Home with Dean Sharp

Home with Dean Sharp

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DIY 101 - Measure, Mark, Cut, Fasten

Measuring tape on wooden table

Photo: Getty Images


When it comes to making tape measures do what you want them to do - it’s not as straightforward as you might think. It's not unlike driving a car. Technically anyone with a drivers license knows how to drive a car, but we all know there's a difference between a one year driver, a 30 year driver, and a race car driver.            

What kind of a tape measure?

•6’, 16’, 25’, 30’

What to look for

•easy to read

•fits comfortably in your hand

•slides in and out of tool bags

•good clip

•comfortable button action


•Blade is curved so it can be extended - “brake test” - about 10’

•Hook - wiggles, keep it square, wings, slot

•Rubber foot - traction

•Know your tape housing dimension - corners

•Easiest giveaway of a novice - case should hardly ever get close to your material

•Quick material division trick - angle and multiple

•using the slot for making a radius

“Special features”

•printed both sides

•magnetic end

•written out fractions, mid span numbers

•Red numbers every 16” for stud layout

•black diamonds appear every 19 3/16” for I joists layout

•index finger brake

Speaking of measuring stuff … at the birth of our nation we were once very close to adopting the metric system. Do you know who made the decision to not do it?

The original metric system was developed in France during its revolution. The French were so radically decimal that they were dividing the day into 10 hours (which would mean an hour would last 2 hours 24min) As our first secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson was charged with deciding which set of measures would be best for the country. He had been instrumental in creating the dollar—the first fully decimal measure any nation ever used. Jefferson rejected the metric system, however, because in origin he found it to be too French the nation’s foremost Francophile!         



•  Dot

•  Squared line

•  Crows foot

Marking Tool

•  Pencil

•  Pen

•  Scriber

•  Knife


Preferred saw for the novice - miter - steady comfortable, don’t have to balance the saw

Stuff to know

•Choose a side for the line - the blade destroys its width in material

•Steady comfortable surface

•Use the right blade for the right job (fast rip vs. clean crosscut)

14 tooth demo, 24 framing, 40 plywood, 60-80 finish, 80+ veneers & laminates

•Saw in line with shoulder, don't stand behind

•Notch guide good for long rips, otherwise see the blade make the cut

•Rough rips are ok by hand, finish rips use a rail - even for Dean “factory edge” Sharp

•Be mindful of the rotation direction so blade so teeth penetrate the finish side


Screws v. Nails v. Bolts

•Screws grip into material with threads

•Nails grip into material with friction

•Bolts pass through materials and compress from both ends

Screw guns have replaced hammers as the new “basic tool”

Disturbing trend - Screws must be rated structural to replace nails for framing

Screw gun tips

•If a screw isn’t self-drilling it needs a pilot hole

•Start with slow rotation

•Press firmly and maintain pressure

•Set the gear

•Set the clutch

Hammering tips

•How not to hit your thumb

•Don’t choke up

•Blunt the nail head to avoid splitting

•Fast light hammer for framing … Force = Mass x Velocity2

•Heavy slow hammer for finish

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