Going by the book to frame, finish and fix the house


May 01, 1993|By Karol V. Menzie and Randy Johnson

After a hard day of demolition or wall framing or installing kitchen cabinets, there's nothing better than relaxing with a good book.

Especially if it's a book about home renovation, construction or finishing.

Here are some recent favorites:

*"Ingenious Shop Aids & Jigs: Professional Shortcuts for the Home Workshop," by Graham McCullough (Sterling Publishing Co., $14.95 paperback). This book, part of a series by Sterling on woodworking skills, is an encyclopedia-style look at wood shop skills.

It starts with safety practices and workshop layouts, but probably the most useful part for most home handy folks is the A to Z listings that cover almost every shop and tool topic you can think of: abrasives, brads, caulk, dadoes, epoxy glue, finishing nails, grease, hardwood, joints; lumber, measuring techniques, nail sets, Plexiglas, rafter angles, sandpaper, templates, veneer and wall brackets, among others.

There are succinct but complete listings on common tools and techniques, and such useful tips as how to make straight cuts in plywood (make a jig, or cutting aid, with aluminum tube and angles, to give the saw a channel to ride in) and how to keep small items, such as drawer pulls, steady while you're painting them (stick them to a flat surface with double-sided tape so they stand up.)

There's a section on weights and measures, and one on the metric system and, finally, an index. It's a readable and useful volume for everyone with an interest in carpentry, and the "ingenious" nature of some of the items makes it interesting reading.

*"The Very Efficient Carpenter: Basic Framing for Residential Construction," by Larry Haun (Taunton Press, $27.95). Taunton Press, publisher of Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding magazines, among others, also publishes a line of practical and thorough books on construction and renovation.

Taunton calls them "skill-building" books, and they offer plenty of technical information for serious carpenters. But they also include good descriptions and excellent graphics, as well as tips. "The Very Efficient Carpenter" describes how to carry lumber, how to cut square corners without stopping to measure, how to order lumber (and stack it at the job site) and how to read architect's plans and notate them for construction efficiency.

The goal is to help pros operate with great efficiency on a job site, but the tips are just as useful for homeowners doing simple wall-framing.

Best of all, the book is accompanied by three videos -- "Framing Roofs," "Framing Walls" and "Framing Floors and Stairs" -- that illustrate, step by step, Mr. Haun's procedures for framing a house. The videos cost about $18 each. To order, or to get a catalog or more information, call Taunton Press at (800) 888-8286.

*"The Complete Guide to Wood Finishes," by Derrick Crump (Simon & Schuster, $18 paperback). Anyone who's recently been on a house tour or in a designers' show house has probably seen a myriad of "faux" finishes -- fireplaces and woodwork painted to look like granite or marble, ceilings painted to look like cloudy skies, walls painted to look like murals or crumbling temple walls and stenciled stairs.

Anyone who yearns to duplicate such fabulous finishes should take a look at Mr. Crump's lavishly illustrated book on finishing woods (and other surfaces) with such techniques as stippling, graining, marbled effects, ebonizing, crackle and distressed finishes, rubbed finishes and pickling.

There are sections on tools and equipment, surface preparation, spray finishes, a guide to woods, trouble-shooting and health and safety. There are also abundant tips on tools, techniques and effects.

Finally, for people working on a restoration project, or just trying to do justice to an old house, there are several source books for house parts, construction materials, plumbing and lighting fixtures, decorative trim and other items.

One that comes out every year is "The Old House Journal Catalog," (Dovetale Publishers, $17.95). The 1993 edition has 270 pages of listings, ads and a company directory that includes thumbnail sketches of many of the suppliers. The company directory also lists addresses, phone numbers, catalog availability and method of sale (mail order, retail sources, distributors or through interior designers only).

The book is available on some newsstands, or you can pick up a copy of "The Old House Journal" magazine for details. Or call OHJ at (508) 281-8803.

"Period Details, A Sourcebook for House Restoration," by Martin and Judith Miller, has recently been issued in paperback (Crown Trade Paperbacks, $20). The book offers a range of period features from the 15th to the 19th centuries; it's a good guide to dating details as well as an inspiring source for owners of period property. There are more than 1,000 color pictures of elements from every space inside the house and out.

There's a company directory in the back with addresses, phone numbers and brief descriptions.

Even if you're not the least bit interested in doing woodworking, construction, finishing or restoration yourself, books like these provide a basic education it wouldn't hurt any homeowner to have; you'll understand what the carpenter's doing and you'll know whether a particular door style suits your house.

And if you're an armchair carpenter who prefers to read and dream, these books are sure to keep you in the chair until any more active urges go away.

* Next: Building-in storage.

Mr. Johnson is construction manager for Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore. Ms. Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun. If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, write to us c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N.

Calvert St. Baltimore, 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

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