Q&A / 

August 21, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

Summer's almost over. All of the signs are present: preseason football games, the lake is calm on weekdays as most kids are starting school, the sun is lower in the sky each day here in the northern hemisphere (for you down under, winter is soon to be over!), and the leaves on all sorts of plants are starting to yellow or turn brown.

What jobs are you trying to accomplish at your home before you run out of time? I've got two projects I'm doing for sure, and I'm trying to finish up my ham radio shack above my garage.

The two projects you may be interested in are pretty cool.

  • Linear French Drain
  • Fancy Covered Firewood Storage Rack

I've been waiting years to have the opportunity to videotape from start to finish a linear french drain. You install one of these if you want to STOP WATER from entering your basement or crawl space.

I've installed many of these and coached thousands of homeowners so they could stop water from ruining their houses and possessions. They work EVERY TIME if you just follow the steps I plan to show in the upcoming video series.

The firewood storage rack transforms an unsightly pile of wood into a decorative asset at your home.

Watch for special announcements starting next week on these video series!


Last night, my wife Kathy said, "Why didn't you tape a video series showing what you did?" She was talking about a small project where I had to hide a framing mistake made by the carpenters who built our house. I didn't build the house I'm currently living in.

"No need for a video. I can just share a photo and a brief description with my subscribers. They'll understand immediately what I did."

I'm sure you've seen the problem - a hump in a wall caused by a poor job of drywall finishing. These humps can be where a flat seam or a rogue wall stud that has a horrible crown causes a significant high spot in a wall. They can also happen in ceilings.

hump in drywall

In the photo, the red line represents the ridge line or hump in a wall in our hallway. Typically, you use a small 8 or 10-inch broad knife to finish drywall. This tool is too small to apply the joint compound over a wide area needed to disguise the hump.

To hide the hump, you need to add drywall compound on either side of the hump over a large area. The hump is still there, but the wall appears to be much flatter and not as severe.

I prefer to use a 48-inch-long straight edge or a 24-inch aluminum framing square as the rough screed to apply the joint compound so it's all in the same plane.

The red arrow lines in the photos show the fill areas where joint compound was applied using these uncommon drywall finishing tools.

I applied the joint compound to the wall using my broad knife, but then carefully pulled the excess off using the longer straightedge tools.

The drywall compound is rough in the photo because these tools don't have the silky smooth finish of a broad knife blade. Applying a few more thin skim coats of finishing compound over what you see in the photo will make the wall as smooth as glass!


I was in Nashville, TN last week for less than 48 hours. I was one of a small handful of media brought in by Jet and Powermatic to see some of their great new tools for woodworking enthusiasts.

Would you like to build a table like the one in the photo below? Much of the work to create it was done using Jet and Powermatic shop tools. This table was done by a craftsman who uses the Fort Houston facility where the conference was held. If you have a place like Fort Houston in your city or town, start using it!

I had never been to Nashville before. I stayed in the city center just one block from the honky-tonk row of restaurants and bars. Live country music blared out of the open doorways like air horns at a sporting event. It was LOUD!

I'll forever remember Nashville for this three-block stretch of neon and noise, and the flashing blue lights on the utility poles. Those lights let you know the location of the police 24/7/365 surveillance cameras.

If your Nashville vacation videos don't come out the way you'd like them, you can always file a right-to-know request and get a copy of you and your family walking up and down past all the saloons!

Powermatic debuted a table saw that might be of great interest to you. It's the PM1000.

If you're getting started in woodworking, this could be an ideal saw for you. It runs on 115 volts of AC, instead of the usual 240 volts. The fence has multiple adjustments to get it perfectly aligned with the blade, and it glides across the table.

I loved their new band saw, grinder and mini-lathes.

Kudos to Jet and Powermatic for understanding the marketplace and new buying trends.

Why do I say this? Because you can purchase their wonderful tools online right now and have them delivered to your doorstep. That's very, very smart.

Not all tool companies understand this and many still refuse to sell direct online.


The conference felt a little like a bazaar because of the people that are associated with Fort Houston. Some partnered with Jet / Powermatic to help keep us fueled up.

One was a startup coffee company called Primary Coffee Company. Look at these young entrepreneurs in the photo below and you just know that they're going to give Starbucks a run for their money.

You're looking at:

Carl Schulz
Allie Brooke Shelby
Josh Miller
Jaclyn Albright
Leslie Jones

I hope I have their names in the right order!

I didn't taste their coffee, even though they were grinding the beans there and brewing it right in front of me. I can't drink coffee when it's above 60 F.

If I do, I feel like my body is on fire. But I can tell you the aroma of their fresh-ground beans was intoxicating. Order some coffee from these young people and let me know what you think of it.


A little over ten years ago, I had the rare opportunity to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The next day I was catapulted off. It was a thrill to be sure.

However, I didn't get to see it happen because I was in the hot, cramped fuselage of a *large* COD cargo plane designed to transport people and things to carriers while they're on the high seas.

When I first saw the COD plane at the Norfolk Naval Air base, I almost backed out of the trip. It was HUGE! I thought there was no way such an enormous plane could land on an aircraft carrier.

You can read about my Aircraft Carrier Adventure Story if you like.

If you want to see what the pilot was looking at both in the daylight and in the black of night as he was landing on the carrier, watch this harrowing video.

The video is unique because it's a side-by-side comparison so you can see what the pilot sees - or doesn't see! - at certain times.

Talk about courage! Bravo to all pilots who get to say they've tail hooked. I, and many others, thank you for your service and sacrifice!


Well, I did much better last week. But first, I need to do some housekeeping. There's confusion on the part of a few.

When I ask you to watch a video or go read a past column of mine, you MUST COME BACK HERE to the newsletter to vote. There are no voting links on the pages I send you to for any number of reasons.

Remember, come back here to the newsletter to vote after you watch a video in this little fun exercise.

Seventy-three percent of you didn't know that the cool screw extractors existed. Woo Hoo!

But now you do!

Okay, let's switch it up.

Here's this week's challenge. I want you to watch this video.

Then tell me if you knew EVERYTHING in the video.

If you discover one new thing or tip in the video, then I want you to click the I DIDN'T KNOW THAT link below.

That's because you're not a smarty pants and didn't know everything.


Tim, I was in the dark like a dank yucky sewer line.



Tim, I know all the crass plumber's sayings about what flows which way PLUS what was in the video.

You need to try much harder.


Seriously? You knew *all* of it? :-/

More tips and news next week!


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