14 Things I Learned from Gary Katz and the Katz Roadshow
On an invitation from Andersen Windows, I decided to take the day last Friday to check in with Gary Katz and the Katz Roadshow. It rolled quickly through town. For those that do not know Gary Katz, he is a recognized writer (contributing to Fine Homebuilding Magazine and others); he is the personality behind a great series of pro level how-to videos; and, if you haven’t figured, he is the founding force behind the Katz Roadshow. He is the voice behind http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/; he is a capable product spokesman; and from what I could tell, he is a humble student of the craft. He says, “I’m just a guy who likes to write.” But perhaps he has found a better way to “show ya”.
As Gary puts it, the Katz Roadshow is one of the only hands-on, pier-to-pier construction education platforms in existence today. I had passed on the opportunity to see the Roadshow previously, but as I am preparing to run up to Providence for JLC Live (where Gary also will be speaking) – this time, it seemed to make for the perfect primer. The day’s events were hosted by regional building supplier TW Perry. (Thank you.)
The training session, along with a “my belly full” breakfast and lunch, was split into four modules: Durable Exterior Trim, Replacement Windows & Architectural Trim, Problem-free Prefit Doors & Conquering Kitchen Crown Molding. Roadshow programs, as I understand it, vary by presenter. Gary himself a master at trim, hence the focus that day on finish carpentry.
He started the day (on time), and as he told us right off – most shows start with coping chair rail – a practice he says is a fading art. It set the tone for a single point he would hammer home all day – technologies and products do change … so why shouldn’t the installation techniques that go along with them? HOWEVER, while there are many, many practices we should let go of – he says, many still … need to be preserved.
So here are a few things I learned from the Katz Roadshow
- Gary is funny, but not overly showy… and definitely does not like his sessions being recorded. He shut one fellow down citing the nervousness he already feels on stage.
- I learned that an average home has about 50% humidity. At this humidity level, wood’s moisture content is/should be about 8 to 10%. For every 4% change in moisture content, expect 1% movement in wood. Rot is said to occur @ 19%. ”Wood can get wet,” Gary says, “But it needs to dry out.”
- With coupling wood, you glue both sides (of say, a miter). With coupling PVC, you glue just one.
- Wood moves across the grain; PVC moves along the grain (or with the length).
- On flashing windows, there seems to be contention about it anywhere you go. As often presented, the experts suggest cutting back housewrap to install mechanical … vinyl, aluminum or other flashing, underneath. (The thinking of course, you have already or will “nail the shit” out of the housewrap when installing your siding.) The goal should be creating a continuous drainage plane at the window. Not sealing at the bottom of the window helps facilitate this.
- I am not really sure I fully understand this one (and because I don’t have a crown project in front of me), but when measuring for an outside miter on crown you are always measuring to the short point. When measuring for an inside miter, you are measuring to the long point. (You would think that it would be the other way around.)
- Unlike what many of us have been told, installing shims behind the hinges of a pre-hung door is not a great idea. Gary uses a technique I’ll call the 5 fastener 4 shim install. I learned the most important, the magic shim in any door install is the one that goes just above the lowest hinge. (It offsets the weight of the door.)
- Working with a cut list could really help me. And pre-assembling some elements may be best with trim.
- A crown holder is actually fairly easy to make. You use it to control the spring angle on crown, especially important because drywall mud build up on a ceiling is never completely uniform.
- Gary, as a right hander (I am one too), moves to the right while doing crown, and moves to the left while doing base. He always copes with cuts on the left, he says. Gary too like me is a creep creep creep cut guy.
- Gary has some pretty sweet tools and I absolutely need to get myself a pin nailer … and oooo, Festool’s Domino Joiner is very cool.
- Gary techniques are not without question, and he was questioned more than once by the audience – but simply he presents the best thinking man’s way he has come to it. He copes like a crazy man, but to the audience he says, “It is not magic; it’s practice.”
- Typar, like Tyvek, was initially developed by Dupont but is 5 stronger, and is available at right around the same cost. OSI has a very nifty (and affordable) spray foam system called TEQFoam.
- You don’t have to be a big guy to be a successful contractor, you just need to use your brain some.
If you haven’t figured, we are pretty fascinated by construction learning in these parts. For more on the topic, our recent post featuring Katz RS alum Greg Burnet >> The Art of Live Construction Presentation. Thanks for reading all, have a good one. Back reporting from Providence soon. ~jb
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About jb bartkowiak (305 posts)
A one-time construction manager, and always handyman, turned blogger and editor - Your Home Project Assistant. My wife, Jen, and I are on our 6th property (. . . yes, together). She is a real estate agent. We have two beautiful daughters Evyn and Eva. We currently live and are restoring an 1889 farmhouse in Baltimore's Lauraville area.