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Feature Articles

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My Living Room Wall: Part 1

I’m fortunate not to be a packrat. I know many people who are. My father would never throw away anything! Which is probably one reason I’m so averse to saving stuff. I’ve even thrown away a few things I had to buy again! But there is one thing I’ve always had a problem with—books. My entire life, I’ve collected books. In fact, I still have most of my favorite first reads from when I was a kid. Read the full article…

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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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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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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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Bisquick Cabinets

Once I find something that works, I pretty much stay with it. And the system I’ve used for making simple cabinets is still largely the same. I use multiple shaper setups for making cope-and-stick stile-and-rail doors, raising panels, and other high-end cabinetry projects. But in this article I want to focus on basic cabinet construction using a minimal number of tools—tools that most carpenters already own. Read the full article…

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Raking Cornice: Part 3

Developing and Producing Rake Crown with a Shaper and Band Saw 

The most important part of carpentry is design. If the design isn’t right, if the drawings are mediocre or worse, no amount of joinery skills will save a project from failure. Unfortunately, executing proper drawings prior to cutting wood and creating sawdust isn’t a common component on jobsites today. Read the full article…

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Making a Custom Door

At an almost commodity price

For almost fifteen years I’ve been meeting a friend of mine, Ken, on Friday mornings. He’s retired, but he still does a few small jobs. Sometimes he gets one that is a little over the top and asks me to help. Recently, he pulled out a picture of a door and said, “Do you think we could make one of these?” Another builder friend of his had a client who had to have the door, until they found out the price! Read the full article…

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