Archive for August, 2011

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

August 30th, 2011

Overheard On The Day They Invented Sliced Bread


“Wow, this is-man, this is just so great. I can’t even think of anything to compare it to.” Are you kidding me with this stuff?”


“You know, I’m just not that impressed. I mean, you hear all the hype, how everyone’s talking, “Oh you’ve got to see this new thing, they’re doing with bread!” and you think, “Okay, sure, I’ll give it a shot, I’m not some bread snob, I’m willing to try new things.” But now? Sitting here with it right in front of me? I honestly can’t say–and I’m sorry for this, I hope I’m not offending anyone–that I’m that blown away. Looks just like a regular old loaf of bread to me. Oh wait. Hold on a minute! Would you look at that? They just went ahead and cut right the way through! And here’s one piece..and look another! And another-amazing, simply amazing! Who did this? Who is the culinary genius behind this? I take it all back. My bad, guys. You were right. My bad.”

From Mountain Man Dance Moves


I simply get the largest kick out of that book. It makes me laugh for no obivious reason. As the review states, maybe it is it’s Zen like simplicity. It leads in to my subject matter of the truss you see illustrated above. My friend and customer (it’s great to use those two words in the same sentence) Rod Edwards with Innovative Design and Construction deserves the cudos for coming up with it. He was involved in a rennovation that required the ceiling rafters ( constructed from conventional lumber 2×8′s) to remain in the structure. The house had 8′-0″ plate heights and he needed to select which rooms in particular would have raised “tray” ceilings. By sloping upwards at the inside wall of the top plate, he was able to avoid the existing ceiling rafters, along with all the wires and insulation that came with them. By keeping them entact, the upgrade was non invasive on structure itself, and did not expose the interior of the house to the elements. Where ever he chose to put a tray ceiling, he was free to remove the ceiling joist and finish the other side of the tray in the field by framing down to the interior non load bearing wall in the space provided on the underside of the truss bottom ceiling rafter. At the same time, he maintained a light attic storage area continuously above the bottom chord (also a 2×8) for the entire run of the trusses (over 40′-0″). Noticed the 2×6 attached to the upper area of the bottom chord, for insulation purposes. The fully functional truss created is a welcome relief in a world of custom components, where it seems no two are alike, much less serving several purposes. This design was well thought out and is a great solution especially for rennovations where removing a roof entirely is not practical.
What did they do before bread was presliced anyway? Wait until you actually cut the bread before making a sandwich? Talk about not being practical…

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Decked Out

August 30th, 2011

Jury is in on PVC (polyvinyl choride) decking material composition versus WPC (wood-plastic composite). Where WPC has been has been the leading seller, expect a drastic turn around going forward. The major differences to the end consumer were heat retention and stain resistance. The wood composite decks, although having the appearance of maintenance free performance, tended to be very hot “under foot”. Walking barefoot on the deck in the searing sun became next to impossible. Frankly, where is it that decking is not exposed to sun and UV rays, next to nowhere? Homeowners learned very quickly to run for the protection of sandals, should they transverse across any lenght of WPC decking. Cooking and beverage spills could dramatically affect the finish of the WPC decking. The issue of actual use of the decking; bar-be-ques, parties, family gatherings and naturally lend themselves to accidents where the finish could take on an undesirable absorbtion by staining the surface. The retention of the original color and having the ability to be cleaned with common household cleaners give the PVC deck composition a distinct advantage over it’s WPC counterparts. I expect a major shift by the decking main players in the foreseeable future.
The key catch phrase in the decking business is variegation. Variegation is the process by which there are subtle differences in color and patterns between each board. The aesthetics of variegation make for the most realistic replication of true hardwood decking. Manufacturers, such as the Solstice decking by Deceuninck shown here, suggest that the mixture of bundles be done in such a manner as laying out the boards to configure the best combination for the desired effect. The variegated boards simulate wood grain and intermix darker strains to highlight and differentiate colors. The concealed fastening system is my choice of connection. Note the grooved edges verses the ungrooved edges illustrated in the photos, with the grooved edges having the ability to hide the screws. I don’t really care for the “biscuit” system illustrated in the installation guide, as there are many other less labor intensive methods of connecting, such as the “Tiger” brand guns used on other systems.

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Drop The Top

August 24th, 2011

“You are never too old to learn something stupid”. Here is a handy little tip that lends itself to labor saving in truss erection. Truss manufacturers made the true innovation of top chords being dropped 1 1/2″ on the step down portion of the hip system more than 10 years ago I would estimate. I label it as a innovation because prior to it’s inception, framers were forced to cut and install blocking between the 24″ o/c spacing, which I had always referred to as “cat” boards. Not really sure if that evolved from “cat walk”, which is a term for a platform type walkable corridor between trusses to access storage. Or maybe it was because you had to have “cat” like agility to attach these nailer boards for sheathing breaks. Regardless of the etymology of the term, it was a major strain to put these nailers in place. Somewhere in truss design heaven, someone got the idea to drop the top chord an 1 1/2″ creating a flat blocking surface that was far eaiser to install, and it caught on. The problem was, for the most part, everyone was content with the concession from the truss manufacturers to make this a standard practice. Well nearly everyone. The illustrations here I obtained by simply linking to the Mitek website and downloading, which by the way has alot of useful information besides this gem. What they are illustrating is a “purlin gable” that lies in the 1 1/2″ space created in the “stepdown” portion of the hip system. This now eliminates the need to strip the area totally. You get a extra gable manufactured and shipped with the roof system, nail it in place as shown on the connection detail, and move on to the next task at hand. It is one of those things that you cannot figure out why it didn’t catch on.

