioner’s sugar in half the amount. You need half the amount of Swerve (another low-carb icing sugar alternative that measures 1:1 with icing sugar), so it’s a more frugal choice. Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit Powdered 2:1 Sugar Substitute is ideal for frostings (like my Peanut Butter Buttercream!) as it dissolves very well, and dusting (as on these low-carb French Toast Wraps). 
  • While erythritol is not toxic to dogs, verdict is still out on the effects of monkfruit, but it is certainly not as fatal as xylitol can be, so Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit Sugar Substitutes are a safer sweetener if you have furry friends. 

Conclusion

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 

Xylitol is a close second, but tied for affordability. 

HOWEVER! 

Lakanto has provided a 15% OFF coupon code for Northern Nester readers! When you make a purchase through any of the links on this page using the Coupon Code: northernnester, you will receive 15% off everything you order

In my recipes, you can substitute Lakanto’s Classic and Golden Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitutes cup for cup when the recipe calls for xylitol. This easy conversion opens a world of possibilities to Trim Healthy Mamas that can’t tolerate xylitol or are concerned about their furry friends ingesting it.

What’s a review without a recipe to go with it?!

These Cinnamon “Sugar” Cookie Dough Bites are the first things I made with my Lakanto Golden Monkfruit Sweetener and they were an absolute hit with the whole family! I hope you enjoy them, too. 

Yield: 18 Cookie Dough Bites

Cinnamon "Sugar" Cookie Dough Bites | THM: S, Keto, GF, DF

Warning! These Cinnamon "Sugar" Cookie Dough Bites are ADDICTIVE! A super easy, high protein snack featuring Lakanto's Classic Golden Sugar Substitute that's free from eggs, dairy, and gluten. THM: S, Keto, GF, DF.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix nut or seed butter (I used almond butter), 1 tsp of cinnamon, coconut flour, nut milk, 1/4 cup of Lakanto Monkfruit Golden Sweetener,* vanilla, and mineral salt together.
  2. In a smaller bowl, stir 1 tbsp of Lakanto Golden Monkfruit Sweetener and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon together.
  3. Roll dough mixture into truffle-sized balls. Roll dough bites in cinnamon "sugar" mixture. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

What is Polycrylic and How Should I Apply It?

If you are a carpenter, woodworker, DIY person, or anything in between, if you work with wood, you know that it has to be specially treated to endure. Wood pieces have to be finished with a special layer to add protection from moisture, light, and the elements.

Using a finish on the wood is also ideal because it helps protect the paint underneath and keeps colors vibrant and intact for much longer than they otherwise would.

A good finish can even help add some color and/or gloss to the mix as well. One of the best types of finished and protective agents for wood is Polycrylic.

Today we want to talk all about Polycrylic, what it is, how to use it, how it is applied, and much more. Let’s get right to it and tell you all about this awesome protective and finishing agent for wood.

What is Polycrylic?

Technically speaking, Polycrylicis a water-based protective coating. The main purpose of Polycrylic is to protect the wood. Polycrylic comes available in a variety of finishes including high gloss and satin finishes.

Not only does Polycrylic come with the benefit of protecting wood pieces from various forms of damage, like water damage, but it also helps add some beauty to the mix too.

Depending on the type or color of Polycrylic you use, it can help add some nice color or a glossy finish to your wood pieces. Polycrylic is often used as a finish for things like doors, cabinets, furniture, and other pieces of wood.

Types of Polycrylic

There are two main types of Polycrylic that you can use:

  1. spray-on or aerosol Polycrylic
  2. roll-on Polycrylic

Spray-on Polycrylic

Spray-on Polycrylic

Spray-on Polycrylic is a good option to go with if you just want to apply a thin layer really quickly. It sprays out of an aerosol bottle and is quite easy to apply. This ease of use is probably its biggest benefit.

It does dry very fast because it comes out in a thin layer, but applying a very even layer, especially without getting air pressure marks, can be a bit difficult.

There is also the fact that aerosols in spray cans are not very good for the environment, plus these aerosol Polycrylic cans are usually fairly limited in terms of quantity. It is best used for smaller projects.

Roll-on Polycrylic

Roll-on Polycrylic

On the other hand, you have roll-on Polycrylic, which usually comes in a can just like paint. These cans tend to be fairly large and they are best used for larger projects.

There are also more varieties of roll-on Polycrylic. However, the downfall of a roll-on Polycrylic is that it is hard to apply without noticeable brush strokes.

It also dries very fast, so when using a brush or roller, you have to be very quick to get the right look before it dries.

What Polycrylic Is Recommended?

There are several different brand names of Polycrylic available, but our personal favorite is a popular one in the industry for good reason. It works well, is competitively priced, and available in a multitude of finishes, colors, aerosols, and cans.

Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

The product we would most highly recommend is called Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. For $20, you get a full quart of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish, which is a really great price for quite a large quantity.

Next, keep in mind that this is the roll-on variety, so you need to use a brush or roller to apply it to wood, just like you would with paint or varnish. For this reason, this particular product is best used for larger projects and for flat pieces of wood.

Furthermore, this particular Polycrylic is very fast drying and it only takes a few minutes to begin setting. So, while you do have to work fast to apply even and good looking layers of it, it does dry fast, which many views as a bonus.

Now, keep in mind that Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish goes on clear, and dries clear. It features a crystal-clear finish and it does not provide extra color or any kind of gloss.

Therefore, while it is not the best for adding aesthetic qualities, it is a really good option for protecting your woodwork pieces for light and moisture damage, and to keep the paint underneath intact for a much longer time than without the finish.

