The Top 5 Most Effective Plank Exercise Positions

Ranked as one of the top exercises that target the core, particularly the oblique abdominal muscles, the plank exercise increases the rest in simplicity, efficiency and practicality. Planks are mentioned in almost every top 10 article discussing core muscle workouts. It does not require equipment or any other special contraptions to perform. If you have a body, you can do the plank exercise.

The basic concept of the plank exercise is to assume a well-balanced (or isometric) stationary position while contracting certain muscles or muscle groups and holding it for a particular length of time. While the concept may seem simple, it has been proven to be very effective in exercising and strengthening your core muscles. The Transverse Abdominis, the muscles the lie deep benefit the obliques that wrap around your spine to protect it and give you stability; the Rectus Abdominis – extending along the front of your abdomen and is more commonly known as the "six-pack" muscles; the Erector Spinae or the muscles that run along your lower back up to your neck; the External Obliques or the "love handle" muscles around your waist; and the Internal Obliques which is located under the external obliques. These muscle groups are all involved in performing plank exercises properly.

But the benefits do not end with these core muscles, as variations of the plank exercise are n fact total body workouts as they strengthen not only your midsection as described above but also your upper-body muscles (including the pectoral and serratus muscles) and lower-body muscles (such as the quadriceps, tensor fasciae latae and sartorius).

And as the plank exercise helps stabilize your hips and spine, it also improves your posture and helps prevent and even correct postural defects.

It is also a very efficient exercise for reducing stress. When muscles tighten and tension develops, exercise can stretch and relax them; and in the process, improving your mood and mental well-being. Finally, if you feel like you ever will be wanting to get into a more physically rigorous workout regimen, this exercise will strengthen your core and provide a stable platform to workout from. Which is always a good idea from a back safety and workout efficiency standpoint.

Convinced that you'd like to give it a try? Here are the top five basic yet very effective plank exercises people use every day to help get you started:

1. BASIC PLANK – Lie face down on the floor (use a mat or do this on a carpet or rug) as in a push-up position. Then bend your elbows and place your forearms closely on the sides of your chest down on the mat pointing forward. Using your forearms and toes, slowly raise your self while keeping your whole body perfectly straight with no part of your body sagging or bending leaving only your toes and forearms touching the floor. Maintain this position initially for about 10 seconds, then increase the length of time in 10-second increments until you're always able to do this for as long as two minutes. Remember to keep your head relaxed and facing the floor and to focus the tension around your midsection while doing this.

2. BASIC PLANK Variation – if you find it too hard to do the above basic plank exercise, start with this simple modified version: Instead of lifting yourself up with your forearms and toes, lift yourself using your forearms and knees instead. But as in the original version, remember to keep a straight line from your shoulders down to your feet to make this exercise work.

3. LEG LIFTS – Using the same position, this time slowly lift one leg up about 7-8 inches off the floor, keep it up for two seconds then slowly put it down and do the same with the other leg. Do three sets with about 10 reps per set.

4. ARM LIFTS – Again, from the original basic plank exercise position, slowly shift your weight on one arm and carefully lift the other arm, extending it in front of you for 2-3 seconds before slowly going back to the original position. Then repeat the same sequence with the other arm. If you're feeling really adventurous, try the arm & leg lift.

5. SIDE PLANK – Lay down on your side this time, with your elbow resting right benefit your shoulder and your forearm extended in front of you. Slowly and carefully lift your body on your elbow, still remembering to keep your whole body straight. Keep this position for about 10 seconds before slowly lowering yourself back to the floor starting at your hip. Repeat this sequence three times before switching to the other side of your body.

Mind your breathing when doing the above plank exercises. They work best with deep diaphragmatic breathing – inhaling deeply through your nose filling your stomach with air and slowly exhaling through your mouth.

These five basic plank exercises are a great way to introduce your body to this highly effective yet very simple exercise routine and are the foundation of any personal trainer's core workout pyramid.

Identify the Different Wood Handrails Stair Parts

There is a wide variety of wood handrails stair parts from which to choose. It all depends on your preference of hand railing style. A popular style, and my personal favorite, is composed of all wood with fillet material set between the stair spindles, which are also known as balusters. Since the spindles fit into the recessed area between the top and bottom handrails, there is still an open area left.

Handrail Styles

There are several different styles and sizes of wood handrails. The ones, which I've built the most of, are the small handrail, which has a 1 1/4-inch baluster, and the larger handrail having a 1 3/4-inch baluster. Both of these give the handrail a polished look. Be sure that you select the matching top and bottom rail size when shopping for your hand railing parts.

Baluster Styles

Balusters, or spindles, also come in a wide variety of styles. Turned balusters are shaped with a lathe into different styles and profiles. The bottom of the baluster is still square so it fits neatly into the rail. Square balusters are square shaped from top to bottom. When you order balusters, be sure to order them in pairs to avoid mixing styles by mistake and double check the size to ensure they'll fit into the rails.

Newel Post Styles

The newel post is the main support for the handrail and comes in many styles. They can be similar to the baluster as square or turned with an assortment of top styles. An example is a square newel post with a top shaped like an acorn. You'll also need to decide on the length of your newel post.

Rosette Styles

Do not forget about finishing off the spot where the handrail and the wall meet. Here's where you'll want to attach a rosette, which is a piece of wood that decorates this spot. Again, you'll have lots to choose from in many styles, shapes and designs. The rosette is optional, however, and the handrail can simply be placed flush with the wall for a clean and simple look.

Miscellaneous Parts

There are several other parts to a staircase, such as cap boards and the boards that fit over the knee wall. A bull nose trim on the floor edge of the railing or a step edge is a nice look. Newel posts, depending on the style, sometimes need additional parts for mounting. This is a popular project and is easy to modify for different uses.

How to Properly Measure Your Stair Railings

A stairway adds a nice touch to any home. Whether your stairs only have three steps or you have a long flight of stairs in your home, one thing is evident. The structure helps family members ascend and descend comfortably and safely.

