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Step 2: Rafters and Roofwork

It was about AM sometime last week. I was alone in an under-construction cottage sitting atop a steep hill overlooking a peaceful and almost mirror-smooth lake. All windows were open and the cool midnight forest air streamed into my bright work area where I was carving out the hinge recesses on some new pine doors to be installed into the bedrooms and bathroom. I had been working feverishly for about 8 hours at this point, and hours felt like seconds, and thirty-seconds of an inch felt as big as the universe, I had become so thoroughly sucked in.

Great music played nonstop from my construction radio, which I keep stocked with about albums worth of mp3s. Some budding Carpenter Retirees among you have picked up on my love for the craft and asked me questions in private emails asking how I got into it. The question comes up often enough that I thought it would be worth sharing here.

Personally, I became hooked as a kid building my first science fair project somewhere around age eleven.

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It involved a wood and glass terrarium with a hinged lid which was far more fun to build than the ensuing experiment involving growing bean plants. Later I renovated the attic of that same Victorian house to create my Teenage Bedroom, which provided years of fun. All of this early work would look flimsy and ridiculous by adult standards, but it sure did get me hooked.

Then there were the Dark Years — four years of getting a university degree, and an additional four of living in apartments and shared houses, moving frequently, and focusing mostly on being a normal office-working engineer. But in the year , I bought my first house. A comical fixer-upper complete with brown wood paneling, leaky aluminum windows and plenty of vinyl and carpet flooring throughout. Over the next five years I spent most of my free time ripping out or refinishing every single visible surface inside and out, and scrapping all of the unnecessary walls as well.

My wife and I loved it there. From there the hobby grew further, when in I started a small housebuilding company to build modern Earth-friendly houses in a local neighborhood called Prospect New Town , and did most of the carpentry work on the two houses built by the company. I had hired this great old carpenter to do the framing on the first project, and I worked side-by-side with him from the sill plates right up to the last pieces of fine wood trim on the interior, an experience which really gave my skills a boost.

Since then I have become a freelance carpenter and specialized in the field of Anything Interesting — kitchens, fancy bathrooms, full remodels, and plenty of projects on my own house and rental houses of the past and present. But far beyond money, it has provided a foundation for self-sufficiency. It is so reassuring to know that even if my house sank into the ground tomorrow morning, I could be out there by lunchtime beginning the enjoyable journey of building it back better than before.

In any town in the country!

Thank you, carpentry, I love you. Finally, I will reveal my Ace-in-the-hole carpentry moneymaking technique to you. This is the way you can combine a whole spectrum of skills to make a six-figure income while rarely leaving your house and legally paying no income tax. Check it out:. You buy a very dated house in a great and hip neighborhood.

You move into the house, and start fixing it up. Use your skills, use great design principles from library books and even HGTV shows. Use Craigslist and recycled building materials shops to get the materials at a steal. You take your time and do a good job, and lead a real life on the side. After two years, you finally finish the job. You can repeat this trick every two years for as long as you care to keep making money. If the cost numbers are different in your neighborhood, feel free to adjust them for your own situation, but in most prosperous cities, there is still great profit to be made from renovating your own house with your own hands in the more desirable neighborhoods.

And this situation will only improve as the current foreclosure hangover inventory from banks clears out, which is artificially depressing current prices, making now a better starting time than usual to begin such a scheme.

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So there you have it — the long-awaited Carpentry article. It may not be for everyone, but for some of us, it can be Everything. Matt Faus July 20, , am. My wife and I are contemplating executing a plan exactly like this in the next few months.

Lesson Structure

We have looked at a few houses and even put a bid in on one that was stripped of everything, including the kitchen sink! It is a bit overwhelming to plan and think about all the work just to make a place like that livable.

Reader Interactions

What general carpentry books would you recommend so that I might dispel this darkness of ignorance? MMM July 20, , pm. Kevin is right: any simple book from the Depot or library will teach you what you need to know. It would be quite fun. My first tip to you: learn to do your own plumbing, and do it all with PEX flexible indestructible plastic pipes.

The stuff is as fun and easy to work with as LEGO. It worked great. As long as you know your area so you can recognize a good deal when you see it, I see few drawbacks — and I say that even being married to a licensed agent! Matt July 6, , am. I added 1, sq. It took me three years, but I got it finished. The only help I had was my dad and his 80 year old master-concrete friend helped with the slab, and my dad helped me fly in the trusses. Pallet Bar. Veranda club chairs. Got a question? Ask the pros. Spring will be here soon! Make sure your home and yard are ready for the season with these projects that you can complete in one or two days.


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Step-by-step instructions on how to make long-lasting, beautiful, ceramic-tile countertops. Lakeside Lazy-Boy Recline in style this summer on a Muskoka chair with a built-in footrest. Mission curio clock. Build a rustic bench. But once you gain confidence in your woodworking tools and skills, the sky is the limit!

The articles you see below will help you get to that point faster.

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Check out my list of the best woodworking tools for beginners to find the ones I use and love most! These projects use simple joinery and easy-to-find materials, so you can get more comfortable with the process. Any questions?


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The Kreg Jig is an amazing tool that will help you make sturdy furniture that looks professional! There are several different models to choose from, and I've compared the two most popular ones to help you decide which one is right for you! Once you've drilled pocket holes with Kreg Jig, you'll need to know how to use them! In this detailed guide to pocket holes, I show you how to get perfect joinery with these hidden screw holes. A circular saw is the perfect first saw for beginning woodworking!

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It can cut pretty much anything, but getting a straight line can be a challenge. This simple DIY circular saw jig will help you get perfect cuts every time!