Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Good Article

6 Power Tools Every Woman Should Have in Her Arsenal
Author: Heidi Baker
The ultimate do-it-herselfer, Heidi of demystifies the most important power tools used in home improvement.

“Power tools level the playing field between men and women when it comes to doing home improvement.”

I discovered power tools after I bought my first home and decided to take on the task of home improvement myself. Now, I can do anything that the biggest, burliest contractor can do if you give me the right power tools. It makes me just as strong, I can accomplish the same thing, and I love the feeling of empowerment it gives me. It’s so much fun.

“When I first started with tools, I was surprised at how similar some of the power tools were to things I use in the kitchen and office.”

A power tool set is like a shoe wardrobe. You can always justify adding to it. But I can tell you the six tools that every woman needs to begin making home improvements on her own.

1. The Power Drill

The drill is like the little black dress of power tools. You’ll always need one and as long as it’s a nice one, it’ll get the job done – whether it’s putting on new doorknobs on your kitchen cabinets or putting up curtains or installing floating shelves. And, like the little black dress, you’ll always find a reason to buy another one. I own 5 – from 9 volts all the way to 21!

My introduction to the drill came when I worked on my kitchen cabinets. After sanding, repainting and adding molding to the cabinets, I made holes with my drill and used it to attach new knobs. It was a little intimidating – it is shaped like a gun, you know – but after one hole, I was using it like an old pro.

2. The Power Sander

A lot of women are really into refinishing furniture, but you can’t get started without a sander. You do not want to sand by hand if you don’t have to. It’s just not worth it.

I use an orbital sander, which works really fast and moves in circles. Because it creates a lot of dust, I recommend wearing face and eye protection and sanding outside, if you can. Also, sawdust fries your hair by pulling all of the oils out of it, so if you still want to look like a girl after the project’s done, protect yourself!

3. The Reciprocating Saw

This tool still scares me because you can cut through some pretty major stuff with it, like studs, wallboard and paneling. But if you really think about it, it’s just like a carving knife. If you’ve carved a turkey, you can use a reciprocating saw. The saw shakes a little more than the turkey carver, but it’s just about the same thing.

You’re not going to let a little uncertainty about a carving knife scare you into carving it by hand, so why would you use a regular saw to cut through a wall when you can use a power tool for it?

4. The Power Stapler

I’m meeting more and more women who are interested in upholstering—myself included. I especially love upholstered headboards, which can cost anywhere from $1000 to $1500 if you buy them in the stores. With a power stapler and some supplies in tow, I can make my own for around $100.

What’s great about a power stapler is that it sinks the staples deeper than you’re going to be able to do it by hand, and it will enable you to have more cushion on whatever you’re upholstering. When you use a manual stapler or even a staple gun, your hand starts hurting pretty quickly and the staples never go in the right way.

5. The Power Nailer

With the power nailer, there’s no fear of getting a black thumbnail from hammering. On top of that, it makes your project go much faster—and it’s so much fun.

The first time I put up crown molding, I used a regular hammer and nails. The second time, I used one of these puppies. I did it in a third of the time, and it came out gorgeous. Also, because it sinks the nails in deeper, they are easier to hide.

6. The Compound Miter Saw

This compound miter saw is my favorite tool. It’s a little scary looking, but believe it or not, this is the safest saw that there is because it tells you where not to put your hands. There’s also a safety cover that protects the blade until you come down.

A compound miter saw is really the thing that helps you finish off a room. With it, you can create all the extra added touches like crown molding, baseboard molding and chair rail molding.

There are many other useful tools out there, but these are my favorites. Remember, it’s normal to be a little intimidated by these loud, scary-looking tools. When I first started doing home improvement, the only tool I’d ever used was my garbage disposal. But trust me, once you start figuring out what you’re capable of, you’ll want to push yourself more and more. And soon you’ll be ready to take on any project!