Stairs, regardless of their shape and size, need to be properly constructed to make it safe to use by people. The right measurements have to be taken before installing the vital parts. Carpenters are skilled in this task and if you're not knowledgeable on this aspect of home construction, it would be best to get the help of qualified carpenters to assist you. If you'll be ordering your stair railing, you will have to provide the company with the precise measurements.

To get the measurements, you will need to get the average rise and run of steps or the height and width, the number of stairs or treads, measurement from tip to tip as well as from the house to the tip of front steps and the angle of the staircase.

The shapes of stairs have evolved since the olden times. Some people know this structure to be just the straight one. Today, however, there are different shapes of staircase such as the round and spiral apart from the straight type.

A flight of stairs is composed of different parts. The tread is what people usually step on and this requires a certain thickness. The riser is the vertical part between each tread while the nosing is the edge portion of the treat that protrudes over the riser. A major component is the balustrade system which includes the balusters, handrail and the railing. The stair railing is the one that prevails people from falling over the edge of the structure. The part where the railing is attached is called the newel or a large baluster.

Railings need to be sturdy and firm to ensure the safety of those who use the staircase. Depending on the choice of material, they have to be built in a way that will not allow any adult or child to get through it. A very common type of stair railing makes use of vertical posts or balusters made of wood. Two of these posts, also referred to as spindles or guards, are normally required for each tread.

But with the entry of various materials, different designs can be used for the railing posts notably for the open styles. Homeowners with small children who want to provide a safe environment for their kids can choose a close type of railing for their stairway.

If you're living in a home that's been existing for quite some time, ensure that your stair railing is intact with its posts, balusters and handrails not loose. Should you observe some loose parts, act right away to have it fastened by an experienced carpenter. Doing it yourself especially without proper background may be difficult as the balustrade system normally involves long bolts and pins.

If the stair railing, however, is quite old for you, you can always have it changed. There are companies that build and assemble precut railroads and get rid of your old one.

The Importance of the Newel Post

A newel post is an important part of a staircase. However, most people probably have no idea what it actually is. This is ironic because almost everyone has used a staircase at some time in their lives.

What Is A Newel Post
It is a post that supports the staircase or handrail. It can be found under the staircase, at a landing, or at the bottom of the staircase. They are often used at the beginning of the hand rail, and are designed to support the staircase.

Newel posts have been around for a long time. In the colonial days, only skilled craftsmen made the posts. Today, they can be handcrafted or they can be mass produced by machine.

Functional or Stylish?
A newel post is primarily designed to be functional. This does not mean that they can not be ornate or attractive while supporting the handrail or the staircase. They can be made from wood or from metal. The wood may be painted, stained, or decorated.

Some modern staircases may not have a newel post. This is very rare however. One famous staircase that does not have newel posts is the spiral staircase at the famous Loretto Chapel in New Mexico.

Staircase Terms
Surprisingly, the parts of a staircase have specific names. For example, the vertical posts which connect to the handrail of the staircase are called spindles. They are sometimes called balusters. A grouping of balusters around the newel at the bottom of the handrail is called a balustrade.
The horizontal surfaces of the staircase where you walk are called threads.

A riser is the piece of the staircase that connects with the treads. The height of the risers determine how steep the staircase will rise. Typically, risers are usually between 5 inches and 7.5 inches tall. This can vary dependent upon the building codes in your area.

Types of Newel Posts
Newels can be square in shape or round in shape. A square shaped post is referred to as a box newel. A rounded shaped post is called a turned newel.

Newels made by traditional Amish craftsmen are considered to be some of the most beautiful ones available. Their price can be expensive because of the cost of the labor as well as the price of the materials. However, they are made from durable wood by skilled crafters. If you purchase such a piece, you can be sure that the post will hold up well and look attractive too.

Some of the less expensive ones may require some maintenance. Depending upon your lifestyle, it may be better to purchase the expensive post rather than getting involved in regular maintenance.

Of course, all newel posts will need to be dusted every so often. One of the best ways to keep your post looking good is to dust and clean them regularly. You can use cleaning products made especially for wood to do this. By doing this regularly, you can ensure that your post will look good and work properly.

Help! My Partner's A Slob!

Your so excited! You have cleaned up your closet, given away all the "stuff" you have been storing in the basement and your ready to begin transforming your life! Just one problem – Your daughters room looks like a cyclone hit it and your husband thinks the $ 500.00 "show" chair you just bought for the bedroom makes a great clothing rack! Yikes – can any new opportunities that are trying to get to me actually make it past the mountain of shoes at the front door?

First ask yourself the question, "Why do I want them to be more organized and less cluttered?" Is it because you believe they will be able to function better? If your answer is yes than the reason is not valid. In order for your family members to buy in to what your trying to get them to do must help them in a way THAT THEY WANT! Remember, your mother standards of being organized and clean probably is not up to your standards of being organized and clean! So it follows that each individual in your family has their own standards of being organized and clean.

So how can you start them on the path of de cluttering and organization? Well it is really about keeping 3 principles in mind

  1. Think like them! Do things in the way they would!
  2. Share a common goal! Make them see how it benefits everyon3
  3. Lead by example! Let them model your behavior.

Are you a creature of habit? Probably, and so are most people in society. In order for things to change you need to establish new habits. The following are a few simple ways you can get started.

Think Like Them Do your kids walk through the front door hang their coats on the banister, and kick off their shoes to where they land? If you know that is their habit than work with it. Install a coat rack by the front door and hang their coats up everyday. Place a shoe rack or better a hall bench with storage in the seat to place their shoes. By doing this it enables them to leave their stuff at the front door but just in designated areas. Still is not working?

Share a Common Goal explain to them that when they left their shoes out in the middle of the floor last week and you tripped over them and hurt yourself. You want to make sure it does not happen to them too and that is why you put the shoes rack in the hall!

Lead By Example even if you prefer to hang your coat in the closet, for a few weeks use the coat rack! Remember people are creatures of habit, show them how to do it and they will follow!

