Saturday, February 28, 2015

Discovering Pocket-Holes!

Pocket-Hole System

  If you've done any woodworking at all, you've probably dealt with the decision of whether to use nails or screws.  Of course, there are pros and cons to both methods (as with everything!).  For starters, screws are less apt to back up, while we all know that nails can do this over time.  On the flip side, a screw head is a lot harder to hide, or fill, than a nail head.  I can go on and on over different reasons why you should use screws or nails, but the truth is that there is a reason for both.  Both are great methods of joinery that have been used for years and for very good reason.  In a nutshell, there is a time and application to use screws, and also the same for nails.

  Several years ago I was building kitchen cabinets and I came across, what was new to me, a different method of joinery.  It was called the KREG™ Pocket-Hole System.  This method would give me the holding power that I liked from screws, while at the same time, not having to worry about hiding or filling the screw heads because........they were Hidden!  This was especially beneficial to me on the cabinet project because I could now join all of the face frame parts (stiles & rails) from behind.  Sounds crazy, huh?  It's actually a brilliant idea.  You see, before, I would have to toe-nail a finish nail through the rails, into the stiles.  This could be tricky because, even with the boards clamped together, they could still shift slightly when the nail was driven.  It's just a tedious process, and if you are seeking perfection, it is extremely important!
Pocket-Hole System

  This new system works by using a perfectly designed pre-drilling jig that aligns the drill holes at a sharp angle through the work piece from the back side.  After laying out where you want to drill the holes, a step-drill bit (which makes a pilot hole for your screw at the same time) is used.
 Once all holes are drilled, assemble the pieces with wood glue applied in the joints, and clamp together.  Now using the 6" extension driver bit included with the kit, run the "pocket-hole screws" in, making sure not to overtighten them.  After all screws are applied, remove the clamps and what you have now is perfect wood joints that won't back up!  And best of all, you can't see any screws or nails....perfect!

Now since then, I've learned of more applications for this pocket-hole system, such as:  building the actual cabinet boxes (not just the face-frames) and other furniture pieces too.  You can also adjust the pre-drilling jig and use longer pocket-hole screws.  This will let you use this method on 2x material also.  Kreg also makes a shelf pin jig so you can make multiple matching holes for shelf pins.  Really makes this easy!  All of the jigs come in different sizes and multiple price ranges.

The pocket-hole system has been a difference maker for me.  Since I discovered this method, there have been more woodworking projects that I'm confident in doing.  As I said earlier, this system comes in many different sizes.  I started out with the smallest, basic kit and it has worked perfect for almost everything I've done.  They now offer a DIY kit that is like a basic "all-in-one" option that could be a great buy.

I am not being paid by Kreg, and its not necessarily my intention to promote this company, however, I am promoting their product.  I do believe it is a wonderful joinery method that can be beneficial to both the professional and average DIYer at the same time!  I've included a YouTube video about the Kreg DIY kit.  I recommend that you watch the video and hopefully are intrigued to try this method yourself.  Good luck down the road "Doing-It-Yourself"!  As always, please leave me a comment on your thoughts and don't hesitate to add your input!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

Is your water bill higher than it used to be?  Maybe higher than it should be?  If you've experienced this and can't figure out why, try checking your toilet.  Often times there will be water leaking inside the tank.  You may wonder how this small amount of water running can cause the bill to be so much higher.  Regardless of how much is actually leaking through, it is running 24/7.  As you can see, it adds up quickly!  This is very common and often the source of your problem.
Here's how you know for sure:  Go to your bathroom, flush the toilet, and listen closely.  After the tank fills up again, if you can still hear water running inside, this is your problem.  If this is where you find yourself, don't worry!  This is an easy and relatively cheap fix.  The next step is to determine what is causing the leak.  Before we get into that, take a look at the picture below.  This is a diagram of the inside of your tank.

