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August 2007
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Remodeling Porn – Taunton Press

Remodeling is just like sex. You want to do it all the time, you want to do it well, and you fantasize about it when you can’t. You don’t have to admit it here, I can see your face reddening and your head gently nodding. Yeah it’s that good!

The nice thing about remodeling is that so many people are doing it and have no shame or guilt. Like sex, when you can’t remodeling, you think about it. There are literally thousands of books and magazines written about it.
Most are crap. But there is some real good remodeling porn available. Taunton Press started life with fine Woodworking and moved into Fine Homebuilding magazines. They have recently published a new series of books that are hardcore and will make you sweat and tremble.

Pop Quiz! You have 20 bucks to spend. Do you buy some paint? Do you buy some drywall? Or do you spend that money buying one of these? Answer below…

The Idea Book Series

FamideaThe Family Home Idea Book covers various rooms around the house from the public to the private. It has a lighter touch as it covers more rooms. Beautifully Photographed and well balanced. Highly Recommended

Taunton’s Family Home Idea Book

Kitidea The Kitchen Idea book is filled with pictures and useful guides to remodeling your kitchen. This is not a how to book but is rather the best designs and information about them. From store bought, custom, to handbuilt, the pictures are alone worth the price. But it goes further into some of the design considerations of various materials and techniques, explaning the pros and cons of various choices. Beautifully Photographed and well balanced. Highly Recommended

New Kitchen Idea Book

BathideaThe Bathroom Idea Book is all about the bathroom from flooring to fixtures. Wall coverings, floor coverings, lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling. Beautifully Photographed and well balanced. Highly Recommended

The Bathroom Idea Book

WorkideaThe Home Workspace Idea Book is all about the home office. Corners to Cabins. Tuck away and Center. Beautifully Photographed and well balanced. Highly Recommended

Taunton’s Home Workspace Idea Book

Pop Quiz answer..
Buy them all!

Bathroom Pocket Door 4 – Semi-Final

The Bathroom Pocket Door Project has been semi-final for some time. Life happened.
Here are the Previous Episodes: Bathroom Pocket Door 1 Bathroom Pocket Door 2 Bathroom Pocket Door 3
So here is the semi-final…
Hall View

Here is the door from the hallway. Door is in, trim is done on the right, the left is still open as there is still stuff in the hall and rooms beyond to address. Semi Final as when time and money permit I am replacing this slab with one with rippled glass in it. Hallway is dark.

Corner View

Here is the door from another angle. This shows a little more detail, although the rounded cornerbead doesn’t show up all that well. And for the most part it is trim less. I have trim in the living room.
On the right is the top of my new linen cabinet. Yes it is a 5 drawer full suspension Lateral file cabinet. 75 bucks at the local Habitat for Humanity store. They retail for around 600 bucks. It is a legal depth cabinet so the big towels and sheets sets fit just fine. It’s called recycling.

Detail View

Here is a better view of the round cornerbead in action. I liked installing, mudding and the final result enough that I am going to round bead this side of the house as I remodel the rest of it.
In smaller houses or even in bigger houses, pocket doors give you more space. The hinge lobby can make coat hooks:)

Taping Drywall

You are remodeling and will probably be using drywall. You can tape it yourself. ‘course if you can afford it, somebody else can do it for you. Even if you are not going to DIY, at least you will have a good idea of what is coming.

I have loaded up a new photo gallery on taping drywall over there on the right.

Drywall Fasteners – Screws of Our Lives – The Steel Ones

Steel Studs aka Light Guage Metal Framing is an alternative to wood framing. It has it’s place. Steel Studs use different screws.
From left to right are Trimheads, Panheads, and Self Tapping Type S screws.
Trim heads as the illustration shows have a much smaller head, (use a #1 Phillips Bit) and are made for attaching trims through drywall into steel studs.
Pan heads are the 16d fasteners of steel stud framing. These are used to screw the steel framing together.
Self Tapping Type S screws are used for attaching the drywall to the steel stud frames. Here is a comparison of head size.
When working with steel studs, you want the fastest spinning screw gun you can find. You have to get through the drywall and the steel and cinch it up tight befor the screw tries to wobble and walk on you, leaving you with a large ragged hole that won’t hold, is a PITA of fill and coat, and generally make your project a splinter in your mind rather than an endorphin buzz that you can share.

The previous posting showed Type S screws that are pointed, and are more widely available at your local home store, and perfectly acceptable for light gauge (25 ga.) steel stud framing. I showed the self tapper to illustrate the different types available. Medium Gauge (20) and Red Iron Steel Framing use self tappers exclusively, and unless you are building an entire house out of it, will probably not need to be in your hardware box.

Drywall Fasteners – Screws of Our Lives – The Wood Ones

Drywall Screws are Different. They are Black, Harder than Regular Screws, have a specific shape and different types. The are often called Bugle Head, due to the shape of the head which is radius to deform the paper and the gypsum core with out tearing the paper. as I mentioned in the post about the Screwgun The black color is an anti rust coating. The points are sharp!

These are the most common ones for home use.
Type ‘W’ or Wood Screws have a coarse thread for driving into wood.
Type ‘S’ or Steel Screws have a fine thread and although made for attaching drywall to steel studs are used interchangeably.
Given a choice, use the wood ones around the house.


The standard size you will probably use are 1 1/4″ for attaching 1/2″ drywall to studs, and 1 3/8″ for attaching 5/8″ drywall to studs. This provides 1/2″ penetration into the stud, which is the recommended code attachment. You can use a little longer screw, but it is not necessary.

