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Oldie But Goodie

While I appreciate Tim Uhler's review of wormdrive saws ("Inline Circular Saws," 7/11), I do dispute one remark - that sidewinders are less durable and more likely to bog down. As a southpaw, I find sidewinders much more user-friendly, although I can use a wormdrive anytime it's necessary. I have had a Black & Decker industrial-grade Super Sawcat for more years than I can count. It's got a 15-amp motor and has put up with everything I've demanded of it. It can cut up to a 50-degree bevel angle, and its blade-depth adjustment is accurate to within 1/32 inch - without having to set the saw on the material for reference. For cuts that are hard to complete with a wormdrive, the sidewinder, with its opposite tilt, is always there to help. Its rip fence - while nowhere near the size of the new DeWalt wormdrive's - is larger than that of any other wormdrive saw I've seen on the job. I believe the B&D commercial line was absorbed by DeWalt, and its version of this saw falls well short. I'll miss my saw when it dies, and it will probably be impossible to replace with one that has as many features. If you've never seen one, believe me, it is a really well-designed piece of machinery. I hope the industry can build something comparable before this one quits.

Eric Blomberg
Fine Line Building & Design
Trinity County, Calif.

Combo Condo Question

I had a few questions about the article "Combining Two Condos" (8/11). First, if the two units will remain one combined unit in the future, why install fire doors? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to install a cased opening, and if at a later date the owner chose to separate the units again, install a wall to meet the separation requirement? Second, why did the inspector specify steel instead of wood framing? And last, what code does Hoboken (N.J.) use?

Michael Tusino
Deputy Building Commissioner
Framingham, Mass.

Author Rob Corbo responds: The condo building we worked in is located in a city block full of condos, and has nine units - three per floor stacked three floors high. The fire doors were needed to maintain the integrity of the building's firewall, which runs from the basement up through the roof, passing through the condos on the two floors below these combined units. I presume the building inspector specified steel instead of engineered lumber because it's nonflammable and therefore a better component in a firewall assembly. Many high-density towns try to reduce flammable materials whenever possible, not only to prevent the spread of fire but to reduce toxic fumes for firefighters. Hoboken, which has more than 38,000 people per square mile, uses the New Jersey State Uniform Construction Code.

Up on the Roof

Here's the photo you asked for when I described our method for capping chimney chases (Q&A, 4/11). We just finished a job, and here's how it came out.
Patty McDaniel
Boardwalk Builders