Toilet Repair
Toilet Repair
First of all, let's explain how this flushing mechanism works.  When you flush the toilet, the flush lever pulls up on the lift chain, which opens the flapper.  This lets the tank water down into the toilet bowl, which forces the dirty water down the drain and replaces it with fresh water.  At the same time, the fill valve uses a float mechanism to maintain water level inside the tank.  When water is drained out of the tank, the fill valve opens up and lets fresh water from the supply line inside the tank.  It will fill until it reaches the preset level and then stops.  This process repeats every time you flush the toilet.  Now that you understand the process, you can pinpoint the problem.  Here's the potential problems and the order you'll need to check:

    Toilet RepairToilet Repair
  1. Lift Chain -  Sometimes the lift chain can get hung up and will keep the flapper from going back down and sealing off the tank.  If this is the case, free the chain up and adjust if needed.  If the chain is too long, this may cause it to get hung up and you may have to unhook it from the lever and shorten the links.  Reattach it and test to make sure it opens the flapper fully and lets it close completely and seal.  This is definitely the quickest and easiest fix!
  2. Flapper -  If the chain is not holding the flapper up and keeping it from sealing, make sure the flapper itself is not the problem.  Over time, the material it is made of can shrink a little and loose its softness or its ability to fit the drain and seal off.  One way to check this is, while there is water in the tank and you can hear it leaking, stick your hand in the water and push down on the flapper.  If you can push down and hear the water stop leaking, then the flapper is your problem.  To fix this, you'll need to replace the flapper.  You can buy a universal replacement at just about anywhere (Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) and this is also an easy and cheap fix!  The first thing you'll need to do is (1) turn the water off at the shut-off valve.  Next, (2) flush the toilet (this will drain the tank).  As you can see in the picture, just (3) remove the old flapper from the ears on the overflow tube ,(4) unhook the chain from the flush lever, and now discard the old flapper.  (5) Hook the new flapper to the ears on the overflow tube and connect the new chain to the flush lever.  (6) You can now turn the water back on at the shut-off valve.  Once the tank fills up, make sure it is adjusted correctly to make a good seal and your done!
    Toilet Repair
  3. Fill Valve -  If you've made it this far and not found the problem, then you'll need to replace the Fill Valve.  Over time, the seals inside the valve start to deteriorate and begin to let water in when it should be sealing it off.  One option is to replace the seals inside the valve, however, I find it a lot easier to just replace the whole fill valve assembly.  It doesn't take that long to replace and it doesn't cost that much either (approx. $20).  Here's how to replace it:  First of all, (1) turn the water off at the shut-off valve and flush the toilet (this will drain the water from the tank).  Next, (2) disconnect the supply line from the bottom of the tank (underside of the tank).  It's a good idea to have an old towel on the floor under the tank to catch any water that may not have drained out.  (3) You will now need to unhook the Lift Chain and the Refill Tube.  The old fill valve will have a stem that goes through the bottom of the tank with a plastic nut tightening it on the other side.  (4) Remove this nut and pull the Fill Valve out of the tank.  Now that the old valve is out, you are ready to install the new one.  Almost there!!  Remove the new valve, along with the parts from the box.  (5) Make sure to have the new washer on the stem when you place the valve in the hole!  It should seal up against the bottom of the tank.  Before tightening the nut on the bottom, you will need to make sure the correct water level is set on the new valve.  You will want the float to top out just below the top of the overfill tube.  (6) Remove the new valve from the tank and adjust the float (this usually requires twisting one way for up and the other way for down).  Once this is set, (7) Insert the new valve stem into the bottom of the tank and tighten it on the underside with the new plastic nut.  Make sure it is tightened snugly, but DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN!  You can now (8) reattach the Lift Chain and the Refill Tube.  Lastly, (9) reconnect the supply line from the shut-off valve to the tank and make sure there are no leaks present.  Once no leaks are confirmed, (10) turn the water back on.  Once the tank fills up, you should now find that your problem is now fixed!  To make sure, flush the toilet a few times to make sure everything is in good shape.
As I said earlier, this is a very common problem but an easy fix.  So if you've wondered why you got a water bill that is higher than normal, go check this out.  There's a good chance this is your problem and if you don't fix it soon, your bill will continue to be high.  The good news is that you don't need to hire someone when you can do it yourself!

