December 2008 Table of Contents

Adding to an Existing Slab Foundation Adding to an Existing Slab Foundation

An engineered schedule of epoxied rebar pins reinforces the joints. Read more

Custom Modular for the Coast Custom Modular for the Coast

Modular designers have shown they can provide upscale packages, but are the homes up to the challenges of coastal construction? Read more

Rescuing a Manufactured-Stone Wall Rescuing a Manufactured-Stone Wall

A properly flashed water-resistant drainage plane is essential when installing stone veneer over a wood-framed wall. Read more

Restoring Wood Shutters Restoring Wood Shutters

A methodical approach and modern materials give new life to a time-honored architectural element. Read more

Using Bending Rail Using Bending Rail

Laminating a curved stair rail takes sturdy forms and a lot of clamps. Read more


Protecting trees on site; radiant-heat claims revisited; unnecessary design regulations; pedal power; more Read more


IRC adopts residential-sprinkler requirement; Long Island town imposes energy-efficiency standards; new homes shrinking; more Read more

Q & A
Q&A Removing Kerdi Epoxy Grout With Heat

Q: Using a heat gun is an approved method for removing cured epoxy grout from tiles and fixtures [see Q&A, 5/08]. But can the same technique be used when the tile has been installed over Schluter’s Kerdi waterproofing membrane, or would the heat damage the membrane? Read more

Q&A Can Dimmer Switches Save Energy?

Q: We know that compact fluorescents deliver energy savings, but how about dimmer switches? The assumption is that homeowners will use them to turn down lights to save money — but do they actually save energy? Read more

Q&A Are Windows Required in Basements?

Q: We’d like to start building basements with precast concrete panels, but we’ve been running into resistance from local code officials. Are basement windows required when a house is built with a full foundation? Read more

Q&A Is It Safe to Retrofit Exterior Foam Insulation?

Q: I built a lot of homes in upstate New York in the 1980s using 2x6 studs, fiberglass batts, and a poly vapor retarder for the shell. Given the rising cost of heating and cooling, the owners are asking about energy upgrades to their walls. I'd like to suggest adding 1 or 2 inches of rigid foam on top of the existing OSB or plywood sheathing, followed by new siding. Would the presence of polyethylene vapor retarders make this a risky retrofit strategy? Read more

On the Job
On the Job: Custom Shower Niches On the Job: Custom Shower Niches

Custom shower niches; working inside the bubble Read more

Business Surviving the Recession

We’re in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty in the financial markets, and consumer confidence is the lowest it’s been in a long time. It seems that no one really knows what’s going to happen. Read more


Soft batts; fire-stopping hole sealer; efficient furnace; easy-to-program thermostat; expanding fiberglass insulation; more Read more

Toolbox Paslode PowerFramer 350S

Paslode has given its new nailer — the PowerFramer 350S — a whole new design. Read more

Toolbox Milwaukee 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Last summer my internal clock for a new sliding compound miter saw went off, so I made a list of desired features and went shopping. Read more

PacTool International Siding Gauges Toolbits PacTool International Siding Gauges

Hang fiber-cement siding by yourself and guarantee the right exposure with a pair of Siding Gauges from PacTool. Read more

Cooper Hand Tools Vertical Snips Toolbits Cooper Hand Tools Vertical Snips

Protecting your hands from razor-sharp edges can be tough when you're cutting aluminum or steel siding with conventional aviation snips. Read more

Malco Products Sider Toolbits Malco Products Sider

If a speed square is a framer's go-to layout tool, Malco's Sider is the equivalent for vinyl-siding installers. Read more

Dude Tools Bolt Marxster Toolbits Dude Tools Bolt Marxster

Laying out anchor-bolt locations on a mudsill is quick and simple with the Bolt Marxster from Dude Tools. Read more

Milwaukee Wormdrive Saws Toolbits Milwaukee Wormdrive Saws

Milwaukee's two new wormdrive saws — 6477-20 (with standard plug) and 6577-20 (with twist-lock plug) — feature 15-amp motors, 12-foot cords, rafter hooks, on-board wrench storage, magnesium housings, and sight glasses for checking the gear oil. Read more

Senco SCN49 Coil Siding Nailer Toolbits Senco SCN49 Coil Siding Nailer

At just over 5 pounds and with adjustable depth-of-drive, the Senco SCN49 coil siding nailer accepts wire and plastic collated nails from 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches. Read more

Prazi Beam Cutter Toolbits Prazi Beam Cutter

Getting through a 6x6 or a 4x4 with a 7 1/4-inch circ saw typically requires multiple passes, but with a Prazi Beam Cutter attached you can cut up to 12 inches in a single pass. Read more

Klein Tools 25-Foot Tape Stop Power-Return Rule Toolbits Klein Tools 25-Foot Tape Stop Power-Return Rule

Fans of auto-locking tape measures should check out the 150th-anniversary version of Klein's 25-foot Tape Stop Power-Return Rule. Read more

Calculated Industries Ultra Scale Master Pro Digital Takeoff Tool Toolbits Calculated Industries Ultra Scale Master Pro Digital Takeoff Tool

Anything that promises to speed up takeoffs and estimating deserves a look. Read more

Lufkin Pro Series Fiberglass Long Tape Toolbits Lufkin Pro Series Fiberglass Long Tape

Available in 100-, 200-, and 300-foot versions, the Lufkin Pro Series Fiberglass Long Tape has three interchangeable end hooks. Read more

Leica Geosystems Disto D2 Distance Meter Toolbits Leica Geosystems Disto D2 Distance Meter

Sized to fit in a shirt pocket, the Leica Disto D2 is the smallest distance meter available and the simplest to use, says the manufacturer. Read more

Bad Dog Tools Rover Bits Toolbits Bad Dog Tools Rover Bits

Sold in sizes from 1/4 inch to 2 1/2 inches, Rover Bits from Bad Dog Tools are the only drill bits I know of that can make curving holes that turn a corner. Read more

Malco Sheet Metal Double Enter Drill Bits Toolbits Malco Sheet Metal Double Enter Drill Bits

Designed for drilling sheet metal, Malco's Sheet Metal Double Ender drill bits are perfect for ductwork, metal flashing, and gutters. Read more

Lenox Diamond Hole Saw Toolbits Lenox Diamond Hole Saw

Lenox's Diamond Hole Saw makes cutting holes in tile and stone for shower valves, faucets, and the like faster and easier. Read more

Starborn Industries Smart-Bit Toolbits Starborn Industries Smart-Bit

When it comes to predrilling exotic hardwood or fiber-composite decking, the Smart-Bit is the best tool for the job. Read more

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