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  • An Energy Retrofit in Stages

    I'm a building energy consultant in central Wisconsin. I recently had a chance to perform a major energy retrofit on a modest ranch-style house just south of Lacrosse, Wis.

  • Building a Curved Handrail

    Thanks to bending rail, it's not that difficult to form curved handrail sections for a circular staircase on site.

  • Inline Circular Saws

    As a framer, I prefer inline saws to sidewinders because they're more durable and less likely to bog down in heavy cutting.

  • Innovative Products 2011

    A sampling of the tools and materials on exhibit at JLC Live in Providence, R.I.



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    Tight house heating loads; price of spray foam; sealing a ventilated attic; step-flashing technique; more



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    JLC Report

    Ever since the EPA's Repair, Remodeling, and Painting (RRP) rule took effect in April 2010, remodelers around the country have been waiting expectantly for the agency to begin enforcement action against violators of its strict work-safety and record-keeping requirements.


On the Job

  • Working With American Clay

    In early 2007, a customer invited me to a local one-day workshop offered by the manufacturer of American Clay Earth Plasters.



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    Control Costs With a Purchasing System

    For the past several columns we've been talking about the importance of gross profit and contribution margin, or the amount that each job "contributes" toward overcoming your annual fixed overhead expenses and reaching your profit target.



  • Framing Fixer

    The next time the plumber goes berserk with a Sawzall, it might not take so long to repair the damage.

  • Solar Helper

    The company best known for its lineup of solar-powered attic fans now offers a way to expel hot air even after the sun goes down.

  • Durable Footer Form

    Cardboard forms work fine as long as it doesn't rain before the concrete arrives.

  • Nonslip Floor Cover

    Cover Guard Floor Protection is a flame-retardant polyethylene sheet embossed with a diamond-plate pattern to prevent slippage.

  • Versatile Trim

    TruWood Reversible Trim is a composite exterior-grade product manufactured from residual wood fibers using no urea-formaldehyde resins, the maker says.

  • Quick Charge

    Eaton Corp., which makes charging systems for commercial electric-powered vehicles, now offers a line of chargers for residential applications.

  • Easy Cure for Clogs

    Instead of plunging, snaking, or pouring harsh chemicals down a stopped-up drain, how about just turning a dial?

  • Waterproof Cabinet

    All it takes is one leaky pipe to turn a shiny new sink base cabinet into a pulpy mess.

  • Modular Stairs

    Instead of a one-piece stringer, an Ascendings modular staircase has individual CNC-machined aluminum "risers."

  • Soffit Baffles

    AccuVent attic ventilation baffles are designed to keep insulation in place while directing a constant stream of airflow from soffit to ridge.

  • Premium Vinyl

    Urban Luxury Vinyl Flooring comes in 6-inch-by-36-inch planks that mimic the look of natural wood and in three tile sizes (12, 16, and 18 inches square) that resemble real stone.

  • Faster Through-Bolt

    If you're still using a socket wrench to fasten posts or beams, you might want to check out the ThruLok Screw Bolt Fastening System.



  • Powerful Pliers

    Channellock says its new 8-inch High-Leverage Lineman’s Plier (#368) requires considerably less cutting force than the competition, thanks to increased leverage achieved by moving the rivet forward, closer to the cutting edges.

  • Tough Bits

    If you accidentally hit rebar with a SpeedHammer Power SDS-plus Masonry Bit, you might be able to keep the cursing to a minimum.

  • Convenient Containers

    Festool has upgraded its stackable carrying cases by replacing the old thumb-busting latches with easy- to-turn knobs that open, close, and connect boxes.

  • Improved Recip Blades

    Lenox says its T2 demolition and wood-cutting reciprocating-saw blades now cut 25 percent faster than earlier models and last twice as long.