Hope this has been helpful for you!  Please be sure to leave me a comment on what you thought or any input you may have.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Top 10 DIY Power Tools

Whether your a regular handyman or weekend DIYer, not only do you need to know how to perform the job, you need to have the tools to perform the job with.  Some projects require different tools than others and it's very important to have the right tool for the job, so it's safe to say that having a variety of tools on hand is a good idea.  In case you are unsure of which tools to keep around, I've put together a good starter list of tools that will help you be equipped to handle most jobs.  All of these tools can be purchased at your local home improvement stores.  (Pictures are just examples and not necessarily a recommendation of brands).

Cordless Drill

Cordless Drill
I start this list with the Cordless Drill because it has always been the most used tool that I have.  I use it on almost every job I do.  Every year it seems that there is a better model with more power available.  Now with the arrival of the Lithium-Ion battery, these drills are more powerful and, at the same time, lighter than ever!

Avg. Pricing: $100 - $250

Circular Saw

Circular Saw
If you were to poll every handyman out there, you would easily find out that the most common power tool ever used is the Circular Saw.  This was the very first power tool I ever purchased and has hands-down been the most valuable.  If you do much wood cutting at all, you'll definitely get your money's worth.  Now there are also different sizes and options available too.  The most standard circular saw used is the 7-1/4" corded model, but you can also get a cordless, battery-powered model also.  This saw is a little bit smaller but the convenience of being cordless makes it worth it.

Avg. Pricing: $60 -$150


                                                                        Nail Gun

Nail Guns
Now this is the tool that my stubbornness kept me from using the longest.  Years ago, I refused to invest in a nail gun because I felt like it wasn't needed.  I believed that a true carpenter would be able to do everything with the traditional hammer and nails and using a nail gun would be "cheating".  Oh how I was wrong!!  It took some shedding my pride and learning to be open-minded to new ideas, but I soon learned that this tool actually made my work better and quicker.  With the nail gun, you no longer need to worry about pre-drilling holes (especially in hardwoods like oak) and they also instantly drive the nails where you want them.  Most nail guns are pneumatic and require the use of an air compressor to power them.  Paslode is a brand that still makes a model that uses CO2 cartridges to power them, so there is no need for the compressor.  There is now even a battery-powered model on the market for an even more convenient option.  Either option you take, the nail gun is an extremely beneficial tool.  Be sure to read my post about Nail Gun Safety !

Avg. Pricing: $75 - $200

Compound Miter Saw

Compound Miter Saw
The compound miter saw is very handy when making a lot of angle cuts or multiple cuts of the same length.  If you have very much trim to install, this tool will help you make accurate angle cuts, especially if you installing crown molding.  This saw, not only cuts 0-45 degrees on either side, but the head also  pivots up to 45 degrees to one side, making it possible to make a compound miter cut.  That may be something that's hard for you to imagine needed to do, but if you ever need to, it's hard to replace the ease and accuracy this saw gives you.  The compound miter saw is a great tool, and because of this, I'm sure you'll find yourself using it more than you ever thought.

Avg. Pricing: $100 - $300

Table Saw

Table Saw
Now this tool may be for the more advanced DIYer but the Table Saw is definitely a super tool.  It takes some time getting comfortable using it, but when you do, your DIY ability will greatly increase.  The table saw gives so many more wood cutting options than any other tool.  With an adjustable fence, you can rip boards down to whatever width you need.  Also, the blade bevels from 0-45 degrees to give even more cutting options.  This tool will take up a little space in your shop or garage, but with the mobile base option, you can easily move it around as needed.  I definitely recommend this tool, especially if you enjoy woodworking.

Avg. Pricing: $175- up


Now I personally don't use the Router as much as I do other tools, but when I need one...I need one.  Routers can be used for creating edges to wood for joinery or decoration and also to make mortises (or recessing in doors) for hinges.  They can also be used on countertops.  If you are installing a laminate countertop, and using it in sheet form, you will need to trim off the edges to fit the counter.  By using a router with the correct bit, this can be done easily and accurately.  The truth is there are many, many different router bits available to perform many different functions.  Like I said earlier, you may not need a router often, but when you need need one.

