Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DIY Carpenter Tips and Tricks

It's been a long time (don't ask) since I went through my carpentry apprenticeship so it goes without saying that I've put a few DIY tips and tricks in my toolbox. Some I picked up from others and some I figured out myself.

These first two are tried and true in the trade and come in handy for lay out.

Use a Water Level Around Corners

I'm a big fan of laser levels, especially since they've come down in price. But since they're optical gizmos, and light only bends for Einstein, it makes it hard to transfer elevations around corners without moving the thing, and that can introduce errors.

Enter the water level. It's a simple device and you can buy one to use if you're working by yourself or just use a length of plastic tubing (about 3/8" ID) if you have a helper. Easy breezy. It works on the principle that water seeks its own level.

Either kind is a lot easier to use if you just add a bit of food coloring to the water. Visibility is key.

Use the 3-4-5 Method for Perfect Square

We owe this on to Mr. Pythagoras, founder of the Pythagorean School of Mathematics in Cortona and all around smart guy.

Like the water level, the 3-4-5 method of squaring is also simple yet precise and relies on basic principles. In this case, A squared + B squared = C squared. And it's expandable, meaning that you can use it with larger numbers for larger projects.

This is an invaluable tool for establishing control lines for walls, concrete forms, or even building furniture if you're so inclined!

Want more tips and tricks? Stay tuned; I'll dig around in the bottom of my toolbox and see what I can find. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going running.

Don't forget to send mom a mother's day gift card! (It's easier than flowers and she can get what she really wants!)

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Unknown said...

Good tips, there's more info about the 3-4-5 rule and other useful carpentry formulas at carpentry tips and tricks.com