Think Like Them You do the laundry, your iron the clothes, yet no one will carry the laundry basket up the stairs! And when they do clothes never get hung up so what is the point or ironing them in the first place! Buy a two laundry baskets for each person in the house label them with each individuals names. Install a row of hooks on your laundry room wall label one hook for each member of the family. Here is the beauty of the system. After you have finished the laundry place every people clothes in their own basket, and iron and hang each persons items on their own hook. Each family member is responsible for picking up their basket of clean clothes and bringing it to their rooms and their ironed items are already on hangers! At the same time, they each have a second basket for dirty clothes in their rooms. When the bring the clean basket up they empty it and leave it in their room for dirty clothes. The basket that is already in their room filled with dirty clothes must be brought down to the laundry room. You NEVER do it for them if they want clean clothes they are required to bring clothes back and forth to their rooms!

Share a Common Goal explain to them that by handling their own clothes you can get the laundry done in half the time and have more time to do other things the family needs as well there are no mix ups with clothing AND they get their laundry down much faster when the burden is shared and not just transported by one!

Lead by Example Carry your own, make it a habit ever they will run out of clothes and get the idea fast!

Getting someone to do something is not as difficult as you might think. Think about the choices you make. In most instances your are more likely to do something if; you can do it your way, you can achieve something, and it is easy to do on a consistent basis.

The mistake most people make is that they try to organize everyone they way they want to be organized. Labeled boxes and color coding will not work for some individuals but open, easily accessible boxes and open shelving units may be the solution for those people! A coat rack instead of a closet, a easy one tug, all in one duvet instead of tailor bed linens! Attractive garbage bins through the house rather than one that is out of the way!

But what about that $ 500 chair? Each Sunday grab the pile and put it on the bed (his side) with hangers near the pile Start a new ritual that clothes must be put away on that day before bed. He is not buying in? Tell him you were worried you saw a (mouse, bug, earwig) in the pile and you want to make sure that the problem does not get out of hand so by keeping things hung up you can ensure things are in check! When all else fails you need to be creative!

Be creative, get your family involved, after all they deserve it!

© 2007 Fay Chapple

Preparing For an MMA Fight – The Week Before

When preparing for an MMA fight with just one week to go, the emphasis has to be on readjustment , rehabilitation , and mental readiness .


Depending on the training regime implemented leading up to the fight, the week before the contest is the time to undo any routines that were in place that may affect your performance on the night of the fight. This may involve flying out to the host country if not already there, although I think one week is too short a time to adjust to some of the more extreme time zone differences.

Another adjustment that has to be made, is your own natural body clock. If you have been training during the morning and afternoons but your fight is going to be at night, possibly quite late into the evening depending on the duration of the preceding contests, then you will have to start getting up later each day in preparation for this .

You may need to make some final readjustments to your weight too in the week before. Nowadays that is done through sitting in a steam room on and off for a few hours to shed water from the body.


The week before an MMA fight is the time to make amends for all the high intensity training and sparring that would have taken a toll on your muscles and joints. You want to enter into the contest completely fresh and rested.

An interesting reminder from history here is that prior to breaking the sub 4 minute mile record, Roger Bannister rested the complete week without any training whatever. For an MMA fighter this could have the time for chiropractic massage, stretching and mobility work and technique honing. It will probably be a good idea to lay off intense weight training and even strenuous condition work.

Mental readiness

If you have not already been doing so, the seven days leading up to the contest should allow you the time to concentrate on tactics by watching videos of your opponent and also yourself to highlight any weaknesses and strategies yet to perfect.

It is also time to confront any fears and the reasons why you want to fight in the first place. You need to remember why you fight and what motivates you to win. Several fighters nowdays employ the services of sports psychologists to overcome mental roadblocks to their progress.

ADHD Teens: What the EF! Executive Functions Skill: Goal-Directed Persistence

Executive functions (EF) skills are skills required to help perform or accomplish everyday life tasks. These skills are controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain just behind the forehead. The frontal lobes are the last areas of the brain to fully develop. Executive functions skills begin to develop in infancy and continue to mature into early adulthood.

Goal-directed persistence is an executive functions skill. It is the capacity or drive to follow through to the completion of a goal and not to be put off by other demands or optimistic interests. (Dawson, Peg, and Richard Guare, Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention, 2nd edition, The Guilford Press, 2010).

You may not realize that you have used goal-directed persistence many times. You used it when playing with toys (ie, LEGOs®), learning to make your bed, brushing your teeth, playing a sport, finishing a long-term project, etc. Remember when you were learning to tie your shoes? You wanted to tie your shoes all by yourself. They were steps to be learned. The steps had to be performed in a certain order. You willingly practiced over and over. You persisted until that one special day it all came together and you tied your shoes all by yourself!

Even after you were first able to tie your shoes by yourself, once in a while frustration would set in if tying your shoes did not always happen on the first try. In spite of this frustration you stuck with the task that you completed it. You able to rely on your memory and self talk to get to the process of successfully tying your shoes.

When a teen has difficulties with goal-directed persistence, it is hard for them to:

  • complete a homework assignment
  • finish a chore
  • read a novel
  • start a task
  • stick with a task that is boring (to the teen)
  • get back to a task if they get interrupted (by themselves or others)
  • delay gratification (ie, save money over a certain period of time for something specific)

We can help our teens strengthen their executive functions skill of goal-directed persistence by using the following strategy, PERSIST :

Purpose of goal

Establish steps to goal

Reward yourself as you accomplish steps along the way

Schedule time to work on steps to goal in planner

Increase effort when a step is challenging

Seek help

Ta Da ! Goal achieved!

Repeat process or go ahead to next challenge that needs to be addressed and help the ADHD teen in your life PERSIST .

Raw Land Water Lines Problems

When you are in the rural areas you probably will be working with a small municipal water company, which is nonprofit and mostly managed by volunteers. They will not have the funds to install the water lines and they will tell you that if you want their water, then install the water lines! And then give them to them! And that you can not receive any part of the tap-on fees from future customers! You have to be careful with the water companies and get everything in writing !! Once I bought a large tract of land which had road frontage on both sides of a county road. I visited the local water company before I bought the land and showed them on their maps which land I was going to develop and even showed them my aerial photos. I told them that I was going to develop the east side first and then the west side. The president of the company, a volunteer, said OK they would provide the water service. But I did not get anything in writing. The development on the east side moved along nicely and I started developing the west side.

