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More stories about Backfill

  • A Master at Work

    Watching from a distance as Fred Sprinkle quickly set pilings with his excavator, I had the impression he was handling much smaller sticks of wood.

  • Fully Loaded

    Like most contractors, I seldom give much thought to how much stuff I lug around every day. That changed earlier this spring, when I decided to get all my tools and supplies in order.

  • A Carpenter's Home Is His Castle

    As a union carpenter, T.J. Baker works on large, complicated structures like baseball stadiums, computer-chip factories, and high-rise hotels. So what does he do in his spare time? The same thing most carpenters do: He remodels his house.

  • Gentlemen, Start Your Trowels!

    With those words, the competitors in the fifth annual Bricklayer 500 were off and laying brick at a pace never seen on job sites.

  • Hammer Museum

    Most carpenters still carry a hammer on their toolbelt. But even those who pound a nail the old way once in a while would probably admit, if pressed, that hammers are beginning to seem sort of, well, last century.

  • On Assignment in Iraq

    Contractor Rob O'Brien is an active-duty Marine. In August 2005, when he learned he was to be deployed to Iraq, he fully expected to participate in some of the riskier support operations his unit would be performing from its base in Al Anbar Province.

  • The Truth About Thomas Crapper

    It sounds like a straightforward trivia question: Was the flush toilet invented by a Victorian Englishman named Thomas Crapper, and is his name the source of the slang expression for that invention?

  • Ghosts of the Gold Rush

    Tell Charley Spiller that his roofs look like they've been cobbled together from tin cans, and he'll thank you for the compliment. Spiller, a maintenance mechanic for California's Bodie State Historic Park, works in the ghost town of Bodie, Calif., on buildings that haven't been inhabited for a...

  • Straw-Bale Vault

    It's not every day that a world-famous artist asks you to design and build a retreat honoring the work of Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy — in highly seismic Joshua Tree, Calif., to boot.

  • Breakneck Backhoe

    With a top speed of 20 mph, most backhoe loaders are unlikely candidates for the passing lane. The HMEE (high-mobility engineer excavator) is different.