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How To Make a Soil Blocker

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Picture of How To Make a Soil Blocker
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It's seed starting season.  Yea!!
You can start seeds in a variety of containers.  People use everything from empty egg shells to the plastic six packs last years plants came in to just about any container laying around.  There comes a point at the beginning of the season when you have a lot of plants going and containers can get scarce.  Imagine if you didn't have to deal with storing mounds of little plastic pots and just did without containers all together!  Well you can and the answer to your prayers is the soil blocker.  It compresses soil into...well...blocks.

Now you can buy a soil block maker.  They cost about 30 bucks from Johnny's seeds but what's the fun in that?   I decided to make my own. 
You can too .
 It's not that hard.
 
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Step 1: The Materials and Tools Part

Well, what else were you expecting?

Materials

About 2 feet of pine board 3/4" thick  x 2" wide

An 8" piece of 4x4

About 2 feet of aluminum plate 1/8" thick x 2 3/8" wide

12 wood screws

1- 3/8" carriage bolt  4" long 

1- 3/8" nut & washer

Clear acrylic or varnish

Tools

Drill and bits

Table saw

Thin file

3/8"  tap

Step 2: Start the Wood Frame

Picture of Start the Wood Frame
Cut the 2" wide stock into 3 pieces one at 8" and 2 at 6".

Cut a 45°angle on one end of each of the 6" pieces.

Drill a hole in the center of the 8" piece big enough to let the 3/8" bolt pass through easily.
Jayefuu2 years ago
Nice writeup! The aluminium on the table saw made me cringe though :)
pfred2 Jayefuu2 years ago
Cutting aluminum with a circular saw isn't bad, just don't use your best blade, and wear long sleeves. The chips are hot! I've heard if you run the blade backwards it is even better. Next time I do it I'm going to have to try that out for myself.

Once I was trimming the edge of one of my workbenches with a hand circular saw and I noticed all of these sparks flying up out of my cut line, I kept on going (I figured the damage was done already so why stop) and when I was done sure enough I'd sawn right through a steel bracket under the wood. This was some pretty thick steel too. I was using this nasty blade made out of "dynite" carbide, which was claimed to be 50 times better than plain old carbide, uh huh. I don't know about 50 times but I have to admit I was impressed with the job it did!

Slitting saws on milling machines look for all the world like little circular saws and they work too.
finton pfred26 months ago
I can vouch for the efficacy of running a circular saw blade backward for cutting corrugated iron: I have cut a lot lengthwise as retaining for shallow ditches. I think the idea is that the teeth do not get caught in the steel as they might if run forward. The blade in question had tungsten-tipped teeth, so I don't know if a regular blade would work as well.
pfred2 finton5 months ago
When you run a blade with a positive tooth rake angle backwards you turn it into a blade with a negative tooth rake angle. Some processes work well if you run an entire saw backwards too. Then you are changing from conventional to climb cutting. I've seen a lot of people climb cut masonry.
dboyd121 year ago
Excellent instructable. Using these directions I made one last year and it works great! I've made hundreds of blocks. I added a small piece of wood at the top of the bolt to have something to push against when releasing the blocks. Also, I didn't have aluminum so I used galvanized sheet metal flashing that I had (I folded it in half to make it stronger, at the author's suggestion, thanks). The flashing was easy to cut with tin snips.
Now I may experiment with making a couple of other sizes.
spike3579 (author)  dboyd121 year ago
Glad to hear your blocker worked out! Post a picture in the comments if you have one. I'd love to see how yours came out.
aliceaod1 year ago
The only thing I can think to add to this is a spring between the bolt head and the block. It will keep the plunger raised.
marc.cryan1 year ago
Nice! I have the jonnies seeds version. It looks like you design would be more comfotable to use, because of the big wooden frame. Did you send them a link?
spike3579 (author)  marc.cryan1 year ago
I hadn't thought of that. I'll look into sending them a link.
Thanks
mainah2 years ago
If you use a file on aluminum. rub a little chalk onto both sides of the file. It keeps the file from clogging up with aluminum particles, which is a Bear to clean.
spike3579 (author)  mainah2 years ago
Good idea! I didn't know that & I'm always clogging files with aluminum.
antling2 years ago
Clicked "Like"
:-)
spike3579 (author)  antling2 years ago
Nice!
crudders2 years ago
Why not add spikes to the bottom of the plunger ? That way, you don't have to make a hole with the pencil.
spike3579 (author)  crudders2 years ago
Using a pencil allows me to adjust the depth of the hole to the size of the seed. Lots of seeds are so tiny they don't need a hole at all.
You could Put a long Screw or bolt into the center of each block. That way, you can screw them in or out and adjust the depth of each hole...
great addition!
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