When the new buyers on the westside went to get their permits for water service, the company told them that no water service was available! I drve to the office and the same president told me that no water service was available on the west side of the road! He said that the 4 "line that was on the east side of the road was large enough to handle the east side development but not the west, and that they did not know that I was going to develop the west side! I went ballistic! But it did no good, as I had nothing in writing. I had gone to the trouble to visit those people before I bought the land, which is what I should have done, but I did not get anything in writing, which I should have. Always get any agreement or understanding in writing! If I had to know about this problem earlier, I would have just sold the lots on the west side using wells. But since I had already made several sales and had told the people that water was available, I had to have a water line installed.

My engineering firm later told me that the water company was responsible for the service and then the size of the line on the existing public road. But because I was adding interior roads, even though they were private, I was responsible for the line in the development as well as the one leading to it, if the existing line was less than 6 "So, I had the engineering firm locate an 8 "line that the water company had in place about two miles away and design a 6" line to connect to it. Of course this took time and cost money. the way to my project, and those things are about $ 1,000 each, installed!

Front Entry Design and Architecture

The front of your home sets the visual tone and appeal for your guests when they first arrive at your front door. Whether you like it or not, your front entry may be the deciding factor if your home looks inviting and welcoming or the complete opposite.

Materials such as stone, copper, wood, steel and brick can be used to finish a specific landscaping architecture or create a new one. Your house's exterior paint color may be the most visible design decision you make, especially if showcased with exterior lights. The landscaping ideas in the front and side yards offer both a welcoming transition from street to door and a buffer between your home and the public spaces it shares. Architectural details on your home can enhance your front area and help set the tone for your interiors. Popular home designs in the US include Victorian, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Tudor, Cape Cod, Mediterranean, Craftsman, Prairie Style, Art Deco, Modern, Mid-Century Modern, Ranch Style and today's sleek, utilitarian LEED-certified "green" design, among many other architectural styles.

If you are trying to enhance your front entry, the colors and architectural style details you choose can provide all beauty you are looking for. The right set of landscape pictures can add dramatic impact to your garden plans and landscape plans.

Following are four design hints to make your front of house an everlasting positive image of you and your family.

Light the way

Have you ever been to a beautiful home in the daytime, but when you drive by the house in the evening the front entry is dark and uninviting? Landscape ideas that include architectural lighting can enhance your home, and make your home more inviting and safe to walk up to. Landscape lighting can also be included with architectural details, as they light the walkways, sidewalk, and front porch of your home. Use up lighting to also enhance architectural details like columns, niches, and trim enhancements on your exterior.

Highlight architectural period details

Whatever your home is a modern and minimalist home or it is a Victorian styled home from hundreds of years ago, architectural period details are what makes your home unique and personalized. Look at your front entry and look for details that can be painted, enhanced or updated. Trim around windows, and doors, shutters, and cornice details can be painted in a contrasting color to stand out, or blend with surrounding features. Look at the front façade of your home as a whole and determine which details run around the perimeter of your home. Roof eave details and gutters can be highlighted with color and can make a bland front façade more visibly appealing.

Mix and match materials

Often times the best way to beautify your front entry is to use existing materials and enhance them with a variety of others. Brick, stone, siding, cedar shingles, exposed wood and metals can all enhance each other in separate details of your front entry. To unite your front entry with other areas of your front façade, use the same geometric shape, but differentiate with colors, scale, and materials to bring your theme together. Strong geometry can beautify a front entry, and can be mimicked in you porch decor, front door, and even roof details.

Simplify your front entry

Have you ever noticed that the smallest details can often make the biggest difference and impact? Instead of using color to signify the front door, how about changing your front door style and shape to mimic surrounding exterior details? If you have stairs leading to your front door, use mosaic tiles and quarry tiles to highlight the way. Even simple walkway banisters and handrails can make a huge presence. Try updating your existing house numbers, wall mounted mail box and door hardware to complete the look!

Your front of the house can be beautified with light, architectural highlights and simplification. If you are trying to make your front entry read as a welcoming home to visit, beautifying its architectural details can help. Use these simple tips to help you create a front entry that you and your guests will be proud of.

European Plumbing Secret

Need to do a bit of plumbing around your house? If you called a plumber or two you have probably heard the same things, basically that it is very expensive and it could be several days before he can show up. This is not ideal if water is pouring out of a broken pipe. What the homeowner should know is that basic plumbing repairs are quite simple for even the first time amateur plumber. Best of all, the cost to acquire all the tools and supplies will be cheaper than what you would pay a licensed plumber for just a single hour of work. Keep reading to learn how to make perfect connections every time.

Tools For The Job

For copper pipe repair you need 5 tools:

  1. Pipe Cutter – a small tool that clamps around pipe. You tighten the screw as you turn the clamp around the pipe, this cleanly cuts the pipe
  2. Sand Paper – any grit is fine, it is used to clean the areas two pipes meet.
  3. Flux – an acidic paste that allows the connection to seal together.
  4. Solder – get lead free, flux core. When melted bonds two pipes together.
  5. Propane Torch – used to heat up the connection and melt the solder.

You will also of course need copper pipe and fittings to make your repairs.

Directions To Repair Copper Pipe

  1. Turn off the main water line coming into your house. This is probably in the basement attached to your water meter.
  2. Open every single tap in the house and lets the water drain out. Do not forget bathtubs. This will depressurize the water pipes.
  3. Use the pipe cutter to cut all the pipe and mock up the repair. Put all the pieces in place but DO NOT sold them yet. You are just making sure that all the pieces fit.
  4. Lightly sand the ends of the pipes until they are shiny. Do the same for inside the fittings.
  5. Put a thin coating of flux on the pipe ends and inside the fittings. Do this for all fittings.
  6. Push all your pipes together and solder it up.

How To Solder.

The key to soldering is to heat the pipe and NOT the solder directly. Hold your torch on the bottom of the pipe and press your solder on the top of the pipe. When the pipe heats up the solder will melt and be sucked into the space where the two pipes meet.