What is also nice, is that this finish is very easy to clean up with some soap and warm water, at least when it is still wet.

Pros

  • Very fast drying
  • Provides ideal protection for wood
  • Good quantity for a great price
  • Cleans up easily

Cons

  • Not ideal for very small and intricate projects
  • Requires a brush and/or roller to apply

Why Apply Polycrylic?

Let’s quickly talk about why you should apply Polycrylic to your woodworking projects.

Polycrylic is a protective layer, which is something you should apply to your woodworking projects. It forms a solid seal over any piece of wood and therefore protects your projects from damage that can be caused by temperatures, water, and light.

Polycrylic is a good option because you can find clear, satin, and glossy finishes. Simply put, you could use the clear variety to protect the paint underneath, or you could use the glossy or satin options for something more glamorous or ornate. 

How Long Does it Take for Polycrylic to Cure?

How Long Does it Take for Polycrylic to Cure

Applying Polycrylic and letting it cure does take some knowledge. Polycrylic is very fast drying, much faster than most other finishes or varnishes, but that said, it does not dry or cure instantly.

First, whenever you are using Polycrylic, it is always recommended that you apply 3 layers, as 1 or even 2 will usually not suffice. Polycrylic will dry to the touch within about 30 minutes, and it can then be handled about 1 hour after application.

However, keep in mind that you should recoat it, and you can apply the second coat of Polycrylic 2 hours after the first application, and then repeat this for the third coating as well.

After you have applied the third and final coating of Polycrylic, you should wait for at least 24 hours to fully cure. So, generally speaking, depending on how much you applied, it should take roughly 24 hours for Polycrylic to fully cure.

How to Apply Polycrylic

Let’s quickly go over exactly how you need to prepare a surface so you can apply Polycrylic. It might sound complicated, but there is actually not all that much to it.

Repair dents and cracks

Before you apply Polycrylic, you need to repair any dents and cracks that may be in the wood piece. If you are creating a new piece, there should not be dents or cracks, but if you are working on an older piece, then this does need to be done.

You don’t want it seeping into cracks, as this will result in uneven application.

Clean the surface

The other thing that you need to do before applying Polycrylic is to clean the surface. You do not want any dust, dirt, or other debris getting stuck under it.

Once that stuff is stuck under the Polycrylic layer, it is there for good; not only will it look bad, but it will also create streaks during the application process.

How to Apply Polycrylic Spray

When using the aerosol variety of Polycrylic, first off, be sure to follow the steps above in terms of making sure there are no cracks and cleaning the piece.

The aerosol variety is very easy to apply, but be sure to read the instructions on the specific product you have, as different products have different guidelines.

Generally speaking, you want to hold the spray about 1 foot away from the piece and apply an even layer, making sure that you are somewhere with no or minimal airflow.

You will also want to wear a protective breathing mask when doing this, just so you do not inhale any. This is best used for smaller projects.

How to Apply Polycrylic With a Brush

Applying Polycrylic with a brush is also fairly easy and straightforward. Once again, you want to clean and repair your workpiece before applying Polycrylic with a brush.

When doing this, you want to use a high-quality synthetic brush. Now, the hard part here is avoiding streaks and brush marks.

To avoid brush marks, make sure to use a high-quality and fine bristle brush, make sure to only apply the Polycrylic in a single direction, and always go with the grain of the wood.

Do not apply too much pressure to the brush, and make sure to only apply a thin layer. It is better to use 2 or 3 thin layers, rather than a thick layer at once.

Tips For Applying Polycrylic Over Paint

Yes, it is possible to apply Polycrylic over paint, but it is a little bit tricky. What you need to do is apply 2 or 3 layers of the paint before you get started. Make sure that the paint is totally dry.

Now you want to use very fine sandpaper, just to sand it a little bit in order to get some texture going on the paint. Normal dried paint is too smooth and the Polycrylic will not stick right, so sand it slightly.

Other than that, applying Polycrylic over paint is the same as applying it on unfinished or unpainted wood.

Tips for Applying Polycrylic Over Stain

Once again applying Polycrylic over stain is the exact same as with applying it over paint. Just make sure that the stain is completely dry and that you have a couple of layers of it.

Lightly sand the stain to create some texture, and then apply the Polycrylic using the techniques we discussed.

Can You Paint Over Polycrylic?

Technically speaking, yes you could paint over Polycrylic, but it is somewhat pointless. The whole point of Polycrylic is to be a protective coating over wood and paint, so painting over it is somewhat counterproductive.

Applying Polycrylic Over Vinyl Decals

Yes, you can apply Polycrylic over vinyl decals. Keep in mind that normal decals can be easily removed from most surfaces. However, if you go over vinyl decals with Polycrylic, they are there for good. The Polycrylic will seal the decals in place and you won’t be able to get them off again. If this appeals to you, just ensure that you follow proper brushing instructions to prevent visible streaks.

Alternatives to Polycrylic

There are some alternatives to Polycrylic, but quite honestly, we would recommend using Polycrylic over all alternatives. You could go with polyurethane, which can be oil-based, whereas Polycrylic is only water-based. There are also bio-paints, Candelilla wax, and various oils that can be used.

Additional Tips for Working With Polycrylic

  • Always use Polycrylic in a well-ventilated area. It has some pretty strong fume
  • Always wear a face mask when using the aerosol variety. You don’t want to inhale the fumes
  • Always allow Polycrylic to cure for a few hours more than the label instructs, just to be sure that it has set properly
  • Keep some warm water and soap nearby, because if you apply it wrong, you will want to wash it off before it dries
  • Make sure to use Polycrylic in a fairly cool and dry environment. Too much heat and moisture will cause the Polycrylic to take much longer to dry and cure
  • When using Polycrylic, never use a wet brush, as this will negatively affect the consistency and overall efficacy of the product
  • Whenever possible, Polycrylic should be the final layer, not an intermediary layer

Conclusion

There you have it – everything you need to know about Polycrylic – what it is,  how to use it, tips, and more. It really is a great type of finish to use on wood, so give it a try.

