3 Sentences to a Great Elevator Speech

YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH

First, let’s define the term. An “elevator pitch” is a really concise way of describing what your company does. It’s usually 90 words or less and was given its name because you should be able to tell someone exactly what you do while you’re on an elevator together – about 30 seconds.

So… what’s yours? What’s your elevator pitch?

Fact is; the vast majority of companies don’t have this simple but essential positioning statement in place. They never took the time to put it into words. They never took the time to define their business model in clear concise terms.

We’re going to change that.

You see, your elevator pitch is a metaphorical equivalent to your business focus. Most businesses don’t have a true focus. Taking the time to write an effective elevator pitch forces you to find your focus. Your elevator pitch forms the foundation for your entire business and, in particular, all of your marketing efforts.

Before we start crafting your pitch and identifying your focus, we need to define our objective. What are we actually trying to accomplish? This is important so listen up! We want people to KNOW what you sell, WANT what you sell and BUY what you sell – in just 30 seconds.

In order to do that, we need to use every second wisely. We need a strategy. We need every word to play a role. So here’s what to do. Write your elevator pitch one sentence at a time. There will be 4 in all.

Sentence #1 needs to identify who you are. Start by taking the following format: hello, my name is XXX and I am a(n) YYY specializing in ZZZ. I know it’s simple but it’s a start. You can refine it later.

Sentence #2 needs to describe your specialty in more detail. But it needs to do more than that. It also needs to identify the problem that exists and how you solve that problem. Think back to the PAIN we identified two weeks ago. Try to work that in somehow. Identify the problem and explain how you eliminate PAIN with your product or service.

Sentence #3 needs to differentiate you from your competition. Why are you better? What makes you different? You need to use this sentence to establish credibility, build value and provide proof.

Specific, specific, specific. If you have statistics to back up your claim, include them. If other products are more expensive, say so. If you deliver better results, make that clear.

And finally, sentence #4 needs to give a call-to-action. Tell them what to do next. Be specific. What action do you want them to take? Say it! This is often the most difficult part but it’s also the most important. Tell them what to do. People like direction and hate surprises. Be confident and be honest. Tell them what to do next.

Now, go back and put it all together. Write it all in paragraph format and read it to yourself. Make adjustments and try different words. When you’re happy with it, read it to your friends and work colleagues. Read it to people who have no idea what you do and ask them if your 4-sentence elevator pitch makes it clear.

Here are a couple last-minute tips. First, don’t say too much. Make sure your pitch is 90 words or less. It needs to be precise and quick – no run-on sentences. Clear simple statements. That’s it.

Second, dumb it down. Seriously. Get rid of the jargon. Even the ones you think everybody should know. They don’t. People who are not in your field don’t know those ‘easy’ words. So take them out. Your pitch needs to be written at a 6th grade level. Simple, simple. You want an 11-year-old child to hear your pitch and understand what you do.

This project is far more important than you might think. It forms the basis for everything else you do. And next week, we’ll start looking out to the big world to find your target market. Once you know exactly what you do and you also know where your target market is, we’re in business!

Vibration Plates – Do They Work?

Many people are sceptical about vibro plates given their rather rapid rise to fame lately. So, vibration plates, do they work? After searching around, you are likely to discover there are a lot of positives about their use and not that many negatives. Therefore, I guess that the general consensus is that they probably do work to at least some degree!

Before you rush out and get one, think about why you want to use vibro plates in the first place. I would suspect that many people will be searching for help with weight loss, but there are other reasons for using them. These reasons would fall into two main categories, that of sport and health. Vibro plate exercises have been used for several years in the sports world and there are several published research papers around that suggest positive results. Using this type of exercise will allow for a fast and easy way to target specific areas of the body related to the particular sport required. They will also aid in rehabilitation following injury. It is this rehabilitation effect that relates to the health benefits.

Vibro plate exercises are low impact making them ideal for all adults and those with weak muscles, limited mobility, arthritis or joint pain.

There has been a lot of research into the benefits of vibration training and improvements in bone density. One of the obvious things here is that when we age, bone density can become reduced, especially in women who are post-menopausal. Such research has strongly suggested that bone density can be improved and the incidents of falls reduced by using vibro plates. Balance can weaken without regular exercise, but as vibro plates ‘trick’ our bodies into using our muscles in a sustained way without much effort, IMHO, I would suggest that this ‘balance practice’ is likely to be the reason for the reduction in falls.

Other areas where vibro plate exercises have been suggested to have a positive effect (this may sometimes be just because it makes exercising much easier), include blood circulation, high blood pressure, cholesterol reduction, muscle pains, improves muscle tone (including core and pelvic floor muscles), relaxation, type II diabetes and of course weight loss benefits when used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan.

Basically, using vibro plates can lead to significant benefits in terms of muscle tone and strength and aid in weight loss. What’s more, this can be achieved in ten minutes a day around three days a week and will give you the same workout as you could do in three hours, but for just 1/2 hour of not very much effort. So, vibration plates, do they work? Well, if you can’t exercise regularly for whatever reason, or are just a bit lazy on the exercise front, vibro plates may just be your answer as research is quite positive about their effects in terms of health, sporting applications and weight loss.

The Best Wood Cook Stoves

A discussion ensued with a call from a potential client. She stated that I had so many items on my website that are all Amish, why did I not have any wood cook stoves that the Amish currently use and a lot of people will want. The striking blow to me came from her was the promise to purchase one when I found which wood cook stove I considered the best. So I made sure that I had her name, address, telephone number and of course her email address before I would embark upon this journey.