The Secret

Now for the 'secret'. There are new fittings on the market in North America that have been used in Europe for years that make this very easy. They have solder embedded at the contact point. You can identify them by the raised ring at both ends of the fitting. Simply follow steps 1-5 above then hold the flame directly on the fitting and in about 20 seconds you will see a bit of solder ooze out of the joint. You are done. A perfect, water tight connection every time. Wait 20 minutes for all the joints to cool down, close all your taps, and turn your water back on.

An In-Depth Look Into the Fabrication of Custom Metal Works – Understanding the Basics

Metal fabrication is the name given to any process that takes metal and turns it into a final usable product by:

  1. Cutting
  2. Shaping
  3. Moulding

Most manufacturers and sellers stock the basic metal product such as:

  1. sheet metal
  2. metal rods
  3. metal bars

They are available easily in numerous shapes, dimensions, and materials. But there are times when manufacturers and construction projects necessitate unique metal component, parts that come in non-standard size. For such needs, there is a call for custom fabrication services. They cater to the design and production assistance needed to manufacture tailored parts.

Where, What & Who of Custom Metal Fabrication

  1. Where: Built-to-order parts are necessary for many industries as well as consumer products.

  2. What: The raw material generally wielded in the sector includes:

  • Plates
  • Fittings
  • Castings
  • Flat Metal
  • Welding Wire
  • Sectional Metal
  • Formed and Expanded Metal

The alloys and metals appropriated for custom fabrications are:

  • Iron
  • Gold
  • Brass
  • Silver
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Titanium
  • Aluminium
  • Magnesium
  • Grades of steel

3. Who: To convert raw material to final product, made-to-order metal fabrication shops employ:

  • Welders
  • Ironworkers
  • Blacksmiths
  • Boilermakers
  • Design experts

The Stages of Customized Metal Fabrication

Whether it is a whole project that requires bespoke metal fabrication or just a single product like a metal gate, the stages of product development remain the same. The process follows three steps:

  • Designing:

In this phase, the precise characteristics of the part/ product are conceptualized and analysed.

  • Building:

At this point, the tailor-made product is actually constructed.

  • Finishing and assembly:

Any post-fabrication treatment that enhances the product quality happens in this phase.

We now talk about what each phase entails and the services involved in them.

  1. Custom Design

A built-to-order metal product necessitates proper planning and then designing. When proper steps are failed to be taken, they can lead to a metal fabrication that has:

  • Structural Weakness
  • Inaccurate Dimensions
  • Undesirable Attributes
  • Compromised Quality

The services that compromise this stage are:

  • Conceptualizing: Through this service, an expert can glean the precise characteristics that the bespoke product needs to fulfil the construction project. For conceptualization, the required details are as follows:
  1. How should the item appear?
  2. What strength does it need?
  3. How versatile it needs to be?
  • Computer-aided design: CAD program is a software that utilises a computer to create a 3D picture of the final product. Through the program, a manufacturer can spot any structural weakness the product may have even before the construction begins.

2. Tailored Build

After the metal gate is designed to the exact specifications, the next stage, i.e., manufacture, is initiated. There are many techniques for constructing a custom metal product. The one selected is dependent upon:

  • The geometry of the product
  • The intended purpose of it
  • Materials employed to craft it

A few commonly utilised fabrication processes are:

  • Casting is when hot liquid metal is poured into a mould, cooled and then hardened.
  • Welding is when the application of pressure and heat joins two (or more) pieces of metal.
  • Drilling is used to bore round holes into the product via a drill bit.
  • Milling is the process of making multi-dimensional, multi-axis cuts using a router machine.
  • Turning allows tools to shape the product while it is being rotated on an axis.
  • Forging is the application of significant force to form the metal.
  • Punching is employed when decorative features like indentations need to be created on the metal item.
  • Drawing is the use of tensile force to draw metal in liquid form into a tapered die.

3. Bespoke Finish & Assembly

There are a few metal fabrications the require secondary treatments after production to reach the set specifications. For example, an assembly may be needed to combine more than one piece to make an operational product. The services that come within this phase are:

  • Adhesive Bonding
  • Bolting Deburring
  • Screwing
  • Painting
  • Grinding
  • Riveting
  • Sawing

5 Factors for Selecting A Fabrication Shop

The production quality, economics, manufacturing speed, etc. can be momentously affected by the custom metal manufacturer. Therefore, it is vital to choose one after careful deliberation. Some elements that should be thought over before finalising the decision are:

  1. Do they have the required experience in fabricating items that are needed for the project? A firm that has a good service reputation based on previous work would be the ideal choice.
  2. Which industries have the fab shop served in the past? Checking this will give information on the products the manufacturer has made and the process they applied. One can then see if they match with the current project requirements.
  3. What types of machinery do they have? What is the production capacity?
  4. What do quality metal they appropriate? Resources matter greatly.
  5. The final and critical consideration in the selection process should be production. The size of it, the volume of it and the length of it should be known.

Is Your Phone Sales Opening Cliched?

Have you taken the time to think about your telephone presentations slowly?

Year by year, as people continue to communicate by text on the smartphones, it becomes more challenging to communicate by phone. Challenging but not impossible. Taking the time to tweak our presentations keeps us on our toes and continuously helps us to become more successful selling on the phone.

Possibly the hardest thing to do these days is reach a decision maker by phone. People do not listen to voice mails, do not pick up if they do not know your numbers and generally make a snap decision wherever they want to speak with you.

What happens when you do reach them, though? Are you making the most of your opportunity? Have you created an opening that makes people want to listen to you and become active participants in the conversation? All too often when I look at prepared scripts, I notice sentences that might look well in a direct mail piece but will either get you shot down quickly or simply will not engage your prospect customer.

Here's two clichéd examples: openings that tout money savings or a saving of time and effort. It may very well be the case, but everyone says their product either:

  1. Saves you money
  2. Saves you time
  3. Makes your efforts more efficient thereby also giving you savings from 1 and 2 as well.