Miter Saw Vs. Table Saw

When it comes to your carpentry and woodworking projects, knowing which saws are which, and which saws perform which tasks with ease is very important. After all, you don’t want to use a miter saw when it’s a scroll saw that you should be using, or using a miter saw when a table saw would be the ideal candidate for the job at hand. As somebody who works with wood, you need to know the differences between various saw types, and what each saw is ideal for.

More than likely, you are going to have a plethora of saws at your disposal, at least if you are a professional that works with wood and other such materials on a daily basis. Today, we are here to do a miter saw vs. table saw comparison. We are going to talk about what miter and table saws are, and we are going to talk about the jobs which each is fit for, as well as the jobs that they are not fit for.

Let’s get right to it and figure out whether it is a miter saw or table saw which the job at hand calls for.

The Miter Saw

A very popular type of saw which many contractors have is the miter saw. Now, miter saws also have circular blades with lots of teeth. They move in a circular motion at a high RPM level, although usually not as fast as the table saw’s blade moves. Miter saws are a lot more portable, as they do not have full-sized tables or stands that need to be set up in a certain place. They are much smaller, more portable, and much more compact, which makes them good to use if you are on the go a lot.

For instance, transporting a miter saw is much easier than trying to lug around a table saw, especially a full-size one complete with its own table stand. Unlike the table saw, where you put the piece of wood on the table and then feed it through the stationary blade, a miter saw only has a small support on the bottom, where you put the wood.

The circular blade of the miter saw is in a housing that is atop the small work table, and it features a hinge so the blade can be moved down onto the wood that is being cut, and then back up when the cut has been made. So, whereas the table saw has its blade on the bottom, with wood being fed into it, the miter saw has the blade on top, and the blade has to be moved to the wood. Miter saws are a bit more versatile in this way, as the blade can usually be changed in terms of position. The blade of the miter saw is mounted on a swing, and therefore can be changed for angle, so you can make angled cuts on small pieces of wood with ease. Now, there are also compound miter saws that add an extra feature to the mix. The big difference between the normal miter saw and the compound miter saw is that the compound version can also cut on a bevel. Being able to make bevel cuts with a compound miter saw can definitely come in quite handy.

The Table Saw

When it comes down to it, one of the most versatile tools in the world of woodworking is the table saw. One of the things which many people like about the table saw is that it comes in many different shapes and sizes.

You can get benchtop table saws, which are small, portable, and are designed to be used atop of a workbench. There are larger table saws which are not portable, but still not huge. And then you have the full-size contractor cabinet table saws that are meant for some really big jobs. The table saw is probably one of the first woodworking tools that any contractor will purchase. Most good table saws are going to come with a dust management system – a vacuum and bag to suck away the sawdust.

Table saws feature a round blade housed within the table, a blade which spins at several thousand RPM, thus making quick work out of many different materials. The table saw is great for making any kind of straight cut, whether it is with the piece of wood perpendicular to the blade, parallel to the blade, or at an angle as well.

The bottom line is that if you want to make a straight cut on a long piece of wood, the table saw is the way to go. They come with fences and guides to ensure that cuts are always made straight. Table saws are ideal because they are large and can handle larger pieces of wood, both in terms of length and width. Moreover, table saws can usually handle fairly thick pieces of wood as well, as you can lower or raise the blade depending on the thickness of the material being worked with.

Miter Saw vs. Table Saw – Main Uses

Let’s quickly talk about what the main uses of each of these tools are, so you know when to use a miter saw, and when to use a table saw. Knowing the differences is going to come in very handy.

Miter saw – main uses, pros, and cons

So, miter saws are much smaller than table saws and therefore the materials they can handle are also much smaller in size. They can come with extension wings on occasion, but the width, length and thickness of what the miter saw can cut is still limited, especially when compared to the much more spacious table saw. Simply put, if you have a smaller piece of wood, a miter saw will do just fine, but in terms of work piece size, it can only go so far.

However, with that being said, the miter saw tends to be more versatile in terms of the types of cuts it can make. This is especially true if you have a compound miter saw that has a bevel adjustment feature. A compound miter saw can make cross cuts, angled cuts, angled cross cuts, bevel cuts, and more.

While they cannot handle as large of work pieces as table saws, they can make more types of cuts than the table saw. With that being said, one type of cut which the miter saw cannot make is the rip cut. You cannot feed a long piece of wood through a miter saw. As you can probably tell by now, with a miter saw, the blade is what is moves towards the wood, whereas with a table saw, you feed the wood through the blade. It’s a major difference that needs to be kept in mind.

Learn some basics of using Miter saw in the short video below:

The miter saw is considered to be an essential tool for carpentry, as it allows for very accurate molding and lumbar cuts. On a side note, a miter saw will sputter and rumble a bit as it starts up. One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to safety while using a miter saw is that you always need to get the blade up to full speed before you move it down onto the wood you are looking to cut. It is very important to maintain your miter saw, just as you would your table saw.

Table saw – main uses, pros, and cons

When it comes to table saws, typically there are two main types of cuts that can be made with them. First off, you can cut a piece of wood lengthwise and with the grain. This is called a rip cut, or in other words, an example of this would be cutting a 2 x 4 in half length-wise. You can also use a table saw to cut pieces of wood width-wide and against the grain, which is called a crosscut. Some select table saws also allow for angled cuts, but this is generally left to the miter saw.