I figured that this could be a wonderful item for the site and my extensive background in steel manufacturing, welding, manufacturing and business knowledge from being in corporate business for over 40 years would serve me well for finding the best wood cook stoves on the market. I set forth a list of requirements as to the type of refractories utilized and its composition, thickness of the steel, length of being in business, location of manufacturing was limited to the United States and Canada, their customer service and how they treat their representatives and customers. There was a lot more technical details that we need not dwell on at this time.

The journey begins and I get a listing of the cook stoves manufacturers in the USA and Canada and started contacting them. One company I contacted, I was called back by a representative who was one of the rudest persons I have ever met. So, off the list they came. Others suffered similar fates for various reasons but if they were not the best of the best, I wanted no part of them.

I have heard through my Amish channels of several Amish and Mennonite manufactures and I contacted them or tried to contact. The Mennonite manufacturers of which there are two are located in western Canada and I have not been able to contact them, so if I could not find them, how could you work with them. But I do understand that some people like them and they seem to be popular only in western Canada and that is a long way for parts if needed and some parts to wear out.

There was a final four that I had agreements with to sell their stoves and I thought that I had the best until one of these four broke his word without any given reason and the real strange part is that I spent monies advertising his stove and he broke his word and the agreement and he is Amish. I work with a lot of Amish builders and some are no different than us and break their word and that tells me to stay away from them because if he did it to me, he would do it to my clients so I do not nor ever will carry his product. He is not the original manufacturer anyway but both the business from the innovator whose shop was located in Montana and this person resides in Indiana.

The three I have selected are for different reasons and all of them have been in business for a long time

MealMaster:

The Mealmaster was introduced in 1944 and has been continually produced since then. It was based on the Model L-LB which was first produced in the early 1930’s. This is a well recognized name in the industry and they have a superior product at I consider a very reasonable cost to the buyer. I is available with a 30 gallon hot water reservoir and for those that are thinking of Hydronic heating for your home, this large capacity heater is a great benefit. Its other feature is the many styles that are available and one of the few cook stove left with a warming oven.

The Torridiare line was purchased from Tennessee Stove Works in 1967. It was introduced in the 1950’s. They have several models for coal heating of a home or cabin.

And I cannot forget my favorite part of the line is the pot belly stove. Here is history still available for those that want this heater. I have plans in the future for this to be a featured part of my upcoming new Design Showroom that is designed for Interior designers. This would be great for that barn or very large roon just for its d├ęcor value alone without ever using it for its intended purpose of heating.

AshlandStove:

This is a truly 100% Amish cook stove and the way I found him was through my Amish friends and he makes an excellent stove also at a very reasonable price and he has the biggest oven on the market with his new Deluxe model. He has another model called the new Decade. He has been making these cook stoves for over 40 plus years and his sons are getting ready to take over the business and that is a marvelous thing. He has some great new innovations in the new Deluxe stove and the way the firebox is built, that you bank the fire at night and in the morning spread out the hot ashes, throw on a bit of kindling and within a few minutes you will be adding some larger wood for the fire box to really come alive. This cook stove is also a very affordable addition to your home.

I have worked with some people on using this stove and using the Hydronic water system heat their home with this stove of over 1600 sq ft and with an added hot water tank heat another 1400 sq ft and they are doing this with the temperature outside well below freezing. This is now another tool in the box for those people that want to go off line, but you will need some power to move the water through the lines and that can be done by battery which is charged during the daylight hours or through wind power. It does not require a lot of power to run the small pump, but it must run all of the time or disconnect the system when not in use

EnterpriseFawcett:

This is the top end of cook stoves and worth every penny. Extra heavy gauge steel, nickel styling with the old Victorian styling. It is just pure art with grand functioning for a marvelous cook stove. It is just beautiful.

If I was ever to have a really large home with a chef’s kitchen, I would have one of these in the kitchen to use on the rare occasion of cooking a special meal on it but for also for the accent it would lend to the whole kitchen area. I would design the kitchen around this cool stove and there is several to choose from.

This cook stove is made in New Brunswick Canada and has an outstanding and wonderful customer service. They do not run production but only a couple of months out of the year, so proper ordering is essential. These people are so wonderful from answering any questions to even assisting with freight. One interesting side note is that the time zone they are in is an hour earlier than Eastern Time and it is way up north in a beautiful area with short summers and long winters.

I enjoyed my venture into wood cook stoves and have worked on some innovative projects and am working towards methodology for people to live “off the grid” and I would love to join them and this is one of the first steps.

If you are looking for a wood cook stove, do your research, talk to people and a bit of a secret is if you know an Amish, talk to them, especially the Old Order Amish because they are still using a wood cook stove and it is more than likely an Ashland or even a MealMaster. But if you want class, you must go to the Enterprise Fawcett cook stove.

Solar Cookers

A speeding bullet shot from a firearm travels towards you at somewhere between 1000 to 3000 feet per second. If we blink 20-30 times per minute, that equates to roughly once every two seconds. Hopefully a person standing within 1000 feet of you is off target, because the bullet will be long gone by the time we are finished blinking. A similary impressive speed is the relative speed of sunshine.