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About the Author:The ultimate do-it-herselfer, Heidi of demystifies the most important power tools used in home improvement.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Don't Have to Be a Craftsman to Work With Wood

Commonly we think that working with wood is a fruitless task because only adult and experienced carpenter can make things with wood. This is false since it has to commence somewhere and even the maestros had to start with simple woodworking undertakings. While none of us a reborn with woodworking skills and you learn the art only through studying, you ought to remember several things which are needed when starting with easy woodworking projects.
It's amazing what you can do with just basic woodworking tools so before you throw yourself into this new spare-time activity, try to gather as much facts as you can. Discover about the tools and the practices, starting from the medieval times to the most modern and get familiar with every aspect of this art. Your biggest assistance in doing elementary woodworking undertakings is the knowledge about the several types of woods and their uses, and you are lucky, since a host of facts about these things is readily available. You can use books and journals to find hints and ideas and you can use the Internet where there are many websites that help beginners with carpentry.
If you want to get going on some elementary woodworking tasks, sign up for some instructional classes with many local community colleges running beginner classes for mature apprentices which are not expensive or overly time consuming. The studying from these courses could acquaint you with several woodwork approaches and methods starting from the fundamentals to the expert level. These classes also tutor you involving the safety aspects of woodworking, so that your easy woodworking tasks do not result in any untoward incident whereby you discard the pursuit fearing another accident in the future.
When you feel ready to commence working on your own undertaking, try to keep it simple at first, like a undertaking that only requires hand tools. There are also kits available with pre-cut and appropriately sized wood pieces that just require you to put the object together. This coaches you to get to know the pieces better and how various pieces are assembled without having to use any intricate machinery. When starting to handle tools and machinery, the best option is to start easy and small. It is a good idea to start tinkering with a few hand tools and once you are completely confident of using them, increase your tool kit with new items but ensure that all of these tools are the best quality. After you have gathered enough confidence, you could aim to move up and handle more advanced tasks, but whichever level you are working on, keep safety in mind.
Several things have to be borne in mind when starting a easy woodworking project. You will be surprised to see what kind of creative things that can be made with elementary woodwork tools as you step by step develop your skill and expertise. If you're serious about your new pursuit, get as much facts before you start out and if you are interested, you can even research about the medieval carpentry tools and modern tools to familiarize yourself with them.
Steve Millerman is a specialist in woodworking. If you want more information about woodworking, visit
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finish Carpentry Choices

Finish carpentry refers to the installation of the decorative wood around doors, windows and base board. This also includes much more such as hand railings, cabinets, stair cases, crown molding, chair rail and can include even more depending on the wood finishing’s in the home, office or business. There are many choices when it comes to choosing this trim wood. Let’s look at some of these choices.

Sometimes this trim wood is referred to as molding. This decorative trim wood or moldings come in many types of wood and is not limited to any type of wood. Some of the most common are oak, maple, birch, mahogany, cherry, pine, hickory, walnut and so on. These moldings can also be made of man made materials like high-density polymers. This trim wood or moldings can also be purchased in raw form or even prefinished form.

This trim wood comes in a wide variety of styles also. Some of the most common styles include ranch style, colonial style, Princeton style (which is close to colonial), Victorian style and so on. You could even create your own style. Some places you may see a home made style is in cabins or lake homes. One thing to keep in mind when choosing your style and this is just a suggestion is to stick with one style throughout for conformity although not necessary.

These different styles also come in different sizes. Some times in the older Victorian houses the trim wood is quite big. For example, let's say baseboard is commonly around 3" in height (at least in a lot of the newer homes) and in the older Victorian homes it can be as tall as 6" or more in height. This applies to the door and window trim also in these older homes, they liked it big. They not only liked it big but also very decorative.

One of the next choices would be how this trim wood is to be finished. By this I mean the color of the stain or if it would be painted. If the trim wood is painted you would not need to go with the more expensive hard woods for your trim. Paint grade trim can be for example pine and is much less expensive and going this route of painted trim would cost considerably less especially if you are doing the painting on your own.

So with all of these choices regarding finish carpentry no matter what is chosen it serves a number of functionalities, adds beauty, and you will have your own distinctive style.
After all the decisions, the installation process is next. If you elect to do your own finish carpentry I have found it to be very very rewarding work how ever it does take a little practice and patience. If you have access to all the right tools for the job and the time, it is well worth doing it yourself and saving yourself a bundle of money. There are plenty of instructions and a lot of good information with tips and tricks on the web to be able to pick up this unique craft without too much trouble without having to be an actual carpenter.