A big advantage of the table saw is that it can handle much longer, larger, and usually thicker pieces of wood when compared to the miter saw. A table saw is much larger and takes up more room than a miter saw, but it can also handle much larger pieces of wood.

The best table saws often come with extension tables, allowing them to handle even larger workpieces than they normally could. When it comes to large pieces and long rip cuts or crosscuts, the table saw is what you want to go with. Generally speaking, due to the big time size difference, unless you have a table top table saw, one that does not come with a stand, they are very large and not portable. Most table saws are purely stationary and are not designed to be taken from one place to another.

Here’s a short tip how to use a table saw for beginners:

One thing that you need to know about the table saw is that it is usually considered to be one of the most dangerous types of saws to use. You have to maintain a table saw very well, especially in terms of the table top and the blade to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries from occurring. One important thing to keep in mind is to keep it cleaned, oiled, and prevent rust from occurring, as a rusty blade and table top can be extremely dangerous.

However, when a table saw is properly maintained, it can help create a safe cutting environment, plus a whole lot of accuracy; one of the main benefits that you get from the table saw is that it is very accurate in its cutting. Table saws come with precise measurement guides, fences, and other alignment tools which can help create super accurate cuts down to a fraction of an inch.

Another big bonus of the table saw is that it is ideal for making various long cuts of the same size. When you have the fences and guides set, you can keep feeding wood through the blade, and you will get the same result time and time again. It’s a great tool if you need to make many repeated cuts that are exactly the same. Technically speaking, table saws can perform miter cuts, dado cuts, rabbet cuts, cross cuts, rip cuts, and more.

Conclusion

When it comes down to which type of saw you purchase, whether a table or a miter saw, you need to think about the job you are looking to do. The machine you get is going to depend on the challenge or job at hand.

If you are just starting out and beginning to stock up your woodworking shop, you might want to start off with a miter saw. They are small and portable, they can be taken with you, and they can perform a variety of cuts. They are fairly powerful and can make a variety of accurate cuts thanks to their fences and alignment systems. Moreover, they are great for making angled, bevel, and cross cuts on smaller work pieces.

This is the one we use:

Craftsman 10″ Single Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

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If you want to upgrade even more, you might then want to move on to the table saw. No, table saws are generally not portable, but on the other hand, they can work with much larger, longer, and thicker pieces of wood. The main advantage you get with a table saw over the miter saw, is that you can make long rip cuts with them by feeding wood through the blade lengthwise, something which a miter saw cannot do.

For safety and just starting out, it makes sense to use a miter saw. But, keep in mind a table saw can make every cut a miter saw can make, plus a lot more so it’d be the tool of choice from that perspective. It’s just a bit more challenging to use safety-wise.

Table Saw by SawStop

Because we have small kids, we don’t even want a table saw around for the moment. When we do get one, it will be this model: 

The idea behind it is that if your finger (or any body part really) touches the blade, the blade will come to a complete stop in 5 milliseconds.

It’s pretty amazing really, and completely worth it in my opinion. A life-changing injury just doesn’t make sense and I’ve been in enough Woodworking related Facebook groups to know that it isn’t only newbies who get hurt on table saws.

When it comes down to it, both the table saw and the miter saw are very useful tools that every professional woodworker or contractor needs to have in their carpentry arsenal.

With these two tools, there’s very little that you can’t do when it comes to woodworking!

Band Saw Vs. Scroll Saw Comparison

If you are a carpenter, decorator, woodworker, general handyman, or anything in between, you need to have the right tools in your arsenal. This means having a variety of saw types so you can make the right cuts with the right machine. There are band saws, scroll saws, miter saws, compound saws, jigsaws, and more, and they each have their own particular uses.

Today, we are doing a band saw versus scroll saw comparison. At first glance, both of these machines look more or less the same. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that there are some major differences between the two, especially when it comes to the jobs which they are ideal at performing.

Let’s take a closer look at both the band saw and the scroll saw, and figure out which one you want to use for what jobs.

Scroll Saw

Cutting plywood board by using electrical jigsaw.

If you look at a scroll saw, you will see a flat work table, one with a column that comes straight up from the back of it. At the top of this column, there is an arm which is parallel to the table. Out of this horizontal arm, there is a very small blade that runs vertically from the end of the arm, through the table, and down to a mechanism below the table. A scroll saw has a very small vertical blade with teeth on one side. This blade moves up and down very quickly, thus making cuts into the wood and potentially other materials too.

One thing that you want to watch for when getting a scroll saw is the throat and the throat size. The throat is the distance between the blade and the vertical column which brings the overhead arm and the back of the saw together. The throat size is important to keep in mind because this will dictate the size of material the scroll saw can work with. The smaller the throat size, the smaller the materials the scroll saw will be able to handle.

If you have a throat size of 15 inches, it means that you can work with materials as wide as 30 inches because the blade only needs to reach the center of the work piece, and not all the way through. However, keep in mind that you do want to be free to make detailed cuts, so if you have a 15-inch throat size, sticking to materials that are not wider than 26 or 28 inches at the most is what you want to aim for.

In terms of length, scroll saws cannot handle very long work pieces because when you feed a long piece through, it does not take long for that piece to reach the column which holds the horizontal arm.