Despite the fact that the sun is 93 million miles away from the earth, it takes a ray of sunshine just 8 minutes to reach earth from the surface of the sun (remarkably it takes the formative photon a million years to travel from the core of the sun to the surface of the sun). One of the most effective methods of capturing the sun, is using a simple solar (sun) cooker to exploit the concept of passive solar energy.

Passive solar energy is described in Wikipedia as “Passive solar technologies are means of using sunlight for useful energy without use of active mechanical systems (as contrasted to active solar). Such technologies convert sunlight into usable heat…Passive solar technologies include direct and indirect solar gain for space heating, solar water heating systems based on the thermosiphon or geyser pump, use of thermal mass and phase-change materials for slowing indoor air temperature swings, solar cookers, the solar chimney for enhancing natural ventilation, and earth sheltering”.

Cooking with the using a variety of possible solar cookers remains one of the most antiquated yet most effective forms of free sunshine energy capture known to humanity. Not only is the technique relatively simple, it is also remarkably inexpensive and simply requires an aspirant sun cook to either borrow, build or buy a solar cooker.

Talking about aspirant sun cooks although I never have read any specific mention about solar cooking when reading about the trials and tribulations of the indomitable Huckleberry Finn, I always summarized that he knew a thing or two about solar cookers. Maybe it was the curious company he kept, from his lifetime friend Tom Sawyer, to his new-found, surreptitious companion Jim, the runaway slave, or just the assortment of odd people who constantly popped in and out of his life.

Either way, in my mind’s eye, I could just imagine Tom and Huck catching and skinning catfish, and with gay abandon tossing these huge fish over their shoulders and trudging nonchalantly up to the regular Trading Store to barter and procure the necessary material to construct a sun cooker. After all what better way to end one their many frenetic days than eating a well-cooked solar meal out of their solar cooker, from the deck of their raft, of course!

Hillary Rodham Clinton in a speech at Cleantech Venture Forum VIII, on Oct. 25, 2005 said “Clearly, we need more incentives to quickly increase the use of wind and solar power; they will cut costs, increase our energy independence and our national security and reduce the consequences of global warming.”

Whist Hillary Clinton did not mention sun cookers or solar cooking specifically, there can be no doubt that these domestic instruments fall clearly within this remit and have a very specific role to play, not only in the urban first world but as, if not more importantly, in the huge rural tracts that make up the global geographic environment, especially in those countries where sunshine is abundant.

Hopefully in the not too distant future, solar cooking will no longer be seen to be the exclusive domain of poor communities living in remote areas of Africa, alternatively some sort of weird, complex pastime to be pursued by passionate, wide-eyed vocal greenies. Hopefully solar cooking and solar cookers will become somewhat more visible, accepted and enjoyed by mainstream society. Hopefully.

Corrugated Roofing Panels For Your Porch, Shed Or Barn

Corrugated roofing panels are a popular choice for covering and protecting valuables stored in sheds, agricultural buildings, garages and porches or underneath carports. Corrugated panels are easy to install unlike other roofing materials, and are durable enough to last for many years with relatively little maintenance.

Corrugated panels can be constructed of a variety of materials, usually made up of fiberglass, plastic or metal sheets molded in a wave-like pattern. These ridges and waves promote the quick and unblocked flow of water, snow, ice and wind. The most popular panels are those made with ultra-strong glass fibers in an organic resin. These corrugated roofing panels are translucent, allowing daylight to filter into the building but keeping out the elements and direct sunlight.

Corrugated roofing panels are so versatile that they can easily be installed on virtually any structure and in any number of different ways. Trimming and customizing corrugated building panels can be done with either a hand saw or power saw with the correct blade and can be drilled and fastened with ease. Of course, weatherproof fasteners and nails should be used to ensure the roof remains durable and weatherproof for many years.

While installing corrugated roofing panels is relatively easy, the task should not be left up to someone who has no experience. In order to get the most thorough roofing protection, a professional roofing contractor who has experience with corrugated building panels should install a corrugated roof. Furthermore, hiring a roofing installation professional will ensure that the job is done much more quickly that one can do on his or her own, and it will be done right the first time. The longer your building is without a roof, the more damage can be done to the valuables inside. Hiring a professional roofing contractor will guarantee the roofing panels are up as quickly as possible.

If you are building a new structure and intending to have a corrugated roof installed on it, there are measurements that you should be aware of. You should allow for at least a 6-8 inch overhang on your roof, depending on the pitch. Also be aware of where the frame is in relation to the corrugated panels, as the roofing panels should be fastened at every second ridge and should be nailed to each roofing beam in certain areas for maximum strength.

Corrugated roofing panels are an exceptionally great value. They are low-cost and can provide unbeatable strength and protection. Translucent panels allow light inside, eliminating the need to run electricity to a new facility or saving money on electric bills during the day. Corrugated roofing panels will hold up through many seasons of direct sunlight, wind, hail, rain, ice and show.

Why Planks Are the Best Abdominal Exercise

Abdominal crunches do not flatten your midsection. Knowing this, you’ve probably just freed up 15 minutes of your workout time. Well, at least 5 minutes. Here’s why, and here’s what you can do instead.

Crunching activates the well-known, well-loved rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the six-pack (if its definition is visible through the overlying body fat and skin). When you work this muscle to fatigue, nothing happens to the body fat that is layered on top of it. Your body does not take abdominal fat and transform it into more six-pack muscle, nor does it use this fat as fuel for the exercise. Spot reduction is probably the most famous fitness myth, yet we cling to it with great optimism. For some reason, we hope that if we keep trying to spot reduce it may eventually work. It won’t, so change your focus. Cut the boring crunches out of your workout and expend your energy elsewhere.