Seriously, everyone says it. But because everyone does it, there's a major downside. Doing this actually makes it easier for a decision maker to tune you out – because you're not different from anyone else who calls – and they'll try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Not what you are looking for, I'll bet.

Let's think about a better way, even a simpler way.

Why not just introduce yourself and your company name, make a quick one sentence statement about what your product is, and then ask some questions. Use a combination of open and closed ended questions.Take this opportunity to learn more about your potential customers. This makes it easier to learn more in order to tailor the rest of your presentation to your decision maker's needs.

In fact, one of the things you might find is that this decision maker is not a potential customer. Is not better to find that out up front? Is not it better to learn who you should be talking to or know that currently your products / services are not a good match for a particular organization?

Sit down and review your opening. Make it natural sounding. Avoid tired and hackneyed phrases. Take the time, instead, to become genuinely interested in your prospect. You'll be far happier with the results.

Using Infrared Illumination For Night Time Photography

Many people think that usable night vision technology is only available to the military or through the purchase of very expensive and high tech equipment. Today, however, the situation is rapidly changing and many cameras and camcorders have excellent built in low light and infrared vision capabilities.

The most common and least expensive method of capturing video or images in the dark is by using near infrared illumination. One example is the Sony Night Shot camcorder that first introduced this method over ten years ago.

The internal CCD recorder in many modern video cameras is capable of capturing IR light. This enables the unit to record better quality video in low light situations. And on some models, an internal near infrared light source is built into the camera to increase the quality of images taken in low light.

For close up work or in low light interiors, this system performs very well. People find, however, that the cameras seem to perform poorly in extremely low light situations, such as filming wildlife at night. There just is not enough of an infrared light source to light an outdoor scene using only the somewhat limited built in unit. But, by adding an additional external near infrared light source, excellent night time footage can be taken.

If you add more infrared light to the area where you are shooting, it still looks completely dark to the eye. But the camera now has a large additional source of infrared illumination. There are a number of different types of LED illuminators that use a group or sets of banks of infrared light emitting diodes.

Add on illuminators range from accessory units available from your camcorder manufacturer to extremely powerful individual units from OEM sources. The standard add on lights are not high priced, and higher level battery powered external light kits that allow lighting in the 100 foot range can be found in the two to three hundred dollar price range.

By using an external IR light source of adequate power, it's possible to set up a useful night vision system without a huge cost outlay. For wildlife enthusiasts, the advantage of using your camcorder in this way is that you can set up in total darkness. The additional infrared lighting that you use can not be seen, but you can see through the LCD viewfinder on your camera and view in the scene in what will look like near daylight conditions. The images using near infrared will be monochrome, and do not show colors, but by adding a stronger light source your camera can record extremely detailed images. Adding extra IR light greatly reduces or eliminates the 'graininess' typically associated with low light photography.

One other interesting option to consider if you want to experiment with IR photography is to use an IR or infrared flashlight. These are quite inexpensive and while they will not give you as much lighting as full light kits, they are fun to use and really do show what some of the capabilities of your camcorder are.

Try some experimenting in low light situations. You might find that your camera or camcorder has more built in features that you thought.

Best Image and Photo Editing Software Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop – My Reviews

"Photoshop" has gone beyond being merely a brand name to become a regular household word, a verb and a noun. However, Photoshop is really just a brand of fancy image editing software. Fancy, and expensive, image editing software. Adobe Illustrator is a standard vector graphics editor, and Adobe Photoshop is a standard photo editor for pretty much everything else. According to, Standard Adobe Photoshop ( not the Extended Version) is $ 599 and Adobe Illustrator is $ 699. The Design Standard Suite is over $ 1,000. What are your options for photo editing software?

Below is a list of my favorite image editing software, including a couple of online photo editors:

1. IrfanView

Experience Level Required: Novice

Pros: Fast, compact, uses minimal resources, many features (even more with plugins installed), many easy keyboard shortcuts available, functions as a viewer as well as a basic image editor, batch conversions, slideshow creation, precise cropping, variety of screen capture options, handles tons of file types, straight forward and easy to use.

Cons: Does not seem to do background saves (file saving requires overwriting the previously saved version every time), photo edits apply to entire image even if only one area is selected.

My Review:

IrfanView is far and wide my absolute favorite image viewer / editor. IrfanView has many useful features for basic and somewhat advanced editing. It's the most fast and efficient viewer I've seen or used, with the editing functionality that is lacking in many general image viewers. IrfanView is quick, compact, and not a resource hog. Rotating and flipping can be done with a single key.

IrfanView also offers a variety of screen capture options that prove very handy. The screen capture function gives you a choice of capture area (whole screen, current window, foreground area) as well as method of capture (timer, programmable hot-key). IrfanView gives you the option between capturing with or without the cursor. Screen capture and zoom are done with another tap of the key.

Editing in IrfanView is basic, but convenient. Rotate, flip, crop, brighten, sharpen, resize, simple bevels, saturation, hue, add text, etc. Basic editing is simple enough even for a novice to perform without reading a lengthy manual.

One of my favorite features is the crop tool. Unlike cropping in some Windows programs, IrfanView allows you to see the pixel size of the area you've selected. If you try to crop a selection and find out it's still too large, the Resize / Resample function allows you to size it down to the exact proportions you want. Resize / Resample also offers some popular preset size options to help you make your decision. The Resample option allows you to resize images without losing the image quality.

A unique feature in IrfanView I use very frequently is IrfanView's Batch Conversion / Batch Rename function. The Batch Conversion feature is invaluable for resizing multiple photos at once. Likewise, Batch Rename is great for organizing those large groups of camera-named images. IrfanView even an option to rename your converted files. This is exceptionally useful if you are trying to make a photo CD for someone and have folders full of high-resolution, 1MB + sized images that need to be shrunk a bit.

All this packaged into one compact – FREE – little program

2. Inkscape

Experience Level Required: Intermediate to Advanced

Pros: Relatively easy to use, variety of in-depth editing features, supports a variety of input and output types including support for Adobe Illustrator.eps files, filters make professional looking edits with ease , many options for exporting bitmaps.