Avg. Pricing: $70 - $200


Jig Saw
Jigsaws are perfect tool to make curved cuts in wood.  These tools come in different styles, with some being handle grip and others being barrel grip.  Another capability of the jigsaw is it's orbital motion.  By turning the setting up, the blade not only goes up and down, it moves forward and backward also, making it make cut faster (this should only be done on straight cuts, though).  You can even rotate the base of the saw 0-45 degrees to produce an angle cut.  The jigsaw is a tool that is pretty affordable and anyone should be able to use.

Avg. Pricing: $40 - $150

Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw
The Reciprocating Saw is a tool that has many uses, mostly in a remodeling atmosphere.  If you are in the need of tearing things apart or removing wood, it's hard to replace this tool.  In an earlier post, I wrote about replacing a front door, in which I used a reciprocating saw to remove the old door jamb from the wall.  It can be used to cut wood or metal, depending on which blade you use.  This tool can be purchased in the corded or battery-powered model,  You can also purchase a kit that includes a portable drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw, flashlight, charger and batteries.  You'll spend a little more money, but what you get in return is a universal bag of tools.

Avg. Pricing: $80 - $250

Palm Sander

Pam Sander
If you do any kind of woodworking at all, you'll definitely need a sander.  The one I use is an orbital palm sander.  With this kind, I have to purchase "hook-n-loop" style sanding pads.  You can also purchase a 1/4 sheet sander and buy your sandpaper in sheet form and cut them into 1/4 sheets, and then just clamp them on the sander.  There will always be certain times when hand sanding is the only option, but for most situations, an electric sander saves you time and effort and is worth the money!

Avg. Pricing: $50 - $100

Tile Saw

Tile Saw
Have you ever considered installing ceramic tile on your floors or countertops?  If so, you will need a tile saw.  This saw uses a diamond blade that is constantly applied with water to keep it cool while it cuts the tile.  These tools come in an array of sizes and prices.  There is one available for every type of user, from the average DIYer to the commercial contractor.

Avg. Pricing: $90 - up


Airless Paint Sprayer

Airless Paint Sprayer
As a bonus, I decided to add one more tool to this list.  You might think that the Airless Paint Sprayer is for painting contractors only, but I beg to differ!  These can be used for painting the inside or outside of a house.  You can paint fences and many other items.  Also, they can be used to apply wood stain to large areas like fences or siding.  I don't use my sprayer all the time, but when I do, I'm glad I have it.

Avg. Pricing: $100 - up

Now this is by no means a list of required tools to for any DIY project, but more like a compilation of the most useful tools to have in your my opinion.  While I have all of these tools, I did not purchase them all at once.  Over time, I slowly obtained them as I needed them.  The good thing is that the more tools I have, the more equipped I am to do projects myself!

Please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or just want to add any input.  Your input is always welcome here!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Install a New Front Door!!

Are you looking to increase the curb appeal of your home?  If there's one thing that will change the look of your home, it's a new front door.  Have you thought about doing this yourself?  A lot of people are intimidated by this kind of project.  Sure it can be a little challenging, but with a little preparation and patience this can be done by the average homeowner.  This project will take approximately 4-6 hours to complete.  So if this is something you're ready to do, follow along with me as I walk you through the process.

Entry Door

What Tools Will You Need?
  • Cordless Drill
  • 3" screws
  • Level (4' or 6')
  • Door Shims
  • Silicone
  • Great Stuff (expandable spray foam)
  • Hammer 
  • Flat bar (pry bar)
  • Silicone
  • Reciprocating Saw (also known as a Sawzall)
Let's Get Started!

The first thing you'll need to do is remove everything that's attached to the outside of the door, such as a storm door and brick molding (trim around outside of door).  Simply removing screws from the frame will remove the storm door.  The brick molding can be removed by using a hammer and flat bar.  If you plan to reuse the molding, you'll need to be extra careful not to damage it!  Next we'll go to the inside where you'll find trim around the door.  By using the same hammer and flat bar, you'll need to remove this as well.