First, spend 5 more minutes on the treadmill, or whatever is your chosen cardiovascular activity. Aerobic exercise elevates and maintains your heart-rate in an effective target zone over a period of time. After about 15 – 20 minutes your body switches from using carbohydrates to fat as fuel, since fat is a better fuel source. Now you are in your fat-burning zone for the rest of your aerobic workout. Replace your crunching time with aerobic activity, and you’re in this zone for 5 more minutes.

Second, strengthen your core. The muscles of your core are deeper and more important than the rectus abdominis. Your core is your foundation of strength. These muscles connect the upper and lower body, and, like a chain, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Core muscles keep your spine and pelvis in proper alignment while you work and play, providing stamina and preventing injury so you can work and play harder.

If you’re still attached to the idea of spot reduction, know that core strength can affect the appearance of your waistline. Strong muscles in your core, as well as other key upper and lower body muscles, enable better posture when standing and sitting, giving the illusion of a trimmer tummy.

Planks are the best core-strengthening exercise. In a plank position, muscles in the upper body, lower body, and core are activated to resist the force of gravity and keep the body in proper alignment. Planks are challenging, because gravity is acting down on the entire backside of your body. This is a large surface area. Muscles strengthened during a plank are the same the same muscles used to stand and sit upright throughout each day. However, the surface area acted upon by gravity when upright now is much less – only the top of your head. Strengthen your core and other stabilizers with planks, and now keeping good posture the rest of the day is almost effortless.

Planks are great for a few other reasons.The simple plank has numerous variations, offering a wide spectrum of intensity options. There is an ideal plank position for every fitness level, and it’s easy to progress to the next level when you are ready. Planks can be done anywhere and require no equipment. Using your own body weight to strengthen your own muscles is extremely functional, and since so many muscles are involved in planking they provide exceptional value for your time invested.

Here’s how to do an effective plank. Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Place your elbows on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Press your forearms into the floor. Broaden across your mid back, creating distance between your shoulder blades. Straighten and extend one leg back, tucking your toes under and keeping your kneecap off the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Your pelvis is level with the floor – not sagging nor spiked to the ceiling. Engage your abdominal (pull your navel to your spine) to resist gravity. Remember to breathe. Hold for 20-60 seconds, building your endurance over time.

There are many variations to the basic plank, thus making the exercise more challenging. For example, you can dip your hips from side to side, working your oblique abdominal muscles. You can alternately lift one foot off the floor, which makes the remaining leg (and core) work harder. Make sure you don’t compromise good technique for a higher intensity variation. If the basic plank feels too difficult, place your knees on the floor instead of the toes. Only hold the exercise as long as you are able with good technique.

Personal Development Plan Template: 5-Step Personal Action Plan

A good personal development plan template includes five steps that guide you to take action. When included, these five steps can make your personal action plan simple, yet effective.

In fact, keeping your personal development strategy simple is important when seeking a good template. Why is this important? Because when learning how to write a personal development plan (also referred to as a PD Plan), it is easy to get “analysis paralysis” if your example personal development plan is too complicated.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “analysis paralysis,” it’s where you are so caught up in your head, that you just keep spinning thoughts around inside without taking any action.

What we want to do here is to identify the five key components to making a simple personal growth plan. These five steps, while they may seem overly simplified, are the core to any plan, whether it is a personal leadership development plan, personal professional development plan or a personal action plan.

So, when you are looking for a good template, the simpler you make it, the faster you can “get down to business” and take action.

So, what are these five key parts your PD planning?

1. Identify goals

2. Prioritize goals

3. Action steps

4. Time line for first action

5. What if I do nothing?

IDENTIFY GOALS: When you start your personal growth plan, of course you’ll want to identify what you want to accomplish. However, here’s where many people make their first mistake by not identifying goals that are truly what they desire or are realistic enough to achieve. Be sure that your goals are what you truly desire at a deep, core level of your being.

PRIORITIZE GOALS: Once you find goals that are “what you want” and not “want someone else wants for you,” and these goals are realistic, there are certain steps to prioritizing these goals using something called, “reverse goal setting.” This is exactly what it sounds like where you take your “end goal” and work backwards writing down each step it took to get there. Like you are walking your goal backwards.

ACTION STEPS: Once you’ve done your reverse goal setting and have a step-by-step map for your personal development strategy, an important part of your PD planning is to find a way to turn these “bread crumbs” you’ve identified as a sequence of goals into a personal action plan. To do this, simply ask yourself, “What can I do today on ‘bread crumb number 1’ to take action?”

TIME LINE FOR ACTION: Any example personal development plan will tell you that you must set out a time line for action. What you want to do is to create daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals for yourself so you stay on track. Be sure with this part of your personal development strategy to keep it realistic with everything else you spend time on in your life.

WHAT IF I DO NOTHING? When you want to develop a personal development plan, it’s easy to be very motivated in the beginning. Your enthusiasm is ample to help you learn how to write a personal development plan and about the various parts of PD planning. After awhile, however, it is easy to set your personal action plan or personal growth plan aside, so one question you’ll want to keep in front of you for motivation is, “What if I do nothing?” This one question can keep you going through the myriad of tasks of putting your template into action.