Cons: Some features are more technical than novices may be comfortable with (prior experience with Adobe Illustrator would probably be helpful), resource intensive program, viewing files at full size has to be done carefully to avoid locking up the program, cropping took some time to figure out.

My Review:

I'd like to start by saying that I'm still only a beginner with Inkscape. Yet despite my lack of knowledge about vector graphic editors, and vector graphics in general, Inkscape is still a convenient and simple way to create professional, impressive looking logos and buttons with little technical expertise or knowledge of graphics editing software. The simplest way to do this is to use the text tool to type out what you want, choose a nice font, and then play around with the various filters until you get the effect you want.

One filter is nice, but multiple filters can make something even more impressive looking. The logo on my blog is a result of doing just that. The rainbow-swirled paint splash is actually the product of a square with a gradient and several different filters stacked on top of each other. You've never know by looking at it that it started as a square (a gray square even, if I remember right). Working with text is pretty simple with Inkscape and you do not need to rasterize it to use the filters.

Filters are in abundance. Options include the very basic (lighten, darken, sharpen, blur, etc), textures, colorize, "non-realistic 3D shaders," overlays, materials, bevels, and more. Resizing and rotating individual components is a breeze, but cropping them can be a bit confusing. Cropping in Inkscape is actually called "clipping" and it does not function exactly the same as most cropping tools. I had to conduct a Google search to figure it out, and even then I only found one or two sites that explained it in a way that made sense. I have re-posted it on my blog for your convenience.

You also have to watch your actual file sizes in Inkscape. If you work without setting the canvas size and go mostly freeform, you can end up with a very large image file without realizing it. If you've done this and try to zoom in, Inkscape's performance reduces significantly, depending on your computer's technical specs. It corrects itself well, but you may have to give it awhile.

The most advanced part of Inkscape is working with paths and nodes. Admittedly I am not experienced with paths and nodes yet. I have used them a little in experimentation, but for the most part I can not give a good review on the usage of paths and nodes with Inkscape. Flattening layers is also something that I imagine is possible, but I have yet to figure it out exactly. That's where the "Advanced" recommendation comes in. If you are comfortable using Adobe Illustrator, figuring out paths and nodes in Inkscape should be simple. I never got comfortable enough with Adobe Illustrator to have a definite opinion on the paths and nodes functions in Inkscape (and have not had a reason to use them much in Inkscape, either).

3. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Experience Level Required: Intermediate to Advanced

Pros: Great feature list, hover tips explain feature icons, supports a variety of input and output types including support for Adobe Photoshop.psd files, variety of filters for professional looking image edits, clean and efficient interface, generally faster load time than Adobe Photshop , many tweakable features for enhanced control, ability to easily reset defaults, supports a variety of keyboard shortcuts, results using GIMP are generally comparable to using Adobe Photoshop.

Cons: Lacks some features of Adobe Photoshop, certain functions take some getting used to, recreating some Adobe Photoshop type results may require additional steps.

My Review:

After familiarizing myself a bit with Adobe Photoshop, it took me a while to switch gears from Adobe Photoshop to GIMP, and a couple tools took me a little Google-searching to figure out. I can not say it's because GIMP is that hard to learn, but rather that I was frustrated and impatient.

Selection, crop, layers, filters, set the image size, etc. are all pretty easy. Gradient, fill (color and pattern options), clone, blur, smudge, airbrush, and various selection tools were also easy, but the clone and gradient tools took me some trial and error to figure out. The brush sizes also originally appeared to be lacking.

Once I experimented a little more, I was very pleasantly surprised with the ability to tweak the brush in a wide variety of ways. This helps greatly with pixel-by-pixel editing around curves and edges. You can tweak the hardness, opacity, angle, shape, aspect ratio and radius of the brush. GIMP even lets you add spikes and make completely shaped brushes. Editing the brush sizes and shapes provided to be invaluable feature when using the clone tool to capture a very specific portion of an image. The brush editor allows you to create a brush up to a huge 1,000 pixels in size.

Another convenient feature of GIMP is the ability to open new images as layers, and open multiple images simultaneously. The locator icon (not sure its actual name) in the bottom right hand corner is also useful. If you zoom in too far on a given image and want to locate a specific portion, you can drag the cursor around the icon and go right to the desired spot in the image.

I did not find as many filter options in GIMP as I did in Inkscape, or maybe they just were not as cut-and-dry, but there are still a good range with many options. The real power to GIMP comes very similar to Adobe Photoshop. Layers and masks are allow you to create a wide variety of effects that are not unnecessarily built in.

Many of the realistic, elegant, or impressive effects can be created with layers. Just like using paths and nodes in Inkscape, layer and mask functions require a more advanced level of knowledge (layers and masks are present in Inkscape as well). You can use layers and masks to create more subtle effects than what I have had to use personally. Rays of sunlight, shiny and / or colored hair, realistic looking shadows and more can be created with these functions.

4. Pixlr – Online Photo Editing Software

Experience Level Required: Novice to Advanced

Pros: Offers 3 different types of editors – Pixlr O-Matic, Pixlr Express, and Pixlr Editor – ranging from novice level to advanced, creates beautiful photo effects without the hassle, allows you to save your files online, downloadable plug-in allows you to edit images "grabbed" off the web, variety of preset settings, lighting effects, frame effects, more advanced editing options available, allows you to edit images from anywhere, easy to use interface, many languages ​​available, no registration required.

Cons: Pixlr Editor (advanced) and Pixlr Express (novice to intermediate) may run slowly when applying certain effects, functionality of Pixlr Editor is not as in-depth as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop, requires Internet connection, may resize your original photo.

My Review:

Reviewing Pixlr is almost like reviewing 3 separate graphics editing software programs. I found and tested out Pixlr O-Matic first, which contains many preset settings for the photo style, then light effects on the photo, and finally a framed appearance around the photo. The photo styles all have interesting names, and some seem too unusual to be useful, such as having your entire photo in a double-vision appearance.

Using Pixlr O-Matic on a particular photo, I ever decided on the "Melissa" setting, with a Vignette, and set the frame as "Cornered." Combined, the three effects made the person in the photo stand out with a hazy, dark background and a torn appearance around the edges of the photo. All in all, it wave it an elegant, aged appearance and all in only three quick steps.