For reference, here are some of the scroll saw tips you can check:

You also want to think about the blades, as most scroll saws have blades that top out at around 6 inches in length. For the most part, they cannot handle materials that are any thicker than 2 inches. Although, in reality, any thicker than 1 or 1.25 inches is going to give you problems, as you do have to account for the up and down motion of the blade itself. However, a big bonus of the scroll saw is that changing the blades and adjusting the tension is very easily done. There is usually a simple tension adjustment knob for this. It’s beneficial due to easy blade changes, which allows for fast inside plunge cuts with ease. When it comes to inside cuts, it’s actually one of the biggest things which sets it aside from a band saw, which cannot make inside cuts.

When You Want to Use a Scroll Saw

Scroll saws, due to their small blades, are great for working with smaller and thinner materials, such as small pieces of wood. The scroll saw is the ideal choice to go with for small, decorative, and intricate work that requires a lot of detail, blade flexibility, and maneuverability. This short and thin blade is easily able to make very intricate cuts that many other saw types simply cannot deal with.

They allow for very clean and precise cuts, something which a band saw cannot muster. A scroll saw is also able to do inside plunge cuts, something else a band saw cannot do. There are various projects which a scroll saw is ideal for, such as making jigsaw puzzles, making patterns, creating letters and numbers out of wood, and making things like wooden plaques with detailed or curved edges.

When You Don’t Want to Use a Scroll Saw

Scroll saws are not great for everything; they do excel at smaller and more detailed work projects, but they also have their downfalls. If you are working with large and thick material, a scroll saw is not going to be able to perform very well. Their small, thin, and flexible blades are not designed to handle thick materials or large pieces of wood.

There are some scroll saws where you can upgrade the blade for more cutting power and torque; this will only go so far. If the material you are working with is thicker than 1 inch, you will want to consider using a band saw as opposed to a scroll saw. Moreover, scroll saws do not excel at making very straight cuts; getting a very straight cut made with a scroll saw, especially a longer one, is going to be nearly impossible.

The very same features which make the scroll saw great for small, intricate, and detailed work, are the same ones that make it a bad candidate for large and straight cuts, and for working with thicker and larger pieces of wood.

Band Saw

Although the scroll saw looks similar to the band saw, it is quite different. The band saw also features a flat work table, one with a column that extends vertically from its rear. This column has a horizontal arm which runs perpendicular to the work table, an arm which holds the blade, and the blade then runs through the table and attaches to a mechanism below said table. However, when it comes to similarities, the design or look is more or less where the similarities end and the differences start.

One big difference between the band saw and the scroll saw is that the band saw has a lot more power. They tend to have much stronger motors which a higher RPM and overall output. This allows band saws to work with fairly thick and large materials.

If you use the right blade, a band saw can even be used to cut through certain types of metal. As we mentioned before, one of the biggest differences between these two tools is the blade, especially when it comes to the size, thickness, and motion of the blade.

If you were to examine a band saw, you would notice that there is a 2-wheel and sometimes a 4-wheel system in place. These wheels are placed under and over the table, either 1 on top and 1 on bottom, or 2 in each position. The blades used with a band saw have a circular shape and are very flexible. These circular blades stretch over the wheels, and as the wheels move, the blade moves; thus, the blade forms a band, and this is hence where the band saw gets its name. Now, one of the really big differences is that the scroll saw’s blade moves up and down, whereas the band saw’s blade moves in a continuous downward motion.

Band saws also differ in the thickness and size of materials which they can handle. When it comes to the band saw, they also have a throat, but here, when you talk about the throat, it really only refers to the width of the material that can be cut. What is nice about a band saw is that the blade is actually open from the front to the rear, and the rear column does not obstruct long pieces of wood. Therefore, not only can a band saw be used for thicker and larger materials, but for making long and straight cuts. You can feed a long piece of wood or other material straight through and out the rear without anything blocking its way.

Check out some uses you can do with band saws:

Band saws can handle materials that are a good few inches thick, as whatever you can fit in there is determined by the wheel size. Thus, band saws are great for making long cuts, rip cuts, and working with larger and thicker pieces of material. Another thing which stands out about band saws is that they are quite versatile and have many different blades that can be used for them, ones for soft wood, hard wood, various metals, and more. Of course, a band saw is not going to do a great job with fine detail work.

When You Want to Use a Band Saw

Band saws are great to use if you have larger projects and pieces of material that need cutting. The size of the blade, and the way it is built, makes the band saw ideal for any piece of wood thicker than 2 inches, and the thickness of the material the band saw can cut is really only limited by the distance between the work table and the horizontal arm.

One of the biggest strengths of the band saw is making big, straight, long, and aggressive cuts. One reason for this is because the blade always moves in a downward motion, as opposed to the up and down motion of the scroll saw, thus eliminating up and down, and side to side movement.

Band saws are also ideal for doing outside cutting, and in fact, can only do outside cutting, but you can still make some pretty decent curves with them. If you have the right blade, a band saw can also cut through other materials, such as metal, which a scroll saw simply cannot do. Some projects that can be done with a band saw include making planter boxes, furniture, trim, shelves, and other larger things that do not require much intricate detail.

When You Don’t Want to Use a Band Saw

One thing that you do not want to use a band saw for is making inside cuts, because simply put, they just cannot do inside cuts. Moreover, if you don’t want to do a lot of sanding, a band saw is also not ideal, because the motion of the blades is very aggressive, and therefore leaves a lot of rough edges behind.

Band saws might just be too big and powerful to deal with really delicate pieces. For instance, if you have a piece of wood that is 1 inch thick, depending on the type of wood, it might actually rip that piece apart. When it comes down to it, band saws just are not made for small or thin materials, and they are not made for intricate or detail work.