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Going Mad

August 23rd, 2011

Did you ever have something locked in your mind from a long time ago and you weren’t really sure where and when you first encountered it? To the left is my little “something”. I found it after my friend sent me a one word e-mail which simply said “Duck!” This sent me on an exhaustive internet search to see if I could rediscover the actual source of this long standing joke between us. In reviewing it many years after I first saw it, it still yields some valuable messages; lessons to be learned in contemporary times. The first is to pay attention to the situation you find yourself in. Internal dialogue certainly has it’s place, but maybe it is wiser to save most of it in contemplation of what occurred rather than when an event is actually taking place. Staying in the present and being proactive will produce the best results. Today’s economy has made alot of us rethink our strategies in the business world, especially in my business of sales. Recently, I have come to realize being “busy” doesn’t necessarily equate to generating profitable sales. With less opportunites available, what I make myself “busy” with had better be worth the efforts being put forth. Decisions regarding service levels, in times where both your customer’s and your own support staff have been drastically cut back, require constant monitoring. Unprecedented days require unprecedented measures. The decisions you make today may affect whether or not you are even here tomorrow, much less their correctness.
Secondarily, try not to take yourself too seriously. I can’t think of many situations where being proven right is superior to being happy. A good gut check on that point is asking yourself “so how is that working for you?” If you are happy, the answer will always be “great”. The third “duckism” is to develop listening skills. To be an effective salesperson, you need to understand what your customer wants, which ultimately leads to their needs, which ends up fulfilling your own. My partner has an excellent analogy that goes “there is no lesson learned from the second kick of a mule”. Half of that equation is avoiding the limb by listening, in Donald’s case, the first time.
Often, I am so preoccupied trying to share my life experiences with whomever will listen, I forget what is truly valuable. Learning new ones by listening to what others are sharing. I love this quote by Kafka : You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Franz Kafka
Austrian (Czechoslovakian-born) author (1883 – 1924)

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Mystery Building

August 19th, 2011





Entered a new page in Component Construction called “Building A Mystery” which has some great music on it (must watch acoustical guitar solo) which hasn’t been viewed like one of these posts that I keep current are. Didn’t want you to think I got lazy, and went a week without adding content, so now I am forced to put a shameless post promoting it. Take a moment and at the very least, watch Sarah’s 4:00 minute solo, even if the information about solving building mysteries is not interesting to you.

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Kitchen Cabinetry Creating Stylish Space

August 7th, 2011

The modern day kitchen is probably the most utilized and occupied room in the home. Functionality and accessibility become very important criteria in the kitchens’s design. When you examine the specific tasks required of the kitchen, having adequate storage space coupled with being able to turn 360 degrees to perform them are essential. There is food preparation, food storage, and actual cooking areas sure. In reality, that is simply a portion of the activities a kitchen houses. There must be room for cooking and eating paraphernalia; pots, pans, dishes and the like. Cleaning supplies have to have a place, along with the trash receptical, and the rest of the odds and ends which usually end up the the most used room of the house. The abundant space afforded by the cabinets in this kitchen give it everything it needs to effectively organize all these individual tasks with easy. They tastefully blend a light, airy feel with the medium colored tile separating the darker colored countertops. First Flight Stairs and Specialty Millwork brings expertise to create cabinets of lasting, hand crafted furniture quality.

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Impressively Distressed

August 3rd, 2011

Reminiscent of the warm feeling of rustic charm, this rendition of French Country style has distressed furniture as the vocal point of the rooms. Contrasting the lighter shades of the distressed pieces protruding outward against the darker shades of the cabinets behind adds to rough, yet natural appeal. The aura is comfortable and inviting. The centerpiece of this French home theme is the fireplace, housed between the arched topped dual cabinets and shelves. Pottery is a desirable accessory bringing unity from the Armoire to the living area. The look of “aged wood” lends itself to bright and bold colors, such as the field of flowers placed in the center of the mantle. Conducting some research on the origin of the French Provincial Country look, I discovered it dates back to the time of Louis XV and Louis XVI circa 1720 to 1790. Louis XV was not well received by his constituents. The furniture of the time was greatly revered however, with it’s low slung sexy and curved appeal. The chairs were especially slender and drawn out, creating the appearance of gracefulness, accentuated by fluffly red and purple colored cushions. It was said the reason the furniture described was valued so highly was to “hold on to something beautiful during ugly times”. Hmmm. Interesting how history has the tendency to repeat itself. Talk about distressed, what is a better way to describe today’s economy?

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