 Now that all the trim has been removed, you should be able to see the door jamb (this is the wood frame that the door is mounted to).  The jamb is probably fastened to the wall framing by nails or screws.  Some folks like to try and remove these fasteners but I prefer to just cut them out.  You will need to use the reciprocating saw (Sawzall) with a bi-metal blade (about 6-8" long).  By sliding the blade of the saw in between the door jamb and the wall frame, you can just cut through the nails and/or screws.  At this point, the only thing that should be holding the door jamb in would be possible silicone under the door threshold (if any was used originally).  You can use the flat bar to pry the jamb toward the outside of the house, prying a little on each side at a time.  If the threshold doesn't want to budge, try working the flat bar under it and prying it up also.  This may take a little time, but try to be patient, it will come out.  You can also use the saw to cut the jamb up into pieces and remove it that way as well, but I prefer to try and remove it in one piece.  Once the jamb is out, you will need to do a little housekeeping.  Remove any insulation, door shims, and/or nails and screws that may have fallen out and sweep the door opening real well.

Before you start to install the new door, it's always a good idea to "dry fit" it first.  With everything out of the doorway and all shipping/packaging accessories removed from the door, attempt to sit the door in the opening.  If the door has trouble going in the hole, there may be some adjustments needed to the jamb before installing.  This could mean opening up the hole in the wall at either the sides or the top using the reciprocating saw.  If you are replacing the old door with a newer one of the same size, more than likely everything should fit, though.  If things do fit, go ahead and pull the door back out of the hole and rest it up against the wall or in a safe place.  You will need to apply a heavy bead of silicone on the floor (under where the threshold will be sitting) making sure to put plenty on the ends.  This will help to seal under the doorway against water or air infiltration.  Now you can put the door back in the opening, making sure to sit it in the silicone, not sliding it though and smearing it.  

The next step will be to shim the space between the wall framing and the new jamb on the hinge side to make sure the jamb will attach solidly to the wall frame.  Tapered wood shims are designed to slide together from both sides and, thus being able to adjust to whatever gap you have to fill.  Once you have shims in place (usually Top, Middle and Bottom), using your level, make sure the door jamb is plumb from top to bottom on the hinge side and anchor it using 3" screws.  I like to pull the weatherstripping back and place the screw behind it.  This leaves the door with no screws showing when you're done.  You will now need to repeat the same process for the other side.  This time you will have to take in account the space between the door edge and the door jamb.  When shimming the door jamb on this side, make sure to adjust the shims so that the space remains equal and consistent from top to bottom.  At this point, the door is anchored and operable.

Now you're almost through!  One step you don't want to forget is insulation.  You will now need to seal off the door on the sides and the top against water and air infiltration.  You can either use fiberglass insulation pieces and stuff it between the wall and the jamb, or another method is to use expandable foam in a can and spray it in these areas.  I like this method better because it expands and fills every gap that there might be!  Once this is complete, you are ready to install trim around the door on the inside and outside.  After installing the doorknob and/or deadbolt, your job is now complete!!!  You now have a brand new front door.

My hopes are that this post has been beneficial to you and helped prepare you for this project.  Like I said earlier, with preparation and patience this can be done by just about anyone.  Good luck along the way!  Please feel free to leave me a comment and share any input you may have!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentines Day Gift Ideas- Woodworking

Here's a couple good ideas for Valentines Day Gifts.  The first is a link to a Popular Mechanics article on how to build a little box.  This could be perfect as a gift or for placing your gift in.

Preview - Quick and Tricky Little Boxes - Fine Woodworking Article

This next one is really cool.  Have you ever thought about making a wooden box that looks like a book?  It opens up and has a storage compartment inside.  This could be a similar gift idea as above.

Does anyone have some good Valentines Day woodworking gift ideas?  If so, please leave me a comment with them.  I'm always looking for new ideas!


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Beginner Handyman Tips (Continued)

A couple of posts back, I passed on an article on "Tips for the beginner handyman".  Now it's time to add to it with some advice on what Not to do.  While I am an advocate for doing things yourself, I do believe one can get in over his/her head pretty quickly if they aren't prepared or informed.