They are not limited to drywall. You can use them to screw all sorts of stuff together. Temporary or permanently.

However…. There are a couple of areas where they should not be used. If you look at the photo, you will see that the thread comes up to the base of the head, and because of the thinness of the shaft,and the hardness of the screw, they do not have the strength to resist side shear like a regular wood screw.

Do not use them as hinge screws! Do not use them as Hanger Screws! When they snap, and they will, you will cry, because they will resist every attempt to remove them, short of dismantling what they broke off in, and replacing it. You will cry like a baby.

House Tree or Tree House

My Brother sent this to me. House Tree or Tree House?
The line on going green is moving…..

Tools of Our Lives - The Screwgun

One of the most valuable and adaptable single purpose tools in the home remodeler’s arsenal is the Screwgun.
A Screwgun is a fixed/variable screwdriver with a depth adjustment and a clutch. Primarily developed for drywall hangers, because of the adjustablility and clutch to stop the screw when the correct depth is achieved, it has moved into the mainstream and is one of the most valuable tools you can own.

This is a photo of a Variable Speed Reversible Screwgun. This is a Dewalt DW255. I have had this one for a couple of years and it works great. Below I will list the features.

At the front end or nose is the magnetic bit holder. It uses ‘standard’ bits that you pick up at the tool store you buy the gun from. (Standard is a misnomer in that bits for driving Drywall Screws need to be harder, because Drywall Screws are make from much harder material than standard wood screws)Check the package! They cost a little more, but they will last longer, reduce cam out, and do the job better, which at the end of the day is the point.

Most come standard with a #2 Phillips bit. You can get a variety of different bits for screwing applications, from Phillips, Hex, Spline, Torx, and even flat.

The Depth Adjustment is the next thing in line and is extremely important especially in screwing drywall. What the depth adjustment does is act in concert with the clutch in the body of the gun to stop the screwgun spinning when you reach the proper depth, giving you a secure tight screw attachment.

Drywall is a softer material than you think despite how well it makes walls. The paper on the face of the sheet performs a large part of the attachment duty. You need to be able to drive the screws below the face of the sheet, so taping and mudding makes the screws invisible, yet not so deep that you tear the paper. Here is the USG Drywall Guide PDF Pg. 12, is where they talk about screwing off.

It is a fine adjustment. Practice on scrap and once you have it you are ready to rock. That is what the reverse setting on the gun is for:)

Commercial guns come in fixed speeds, 2500 for wood 4000 for steel. This is a variable speed gun with a very good trigger. You can get real good at screwing things after just a bit of practice. Besides Drywall, you can screw down sheathing, decking, screw stuff together, and unscrew stuff,(yah like you never make misteaks)

The trigger lock allows you to have the gun running while you screw off a lot of things.
You can get one here: DeWalt DW255 6 Amp Drywall ScrewdriverThis is a professional grade tool. Less than a hundred bucks, and worth every cent!


Speedset aka hotmud aka easyset is one of the materials that can make your life wonderful or a living hell. It is a powered drywall taping compound that is mixed up by hand and dries chemically rather than through evaporation like regular joint compounds.

It comes in various times. 20, 45 and 90 minute varieties. It comes in longer times but unless you have a connection at a drywall supply store you will never see it. This is a rough measure of how long it takes to be setup before you can sand or apply another layer. They even have a 5 minute version, but I am too old and you are not ready. I am a fan of the 45 minute version. I am also a USG man.

It is mixed up in small batches, usually in your mud pan. You put the powder in the pan, add water, mix to a consistency slightly stiffer than you want it, let set for a minute, remix, and apply. That is the mechanics of it, but like so many techniques in remodeling there is an art to becoming proficient.

The stated times on the bags assume that you will be in a perfect environment when using it. Maybe if you are patching a small hole in your wall, but we both know that remodeling usually involves less than perfect conditions, in the case of new construction, remodeling, additions, or just about any other project where joint compound is used.

A good rule of thumb based on experience from Minnesota to Arizona is figure about a third of the time on the bag. 45 minute speed set will give you about 15 minutes of working time. You can push it to 20, if you are working in that perfect world. This 15 mins. included the mix time. So in reality you are looking at about 12-13 minutes. Relax! You can get a hell of a lot of taping done in that amount of time.
You have to have enough clean water to mix it thoroughly, so that it is smooth. This is frosting, not brownie mix. You have to have it loose enough to spread smoothly, yet not so loose as to fall off your knife and drop all over. It has to set for a minute. Because it sets chemically, trying to mix and use, accelerates the setting process giving you even less time to work with it, before it becomes unusable.

It tells you when it is time to quit as it stiffens up remarkably fast at the end of the working time. It clumps, streaks, and is real hard to spread.

It is a lot harder to sand than regular taping mud, produces just as much dust, but is a lot faster in terms of getting to the finish stages of your projects.

Here are two commandments to remember.

Your tools, pan and knives have to be clean when you start and between batches! Little bits of setting mud will accelerate the setting of the next batch if you do not keep your tools spotless.

Do not under any circumstances dispose of speedset down any plumbing drains!!!

It will settle, harden and your next call will be to a plumber who will give you a stroke with the cost of replacing the drains you so foolishly filled up with a compound that will not dissolve with liquid plumber, nor will that drain snake clear out the blockage.

But once you unlock the secrets of speedset you will perform miracles.


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