Band Saw vs. Scroll Saw – Conclusion

The bottom line is that both the band saw and the scroll saw have some clear advantages and disadvantages. If you want to make fine detail cuts, inside cuts, make patterns and letters, and you want to do so on smaller pieces of wood, the scroll saw is what you want to go with. However, for large, straight, and aggressive cuts on larger pieces of wood, and even metals, the band saw is the way to go.

Top Tips And Tricks For Successful Trim Healthy Mama Baking

I’ve loved to cook and bake ever since I was a child, but nearly 5 years ago, when I dove head first into the  Trim Healthy Mama plan (read my testimony here), I traded in all I knew about working with all-purpose flour and white sugar for a whole new world of healthier baking with different ingredients.

It took some time for me to get comfortable baking with alternative flours and sweeteners, but through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to love baking the Trim Healthy Mama way even more than I previously enjoyed baking off-plan. There are few kitchen experiences more wonderful than making a scrumptious cake that not only looks and tastes divine, but does your body good, too.

Flourless, protein-filled Mocha Roll | THM: S

If you’ve been disappointed trying to bake on-plan, I hope these tricks will eliminate the learning curve.

Here are my top tips and tricks for successful Trim Healthy Mama baking!

Cookies and baked goods made with Trim Healthy Mama approved sweeteners are not nearly as shelf stable as baked goods made with sugar. They should be stored in the fridge or freezer in an air tight container.

Trim Healthy Mama baking tastes the best the next day. This gives alternative sweeteners a chance to lose any cooling effect or aftertaste.

A very filling, but delicious Peanut Butter Cheesecake that will feed a large crowd!

Trim Healthy Mama baking is typically much more filling than traditional baking with empty carbohydrates.  It contains more protein and fiber, and the ingredients are usually more dense, so you can serve smaller pieces and get more servings out of a recipe!

For fluffier cakes, I use a stand mixer to whisk the eggs for a solid 5 minutes until they’re very light and airy before adding in my dry ingredients.

Less is more when it comes to alternative sweeteners. Trying to increase the sweetness of a baked good by adding more stevia or a sugar alcohol typically results in an unpleasant aftertaste or cooling effect. It’s important to follow recipes as they are written for the right balance. Adding a pinch of salt or extract can enhance the flavor of a recipe without increasing the sweetener.

Trim Healthy Mama Xylitol

Xylitol tastes the closest to sugar, in my opinion, and measures nearly the same (I use approximately 3/4 cup of xylitol for every cup of sugar). It also has a nice, granulated 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 never have. Xylitol doesn’t dissolve quite as well as real sugar though, so you will need to whip or beat it longer in your recipes to get it fully incorporated. As much as I love using xylitol, it is not a good choice if you have pets; it can be fatal to furry animals. Xylitol can also cause digestive distress in some people if they consume excessive amounts.

Trim Healthy Mama Gentle Sweet

If I could purchase Trim Healthy Mama’s xylitol-free Gentle Sweet locally (shipping is very expensive in Canada), this would be my sweetener of choice. You can use it in any recipe that calls for xylitol, but in half the amount. It also adds necessary substance and volume to baked goods.

Trim Healthy Mama Super Sweet

Trim Healthy Mama Stevia

Super Sweet and stevia are great choices if money is tight. These sweeteners are very potent, so you only need a very small amount. Super Sweet can replace xylitol in 1/4 of the amount (or 1/2 the amount of Gentle Sweet). Stevia can be tricky to use in baked goods because it lacks volume and has a very detectable aftertaste if you use too much. It’s better saved for things like puddings, custards, mousses, and sauces. Adding a pinch of salt when you use stevia will cut down on or eliminate its aftertaste.

Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend

Trim Healthy Mama-friendly baking blends tend to be more thirsty and drier than whole grain flours, so you cannot substitute cup for cup with all-purpose or whole wheat recipes. THM flours are also missing the gluten that holds wheat-based recipes together. This means that, when substituting with a THM-friendly Baking Blend in an off-plan recipe, you will need to add more liquid (ex: eggs, butter, coconut oil, or nut milks for S; egg whites, nut milks, 0% fat Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, mashed banana for E), and you’ll need a binder (like eggs or egg whites, xanthan gum or gluccie, pysllium husk, oat fiber, or whey protein powderto keep your baked good from falling apart.

If you can’t afford the Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend (a Fuel Pull flour suitable for all baking fuels), you can make your own by using equal parts of coconut flour, almond flour, and golden flaxseed meal. However, this substitute is an S and will turn your E baked goods into Crossovers. Alternatively, Briana Thomas has a Fuel Pull baking blend recipe with a few more specialty ingredients that you can also make yourself.

Lily’s Chocolate Chips

Lily’s and Trim Healthy Mama chocolate chips are wonderful, convenient, sugar-free chocolate chips that work well in recipes, but if finances are tight or you have a large family, chopping up a bar of 85% Lindt chocolate, or melting down unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate squares, adding in your own sweetener, and pouring the mixture into a chocolate chip mold or honeycomb shaped silicone trivet is an easy, frugal alternative.

Almond Flour Pound Cake | THM : S

Almond flour is on plan as an S ingredient, but be careful of using it in large quantities as it is very calorie-dense and too much of it may cause a weight loss stall for some people. You can often replace 1/2 a cup of almond flour with 2 Tbsp of psyllium huskor 2 Tbsp of coconut flour.

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake: a delightful coconut flour based coffee cake.

Coconut flour is also on plan as an S ingredient. It is a very absorbent flour, so you will only need a small amount in recipes that call for it. It’s very hard to substitute for coconut flour in recipes because of its unique thirsty properties, but sometimes you can replace half a cup of coconut flour with 2 Tbsp of pysllium husk mixed with 1/2 cup of almond flour.