First of all, the priority should always be safety!  Using the proper PPE can greatly reduce the chance for injury.  Safety glasses seem to be overlooked all the time.  I, myself, took this for granted for several years.  After a few "close calls", it became real to me just how quick something could happen and how much I appreciate my vision.  Nowadays, I make a good habit of keeping my safety glasses around.
 The following video is not mine, but it gives a really good list of things not to do, as well as some good ole' advice.  Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Friday, February 6, 2015

HOW 2! How To Patch A Hole In Drywall

Drywall Repair
Sooner or later, it's gonna happen.  The door knob put a hole in the wall, or you ran into the wall while moving furniture, or maybe someone had a bit of a rage and even punched the wall.  Either way, there's now a hole and it needs to be fixed.  Don't let a project like this scare you.  With a little help, some attention to detail, and PATIENCE, you can take care of this yourself and save the money of calling a drywall repairman to fix it.  Before I get started, let me just say that I've spent several years working as a drywall finisher and made very good money when I was called to do small repair projects like this.  It may seem crazy to share this information on how to do it yourself (and not pay someone like me to do it for you), but it only makes sense for me to help others out.  After all, over the years I've had folks I know share their secrets with me to help save money, so why not do it for others as well!

Drywall Tools

What You'll Need:

  • Drywall Coumpound
  • Drywall Tape (either Paper or Mesh type)
  • 6", 8", and 10" Taping Knives
  • Mudpan
  • Drywall
  • Screws
  • Cordless Drill
  • Drywall Sanding Screens

  Our project is to repair a hole in the drywall.  Whether it's in the wall or ceiling, our repair process will be the same.  The first step we need to do is square up the existing hole.  By using a drywall saw or "rat-tail saw", open up the damaged drywall to make a square hole.  This will make it easier to fit a new piece.  When doing this, if the hole is close to a stud or ceiling joist, cut the drywall to where one side of the hole will now be halfway over it, and can then be used to secure one side of the replacement piece.  If a framing member is not close, then just cut the hole open to the smallest square possible.  You can now use some small wood pieces, like 1" x 2"s or even scrap plywood to put behind the hole.  By placing the wood pieces behind the hole and anchoring with screws through the drywall, you now have a way to anchor the new drywall piece.  Just cut out a new piece of drywall to fit the new hole and anchor with screws to our new wood pieces.

Drywall Repair

  Now that we've closed the hole up, we will start the finishing process.  At this point you can use either paper tape or mesh tape.  The paper tape is a little more difficult because you have to apply it with drywall compound, or "mud",  and experience helps with this.  The mesh tape is easier for DIYers because it is self-adhesive and all you need to do is cut it to length and stick it on.  I prefer the paper tape, but either will work.

Drywall RepairDrywall Repair

  Once the tape is on (and if you used the paper tape, the mud is dry), then you are ready to start bedding the tape.  You will need to use a mud pan and a broad knife (either 8 " or 10").  Using the broad knife, spread the mud over the tape.  In this part, you are trying to float the mud from the center of the tape away.  Once the mud is dry (typically 24 hours are needed), it will be time to skim coat the patch.  During this step, you are doing the same as the float except you will need to use a wider knife.  Instead of an 8", try using a 10" or 12".  This time you will be floating the mud out even further away from the tape.  If you need to sand between coats of mud, make sure it is dry first or else the you'll have more work to do.

Drywall RepairDrywall Repair

Typically, after 3 coats of mud, you should be able to do a final sanding and then you are ready for paint.  One key thing to understand is that the wall where you are patching will never be completely flat.  The better you float the mud, and the further out you float it, the more it will appear flat. Ultimately, that is the job of a drywall finisher- to make the walls and/ or ceiling appear as smooth and flat as possible!  I hope this has been of some help to you.  As always, please feel free to leave me a comment or add your suggestions!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Nail Guns and How to Use Them Safely

  In this post, we'll talk about Nail Guns, What they are, What they are used for, and How to handle one safely.
Nail Gun
  First of all, pneumatic nailers (commonly known as Nail Guns) are powered by compressed air travelling through air lines to from an air compressor.  These tools are extremely beneficial because the greatly speed up the installation of materials, such as:  Wallboard, Molding, Framing Members, Shingles, etc..  Typically there are different styles of nail guns that are designed to be used for each different material installation .  In other words, a different nailer is used to install shingles than the one that is used for molding, and also that is used for framing, and so on.