While finding a good personal development plan template or personal development plan sample isn’t easy at first, using these five steps in learning how to write a personal development plan can get you started. Then you can turn your personal action plan into action, rather than spinning thoughts around and around “thinking” about taking action because your plan is too complicated.

Handrail Solutions, Finally a Sturdy, Inexpensive, Handrail System Anyone Can Install

Most of us have been there before. Perhaps you have bought your first house and as winter approaches you realize that steps in the front yard are going to be dangerous when covered with ice and snow. Perhaps an elderly parent is having difficulty traversing stairs and needs the comfort of sturdy hand rail on either side of his entryway. Perhaps the insurance company has asked you to put railing up in order to be insurable. What can you do?

For years most home owners have been reluctant to tackle metal railing installation. They usually settle for wooden railings or employ railing professionals. These haven’t always been satisfying solutions. Wooden railings are often four to six inches wide creating a grab bar that may be too large for small or frail hands. Hiring a professional to install metal railing is often cost prohibitive. In more recent years vinyl railing has come along as an acceptable alternative. Still for many homes the look may clash with the traditional established look of brick and metal work accents.

These issues are now overcome through the use of a new steel railing system that uses adjustable posts. The rise and run of your particular stairs are matched by simply adjusting two or three posts–depending on the length–into a vertical position and locking them into place. A variety of installation methods can be used. Rails can be cemented in the ground next to the stair or ramp. They can be cemented into the slab using a rented core drill. Or they can be anchored onto to the stairs using a hammer drill and anchor bolts. In the case of wooden steps lag bolts can be used. Matching wall rail can also be bolted into drywall, plaster, brick or block using appropriate fasteners. You probably already own most of the tools needed and the whole process of installation often takes less time than the research put in the project.

Consider a few things before undertaking the project. Are there any codes you need to meet for the purposes of liability insurance? You may want to contact your local agent. Take a few measurements and determine the length of rail you might need. The most crucial information is to measure the length from the nose of the top step to the bottom step and also count the number of steps not including the top step/landing. With a little effort you can vastly improve the look and safety of your stairs, ramps, and entryways.

Installing Iron Balusters

Tools Needed:

Drill

3/4″ speed bore drill bits – approximately 1 for every 20 balusters.

Caulking Gun

Angle Grinder or Metal Saw to cut iron balusters

1-5/8″ drywall screws

Jig Saw or circular saw.

Products needed:

Iron balusters of your choice and color

Baluster Shoes

Epoxy adhesive or polyurethane adhesive

Installation Instructions:

LAYOUT GUIDE AND DESIGN – Before ordering your balusters, make a detailed drawing of your stairway, layout in a straight line or circular line (depending on the stairway design) each of the steps and the number of balusters on each step, and the landing areas (flat areas) with the number of balusters in the landings. Assign a circle to each of the space. In other words, if your steps have 3 balusters per step, you would assign 3 circles to each step in your layout as shown below in diagram #2. Please make note that the layout has been determined and a number has been assigned to each baluster and then totaled to place the proper number for your order.

Step #1 Baluster Removal – Remove the wood baluster by cutting them with either a circular saw or a jig saw half way between the treads and the handrail. Pull out the lower portion and the upper portion and then remove any remaining nails left in the holes with pliers.

After the baluster has been removed, you will have either a hole in the tread like pictured above, or the area will be flat with no hole, depending on the installation of the old wood balusters.

Step #2 Drill Holes for Iron Balusters – You will now drill a 3/4″ hole in the center of this space vacated by the wood baluster, drill as deep as the drill will go, preferably 3-4″ deep.

Step #3 Measure the Baluster Length – Set the new iron balusters in this new 3/4″ hole UPSIDE DOWN and mark the other end (actually the bottom) of the balusters against the bottom of the handrail near the corresponding top hole. Be careful to align the top and bottom in a plumb (level) line as it is easy to move from one side to the other giving you an improper length. This mark is where you will cut the new iron baluster baluster. NOTE: By placing the baluster upside down in the hole and marking the other end, you are actually marking the bottom of the baluster. YOU ALWAYS CUT THE BOTTOM OF THE BALUSTER. When you are drilling holes, you will occasionally encounter nails in the lower framing. Do not worry if your drill penetrates the wood framing completely, sometimes this will happen.

Step #4 Baluster Cutting – Cut the baluster approximately 1/2″ shorter than the mark, this will allow for you to slide the baluster into the hole, and up inside the top hole of the handrail.

Always test your baluster fit before gluing. Slide your shoe onto the baluster. The baluster should slide down into the lower hole first, and then into the upper hole. If you drilled the hole deep enough and cut it properly, your baluster should fit in this space by filling the upper hole and still have 2″ into the lower hole.

Step # 5 – Adhesive in the TOP hole – Apply adhesive (epoxy or polyurethane) to the upper hole.

Step #6 Fastening the Baluster in the LOWER hole – Place a 1-5/8″ drywall screw into the lower hole on the side of the baluster at a 45 degree angle, wedging it into place. Repeat this process on the adjacent side if necessary. These two screws will wedge the baluster firmly into place holding it permanently.

Adhesive can also be applied.

Final Steps

Wipe off any adhesive left in the top hole.

Slide the shoe down over the baluster for a finished look.

Align the baluster so it is properly aligned.

Enjoy your new stairway.

Always wear safety glasses when operating power tools and use tools in the manner they were designed.

