The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bale needle

bale needleOne of the tasks required for building with straw bales is re-tying the bales to shorter lengths. A tool to facilitate this job is a bale needle. I could buy a set of plans for making one from, but I decided to make my own based upon the photos I found of a bale needle online.

I bought a three foot long 7/16” diameter smooth metal rod from the local hardware store. Using a cutting blade on a bench grinder, two different files, and a bench top belt sander, I cut notches near the end of the rod and ground the end to a point. I then welded a piece of round stock on the opposite end for a handle.

 notches for string and point handle

The notches in the rod hold the baling twine as it is pushed or pulled through the bale. There are two notches available for pushing two strings through and one notch for pulling string through.

We tried it out last evening on a bale, and it worked fine. Here’s a video by Andrew Morrison about how to re-tie straw bales to shorter lengths:

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