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YouthBuild A transformational experience for kids
My Shop Entry Door I wanted a BIG entry door for my new shop.
Challenging Eave Returns Hard lessons from a tough winter
Curved Stairs No Mystery, Just Simple Math
A Geometric Study in Quartersawn
Rowan Oak A visit to William Faulkner's home in Oxford, Mississippi
Improve Moldings And Increase Referrals
Turning Stair Balusters Design, Tools, & Lathe Work
My New Shop A Radiant Slab

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Turning Stair Balusters

Design, Tools, & Lathe Work

My wife, Helen, is a grammar school teacher—third and fourth grades. For over twenty years, every weekday evening, as soon as dinner is finished, Helen carries a pile of papers to the dinner table and sets about grading each one, with diligence and care, because in the end—regardless of the ruling political party or that year’s favorite flavor of curriculum—Helen’s responsibility is to the children, her students.

Carpenters have a similar responsibility—though assuredly not one with such monumental impact. Read the full article…

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Improve Moldings and Increase Referrals

Back in the mid-1980s, my brother and I were growing tired of installing 1 1/2-in. clamshell casing, and 2 1/2-in. streamline baseboard. As finish contractors, that’s all we did on every job, day after day (after we had installed the doors and windows). By then we’d nailed off miles of small trim in thousands of apartments and hundreds of single-family homes. The market was starting to soften up about that time, and one of the contractors we worked for needed an edge against other spec builders in the same subdivision. We suggested upgrading the moldings in one of his homes. Not the whole house, mind you, only the first floor. We told him we’d do it for our cost, just to prove a point. Read the full article…

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Curved Stairs: No Mystery, Just Simple Math

Part One: Framing

I can still remember the first time I worked on a job with a curved stairway. By the time I got there it was sheet rocked with temporary treads. Up to that point I had built several straight stairs and even one or two that hit a landing and changed directions, but this curved thing was a complete mystery. The guys who had worked there the whole time shared just enough to really get me interested but they weren’t giving up many of their secrets. I made up my mind that if they could do it so could I. Read the full article…

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Challenging Eave Returns

Hard lessons from a tough winter

It was the dead of winter in 2014, and the roller coaster that I own (better known as Megna Building & Remodeling, a residential remodeling company in NJ) had dipped down into a slow, flat spot on the tracks of my business. Feet of snow covered the land where excavators awaited the thaw so that work could begin and money could flow. But let’s rewind a few months to where this story begins. Read the full article…

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My Shop Entry Door

I wanted a BIG entry door for my new shop—at least 4/0 x 8/0—so I wouldn’t have to fight carrying materials into the shop. Sure, I installed a 12-ft. wide custom roll-up right next to the entry door, but I open that ‘garage door’ rarely, especially in January, February, August, and September, and barring a big order of sheet goods, I open the roll-up door just to take finished projects out of the shop. But the main door I’d be opening every day, all day long, and I knew I would never find the door of my dreams on a shelf at a store. So I built the door and the jamb myself, as one big pre-hung unit.

Read the full article…

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YouthBuild

“As I live my life, I will view every challenge as an opportunity to: Set goals, Build character, Gain knowledge, Maintain balance, Demonstrate perseverance, Broaden my perspective, and Invest in my community. Through this process, I am being transformed into a Self sufficient, contributing member of society! When I say “Youth”, you say “Build”, YOUTH BUILD! YOUTH BUILD! YOUTH BUILD!”

-YouthBuild Pledge

Read the full article…

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Dear Glenn: One Builder’s Headache With Deck Ledger Codes – Part I

DEAR GLENN: I’ve read many of your articles in JLC and I’ve watched videos on your website, too. You seem to be the go-to guy when it comes to deck construction. Maybe you can help me with my headache! I apologize if my rant is long (see below), but I’m hoping it’ll straighten out the issues for other builders, too. — Scott Wells – Scott Wells Construction Co., Medford, OR Read the full article…

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“Dutchman” Door Repair

For the past two years I have been lucky enough to be a student in the Preservation Carpentry program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA. I’ve been in the building business for the last ten years, and a carpenter for around half that time, mostly working doing renovations, trim, cabinets, and the usual “stuff” that falls in the realm of modern carpentry. Occasionally, prior to deciding to become a preservation carpenter, I would encounter something that we all find from time to time—rotten or damaged wood in some part or piece of a structure that needed some attention beyond putty and paint to ensure it was going to last or pass muster. Read the full article…

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