Neither Stairway Creations Supply or any of its employees assumes any liability for the installation of products purchased from our company. Installation instructions are general because each and every job will be different and certain conditions will have to be adapted to the individual situation. We assum no liability for use or misuse of any equipment or products.

Please make sure you comply with all building codes.

Different Materials Used in Balustrade and Handrails

There are a number of different materials that are used in balustrades and handrails. If the balustrade is external like fencing a terrace, roof or any open space then the material used is concrete. Concrete can stand up to the weather and will not get destroyed. There are a number of different designs that are used in making balustrades. The balustrades are usually cast in a shape using a mould. This is done so that all the balustrades look alike. A rail is fixed on top of the balustrades.

If the balustrades are to be placed inside a building, like lining a staircase ten different materials can be used. Usually hard word is used on balustrades that line a staircase. The handrail is also made out of wood. Another material that is used in balustrades and handrails is cast iron or wrought iron. Balustrades made from cast iron or wrought iron have a fancy design. The design is selected by the home owner or by the architect. The design depends on the theme of the building.

Polyurethane is also used nowadays to make balustrades and handrails. Cast stone, polymer stone and plaster is also used to make balustrades and handrails. In some buildings marble has also been used to make balustrades. Marble is very expensive and is only used in palatial buildings.

The use of wood has also reduced in making of balustrades and handrails. People have become conscious about saving the environment and therefore the use of wood is frowned upon by some people. The use of polyurethane and polymers has increased. The material is cheap and can be made into very nice designs for balustrades. Most modern buildings have polyurethane balustrades as they match the design of the building.

No one is quite sure about the history of balustrades and who first used them. The most common shape in balustrades has been the oblong shape which resembles an egg. Brass and bronze has also been used in balustrades and handrails. They require cleaning and polishing regularly and are very expensive. Brass is used in handrails as it has a shining golden colour.

Some balustrades are painted with a motif to make them look interesting and to break the monotony. There are so many designs that are used in balustrades and some of them are quite simple. They may just be a series of straight pillars made of iron and topped with a wooden handrail. Or they may even have an iron handrail. Wooden balustrades may be carved with a design on them or they may just be a straight plank. People usually have wooden balustrades and handrails on the porch of their house.

The design of the balustrades and handrails depends on the design and architecture of the building or house. People usually don’t give much thought to the design of balustrades and it’s the architect who selects the design. The wood used in balustrades and handrails has to be well seasoned and should not warp or get misshapen or cracked. Wood has been the material that has been used the most for internal balustrades and hand rails in homes.

How to Install Iron Or Metal Balusters in Wood Handrails

As promised I am putting forward information on the installation of iron balusters. During the day, one of the most common questions I get from customers is the how to of iron baluster installation.

Many building codes require three balusters on a tread to comply with the 4″ sphere rule. Check with your local code officials if you have any doubts about your stair’s compliance.

First, I let the customer know that the very last thing in balustrade installation is the iron balusters. It simply works well to install the newel posts, handrail, treads and risers first. Once installed layout the balusters on the floor and use a level to plumb up to the handrail center and mark the connection at the center bottom of the handrail. Using a ½” paddle or spade bit one can drill upward 1″ deep into the handrail. Using a 5/8″ paddle bit drill a hole no more than ¼” deep into the floor. Once these are drilled out the bottom of the handrail can be sanded with an orbital sander and the complete balustrade system can be stained and finished. Once the stain and finish is completed one can begin installing the iron balusters.

One of the following two tools is recommended for cutting iron or metal balusters: a power miter box with a metal cutting blade, or a portable band saw. My preference is the portable band saw. It works cleaner, is more portable, and doesn’t cause sparking as does the power miter box (or chop saw).

Turn the baluster upside down and set the round dowel top into the hole in the floor, holding the baluster plumb to the hole under the handrail. Mark the baluster with a pencil, measure up 3/8″ minimum and that would be the cut mark. Note that you are cutting off the bottom, not the top, of the baluster. This ensures proper alignment of the design elements.

For gluing the installer has two options: Epoxy or construction adhesive. My personal preference is construction adhesive as I have more control over the product and, if it gets messy, wipes away easily and can also serve as a caulk around the iron. Epoxy comes in the mixing tubes and doesn’t always mix properly. If it gets messy and dried, removing the epoxy also removes the powder coating on the iron. Some carpenters prefer and have their own control over epoxy. I do not. I find construction adhesives easier to work with.

Squeeze a small amount of the adhesive into the hole under the handrail. The adhesive is thick and slow and will not drain back out, giving time to complete the installation. Make sure the shoe for the iron baluster is slid up while installing. Push baluster’s round dowel up into the ½” hole under the handrail and then drop it into the 5/8″ hole in the floor in a bed of additional construction adhesive. Square off the baluster’s alignment then drop the shoe down to the floor. If the shoe comes with a set screw, use an Allen wrench to tighten it. The glue in the handrail hole will settle around the baluster creating a perfect seal. Once the glue has dried the baluster will be well secured, even helping to strengthen the handrails load.

When installing 5/8″ iron balusters the process is identical, one only needs to drill a 5/8″ hole under the handrail and a ¾” hole at the floor. 5/8″ iron is ideal in remodeling work, when replacing wood balusters. Most installed wood balusters have a 5/8″ hole under the handrail and a ¾” hole at the floor. If replacing wood balusters with ½” iron it is usually recommended to install shoes under the handrail to cover a small square peg in a larger round hole. The use of wood or cabinet screws helps to lock the baluster in, serving as both a wedge and forcing the baluster on center.

