November 2009 Table of Contents

Installing Housed Treads and Risers Installing Housed Treads and Risers

Shims and adhesive lock the parts together into a squeak-free unit. Read more

Retrofitting Exterior Insulation Retrofitting Exterior Insulation

Adding rigid foam to the outside of the shell dramatically increases R-value while reducing thermal conduction. Read more

Roofing With Cedar Shingles Roofing With Cedar Shingles

For a long-lasting roof, stick with the best shingle grades and use a ventilating underlayment. Read more

Specifying Drywall Finishes Specifying Drywall Finishes

A Level 5 finish may prevent callbacks in areas of high visibility, but it's not always necessary. Read more

Framing Hardware Dos and Don'ts Framing Hardware Dos and Don'ts

Prevent structural problems and failed inspections by avoiding these common installation errors. Read more


Coordination between subs; barrier-free showers vs. code; don’t ventilate crawlspace with moist outdoor air; code article misses the boat; more Read more

In the News
In the News

Boulder, Colo., builders get a tax reprieve; jury rejects first FEMA trailer lawsuit; an update on the New London, Conn., eminent domain case; more Read more

Q & A
Q&A Best Pipe for Gas Lines?

Q: In my area, only black iron pipe is allowed for gas lines. Is there a problem with galvanized pipe? Read more

Q&A Pancake Boxes and Ceiling Fixtures

Q: To retrofit light fixtures for old plaster ceilings that will be covered with new drywall, I plan to screw 1/2-inch-deep metal pancake boxes into the lathe of the existing ceilings and hang the new drywall around the boxes. But my electrician wants to cut into the ceiling and install deeper ceiling boxes, which will require additional blocking and more labor. He says that 31/2-inch-diameter by 1/2-inch-deep pancake boxes don't have sufficient fill capacity to make the electrical connection; is he right? Read more

Q&A Cupped Hardwood Flooring

Q: Can moisture condense on the back of a prefinished hardwood floor above an uninsulated crawlspace and cause cupping? The flooring was installed over 15-pound asphalt felt and an OSB subfloor; poly covers the ground underneath the dry and ventilated crawlspace of the 2-year-old home. Read more

On the Job
Custom Access Ramps On the Job: Custom Access Ramps

Most of the houses I work on here in Southern California have few if any accessible design features. For a homeowner who uses a wheelchair, even a single step at the entry is a serious impediment. Over the last several years, I’ve put my welding skills to good use building access ramps out of readily available steel parts. Read more

Business Is the Lead Carpenter System for You?

In this article, I’ll address the most common questions I’ve been asked by company owners who are implementing their own lead carpenter system. Read more

Products Products

Duct and pipe wrap; under-slab gas-blocking membrane; sealant for metal roofs; prepackaged rain screen; see-through window screens; more Read more

Toolbox New 18-Volt Impact Drivers

About a year ago I tested nine 18-volt impact drivers. Since then, a few new models — Bosch's 25618-02, Makita's BTD 144, and Milwaukee's 2650-20 — have come on the market. Read more

Klein Tools Bent Nose Romex Cable Strippers Toolbits Klein Tools Bent Nose Romex Cable Strippers

Klein's Bent Nose Romex Cable Strippers have a 90-degree angled nose designed to get them into tight spots. Read more

Ideal Industries Sir Nickless Cable Cutter Toolbits Ideal Industries Sir Nickless Cable Cutter

One challenge with armored cable is that it can be hard to cut the armor without nicking the wires inside, which is why cable manufacturers recommend using a rotary cutter designed specifically for this cable type. Read more

Tru-Pro Products Aluminum Drywall Stilts Toolbits Tru-Pro Products Aluminum Drywall Stilts

Ever notice that a drywall guy stomping around on stilts looks a lot like Herman Munster? Read more

Milwaukee Clamp Meter Toolbits Milwaukee Clamp Meter

Clamp meters let electricians measure current in a live wire without stripping the insulation or touching the conductor, but the calculator-like display can be hard to read in dark basements or outside in the sun. Read more

WD-40 Co. Trigger Pro Dispenser Toolbits WD-40 Co. Trigger Pro Dispenser

The one bad thing about WD-40 is that when you lose that little red straw, you have no way of controlling the spray. Read more

Vaughan Tools 15-Inch HookBar Toolbits Vaughan Tools 15-Inch HookBar

The typical flat utility bar has a 90-degree rocker head that curves in the opposite direction from the flat end — which restricts the bar's range of motion. Read more

Diamond Wall Football Pole Sander Toolbits Diamond Wall Football Pole Sander

The new Football Pole Sander is a simple tool with some significant advantages. Read more

Window on the Past Backfill Window on the Past

As part of a recent restoration project, my partner and I were hired to restore an elaborate triangular window in the gable end of 150-year-old Howden Hall in Bristol, Vt. The problem was, there was no actual window left to restore; all we had for reference was an old sepia postcard. Read more

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