Pixlr Express offers the same image effects, but allows you to edit them some. It offers basic image editing functions (rotate, crop, etc) and breaks down some of its other effects that are combined in Pixlr O-Matic. While Pixlr O-Matic is extremely fast, Pixlr Express may take a little longer to apply some of the effects to your image. Pixlr Express is still good for the novice user as it is quick, easy and very self-explanatory.

Pixlr Editor on the other hand resembles an online version of GIMP or Adobe Photoshop. There is a toolbox, layers, brush options. advanced editing, and more. It is not nearly as robust as GIMP, but just as with Pixlr O-Matic and Pixlr Express, its presets make more advanced editing possible in fewer steps. You can edit the brush, layers, masks, etc and also use the filters and other basic image editor functions.

As with Pixlr Express, Pixlr Editor ran slowly when applying effects, since it is an online editor. When I was testing each version out, Pixlr O-Matic had no delay, Pixlr Express had a delay while applying some effects (not others), and Pixlr Editor got held up a few times trying to make edits or test out various effects. When all is said and done, Pixlr can make time-consuming work into child's play.

The only issue I had with Pixlr was when it ended up shrinking my photo unexpectedly. It had been reduced in size by roughly 50%, maybe even more. I may have just overlooked an option to prevent that though, so I can not say that it would happen every time.

5. Picnik – Online Photo Editing Software

Experience Level Required: Novice to Intermediate

Pros: Easy to use even for a novice, basic editing options, lots of filter effects; ability to create collages, calendars, and other professional looking photo-imprinted items; no registration required, does not resize your photos by default, photos can be edited from any computer.

Cons: Many features and effects are not available unless you upgrade to a premium account, tweaking options may not be enough for advanced users, registered accounts only allow 5 photos to be saved.

My Review:

Aside from the landing page, Picnik looks and acts, in many ways, almost identical to Pixlr Express. The filter options are generally pretty similar, although Picnik has more framing effects. Some of the image effects are drastically different than those found in Pixlr Express. On the other hand, many fancy features require you to be a registered, paying user. Granted, registration does not exactly require a month's pay. Picnik's premium features are advertised at a price of "as little as $ 2.08 a month".

The feature list advertised (for Picnik Premium) sounds pretty robust, and the benefit is the additional features with the same ease of use. Picnik Premium includes more effects, collage styles, advanced editing tools, "stickers", frames, and more. Picnik Premium also lets you work without ads, and offers touch-up tools (burn, dodge, etc are not included in Picnik by default), batch uploading, and special fonts. Prices start at $ 4.95 for one month, to $ 24.95 for 12 months (where the "$ 2.08 per month" pricing comes in). $ 19.95 for 6 months, if you want to get half a year less for the cost of one extra month. The 6 month plan almost sounds like an insult.

$ 25 a year is not a lot if you're a novice user wanting to do a lot of photo edits. If you have more advanced skills, it may be worth it to you to minimize the amount of time you spend editing any one photo. Then again, if you are well versed in photo editing software, you may find Picnik's features to be too constrained and prefer more control over your images.

Overall, the basic free version of Picnik is an incredibly useful tool that anyone could use. If you do not want to register at all, you do not have to. You could not save your edited photos and edit history in Picnik, but you can always save your originals in one folder and then download your edited photos in another to maintain backups.

So which graphics editing software is really the best? You'll have to decide for yourself. Each of the ones I've listed (with the exception of Pixlr [Express] and Picnik [Free Version]) have their own defined purpose, and they all have their own unique qualities.

The best image editing software for you depends on your expertise, the amount of time you are comfortable spending, how often you'll need it, and what you'll typically use it for. Try each one and decide for yourself. Or better yet – use them all.

Heron Island Resort – Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

Heron Island Resort is the place you'll want to stay if you want the best access to the Great Barrier Reef-one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The island itself is located 89 kilometers off the coast of Queensland in Australia and the island is actually an ancient part of the barrier reef-built on coral over thousands of years. Right off the beach of the island is a great place for snorkeling and seeing the beautiful fish and other wildlife of the barrier reef.

The waters around the resort are crystal clear and perfect for diving and snorkeling. Swimming is excellent on the island, even if you're not snorkeling or diving. Lie on the beach and soak up the Australian summer sun without the disadvantage of day tripping vacationers spoiling your view or taking up your space on the beach.

See the green turtles coming close to shore and go bird watching to see the birds that have made the island their home. The island is listed as a World Heritage Site and is also a place for a great deal of marine research. Due to meticulous planning, the resort resort does not wreck the delicate ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef and everything is in pristine, lovely condition. All wildlife is considered protected on the island.

There are a wide variety of accommodations to choose from at the Heron Island Resort, from standard rooms to suites. You can check in at the front desk or at the Marina in Gladstone so you can go on to relaxation or adventure without having to go to your room right away to unpack.

Each room has a terrace or balcony and all have ceiling fans for your comfort. A refrigerator is supplied with each room as is a place to make coffee or tea. You have complimentary beach towels, a clock radio, extra blankets and pillows, places to iron your clothes, bathroom with shower and hair dryer and umbrellas if you need them.

The suites and the Beach House provide the usual amenities plus bath robes with slippers, coffee plungers, CD players, mini-bars, an evening turn down service and air conditioning. All the comforts of home are at your disposal and you can always ask the front desk if you need more comfort items.

Of course, there are places to eat and drink at the resort. The main restaurant is the Shearwater Restaurant that has a buffet style meal for breakfast and lunch-all on a deck that overlooks the Coral Sea. Tuesday nights offer a Aussie-style barbecue and seafood is on the menu on Saturday nights, when they have a seafood buffet. Dinners at the Shearwater Restaurant are three course adventures in which you can order off the menu five nights per week.

At the Heron Island Resort, you can also enjoy a night out at the Pandanus Lounge associated with Baillie's Bar. It's a great place to relax, think about the great day you just spent and enjoy a wonderful cocktail. All in all, it's the best vacation location in Australia you can imagine.