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Feature Articles

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Out-of-sight Exterior Pocket Doors

At my new home, I built a small guest cabin down by the river (reservations are booked years in advance, so good luck with that!). I wanted to open up the west wall of the cabin, along the river, to both the sight and the sound of the water. But I couldn’t afford a 12-ft. wide commercially manufactured sliding door unit. And besides, I wanted it to look cool. So I made the unit myself. Read the full article…

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Bottom Stair Post and Stringer Deck Connections

When it comes to decks and especially exterior stairs, there are several critical areas that can spell the difference between safe and dangerous construction techniques. For that reason, current code requirements focus on some of those areas. In this article, we’ll look at just one detail: the prescribed method for securing the bottom newel post at the base of a stair.

Read the full article…

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Eave Returns: Interpreting GYHR Details

Co-written by Gary Katz

Over the years, several articles on eave returns have appeared in the Journal of Light Construction and Fine Homebuilding, and extensive discussions have occurred on website forums, too. But something about the details in those articles and discussions always seemed missing or confused. In 2007, Get Your House Right (GYHR) was published, and finally carpenters and architects had a reference that filled in the missing details and explained basic rules and proportions for eave returns. Understanding and following the advice in that book isn’t always easy. In this article, we’ll examine and expand on those details, and we’ll illustrate one step-by-step construction approach for a poor man’s return, too. Read the full article…

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Attaching Bottom Deck Posts

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I have always been on the lookout for a better way to make a more secure rail post connection at the bottom of a set of deck stairs. Over the years, I have tried the old ways of mounting the post on the outside of the stringer and adding a couple of bolts—a technique that never worked, and especially won’t work today because of the way that building codes have changed: Deck posts must now withstand 200 lbs. of lateral force. This new code requires a lot more thought, and the installation requires a lot more hardware. Read the full article…

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Framing a Prow Roof(s)

I’m a GC with a trade background of framing. Here in Southern Oregon, often times the framing crew is also the building wrap, trim, siding, and window/door installation crew. This includes fascia. At least that’s the way the guys that taught me did it. Luckily, I had some good mentors. However, installing prow fascia isn’t an everyday task. In fact, it isn’t even a task that I see more than once every few years. Read the full article…

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Tectus Hinges

I first heard of the Tectus line of hinges when bidding a project a year ago. I didn’t get the job, but I learned about a new-to-me hinge that is an ideal replacement for the Soss hinges I occasionally had to deal with. I never liked the Soss hinge—there was no forgiveness and no adjustment; you routed while you kept your fingers crossed. Plus, the setback dimensions on a Soss hinge make them difficult to use in many situations. Read the full article…

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Problem-free Prefit Doors

I’ve been hanging doors for over thirty-five years, and writing about it for nearly twenty-five. For many years, I approached door installs differently every time (like most carpenters). After all, there are so many steps, and there is a lot you need to watch for! It’s tough to do it the same way every time. But a door is a door is a door. Which means unless you’re doing exactly the same thing every time you install one, you’re wasting valuable energy and time. Read the full article…

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Installing a Commercial Steel Door

About six years ago, I remodeled an Avis car rental office. Prior to the remodel, the office had a showroom of cars on display, complete with showroom-style glass so that the cars could be seen from the road. Avis wanted to give the office a softer, more residential look, so the glass was removed, a wall was framed, and double-hung windows and vinyl cedar shake siding were installed. At the time, I figured my only option was to install a metal residential door—a typical one you’d find in a home, made of galvanized light-gauge steel—and a wood frame. I didn’t know I could get a raised panel commercial steel door with glass back then! Read the full article…

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Repairing a Rotten Door Entry

I was on a job recently where I had to completely rework the entry door install on a house. It was difficult to tell from a distance, but the original work had been poorly done (and that might be an understatement!). All of the errors made in that original installation became more and more apparent once I started disassembling the install in order to right the wrongs. Sometimes you have to peel back more than the skin to see how rotten the fruit is at the core. And then you need to take a strategic approach to help that core heal. Read the full article…

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Designing and Installing an Eyebrow Dormer

This past summer, I had the opportunity to create a detail that is now rare in construction. The trade seems to have lost its flair for creative, interesting, and alluring details. All too often we have been transformed into simple assemblers. One of the reasons why I love remodeling is that no job is the same. While some parts of a job are unavoidably familiar, new challenges arise on every project. And some projects push us more than others. Read the full article…

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