The area where I work, north of Boston, is full of old houses ripe for remodeling. It's natural for homeowners who want to update their living space to first address sagging and bouncing floors, and make sure any structural work done upstairs is solidly supported below. That was the case on the job shown here. The home's central girder had been unprofessionally shored over the years with steel posts, pressure-treated 4x4s, and even a cedar log (below). But in spite of the effort, the first-floor was still bouncy, and the spans between posts were too long. So I installed five new 4-inch-diameter lally columns on reinforced concrete footings, reducing the spans between supports to 6 feet.

To do this job right you need the proper tools. I used to rent a Ridgid-brand column cutter for $50 a day from a rental supply. When they offered to sell it to me six years ago, used, for $285, I accepted. It was a good decision: I've cut about 80 columns since that time, and the tool still has the original cutting wheel. A year later, I bought...

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