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Welcome to the series of How-To articles for novice construction volunteers.  It is based mostly on experience as a volunteer and as a supervisor of volunteers on construction sites going back to 1997 and partly on research.  Click through the articles at right in the suggested order or bounce around.  We hope you'll learn a lot about certain aspects of how to build a house and about certain tools and so on.

Unlike most of the barelybad.com Web site of which this series is a part, there's only a little humor or irony or anything thought-provoking in the hundred or so PDF pages at right.  But we guarantee there's probably information that's new, true and useful to you.  Learn.  Enjoy.

If you're a novice volunteer scheduled to work on a construction job site, you will want to be well-prepared for your experience.  Please read whichever of these How-To articles apply to what you're scheduled to do, and read "How to be safe on a job site" no matter what.

(In order to view or print the PDF files at right, a free program called Adobe Reader should be on your computer.  If it is not, go here to download and install it, then return to this page.)

Study the articles that do or might apply to you.  They are formatted to be printed, so feel free to print them out for further study and bring them with you to the site.

If you discover a mistake or know of some other way to improve an article, please .

Construction Volunteer
How-To Articles

Search only the How-To articles

  How to be safe on a job site
  Useful miscellany
  How to use ladders
  How to measure and mark
  How to use a sledge hammer
  How to use a circular saw
  How to use a reciprocating saw
  How to use a nail gun
How to attach housewrap
  How to install doors and windows
How to attach siding
  How to attach drywall
How to take a group photo
Timeline of a house

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Notes on the How-To articles: ● Any greyed-out link above is not yet available but we'll publish it soon, so check back later.  ● Look for the use of italics to define certain terms.  ● You should not be surprised to learn that there can be more than one way to perform a particular procedure safely, accurately and efficiently.

Footer Navigation aids: Below is a sample footer such as you'll find at the bottom of every PDF page of the How-To articles.  If you click on the series title at the bottom left you'll be returned to this very page.  If you click the page number at the bottom right you'll be sent to the top of that PDF article. 

Blathering, bloviation, saw blade, bushwa, bull, blowhardness, blah, blah, blah . . .


Construction Volunteer How-To Articles - How To Use a Nail Gun

page 3 of 5


Table of Tables of Contents

Below are the tables of contents for all of the How-To articles.  When you see something that you need or want to read or print, click the article title to go to that PDF file.

How To Be Safe on a Job Site How To Be Safe on a Job Site      TOP

Novices are dangerous
General rules
Several more safety rules
Safety equipment
Clothing and footwear
Heat is dangerous
Lunch is dangerous
Useful Miscellany Useful Miscellany      TOP

The beginning of the day
    Forms and ages
The middle of the day – lunch
The end of the day
    Roll-up and tool sweep
    Nail apron
    Mudding and grouting
    Daisy-chain extension cords
    Tool belts
    Borrowing tools
    Abandoning tools
    Mistreating tools

How To Use Ladders How To Use Ladders      TOP

General ladder rules
Two types of ladder
    Extension ladders
        How an extension ladder works
        Carrying and handling
            Left-right angle
            Front-back angle
Who should climb ladders and who shouldn’t

How To Measure and Mark












How To Measure and Mark

How To Measure and Mark      TOP

Typical example of measuring and marking
The Carpenter’s Rule
How close is close enough?
Why measuring and marking matter
Tools used to
        Tape measure
            Why measuring is bad
        200-foot tape measure
        Four-foot T-square
        Other tools
        Speed Square
        Framing square
        Combination square
        Four-foot T-square
        Pythagorean Theorem
        String line
        Known-straight board
        A practiced eye
            Checking for crown
        Other tools
            Spirit level
            Line level
            Spirit level
            Plumb bob
            Post level
        45-degree angles
        Other angles
            Bevel gauge
            Framing square
    Table of Angles and Pitches (and some math)
Excel spreadsheet
        Mistaken Tape Angles
Tools used to
    Carpenter’s pencil
    Regular pencil
    Utility knife
    Chalk line
    Plumb bob
    Felt-tip marker
More glossary terms
    Board stretcher
    Cut line
    Parallax error
    Crow’s foot
    Scrap side, keeper side
    Names of surfaces
    Sheet goods
    Lengths, widths and heights
        Table of Stick Lumber
        Table of Other Materials (and a timeline)

