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Working Alone: Tips and Techniques for Solo Building by John Carroll

1999; 152 pp. $17.95. Taunton Press.

Build a house singlehanded? Of course it's possible, but who will move the other end of the board or ruler when you yell, "Over an inch to the left and mark it, will ya?" How will you raise the 250-lb. roof ridge beam and live to tell about it? You'll need more arms than Shiva.

This book supplies those arms and hands in a very experienced how-to-think-about-it, nicely illustrated with drawings of useful devices?many easily made on the job site?and associated procedures. We are talking jigs, brackets, and clamps (lots of clamps), and a bit of simple arithmetic. Mostly, the author helps you to develop an appropriately ingenious attitude, one that can be exported to other lonely enterprises

"In addition to fine-tuning the sequence of the job, you have to plan just about every step along the way. Often you even have to plan how you're going to do minor chores like safely sawing sheets of plywood or installing long boards. Sometimes these plans require a careful setup or some clever site-built rig. At other times, the plans are focused on subtle aspects of your technique. Starting a nail before you pick up a board, for instance, can make installing that board a lot easier. The process of anticipating problems and then visualizing smooth, effective ways to overcome them is at the heart of working alone.

"While building walls is a very manageable affair for one person, raising them is a different matter. Walls are large and heavy and, until they are safely braced, can be quite dangerous. There are three different ways to get past the obstacle of raising walls when you're working alone. The first is to call in reinforcements. On many occasions I've scheduled a crew of workers to stop by my job on their way home from other jobs. When they arrive, I have the wall built, squared, sheathed, and ready to tilt into place. We can usually get the wall up and securely braced in about 15 minutes.

Another way to get the wall raised is to build it in manageable sections that you can lift into place yourself. To keep the wall light, I wait to install the sheathing. When the wall is up and secured, I install the sheathing from the outside of the house.

The third to use the proper rigging. Like an auto mechanic who thinks nothing of removing an 800-lb. engine, one carpenter can easily raise an 800-lb. wall?as long as he has the right equipment. A good tool for this job is the Proctor Wall Jack, which is made specifically for raising wood-frame walls.


ISBN: 1561585459

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