Two recent publications, both inexpensive, should be of particular interest to the homeowner this time of year, when cooler and longer nights are turning our thoughts to fireplaces and indoor crafts.
Two chimney sweeps from Stowe, Vt., have written "Be Your Own Chimney Sweep," (Garden Way Publishing, $4.95, paperback). Christopher Curtis and Donald Post show how to use and care for fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
And "Creative Woodworking," by Jayne Drotning and Rosemarie Masotto (Contemporary Books, $6.95, paperback), should help you while away many a long night -- and perhaps make some Christmas gifts of a little profit in the process.
Curtis and Post warn that one of the side effects of using wood stoves and fireplaces can be a dangerous buildup of creosote in chimneys. Creosote can catch on fire, and the authors describe the types of wood (soft, not thoroughly dry) that are most apt to cause the buildup. They also tell how to determine if the chimney needs to be cleaned and how to do it.
I must confess that I wouldn't be too thrilled about tackling this job myself, and Curtis and Post come to my rescue. They present a list of credentials to check in case homeowners decide to call professionals.
But for the do-it-yourselfer, it's all here, with excellent step-by-step illustrations. Equipment consists of a drop cloth, flashlight, work gloves (preferably leather, which you may never use again), wire brush, putty knife, bucket and dustpan. You also need a few uninterrupted hours.
"Almost anyone who has a chimney can clean it, using a little grease and a lot of soap," they write. "Slightly soild hands are a small price to pay in return for the millions of BTU's your stove has provided you or the countless times you've gazed into the flames of your fireplace."
"Creative Woodworking" is a delightful book jammed full of plans and instructions for 150 projects -- puzzles, games, toys, containers, wood carvings, holiday ornaments, music boxes, clocks and more.
The authors have geared their book toward people who have avoided using power tools because they considered them too complicated or dangerous. The tools these projects require are a small, lightweight table-top scroll saw and sanders and carvers that can be stored in a kitchen cabinet.
The Dremel Moto-Shop, which costs about $70, rates highest with Drotning and Massoto because of its versatility. The Moto-Shop will cut the most intricate curves in softwood up to 1 3/4-inches thick and hardwood up to 1/2-inch thick. It also has attachments for sanding, polishing and deburring. 1And the deluxe model comes with a flexible shaft with attachments for drilling, routing, carving, engraving, grinding and sharpening.
The authors start out with beginner projects -- some of which even the seasoned woodworker whould find interesting. I especially like the worm puzzle, a 26-piece jigsaw puzzle, each piece painted with a letter of the alphabet.