Boston Cream Pie: this cake uses psyllium husk powder as a high-fiber binder in the cake layers.

 

Pysllium husk is extremely high in fiber and can absorb a lot of liquid. It has a tendency to gel, and works well as a binder, holding dough together much like the gluten in wheat flour does. You only need a very small amount (1-2 Tbsp) in a whole batch of dough. It is carbohydrate-free. You should be able to find it in the laxative or supplement aisle of your grocery or health food store.

Trim Healthy Mama Oat Fiber

Oat Fiber is a carbohydrate-free ingredient that is nearly impossible to purchase locally, but you can buy it online and use it to flour your pans, and as a fiber-enhancer and moisture-absorber in homemade baking blends.

Xanthan Gum

Glucomannan

Xanthan Gum and Glucomannan are interchangeable in recipes. They act as thickening agents and binders. You can use them in sauces and puddings you might have previously thickened with white flour or corn starch, but you will need much less with these two. Glucomannan (or “gluccie”) tends to be slimier than xanthan gum.

Trim Healthy Mama Gelatin

Gelatin is such a wonderful and interesting ingredient. In addition to being a relatively tasteless, dairy-free source of protein, it has the ability to set liquids into delicious desserts and treats that are firm enough to slice. You can read more about it and find 44 Trim Healthy Mama-friendly gelatin recipes here.

Peach Cobbler | THM: E

 

E baking can be tricky since little to no fat is used. I’ve found the best fat-free ingredients to use for moisture are egg whites, unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin puree, 0% fat Greek yogurt, nut milks, and mashed bananas. 

Trim Healthy Mama Pristine Whey Protein Powder

Trim Healthy Mama Collagen

Aside from giving baked goods a protein boost, protein powder and collagen can often act as a Fuel Pull flour and a lifter in Trim Healthy Mama-friendly cakes, breads, and muffins. Example: Candy-Cane Cake from Grace-Filled Homemaking

Egg yolks can accumulate quickly on Trim Healthy Mama since only the whites can be used in Fuel Pull or E dishes. My favorite use for extra yolks is turning them into these Lemon Squares which use up 7 of them!

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure extracts are a big part of Trim Healthy Mama baking and beverages, so they are well worth investing in. I can hardly wait until Trim Healthy Mama’s Natural Bursts line of extracts becomes available (which should be very soon!). The extracts I use most are:

  1. vanilla
  2. orange
  3. almond
  4. caramel
  5. peppermint
  6. rum (for in eggnog-flavored recipes)
Low-carb Pumpkin Muffins: replace the butter with coconut oil and leave off the whipped cream frosting for a wonderful, dairy-free muffin!

 

Coconut oil, eggs, cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and butter are readily available and essential Trim Healthy Mama-friendly baking ingredients. In most recipes, you can replace butter with coconut oil and heavy cream with canned coconut fat for dairy-free alternatives.

Trim Healthy Mama Himalayan Salt

Baking soda, baking powder, and salt are regular baking ingredients that you can still use with any Trim Healthy Mama Fuel type. Consider switching from refined salt to Himalayan salt and from regular baking soda to aluminum-free to increase the nutritional benefit of your baking and decrease the toxicity.

I hope that was helpful to you! If you have Trim Healthy Mama baking related question that I didn’t address, feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer. 🙂

Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen Review (And Nacho Chips!)

My husband walked in the front door with this wonderful piece of happy mail last week. I dropped what I was doing to ogle over Carolyn Ketchum’s gorgeous new cookbook, The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen.

Photo credit: All Day I Dream About Food

Carolyn blogs at All Day I Dream About Food. She became one of my blogging heroes after the very first recipe I tried from her site: Trim Healthy Mama-friendly, Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Bars. These bars are incredible; they are nearly identical in flavor and texture to the ones I grew up eating, but they’re a low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free THM S. I don’t make them too often though because they’re addictive, and I can’t stop after just one!

Anyway. Back to The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen Review.

I love The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen most of all because it works with Trim Healthy Mama. It’s considered a low-carb, ketogenic cookbook, which means it only offers dishes that fit into the Satisfying and Fuel Pull categories of Trim Healthy Mama. You won’t find any E recipes, S Helpers, or Crossover dishes in this cookbook, but it’s a great supplement to the plan and a wonderful resource if you’re looking for great tasting S meals with almost no special ingredients.

Carolyn got it right when she named her cookbook, The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen. It’s full of normal, everyday food; the SAD diet made happy and healthy. Things like hamburger buns, pancakes, muffins, crackers, Shepherd’s Pie, soups, salads, fish nuggets, brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, and pies – those are the kind of on-plan foods you’ll find in this cookbook.

I love the indexes in the back The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen. There are 3 of them; one is a graph highlighting all the recipes are compatible with different dietary restrictions (dairy, nuts, eggs, meat, etc.), one is a full-color photo recipe index of every single dish (my favorite!), and the general index shows you where to find everything alphabetically.

One of the most valuable parts in The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen are chapters 1-3. Carolyn explains keto (or “S,” for Trim Healthy Mamas) ingredients at length. In addition to listing  the benefits of everyday healthy fats and oils, proteins, vegetables, fruit (berries, lemons, and limes), nuts and seeds, she also features less common ingredients like grass-fed collagen and gelatin, xanthum gum, extracts and flavorings, almond flour, coconut flour, protein powders, leavening agents, and low-carb sweeteners.