Pat Fisher is a professional carpenter and woodworking craftsman. For more information on finish carpentry and household carpentry projects, visit and pick up your free eBook.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Understanding Wood Shrinkage in Finish Carpentry

These days trim wood shrinkage in finish carpentry does cause some problems and has tested the reputation of even the most seasoned finish carpenters. This can be controlled some what if it is properly addressed however the shear speed at which houses get built and the use of new growth lumber these days poses a lot of the problems that are unfortunately some times unavoidable.

Trim wood should be acclimated to the inside environment of the house where it will be installed. This does also apply to the wood of a new wood floor to be installed. What this means exactly is the wood needs time to adjust to the temperature and humidity levels of the house where it will be installed. This in turn reduces the shrinkage of the wood and that helps to keep miters tight and doors working properly. There is much discussion on how long this acclimation period should be and a few variables do come into play here especially with a newly built home. A very minimum of an acclimation period would be 48 hrs. if the environment change of the storage place of the trim wood or the store to the house environment is not a huge difference. Another factor is after the acclimation period it is best to get the wood finished and sealed whether you do it before or after installation.

Ultimately wood is going to shrink and swell according to the seasons. Some places more than others due to the climate differences. The best way to reduce this is to try and keep the environment in the house relatively even with just the temperature although I have seen a new house with new trim work sitting empty with no activity like cooking or showering for a long period of time have major shrinkage in the trim wood due to no humidity. I had trimmed this house and was just sick when I went back for the final; fortunately the builder that I had done the work for understood this problem and took full responsibility. I had been in the finish carpentry business for a long time and had a good reputation of doing good work but some times that reputation doesn’t mean anything to the people that don’t understand these problems.

For the do it yourselfers doing trim work, there are a few things to consider. If you are remodeling or doing renovations to an existing home just simply taking the precautionary measure of acclimating the wood will eliminate the major shrinkage problem in most cases. On new homes it is however nice to know the humidity levels in the house as well as the wood. One easy way to check the wood is with a moisture meter tester. This little meter is relatively cheap or can be borrowed from a contractor that does building or remodeling. The use of a dehumidifier is recommended in a new house or new construction and doing a little research for the moisture content that is recommended for the area that you live in is also advisable. This is due to the different climates in the country and various temperature changes for the different areas. As a finish carpenter it is important for people to understand some of these issues concerned with wood shrinkage whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring a professional to do the work for you ultimately to protect yourself.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Do you really need a contractor for that home project?

Some things to consider, how big is the project and does it involve some different trades such as an electrician or a plumber? If so then yes it might be a good idea. A licensed contractor will have subcontractors who do these other trades and will be responsible for their work performance and quality. Another reason may be you don't have the time or just want the job done from start to finish without any hassles. A contractor will also do all the leg work for permits, inspections and keep the job going on a schedule. This does require doing some research on your part and finding a good quality contractor and even then you may end up with a bad experience.

Consider the project carefully. Have a clear vision of the job. I would venture to say most people are on a budget and do want some hands on approach. Hiring a contractor for the whole job often times is quite expensive and you may want to consider a different approach. This will be more work but also may come at a considerable lower cost.

One approach is as simple as talking to a good carpenter. A good carpenter not only can handle the whole building process but a lot of times have a good understanding for the permits and inspections necessary for the job. A carpenter however is generally not licensed or required to be licensed but as a sub contractor are required to carry certain liability insurance and work comp policies and certificates. Ask for some references from this carpenter and be sure to ask for proof of these certificates before hiring a carpenter for your project. Ultimately you are responsible for the building codes and regulations involved in the building process, however it is easily obtainable with a little research.

For the other trades needed for the project it could be as easy as looking in the yellow pages for a company that does this work. Again a little research on the company is advisable and if you are happy with the results then get on their schedule.
Your carpenter may also be able to suggest some people or companies for these trades and at a lower cost. Again check them out.

Is all of this research and responsibility worth it? From a financial stand point, yes it may be, from a time or headache stand point may be not, it depends on where you want your savings to be. There are vast amounts of information out there to answer your questions. Whether you hire a contractor or contract yourself, things don’t always go smoothly and unexpected things can happen. Be ready for potential problems and stay positive.