How To Use a Sledge Hammer How To Use a Sledge Hammer      TOP

Sledge hammer described
Purposes for a sledge hammer
Why swinging a sledge well is difficult
The technique for swinging a sledge hammer

How To Use a Circular Saw How To Use a Circular Saw      TOP

Circular saw described
    Typical use for a circular saw
    Sidewinder v. worm-drive
Care and handling
How to make a typical cut
    Depth of cut
    Angle of cut
    Blade guard
    Cuts are from the front bottom up
    How fast to cut
    How to steer a circ saw
    Sheet goods
    How to set up a saw table
    Finish the cut
    The blade has width
    How to test-kiss
    How to make an incomplete cut
    How to make a plunge cut
    How to make a 45-degree cut
    How to use a Speed Square as a fence
    How to shorten a 6 by 6 post
    How to make serial cuts
        Solution #1
        Solution #2
        Solution #3
    Vinyl saw
        How to change the blade
    How to make a dado
    Designated sawyer
More details

How To Use a Reciprocating Saw How To Use a Reciprocating Saw      TOP

Reciprocating saw described
    Parts and controls
        Forward grip
        Gear setting
    Cordless verus corded
    Uses for a reciprocating saw
Reciprocating saw versus circular saw
    Blade type
        Metal blade
        Wood blade
        Combination blade
    Blade length
    Upside-down and sideways blades
    Changing the blade
        Blacksmithing the blade
    Bending the blade
How to use a reciprocating saw
    Cutting out bottom plates in doors
    Cutting out a window – plunge cut
    Cutting off a big post
    Who should use recip saws and who shouldn’t

How To Use a Nail Gun How To Use a Nail Gun      TOP

Nail gun described
Uses for a nail gun
    Two safety features
        1. Nose piece
        2. Your brain
    More safety rules
    1. Loading and unloading nails
    2. Hook up to an air hose
How to nail with a nail gun

How To Attach Housewrap How To Attach Housewrap      TOP

Purpose of housewrap
Installing housewrap
    How to fasten housewrap
        Button nails
            Tip: How to hold a button nail
    Doors and windows
    Gable ends
        Measure, mark and cut
        From the middle out
    Taping seams

How To Attach Siding How To Attach Siding      TOP

Purpose of siding
Vinyl siding
    Five types
        #1 Corner posts
        #2 Starter strips
        #3 J-channel
            Tip: Attaching J to the top of a gable end
        #4 Main siding panels
        #5 Soffit
            Why soffit is vented
            Rules for attaching soffit
    More rules and tips
        Vinyl expands and contracts
        Six rules about laps
        Tight lip-to-ridge connection
        Nailing schedule
            Tip: How to measure 16 inches fast
        Siding a triangle
            Measure a lot
            Don’t measure at all
        Avoid measuring
        Parallax error
        How to cut vinyl
        OSB bounces
            Tip: How to hold a roofing nail
    Yet more rules and tips

How To Attach Drywall How To Attach Drywall      TOP

Drywall – purpose, definition and description
    Order of installation of the three layers
Excel spreadsheet
The procedure generally
    Special considerations for the ceiling layer
    Special considerations for the top wall layer
    Special considerations for the bottom wall layer
How to make snap cuts
How to make hole cutouts
    How to measure and mark for a rectangle
    How to cut out a rectangle
    How to measure and mark for a circle
    How to cut out a circle
How to make it fit
How to find nailers
    Finding nailers above ceiling rock
    Finding nailers behind top wall rock
    Finding nailers behind bottom wall rock
How to attach the piece
Other rules you must follow
Other tips, tricks and hints

How To Shoot a Group Photo How To Shoot a Group Photo      TOP

Before you assemble the troops
How to rearrange the troops
    Horizontal scrunch
How to re-shoot the troops
    Don’t you move
    Do you move
Six-point spiel
How to submit your photos

Timeline of a House Timeline of a House      TOP
If you haven't found what you're looking for, try the Search box at the top of this page to search inside the PDF articles.


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