Q&A / 

November 12, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

First and foremost, if you're a veteran, here's a salute to you one day late. Yesterday was Veteran's Day here in the USA. It's a day to pay honor and show respect to veterans who are still among us.

Thank you so very much for your service to our great nation. Your sacrifice allows liberty and freedom to continue to survive. God knows there are all sorts of people trying to take it away from us each and every day. I fight it daily here in NH.

I'll bet you I can make you yawn - a BIG yawn. Here goes.

Yesterday, I completed my fourth Morse Code (CW) conversation (QSO). You should cover your mouth when you yawn. 🙂 It was with Bill in Pennsylvania.

I've only been on the air doing Morse Code for a week. It's like learning a foreign language. I'm having fun!

Many have asked me why I'm doing this since Morse code is no longer a requirement when obtaining an amateur radio license. Here are a few reasons:

  • it's a challenge - I like challenges
  • it's a great way to communicate all over the world using LOW power
  • it's rewarding
  • it exercises my brain pushing off dementia (hopefully!)
  • it may save a life - a stranger, a friend, my family or mine

Although you're not hearing this in the news, much of what we're learning about the conditions in the Philippines after the powerful typhoon ravaged the land there over the weekend is coming from ham radio operators - many using Morse Code. Regular communications towers were taken down by the storm. How many weeks / months do you think it will take to rebuild commercial radio towers?

To communicate around the world using Morse code, you just have to put up a simple thin wire in a tree and connect a tiny radio the size of a small box of tissues to the wire. You can set up a small radio and antenna and be on the air in two minutes or less.

A mentor of mine, Jim Cluett, W1PID, does this regularly. Go read a bunch of his stories and look at the photos of his radio gear.

Here's a photo of my new man cave / ham radio shack where I get on the air doing Morse code.

Tim's Man Cave Desk


Each year you see a list of energy-saving tips in newspapers and on TV news shows. One tip that's ALWAYS in the list is: Caulk air leaks.

That's it. That's all they say. I decided to tell you step-by-step HOW to caulk these air leaks. Realize some people have NEVER held a caulk gun in their hands.

I have a link in the column to my FAVORITE caulk gun in the column!!!!! You need one if you want pro results.

Please read my How to Caulk Window Air Leaks column.


Have you ever wanted to hang out and drink coffee and eat donuts with construction pros like me? You can do it at the virtual donut shop Bosch has created at BethePro.com.

This website is sponsored by industry-leading manufacturers like Bosch, Blaklader, KEEN Utility, QUIKRETE, RotoZip and more! You can count on new content from the members at BTP on a daily basis. There's over 30,000 forum posts with hundreds of new posts a day. You can also read full-length articles written by BTP staff and other experienced construction pros.

BONUS: For a limited time you can enter any of the 7 - yes SEVEN! - sweepstakes and contests on the site for a chance to win tools and gear from site sponsors; prizes include the NEW Bosch heated jacket, RotoZip RotoSaw+, MAG77LT Worm Drive SKILSAW®, Bosch spade bits, multi-tools and more!

Enter their sweepstakes and contests, and while you're there check out the forum and register to start learning from other pros and share your own expertise. Yeah, you - you know you do pro work, so GO TO BethePro.com now and win some sweet loot!


About a month ago, Sara Metivier from Illinois State University emailed me. She's in charge of text conversion. One of their students is deaf and wanted to *hear* what I was saying on my Septic System Anatomy video.

Septic System Video Still

Sarah asked if I would consider uploading a closed caption file so her student, and any deaf person, could hear what I was saying. I said, "Of course! Just send me the file."

Yesterday she sent the small time-coded file and I uploaded it. You can see the closed captioning work if you want. It's very cool on YouTube.

You MAY have to turn on the CC button to make the text appear. See the big red arrow in the image above? It's pointing to the CC button that toggles the captioning on and off.

You'll discover something about septic systems for sure watching the septic system anatomy video.


Back a few months ago, I received an interesting email from Rachel at House of Antique Hardware. She said:

"I recently discovered your website after seeing some of your videos on YouTube and am very impressed with their quality and content. You are providing a great resource for homeowners and do-it-yourselfers! ... We are exploring the possibility of adding short instructional videos to our site to assist shoppers, enhance their shopping experience and increase online conversions."

I love teaching people how to do things the right way, not over, so I decided to see if Rachel and I could work together. I know they sell great products because Kathy bought drawer pulls from them two years ago for our own kitchen! That's a deal breaker by the way. If a product is not high quality, I really don't want to have anything to do with it.

Watch my Installing a Glass Cabinet Knob video to see what I whipped up for Rachel.

Does your company make great products? Do you want to sell more of them? Maybe I can show the world how to Do It Right with your product, Not Over!

Reply to this email to start a discussion.

Glass drawer knobs


My college geology buddy Phil emailed me overnight. He lives in eastern Texas and his garage-door opener has given up the ghost. He wanted to know what to buy. We chat on email occasionally and even use that thing called a telephone!

Phil and I had many a good time on geology field trips. We also did a stealth remodeling job of the famous Fenneman Room in Old Tech. We *borrowed* a real slate blackboard from another classroom and installed it in our underclassmen Fenneman hangout room. We needed a message board, what can I say? This was back in the Eocene era before whiteboards. But I digress.

One of the clues in his email told me what happened to his opener - why it probably failed. Read this:

" ... it's a two-car garage, original 50's wooden door (heavy!). The new opener will not get daily use. In 20 years I've had a car in the garage only three times, and two of those were the day we moved in. ... I open the door maybe once every other week. Noise level isn't an issue due to infrequent use."

Phil told me the long screw in the opener rail has stripped threads. That's why the door will not open now.

I GUARANTEE you if we drove to Phil's house now and tried to lift his garage door by hand we'd feel like we were trying to lift a giant porphyritic granite boulder. Note he said the door is "heavy!".

Guess what? I'll wager Phil's garage door springs are way out of adjustment. No matter how HEAVY a garage door is, you should never feel that weight when the springs are properly adjusted. You should only feel like you're lifting maybe 20 pounds if you manually open up ANY garage door.

Garage door SPRINGS are supposed to do the lifting of a garage door. You, or a powered opener, are only supposed to apply slight or moderate upward pressure to get the springs to react.

Phil needs to call in a garage door service company and have them re-adjust the springs, THEN he can think about installing any name-brand opener he likes.

DO NOT attempt to adjust the springs yourself. I don't care if you see a video on YouTube telling you how easy it is. It's NOT easy. It's DANGEROUS. Pay a pro to adjust your springs.

Phil, buddy, just go to Amazon.com and read the reviews on the top brands and pick one. With as little as you use that opener, it should last 50 years - assuming you get the springs adjusted!


We have a FLASH SALE happening right now on the 50# size of Stain Solver.

Terry Glancy, from Florida, bought two of them to clean his commercial greenhouse where he grows orchids. Look at Terry's STUNNING Before and After photos!

To get a 15% discount on the 50-pounder right now, use this promo code:


The promo code ONLY works on the 50-pounder.

More tips next week.


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