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Feature Articles

Solving Porch Problems

Start with the Finish and Work Back to the Rough

A lot of carpenters scratch their heads every time they finish framing a porch and start on the stairs. There are so many ways to frame stairs on a porch that it’s hard to make a logical choice, let alone use the same technique twice. That’s why, to work on this story, we gathered together a group of carpenters, all JLC authors: Mike Sloggatt, Frank Caputo, Jed Dixon, Carl Hagstrom, Tom Brewer, and Greg DiBernardo all contributed to this article. Together we worked out a simple system for installing stringers, so you won’t have to scratch your head the next time you start on the stairs. Read the full article…

Exterior Porch Details for Traditional Materials

Drive through a new subdivision today and you’re greeted by homes covered with large swathes of vinyl and plastic. Step onto a porch and meet more plastic—floors, railings, columns…the list goes on and on.

In many homes, plastic has replaced wood and permeated almost every exterior building product. Not surprisingly, builders have become fluent at installing plastic, while wood skills have begun to disappear. Just when we need them most. Read the full article…

Making Money on Built-ins

Selling yourself: Like it or not, marketing matters.

I started my Handyman business in Los Angeles, CA back in 1999 after leaving a 23-year sales career. I made a good living in sales, but it wasn’t satisfying. I’ve always been interested in fixing things, and even more interested in working with wood.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot — there’s a huge difference between the work I do today and the funky 1×10 knotty-pine nailed-together bookcase I built for my bedroom as a kid. Today, the jobs I enjoy most, and the ones I make the most money on, involve fine finish work, including custom cabinets, bookcases, and built-ins of every type. Read the full article…

Not So Big

A not-so-big carpenter gears up: Shopping for equipment to fit size small in an industry that caters to XXL.

I’ve been a woman in the construction trades for over twenty years now. I’ve learned to frame, finish and fix along with the other guys. I can trade job-site humor with the best of them, and I can even deal with patronizing salesmen, with their soft pink hands and spotless work boots. But for me the hardest part of all has been finding professional clothing and equipment that fits a not-so-big carpenter. Read the full article…

Story Poles for Stairs

A simple tool takes the guess work — and a lot of the brain work — out of making safe comfortable stairs.

Every time I’m asked to bid or to build a set of stairs, I unroll the plans, look at the details, and shake my head. Architects rarely include and often they don’t even have the basic information I need, the few specifications that allow me to build a staircase that will meet the stringent requirements of building code in my area. Read the full article…

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