Round 5/8″ iron or metal balusters can be installed without shoes simply by drilling a 5/8″ hole into the handrail and into the floor and following the same procedure outlined above.

I have been asked about making the holes square. It is possible with a little more work. To cut the square hole in the floor or handrail, drill a round hole in the wood the same size at the baluster’s overall width. Then chisel out the hole to make it square. Another option is a “mortising bit.” I have not used one of these but have spoken with carpenters who have. Their comment tends to be that this method is a “pain in the you know what.”

How To Install Deck Railing – In 5 Easy Steps

Does local building code require you to install deck railing?….Well don’t worry, anybody can install railings with a few simple steps. On several occasions I have had to install railings to meet the local building code, and if you read on I will show you 5 easy steps for how to install deck railing.

Step 1:

This first step is easy. Get a square, consult the plans for your deck, and mark with the square along the header and outer joists the locations for each of the railing posts. Make sure the posts are no more than 1.8 meters or 72 inches apart.

Handy tip: Make sure you mark both edges of the railing posts at each location, It will make life that much easier.

Step 2:

This next step requires the use of your drill. Here you need to pre-drill two holes at the base of the railing posts. These two holes are for the bolts in order to attach the posts to the deck. Be careful and make sure you keep the drill straight.

Step 3:

Now for the easiest step of them all. Install the rail posts by bolting them to the deck with either “through” or “lag” bolts.

Step 4:

In order to attach the balusters we need to install a railing between each post. Screw the railing between the top of the posts, and ensure they are level, or fall evenly as required.

Step 5:

The final step is to install the balusters. Calculate how many balusters you need between each post and mark accordingly. Make sure the gap between each baluster is equal. Now screw in each baluster at the top and bottom, with a minimum of two screws.

So we now have a nice and appealing railing that will more than satisfy most local building codes. Knowing how to install deck railing is not too difficult is it?

A Further Option To Consider:

Above I gave instructions on how to install deck railing that was attached to the outside joists. Yet, another option exists. If you plan on installing a railing from the outset of building your deck, your deck support posts can be installed to double as your deck railing posts.

So there we have it. Not only do you now know how to install deck railing, once you follow the above mentioned steps, you will also see how simple it is to install deck railing.

Transfer Switches For Portable Generators

A transfer switch prevents electricity from flowing simultaneously between your portable generator and the utility grid. It is mounted next to your home circuit breaker box and can operate manually or automatically.

In the event of a blackout, you can power several appliances to include the refrigerator, television, lights and even your sump pump. However, you must first position the generator into place no less than 15 feet from your home to prevent carbon monoxide consumption.

One way to provide power is to run extension cords from the generator to your lights and appliances. This can be inconvenient and unwieldy while making it difficult to operate some critical circuits like the furnace fan or well pump.

Another way is to connect the portable generator directly to your household wiring by installing a manual transfer switch. This will permit the use of only one cord to provide electricity to several or all of your most important household circuits, including the furnace fan and well pump. Bear in mind the National Electrical Code mandates that a transfer switch be properly installed for safety precautions.

By way of comparison, permanently installed standby generators come with transfer switches that automatically kick in when the utility power goes down. Conversely, the transfer switch for portable generators is an additional cost item that can average $200 to $500 depending on the total circuitry and wattage requirements.

It is highly recommended that you engage the services of a licensed electrician to install the transfer switch and connect it with the main breaker box. Although most transfer kits come with excellent instructions for the do-it-yourself person, you always run the risk of creating a back-feed through the utility lines should you innocently make an error while wiring. This can cause severe damage to equipment, as well as death to those who might be working to restore power in your vicinity.

The transfer switch contains several circuits and the electrician can assign each circuit to a different load. This provides efficient management of usage and extends the effectiveness of the portable generator. When the utility power goes out, you simply plug your generator into the transfer switch, start it up, and flip the transfer switch from the Utility position to the Generator position.

For convenience, you might wish to purchase a remote power inlet box to be installed in a location away from the actual transfer switch unit itself. This would permit plugging into a separate receptacle that is positioned closer to the operating generator. You can then have a shorter and less cumbersome master cord running from the generator all the way to the switch panel inside the house.

In summary, the procedure works like this:

When the utility company power goes out:

  1. Plug the generator cord into the transfer switch or optional power inlet box.
  2. Turn all circuit breakers in the transfer unit to the off position.
  3. Start the generator and give it time to warm up.
  4. Flip the main breakers in the transfer unit to the Generator position.
  5. Turn on the desired circuits individually to prevent overloading the generator.

Once power is restored:

  1. Turn the main breakers in the transfer unit back to Utility Power.
  2. Turn on any other circuits that were turned off.
  3. Turn off the generator.
  4. Disconnect the cords.

The Impact of Frontal Lobe Injuries

Because of the size and location of the frontal lobe, this is the most common area to be injured. A traumatic injury to this part of our brain can affect problem solving, short term memory loss, motivation, judgment, impulsivity, behavior, perception, attention span difficulties, rationality, apathy, inhibition (possibly social or sexually inappropriate behavior), strategizing problems, and decision making.

A very common deficit of frontal lobe injury is perseveration which is non-compliance with rules. There may also be difficulty in interpreting cues to guide behavior. This can have a serious affect on interpersonal relationships; especially if perseveration is not acknowledged by the survivor.

