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Hint #2

Concrete 101- Considering that I have formed & poured more concrete than some people have driven over; I think that there are two hard and fast rules concerning concrete work. #1- When doing concrete form work keep in mind that at some point the forms will have to be removed; so think ahead. I put it this way to apprentices: "keep in mind that YOU may have to take apart this fucked up shit". #2- It is not wrong unless you have a blow-out. Rule #1 also applies to scaffolding.

Hint #3

If you are building new construction or just renovating, before drywalling I recommend using a new product.  This product is called “Reflectix”; made by Reflectix Inc. of Markleville, IN; 800-879-3645.  Basically, this product is aluminized bubble-wrap.  It is aluminized Mylar on each side with bubble-wrap in between.  It has an R-value of 4.4 and can be used as a vapor barrier.  It is available in two widths, 16” and 24”, in 25 foot roles.  It isn’t cheap but it makes a huge difference in heat retention.  It is simple to install; just staple it in between the framing members.  

Reflectix has an added benefit; it substantially mitigates RF waves entering your home.  Another way of mitigating RF intrusion into your living space is foil-face rigid Styrofoam sheet insulation; ½” thick.  This can be installed either on the outside of the wall or the inside; again before dry-walling.

Hint #1
Gypsum Board: commonly referred to as "Drywall", "Sheet-rock", "wall-board", etc.- 98% of the time I use 5/8 inch, "type-X" drywall. Aside from the one hour fire-rating, it is also considerably stiffer than standard ½ inch drywall. This will straighten any bowed studs or ceiling joists significantly. The cost difference between ½ and 5/8 is less than one dollar per sheet for standard drywall. "MR", "MMR", and other premium grades of drywall usually run a little more, yet are well worth the increased cost for many applications.

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Hint #4
The use of abrasives; rasps, files, and sandpaper, is an integral aspect of the carpenter’s profession.  At some point when doing carpentry work, you may have to do some hand sanding.  A sanding block is an excellent tool for hand-sanding.  There are commercially made sanding blocks, but I prefer home-made ones.  I prefer to utilize a sanding block with a belt from a belt sander on it; which are nothing more than a block of wood with a belt wrapped around it.  3”x21” sanding belts are inexpensive and last much longer than standard sandpaper.  I keep two different sizes of sanding block in my tool box; one that is ¾” inch thick and the other ¼” thick.  Simply cut a piece of ¾” plywood 3” wide and 9 ¾” long for the one and a piece of ¼” plywood 3” wide and 10 ¼” long for the other.  Then, round off the corners on both ends of the ¾” thick piece and slide the belt on; at this point the belt will still be a little loose on the block; slide a small, thin wood shim in between the block and the belt on each end to tighten the fit.  The ¼” piece should not require any shims on the end.  The ¼” block should be a little flexible which facilitates sanding slightly contoured surfaces.  The ¾” block is excellent for finish sanding of flat surfaces.  Altogether, I keep four of these in my tool box: one each with a 60 grit belt on it and one each with a 120 grit belt on it.  The 60 grit belts

will remove a lot of material in a hurry yet won’t leave any deep sanding marks that could be

difficult to remove and the 120 grit is fine enough to leave a smooth enough finish that may only

require a little final sanding with an orbital sander or some hand-sanding with 180-220 grit paper.  

Lastly, whenever using abrasives on wood: work with the grain of the wood and start with the

coarsest and work to the finest grit.