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March 12, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

This past weekend I did something I should have done perhaps fifteen years ago. I worked all day manning a booth at a home and garden show. Oh well, better late than never, right?

I was doing a test.

I was selling Stain Solver at a neglected small home and garden show just miles from my house. It was a perfect place to work out the bugs and see if it's worth going to other home and garden shows.

It was an enormous success. I nearly sold out of product. A vast majority of people who stopped and helped with the demonstration purchased multiple bottles.

I was selling our newest size, the cute little 0.4-pound bottle. It normally sells for $9.97 delivered to anywhere in the USA (and US Territories). At the show, I was running a special: one bottle for $6 and two for $10. As you might expect, most people purchased two bottles. They fit perfectly in purses and coat pockets.

I was demonstrating how Stain Solver got out DRIED red wine stains. You know if it can do that, it can get out just about any stain. Days before the show, I saturated a new white t-shirt with red wine. I then cut small scraps from the shirt right before their eyes. Once a person dropped the scrap into the Stain Solver solution, it turned pure white within five minutes.

The skeptics, and there were some, whipped out their wallets when they saw me pour the Stain Solver solution on my royal blue shirt proving that it was indeed colorsafe.

I'll be ramping up quickly, and soon you may see Stain Solver exhibited at your home and garden show! I'll be at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds Home Show in Maine in May, and I'm trying to book myself, and some helpers, into other New England shows in the month of April.



Last night at my ham radio steering committee meeting, a close friend asked me what was the best exterior siding. He and his wife are thinking of getting their house resided after 35 years.

He said, "I went online and filled out a form to get free estimates. I had three contractors rush out to the house, and I have appointments with two others tomorrow. What should I do? What siding should I install?"

"Well, if it were me, I'd get on the phone and CANCEL the two appointments for tomorrow," was my reply.

He looked puzzled.

"How can you get great estimates unless you have a simple set of specifications, with at least the product picked out," I asked him.

If you just call contractors without knowing what you want or how to do the basics of the job, you're going to get back bids that resemble an onion, an apple, a lemon, and a watermelon. In my friend's case, the three told him they'd install three completely different siding products. This made it impossible to compare the quotes.

My advice to you is to take the time to get educated about what you want before you ask one contractor to come out for a bid. You can visit showrooms in your area, look at displays at home and garden shows, do extensive research online - including searching for nightmare stories, and just general due diligence.

At the very least, use my AsktheBuilder.com search engine to see what I feel about a product. I almost always tell you the pros and cons of any given product.

Once you know what you want, then you can get bids and quotes that will make sense. If you want to be an Eagle Scout, then you'll also research, before the contractors arrive, how to install the product. You'll then ask probing questions of each contractor to see if they will be doing the job according to the manufacturer's written installation instructions.

For example, when I installed the Therma-Tru ClassicCraft door here at my house seven weeks ago, I read the written instructions. They clearly stated that you have to do the X-string test across the door opening to ensure the rough frame is not in a helix.

If you asked a contractor, "Are you going to do the X-string test on my door opening before you install the door?", and he looks at you like you're speaking Russian - would you hire that person? I think not.

I show you how to do the X-string test in my Install a New Front Door video series. It should be available for sale next week!



Are you a contractor that would be willing to do some testing that will help tens of thousands of workers in the future? This is a RARE opportunity to give back to the construction industry and add to your legacy. Help create SAFER working conditions and save some lives.

Fiber cement contains silica. When you cut this siding with an abrasive blade, it creates silica dust. Inhaling silica dust is not a good idea. You would be testing some revolutionary tools and methods that capture lots of this dust.

If you're a contractor, or KNOW OF ONE, that's getting ready to install some fiber cement siding, that's who I'm looking for. They need to meet these requirements:

  1. Be a contractor that has at least three years field experience working with a circular saw.
  2. Be a contractor that has installed fiber cement siding on at least three large residential jobs.
  3. Have an upcoming job where fiber cement siding will be cut and installed for at least eight hours per day over a course of three days.

Job sites located in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are preferred, but not necessary.

If you meet the above criteria and want to HELP future contractors stay healthy, please get in contact with me as soon as possible. Reply to this message and change the Subject Line to: Fiber Cement Dust.



I'm stumped. I desperately need a crystal clear waterproof plastic box to build a portable ham radio that I can take into the field. I wrote about this radio on my ham radio blog. I just spent 30 minutes and gave up. Perhaps you're better at searching than I am.

Here's a photo of the box.

The box has two clamps on it to keep its lid closed. It measures approximately 7 inches long, 5 inches deep, and probably 4.5 inches tall.

You can watch a video of a fellow ham radio operator, Jim Cluett, W1PID, using it to send Morse Code in my blog post. He doesn't own the radio that's in the box in his hands. It belongs to Johann Busch, W1JSB, sitting across the table translating the di's and dah's that Jim is sending.

Jim's holding it upside down because the touch-sensitive keys are oriented opposite the way he sends Morse Code with the touch paddle on his radio.

The FIRST person to find this box for me gets a FREE small bottle of Stain Solver sent to their house or business anywhere in the USA or US territories.

Every other person that finds it for me will be sent a special hidden page where they'll get a healthy discount on this new size of Stain Solver. It's the least I can do for you trying to help me. You need to live in the USA or US territories to get this small jar of Stain Solver. That's the only hitch.

Happy Hunting and Thank You in advance!



I'll bet you'd like to know the latest about carpenter's levels.

I'm currently testing both the 2 and 4-foot bamboo levels I talk about in the column. WOW, are they nice levels. You'll discover a link to them in the column.

More tips next week!


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