Q&A / 

October 28, 2008 AsktheBuilder News

What's in This Issue




Two weeks ago, I became the proud owner of a opens in a new windowCraftsman 18-inch Professional chain saw. It has a 40cc engine and is remarkably lightweight. Many moons ago, when I was a much younger man, I used chain saws frequently. My father-in-law owned a 240 acre tract of land that was heavily forested. He and I would go there to cut down trees for firewood and to open up the view to the great North Bend of the Ohio River. President William Henry Harrison is buried just a mile from this land.

I needed this new saw to cut up some trees here at my New Hampshire house that the previous owner had foolishly left piled up for over six years. These were magnificent oak trees that the owner had abandoned and left to rot. Some had trunks that were 20 inches in diameter! Luckily I was able to salvage them for firewood.

The Craftsman saw brought back lots of memories. First, how dangerous these tools can be if you don't follow all the safety instructions. Secondly, I had a vivid recollection of how heavy the old saw was I used 30 years ago. It was a marvelous Stihl saw, and had the same length bar and chain and a similar engine as my new Craftsman saw.

It's amazing how advancements in technology have taken out so much weight with no sacrifice to cutting power. I'm really impressed with this new saw, even though I frowned when I first took it out of the box. It was so light I thought it was a toy saw.

I plan to do a basic video about this saw in the next week. It cut through the oak logs like a hot knife through cold butter. My guess is that one could do about 30 videos on how to use chain saws. In fact, you could probably make a two-hour movie showing all aspects. But I'm going to do the view from 35,000 feet. I'll announce it here when the video is complete.



Donna P. from Weston, CT wrote me asking, "I have a pedestal sink to be installed and I don't understand why the plumber wants to open the wall up to put wood blocking across for support when the instructions that come with the sink say you can just drill into the sheetrock and install appropriate toggle bolts. Why would it need the extra support of blocking if the sink is on the pedestal as well?"

Donna, that's a fair question. The plumber may not have had great luck in the past with wall anchors, and is nervous about the sink moving. You need to understand that it's not good for plumbing fixtures to move as the connections to the water lines and drain can fail. Also, if the drywall gets soggy the anchors will fail. But if you have soggy drywall, you have more serious issues.

I agree with the written instructions and have used toggle bolts successfully with pedestal sinks. Just get the right size and put in your contract that you assume all responsibility if someone yanks the sink from the floor and throws it out the window like in the ending of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

By the way, this is the type of questions and answers you will see in the new website I'm working on. The visitors to that website are going to see hundreds, and eventually thousands, of one-on-one email Q & As, chat sessions and even videos of me answering questions.

I'm really getting excited about this new website. I had a major epiphany about it ten days ago when my oldest daughter Meghan talked to me about the concept. She simply said, "Dad, what people really want is just answers to their questions. They are busy and don't have time to sift through multiple websites, some of which are filled with questionable solutions, to get an answer. Your subscribers are going to love this new site where they can get a specific answer to a question either from you or someone else who is an active member of the community you will be assembling."

You know what? Meghan is spot on. If you agree, let me know. Each person that sends me an email with constructive comments and suggestions about this new website AND has the Subject Line say "Meghan Rules" will get entered into a drawing. When I launch this new website, ten winners - selected at random - will get a free scholarship/subscription to this website for life. Remember, the Subject Line of the email MUST say:  Meghan Rules. Spell it correctly!



A few days ago, I received in the mail a sample spade bit. You may yawn thinking big deal and mumble to yourself, "Who cares about spade bits?"  These bits are really fantastic when it comes to drilling larger holes through wood. Traditional spade bits I used years ago were flat, had a round shaft, had a sharp point and low-angle cutting edges.

Bosch sent me an amazing spade bit called the opens in a new windowDareDevil. This bit has a full-cone threaded tip that pulls the bit through the wood, spurs and reamers on the cutting edges, a contoured face on the paddle that aids chip removal and the end of the shaft has a hex shank! This means that when the bit hits a knot, it still keeps spinning as the chuck of the drill would have to be very loose for the bit to stop while the drill continues to spin.

I haven't used this new bit yet, but it has all of the things that are needed to produce large holes in wood with minimal effort.



I subscribe to many magazines, and one of them is Forbes. They put out a special edition last week that dealt with all of the scary economic news. Kathy and I have put the new-house project here in New Hampshire on the shelf until things sort themselves out. No doubt you have put the brakes on projects and purchases in your home as well.

The lead article, opens in a new windowHow Capitalism Will Save Us, in this special edition was written by Steve Forbes, who I believe is the son of the founder of Forbes magazine. In the article he does an autopsy of the current economic situation and compares it to the other "two big economic disasters of the 20th century" - the Great Depression and the great inflation of the 1970s.

In the article, Forbes says that those two economic horrors and our current situation were/are being blamed on greedy corporations and "economic royalists". He makes a pretty firm argument that in fact all three situations were caused by government mistakes - in other words our Congress let us down as they are the legislative branch of our government. Be really careful about blaming the Executive Branch - am I glad I remember my Boy Scout Citizenship of the Nation merit-badge facts! Keep in mind Congress does the heavy lifting when it comes to getting stuff done at the Federal level.

Forbes says that the Great Depression was directly caused by the passage of the Smoot-Hartly Tariff of 1929-30. This law imposed massive tariffs (taxes) on countless imported items. Other countries responded by enacting high taxes on our exports. The global trading system collapsed leading to capital or cash flow being restricted. The Great Depression resulted from this mess, not the collapse of the stock market. Remember, the stock market is an emotional betting game played by multiple players at the same time. If you want the real story, always look at the hard-core economic indicators.

I could go on and on, but you would be bored to tears. What I did discover from the article is there is crystal clear proof that lower taxes on ALL people plus businesses lead to enormous economic growth. This makes perfect sense when you stop and think about it. The opens in a new windowarticle is long, so be sure to click through to all the pages.

Yesterday, I had coffee with that local politician who was trying to get my vote. I asked her, "Kate, tell me the last time you were really happy with the way the politicians at ALL levels were spending your hard-earned money you send them each week." She couldn't answer, but agreed that it would be best if MORE taxpayers money fueled the local economy as she rarely sees Federal and State taxes flow backwards into our town.

I urge you to read the article in Forbes. My guess is that you will be enlightened and think about politics in a entirely different manner. It just makes sense that if you and I have more money to spend the way we want, we will buy and invest in things that will help us and the businesses we support. That builds a vibrant economy at all levels.

Oh, if you're a new subscriber, you need to know that I served over ten years as a government official. For eight years, I was an appointed member of my Village's Planning Commission and I was elected to two terms as a Councilman. So I have personal first-hand experience as to how government can waste vast sums of money. I resigned from my second term of office because of enormous frustration in working with some people who refused to stop the wasteful spending of precious tax dollars.



Mentioning my Boy Scout years brings back memories of campfires. You can have your own opens in a new windowfire pit that allows you to spend quality time outdoors!

Millions of people have opens in a new windowseptic systems - I'm now one of them - but maybe have no clue what this mysterious system of tanks and pipes looks like that's buried in your yard. And what's with a leach field? A bunch of blood-sucking insects in your yard? No way! You MUST watch this video. Seriously. I show you a septic system before it's buried.

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