A brain injured survivor is considered to be in denial when deficits are unacknowledged. Denial hinders rehabilitation and recovery. It also has a detrimental affect on relationships.

Personality changes can generally be significant with this type of injury. The changes will be dependent upon the survivor’s deficits and upon his/her acceptance of the injury and willingness to work towards a new life through adaptations and adjustments.

Studies have found that some survivors with frontal lobe injuries have difficulty understanding some types of humor; many prefer the slapstick variety. In some cases however, the personality may become flat with no sense of humor and little facial expression.

Abstract thinking can also sometimes be affected. The ability to understand others allows us to feel empathy, sympathy, and to realize when others are being sarcastic or deceptive. Other areas of the brain can sometimes adapt to be able to take over the functions of the damaged area; this is more likely if the injured person is young. Additionally some sufferers of a frontal lobe injury may have problems consistently performing a task which may make job performance difficult.

Intensive therapy following this type of injury, according to some studies, is important towards achieving successful rehabilitation. Sadly, in many communities there are few resources available for brain injured survivors. In some cases unfortunately, the injured person is reluctant to participate in programs that would assist him/her in recovery.

Frontal lobe injuries change the brain injured survivor’s life; in most cases forever. This will be more evident in some people than in others because no two brain injuries are the same.

Zoning 101 – Understanding Buncombe County Zoning and Real Estate in Asheville, North Carolina

Zoning can be a confusing issue regardless of where you own real estate, whether it’s a large city like Charlotte (NC), a small city like Asheville (NC) or a rural area like Buncombe County Western North Carolina. Zoning is a tool used to designate individual areas of land for specific purposes. When used correctly zoning can help fast developing cities and counties create a smart growth plan. This is one of the reasons Buncombe County commissioners are implementing new zoning in the metropolitan region surrounding Asheville, North Carolina.

The new zoning, adopted in May of 2007, impacts property owners throughout Buncombe County, as well as future homebuyers, sellers and real estate investors. A clear understanding of the zoning ordinances and restrictions is essential if you are going own real estate. It affects the value of your home and the choices you can make when selling or building on your property. This applies to residential real estate as well as commercial property owners.

Zoning Rules for Real Estate in Asheville, NC: The Importance of Community Accountability

In a video entitled “Will Zoning Affect You?” on the Buncombe County web site, [http://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Planning/landUse.htm], Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton explains the county’s motivation for implementing new zoning in the spring of 2007 and describes the proposed zoning changes. He also confirms that concerns about the increasing number of county residents, real estate developers and homes being built on the tops and sides of mountains have compelled Buncombe County and city of Asheville officials to make zoning a priority.

Creighton begins by defining an Open Use zoning designation. Open Use, or OU, is zoning usually found in rural areas. Land considered available for Open Use means property can be purchased and sold for a wide variety of residential and commercial purposes with the exception of certain restricted uses. The uses restricted on Open Use land include incinerators, concrete plants, landfills, asphalt plants, chip mills, mining operations and motor sports facilities.

According to Creighton these types of businesses have a large impact on the community, as a whole, so any real estate investor or property owner interested in these ventures must present a project proposal at a public hearing. This allows other property and homeowners in the Asheville area to hold Western North Carolina business and real estate developers accountable for the impact they have on existing neighborhoods and residents.

How Does Zoning Affect Buyers and Sellers of Mountain Homes and Land Near Asheville, North Carolina?

The comprehensive zoning throughout Buncombe County and Asheville, NC also changed in 2007. Comprehensive zoning differs from Open Use because it separates residential and commercial areas into designations like R-1 and R-2 residential districts, employment districts, and neighborhood and commercial service districts. Buncombe County and Asheville homebuyers and sellers can find their property’s zoning designation using the county’s online GIS system. The system can be found at [http://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Planning/landUse.htm].

Property owners and real estate investors interested in changing the zoning designation of specific land can approach the Buncombe County Commissioners and Board of Adjustment. Public hearings are required if an Application for Variances or Conditional Use Permits or an Application to Amend the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance Text or Maps are submitted. In order to obtain a building permit for any zoning district other than Open Use real estate investors and property owners must file for Certificate of Zoning Compliance. The cost associated with these applications varies.

Size Does Count! Downtown Zoning in Question on Merrimon Avenue

The most recent zoning debate taking place in Buncombe County is actually happening in downtown Asheville, NC. In an article written by Mark Barrett in the January 15, 2008 issue of the Asheville Citizen Times the Asheville City Council will explore two major zoning matters in 2008. First, the developers of the Horizons Project, which would erect nine buildings including two 10-story towers, have asked to postpone a public hearing until July in order to evaluate neighborhood opposition and economic conditions.

Barrett also writes that the Asheville City “council is scheduled to hear from city staff on zoning proposals for the 2.4-mile stretch of Merrimon between Interstate 240 and North Asheville Library near Beaver Lake.” “The city had considered creating a new zoning district for much of the property along the street that would encourage taller buildings closer to the street,” Barrett continues, “but several property owners and some residents objected.”

As Buncombe County moves forward into the future growth is inevitable, but the real effects zoning will have on real estate in Asheville, North Carolina is yet to be seen. Local homebuyers and sellers can achieve more real estate success the more they educate themselves about zoning restrictions and changes. To learn more about zoning or buying and selling real estate in Asheville, NC visit http://www.MarkGJackson.com.