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Feature Articles

Framing A Patio Cover

Most contractors and carpenters are familiar with ‘once in a lifetime jobs.’ For some of us, a once-in-a-lifetime job is simply having a client that appreciates your work, and when the job is finished, doesn’t complain about your final invoice (with all the extras!). Instead, they just write you a check and say thank you, from the heart.

But this article isn’t about one of those once-in-a-lifetime jobs. This is about one of those jobs where you have to stretch your skills, learn techniques you never imagined using, and make something that’s truly memorable. That was the experience I’ve had working with Gary Katz, especially building his new patio cover—a faux timber-frame challenge of design, layout, and joinery. Read the full article…

FastCap Tour: Lean & Mean

My brother is a year older than me, and because of that, he’s far more experienced and much smarter. But the thing that bugs me is that everything always has to be ‘just so’ with him. Sometimes, when I think about my brother I remember the last words in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: “…each in its ordered place.” Even the pencils and pens on my brother’s desk have to be ‘just so’ before he’ll answer a ringing phone; his door bench is the same way: every tool has to be razor sharp and in its proper place before he’ll start work on a door.

It took me years to understand why. I have to thank Paul Akers, from FastCap, for helping me see my brother in a totally new way. Read the full article…

My New Patio: Stamped Concrete

When I bought my little house in southern Oregon, I knew I’d be removing the existing concrete patio and the funky patio cover. The concrete had been mixed in a wheelbarrow and poured in sections, maybe over a decade or two, at least that was the forensic evidence. In some places the finish was smooth as glass, in others there was a heavy broom texture, and in a few sections, no finish at all. It was cracked and heaved. Read the full article…

Installing Exterior Doors in HVHZ Zones

This article might not appeal to all TiC readers, but that’s not the point of THISisCarpentry. Our goal isn’t to reach everyone. Our mission is to provide quality educational material for carpenters, even if it’s only a few of them. Still, I expect that even if you never have to install doors to meet HVHZ code, you’ll learn a few interesting things from this demonstration, things that will probably apply to normal door installation, too. Read the full article…

Making Radius Trim On the Jobsite

Lately, my crew and I are installing a lot of flat stock casing in the homes that we trim out—which means I also have to make more and more radius casing to finish the tops of windows and doors that have arched heads. Besides the sizes of the openings always being different, some openings require a full semi-circular arch, while others require just a segmental arch. And occasionally we make radius casing that’s stained and top coated with fine finish. That’s when it’s even more important to get a perfect fit and a good grain match, too! Read the full article…

A Side Gate

…with appreciation to the Katz bros.

It all started when my wife decided we needed a new gate on the side of the house. The existing gate worked, but being 20 years old, it needed more than just a facelift—it needed a structural lift, too. I’m sure you know what I mean!

Linda found a design on the Internet—an Arts and Crafts gate with a cloud lift for the top rail (you can guess where she found that!). I had never made one before but have faced a lot of tougher challenges in my life. Read the full article…

Woodcarving—Where the Past Meets the Present

I love how people can’t resist jumping to conclusions—as if they can’t live without a firm judgment, a conclusion to every question, no matter what that judgment is.

For instance, people always ask me what I do. I tell them I’m a musician. Honest. And every time I say that, without exception, I’m asked: “Can you make a living at that?”

No, I can’t. Few musicians can. But I make a good living as a woodcarver. And I love my work. When I tell people that, they always respond with shock, as if there’s no connection between music and wood. Read the full article…

Curved Stairs: Part Two

In part one of this article, I explained that if you’ve built a straight stairway or two then you’ve already mastered most of the skills you will need to build a curved stairway. Tasks like setting hardwood treads, installing newel posts, and assembling the handrail parts are all very similar. There are really only a few things about a curved stairway that are unique. First is creating the curved skirt boards, second is making the tapered treads to fit your custom stairway, and finally bending the curved handrail to follow the rise and run of your stairway. There are a few tricks to learn along the way, but I’m certain that once we have walked through it, you’ll realize there’s no mystery—just a little extra work. Read the full article…

My Living Room Wall: Part 2

In “My Living Room Wall: Part 1,” I documented the design concepts, the firewood box, and the stone mantel-shelf; now we’re onto the cabinets and shelves.

Installing the tops and trim, the face frames and doors, as well as the tapered columns, took a lot of thought and a lot of time. Other than baseboard molding, I didn’t want to install any scribe molding or trim on top of the face frames, so the wood tops had to go in first. After calling around to a few local lumber mills, I found two 8/4 x 14-in. pieces of old growth Douglas fir, one 16-ft. long, one 14-ft. long. I bought them both: one advantage—besides world-class steelhead fishing—to living in Southern Oregon. Read the full article…