ECO-BUILDING – PART 9 – Custom bales

A lot of custom trimmed bales are required in any straw bale home. The areas with windows serve as good examples. The task is to make a rectangular bale to fit. During the process one needs to know how to cut and retie bales, and how to notch and shape them.


The tip of a baling needleCutting the bales is not as easy as one would think. A bale of straw cannot be worked on as one would work wood. The bales have a tendency of breaking apart if not worked on in the correct manner. When working with bales one has to mark the bale where one wants a cut to be made and then proceed cutting the bale while incorporating a tool called a baling needle to retie the bale in parts where one will not be cutting the bale.

With a good baling needle you can retie a bale and create two custom bales from one in a short amount of time. The most important knot to know here is the Miller’s knot.

Notching and shaping

Notching and shaping require the use of a chainsaw and a can of spray paint to make the markings of where you need to cut. Notches might be needed to fit the posts and other framing components. A time-saving method is to slightly over-cut the needed part for the posts and then stuff the space with straw if needed. Be careful not to cut the string of the bales while notching. Some notches can be more intricate than others.


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