Carolyn tells you what to stock your pantry with, which kitchen tools are they most valuable to have, which substitutions you can use in place of other ingredients, and dedicates an entire chapter to sharing her best tricks and tips for low-carb baking. If you’re struggling in the Trim Healthy Mama baking department, trying figure out how to make low-glycemic treats beautiful and delicious,  you will benefit immensely from reading chapter 3.

One more thing.

There are mouth-watering photos for every single recipe in The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen. I don’t know about you, but the only Trim Healthy Mama-friendly recipes I make are the ones that have photos to show me how it’s supposed to look when I’m done. At a glance, I want to know if the dish I’m about to prepare is worth the time and ingredients to prepare, and whether it fits with my family’s palate.

We’re not big fish fans, so apart from that chapter, every other recipe in Carolyn’s cookbook is something I know our family would enjoy. In fact, as soon as I saw her Nacho chip recipe on page 148, I squealed at the prospect of having a crunchy Trim Healthy Mama-friendly chip that would work with an S meal! It did not disappoint!

Carolyn graciously gave me permission to share her Nacho chip recipe with you. They taste quite similar to Doritos. Served with a little guacamole, they make an amazing S snack! THMs, here’s the crunchy S chip you’ve been searching for!

Yield: 50-60 chips

Nacho Chips | THM: S

Nacho Chips | THM: S

A truly crispy, very low-carb alternative to tortilla chips that stands up to dipping in salsa or guacamole.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pork rinds
  • 1 cup pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 Tbsp Taco Seasoning (pg 63)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites with salt until frothy. Stir in the pork rinds, cheese, and taco seasoning until well combined.
  3. Turn the mixture out onto a large piece of parchment paper and pat it into a square. Top with another piece of parchment and roll out the mixture into a very thin square, about 12 inches. Remove the top piece of parchment and slide the bottom piece onto a large baking sheet.
  4. Use a sharp knife to score the cheese mixture into 2-inch squares. Then score each square diagonally into 2 triangles. Bake for 20 minutes, until chips are turning golden brown. Turn off the oven and let them sit inside until they are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet before breaking along the score lines. Store in a covered container on the counter for up to 3 days.

Notes

You can crush pork rinds in several ways, and you can even purchase precrushed "pork dust." To crush them at home, place them in a thick plastic bag and pound them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet. You can also process them in a food processor. Be sure to crush them as finely as you can and measure them after crushing for accurate results.

Organizing A Trim Healthy Mama Kitchen

One of the challenges Trim Healthy Mamas face when they start the plan is learning how to organize their kitchen! Even on the Standard American Diet, managing a kitchen can be difficult, especially if you have a large family; add in a whole new array of powders, flours, extracts, and teas, and, in addition to being in the kitchen a lot more often with a lot more messes, keeping the heart of the home running smoothly can feel like an overwhelming task!

If you’re a Trim Healthy Mama that is struggling to keep order in your kitchen and are ready to get organized once and for all, Sean and Caroline Allen’s planner, The Well-Ordered Kitchen, should be your very first step in making sense of the chaos.

The Well-Ordered Kitchen is not a menu planning service or a recipe book. It’s a printable, reproducible organizational tool specifically designed for kitchen use. It’s compatible with every diet plan and works especially well with Trim Healthy Mama (or any other diet that makes use of real food, from-scratch cooking, fuel separation, or in families where it’s important to record dietary restrictions and preferences).

The Deluxe Version of this beautifully designed kitchen management tool comes with over 95 pages of content. It includes pantry and freezer inventory sheets so you can know what you have and what you need at a glance…

…130 pantry organization labels to bring a cute or professional (pick your favorite of 3 blank or pre-filled designs!) cohesive look to all your jars and containers…

…a master grocery shopping list you can add your THM staples to in case someone else does the grocery run…

…weekly and monthly menu plans you can fill out with your favorite recipes from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook (or your favorite online recipes!)…

…adorable recipe cards and dividers, so you can have your favorite meals on stand-by for anyone to make, and to accompany a meal you might bless another THM with.

It even has hospitality charts to keep your tried-and-true company dinner necessities organized and on-hand!

My only critique of this planner is that it includes a few complimentary off-plan recipes, but since The Well-Ordered Kitchen is a printable, you can simply skip printing off those few pages and zip off a few more blank mason jar labels instead.  Also, a few of the substitutions in the reference chart are not THM compatible (corn starch, for example), so be wary of using all the ingredients referenced.

Over all, The Well-Ordered Kitchen is still the most comprehensive, THM-compatible, well-designed organizational tool I have ever seen for kitchen use. Sean and Caroline have thought of every last detail.

If you’re tired of finding expired, expensive ingredients in the bottom of your freezer and the back of your pantry; tired of forgetting THM essentials when you go shopping; tired of wondering what to make for dinner and too tired to look up a new recipe; tired of all. the. bags. – purchasing and printing out The Well-Ordered Kitchen, getting it spiral bound (or contained in a 3-ring binder like Caroline has), is the very best way to get on top of your game. It contains all you need for organizing a Trim Healthy Mama kitchen.

The basic version starts is just $6.99 (you can print off as many copies of each page as you need!) with the hope that every Trim Healthy Mama can be an organized one.

Or, if your family is in need of a good Mother’s Day gift idea, perhaps a hint at the Premium version ($29.99) is in order. Aside from a video tutorial of how to put your new planner together, and a virtual tour of a real-life well-ordered kitchen, this option gives you an exclusive membership to the Well-Ordered Kitchen Facebook Group so you can inspired and stay motivated by others to keep your kitchen tidy!

Image credit: Country Living

Whip your work space back into shape and discover the joy of cooking once again!