DeWALT Professional Reference Series

Excellent set of reference books for apprentices, avid DIYers, and seasoned tradespeople

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DeWALT Professional Reference Series



Knowledge is the key to success in whatever endeavor we undertake. It's the accumulation of information we acquire through a combination of learning and experience. The learning part, which we tend to get through education, is the part that helps us understand what it is we need to do — the theory, if you will — while experience is what we get applying the learning, typically in the work place.
 
Cengage Learning has partnered with DeWALT to offer a complete line of reference books designed specifically for the building trades, construction, electrical trades, HVAC, and plumbing. A total of 50 reference books are available.
 
If you're a student entering the trades, have recently started apprenticeship training, are an avid DIYer, or an experienced carpenter who needs a bit of a refresher, then these books are well worth investing in.
 
I looked at four books in their construction line.
  

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Carpentry and Framing Complete Handbook, 1st Edition
Gary Brackett
2012
ISBN-13: 9781111136130
230 pages, 8" x 10", paperback
$24.95
 
While it's true that no single book can provide all the information you need on wood frame construction, this book comes mighty close. While light on text, it's packed with excellent colour-coded illustrations, charts and tables, copious definitions of building terms, and step-by-step procedures for key carpentry concepts.
 
The book begins with a discussion of house types and foundations, then covers sills, post and girders, before moving on to floor and wall framing. The final chapter covers a variety of special topics, including stair construction, railings, porches, and decks. There are some handy appendices at the back of the book, which will likely be supplanted by smartphone or tablet computer apps, and a comprehensive index, which makes it quick and easy to locate specific topics in the book.
 
What I particularly like about this book is its inclusive nature — the author shows alternative ways of underrating specific tasks. According the Brackett, ..."knowing different methods of completing a task is comparable to having extra tools in a toolbox — some will work better than others in given situations."
 
An excellent, easy-to-read, reference book for anyone new to the trade, and a useful book for anyone who needs a refresher.
 

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Construction Professional Reference Master Edition
William Spence
2010
ISBN-13: 9781418066321
400 pages, 4"X6", paperback
$24.95
 
Unlike the "Carpentry and Framing Complete Handbook", which is ideally suited for tradespeople, this reference book is likely more suited to project managers, site supervisors, foremen and the like. It contains an overwhelming amount of information, primarily in the form of reference tables, charts, and illustrations.
 
You'll find technical information on site safety, site work, fasteners, concrete and masonry construction, foundations, carpentry, roofing, flooring, drywall and plaster, metal structural products, electrical, and plumbing. There is an extensive table of contents at the front of the book, which makes it relatively quick to find what you're looking for, which is a good thing, as there is no index.
 
Often, publishers reduce font size to pack more content into a smaller format. Fortunately, they haven't done it with this book. The text, tables and charts are clear and easy to read. The compact size of the book makes it convenient to tote to and from the job site, store in a glove compartment, or in a tool bag.
 

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Carpentry Quick Check: Extreme Duty Edition
Chris Prince
2012
ISBN 13: 97811111285874
42 pages, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", spiral bound
$14.95
 
I love this quick check booklet. It's compact enough to stick carry around in a tool kit or oversized jacket or vest pocket. The spiral binding enables the booklet to remain flat when open, and they're infinitely more durable than glue bindings. And, the publisher has used thick water-resistant glossy paper, which you'll appreciate when you need to refer to the booklet during inclement weather.
 
The booklet is jam-packed with a wealth of the most useful formulas, tables, and calculations you'll need for everyday residential carpentry and framing. It covers 40 topics, which are conveniently listed on the cover. Topics include marking sill plates, framing wall openings, floor and ceiling joist span charts, calculating roof pitches, laying out rafters, laying out hip jack cheek cuts, and fastener selection.
 
This is likely to be the best $15 investment you'll make in some time.
 

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Construction Math Quick Check: Extreme Duty Edition
Chris Prince
2011
ISBN 13: 9781111128579
42 pages, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", spiral bound
$14.95
 
If you're not a whiz at math, then you'll love this booklet. In structure and format it's a twin to the 'Carpentry Quick Check' booklet. Paired with a tape measure and calculator, this booklet will enable you to tackle just about any mathematical formula commonly used in housing construction.
 
The 40 topics are covered in a clear, step-by-step manner. It starts off with a short primer on scaling measurements on blueprints, how to deal with decimals and percentages, and conversions from fractions to inches and feet. The next sections are on calculating area and volume, and how to deal with fractions. The final 27 sections cover a wide range of formula, including estimating concrete for slabs, columns and footings; calculating how much rebar is required; estimating brick, block, mortar, cement, and sand; calculating roof framing, covering, underlayment; estimating drywall, paint and tile; and calculating riser height and stair run.
 
For a lot of carpenters math can be a real challenge. Even experienced folk can have trouble remembering the right formula, especially when they don't use it on a regular basis. With this booklet it really doesn't have to be a pain. You'll be able to find the formula you need quickly, so that you can get right back to the job — with confidence.

Carl Duguay, January 2013

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