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Building Basics

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Victorian Window Head

For the last six or seven years, I’ve included some type of architectural trim presentation during my Finish Carpentry Clinics at Katz Roadshow events. For most of that time, I’ve built a fancy pediment with raking molding joined by a transition piece—a Greek Revival design common throughout the country. You can read more about that pediment in “Greek Revival and Italianate Trim.” Read the full article…

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Installing Baseboard

The joinery in baseboard forms the foundation for nearly all the joinery in finish carpentry, which makes perfect sense because baseboard is meant to replicate the foundation—the plinth—of a classical column. Though casing is the first molding profile noticed in a home, and often the first molding installed in a home, baseboard is usually the first molding that an apprentice carpenter learns to cut, and for good reason. Read the full article…

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Finding the Right Angle

Co-written by Mike Sloggatt

Around 2,500 years ago, a Greek philosopher we all met in high school named Pythagoras discovered a theorem that can make life easy for carpenters and contractors—if we just knew how to use it, and how to find right angles!

Most of us remember our ABC’s from high school, and we remember the Pythagorean Theorem, too, which applies to any 90-degree triangle. Read the full article…

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Track Saw Tutorial: Processing Sheet Goods

I recently worked on a video series for Festool in which I covered examples of how you might use a Festool track saw in a shop or on the jobsite. I typically work out of a small garage-based shop, and yet I’m able to process sheet goods in a one-person operation with limited space—something that wouldn’t be nearly as easy with a table saw. Read the full article…

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Installing a Fence Post

I’ve been helping my dad since I learned to walk (when I was nine months old, to be exact). I began work as his assistant when I was three months old: after daycare, I’d accompany him to look at jobs, sign contracts, and even pick up materials for the next day. As I got a little older (around age two), I started to actually help out on projects—I’d hold one end of the tape measure and carry his notepad on estimates. Read the full article…

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Casing Doors: Part 4

In Part 1 of this article, we reviewed the details of casing joinery and how to measure for new casing around a door frame. We also reviewed the necessary cut list, so that you can cut your casing right the first time. In Part 2, we moved on to the details of baseboard. We covered the best methods for installing casing and the use of hand-driven nails in Part 3. We’ll finish Chapter 2 by exploring methods for pre-assembly. Read the full article…

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Casing Doors: Part 3

In Part 1 of this article, we reviewed the details of casing joinery and how to measure for new casing around a door frame. We also reviewed the necessary cut list, so that you can cut your casing right the first time. In Part 2, we moved on to the details of baseboard. Now, we’ll explore the best methods for installing casing, and the use of hand-driven nails—the preferred technique for working with soft wood. Read the full article…

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Advanced Excel: Know Your Costs

In my last Excel article, I introduced some basic features to show the power and flexibility of this awesome program. In this article, I will expand on what was previously covered and introduce some new features. This is pretty advanced stuff. But if you stick with it, I really believe that it can make your business life more efficient, which can translate into more dollars earned, and more time saved. Read the full article…

Casing Doors: Part 1

The trim that surrounds a door frame is called casing, and it’s always installed before baseboard and chair rail because they have to butt against it. Casing is also the easiest type of molding to install because the joinery is simple, making it a perfect first project.

I’ll start off by explaining the details of casing joinery and describing how to measure for new casing around a door frame. I also talk about making a cut list, so when you cut your casing it will be perfect the first time. Read the full article…

An Introduction to Spreadsheets

Like most contractors, I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and accurate when it comes to the paperwork needed in this business. There are a great many programs available that claim to fully automate your construction business. Most of them are either too expensive and/or too complicated for my small business. What I need is something easier to use and more flexible. Read the full article…

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