Nail Gun
While these tools can be very beneficial to contractors and fellow DIYers, if they are not used safely, they could be extremely dangerous!  One important safety feature of all pneumatic nailers is that they will not fire unless pressed against the material.

Roofing Nail Gun
Finish Nail Gun
The following are some good Safety & Maintenance tips to practice while using these nail guns:

    Safety Glasses
  • Always review the operating manual before using any nailer!
  • Keep the nailer oiled according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Always wear appropriate PPE.

  • Never aim the gun toward your body.
  • Never point the gun at anyone or carry one with your finger on the trigger!
  • Use the correct nailer for the job.
  • Use the correct type and size of nail for the job.
  • Never load the nailer with the compressor hose attached.
  • Never leave the nailer connected when not in use.
  • If the nailer is not firing, disconnect the air hose before you attempt repairs.
  • Keep all body parts and co-workers away from the nail path to avoid serious injury.
                  Not following these safety guidelines could result in serious injury or death!
Nail Gun Safety

Nail Gun Safety

It is my hope that this helps you gain a better understanding of nail guns.  Not only can they be dangerous and require good safe practices, but they can be very beneficial!  Nail guns can greatly speed up construction processes and can reduce labor costs.  They can also provide more precise joining of materials and reduce the amount of pre-drilling required in such applications as hardwood molding installation and cabinetry.  Hopefully this article has been of value for you and I encourage your comments.  Please feel free to leave me a comment below.  Just as I am writing about these things, I am also reading what others have to say as well.  The day that I stop learning is the day that I stop progressing!  
Till next time....

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Concrete Slab or Crawl Space?

Concrete Floor?....Wood Floor?....(Does it really matter?)

 Many times people plan to build a new home and don't give much thought to their floor. The truth really does matter. Before we get to that, let's start by thinking about how each method is performed.

 The concrete slab method starts with pouring a footing, followed by laying foundation blocks. The top course of blocks is typically done using "L-Blocks". In between these blocks, fill dirt is hauled in and used to fill the complete cavity. After that, a vapor barrier is applied, reinforcement steel (or "re-mesh") is laid down and finally.....the concrete is poured. The wood floor method starts the same way except, instead of hauling in fill dirt, a floor is framed using wood beams, floor joists and a couple layers of plywood. Although both methods can provide a good, sturdy floor for your new home, a couple of things should be considered:

First of all, just as any wise builder should look at every part of the construction process, economics must be considered. The terrain you are building on, and in particular the slope of the ground where your house stands, must be considered. If you are building on relatively level ground, pouring a concrete slab could be the cheaper alternative. However, if the ground is sloping, it may be better to frame a wood floor instead of hauling in all the extra fill dirt. As you can see, the ground you start with can affect the cost of the options your considering.

Next, let's think about the plumbing. If you have a water leak (and everyone does at some point) and you have a wood floor, you run the risk of a damaged floor and extra repair costs. The flip side to that is that by having a crawl space your plumbing is easier to run during construction and also during repair situations. But what if you have a concrete slab? In this case, the plumber has to set all water lines and drains perfectly before concrete is poured. If things are off when it's poured, they won't line up with walls and could cause extra costs. This is usually not a problem for quality plumbers, though. In the event of a leak in the water line under the slab, you have two choices:  Cut out concrete to repair the plumbing and then report (Expensive! ).  The next option is to run new water lines through the attic. Now you would have to worry about making sure they insulated very well and not freezing in the cold attic, not to mention the damage to ceilings that a leak would then cause.

Lastly, you should consider comfort and preference. Some people prefer to walk on a concrete floor versus a wood floor,  and vice versa. That may sound silly but it's true. I personally like walking around on a wood floor better but, at the same time, I know folks who prefer the opposite.

I understand if you think I'm talking about extreme and/or rare scenarios to consider during your decision process. But what I'm encouraging you to do is consider ALL scenarios! Whether it's upfront costs, future problems, or just plain preference,  a wise builder should always consider everything. After all, your home could be the biggest investment you ever make. Hopefully this was helpful. Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts. Till next time,