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How To Be More Productive

“To really become a top hand the thing that must always be on your mind is how can I work smarter and smarter and harder and harder in order to get as much work done as I possibly can by the time the sun goes down.”

That’s Scott Wadsworth, a carpenter, contractor, and blacksmith in Oregon. Wadsworth is one of my “Everyday Heroes,” a man who is thoughtful, skilled, straight-talking, no BS, and deep down decent man. He is the quintessential man’s man; an American archetype. His YouTube channel is filled with fascinating, no nonsense, videos on tools, blacksmithing, and construction. His current major project is the building of a home in Oregon from the ground up that begins with the purchase of the ground itself.

I’ve never built anything bigger than a bookcase and that was a cob job from start to finish. My single toolbox is full of this kind of screwdriver and that kind of Visegrip along with my go-to tool for every household repair task, duct tape. That doesn’t matter where Scott Wadsworth is concerned. He still fascinates and instructs with tips on how to split wood or why you must always in life “strike while the iron is hot.”

Wadsworth’s resume is one of an American life well lived and still growing and unfolding:

Scott started working in 1974. His career as a craftsman has encompassed logging, saw milling, guiding elk hunters, production framing, commercial concrete, steel fabrication, blacksmithing and every aspect of residential carpentry and contracting. Scott has been married to his high school sweetheart Kelly Comerford for 39 years. They have four children and nine grandchildren (with 2 more on the way).  Who We Are — Essential Craftsman

But just as the map is not the territory, the man is not the resume. Like other decent and good men in history, Scott is a carpenter who has become a teacher. There’s more to be learned from him than just how to build a house. He shows you why and how to make sure your house is built on solid ground.

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  • John Venlet April 3, 2018, 10:26 AM

    Enjoyed his analogy about shoveling; “shoveling just because it feels good to shovel.” That’s how I often feel about shoveling snow here in Michigan. Folks often tell me I have the cleanest shoveled driveway in the city, and I do, because I do enjoy shoveling snow, and I shovel my driveway and side just the way my Dad showed me he wanted his driveway shoveled when I was just a boy. Very enjoyable video, and I learned a thing or two, which I’ll use on an upcoming porch project, from watching him put together that ramp. Thanks.

  • Leslie April 3, 2018, 11:30 AM

    I cannot love this enough.

  • ghostsniper April 3, 2018, 6:14 PM

    Hey John, I have a porch project coming up too, and this time it’s a BIG one.
    Several thousand square feet.
    I’m wondering why this Wadsworth dood didn’t start working til 1974.

  • Gordon April 4, 2018, 5:03 AM

    What was the deal with the chainsaw with the six-foot bar? Was he just rough cutting the planks to a workable size, expecting to trim them later after installation?

  • Ten April 4, 2018, 5:51 AM

    [i]What was the deal with the chainsaw with the six-foot bar?[/i]

    It’s a great sentiment from what I’m sure is a great series, but our good man gets a dozen techniques a little wrong*. Still, nice effort and the sort of thing folks should return to in these postmodern times of peddling one another paperwork in a debt economy.

    (*Please don’t drive a [i]tractor[/i] on the nice lady’s yard and rut it all up
    Use sonotube to set proper concrete footers
    Pressure-treated lumber for underground, for crying out loud
    Set only the end posts and plumb them to then line up the others against, a pair at a time as the floors go in
    Get a proper 50′ tape!
    Maybe build the floors separately, in 8′ lengths, from sized lumber – none of this lopping stuff off
    And so on…)

  • ghostsniper April 4, 2018, 7:50 AM

    @Ten, it was embarrassing reading that guys site, I didn’t watch any of the videos.
    Never mind that he can’t spell or edit, but the content of what he wrote was amateur and clearly he is beyond his scope, thus the hiring of all sorts of very expensive professionals, like me. At best, he is writing the words from a 2nd person perspective.

    I have an Earth Auger with 8″ and 12″ dia bits. They were only 36″ long so I had a friend in the steel business weld 18″ extensions on the shafts so I could drill deeper. I have used this auger extensively since moving here to the dark forest in the various extension projects to our house, some 40+ holes so far, and there will be many more before the summer is over.

    Typically I’ll drill down til the engine is sitting in the dirt, stopping every now and then to scrape away the funnel that accumulates around the opening. Then with a manual post hole digger and shovel I make the bottom of the hole bigger in diameter by a couple inches and about 8″ high. A couple inches of 53 gravel is poured down each hole. Proper sized sonatubes are slid down each hole and cut off to about 8″ above the existing grade. 3000 psi hand mixed concrete is dumped down each hole in 12″ lifts and a piece of rebar is used to bounce the air pockets out of there and a length of 2×4 is used as a tamper to settle the aggregate and force the cream to the top for best adhesion to the next lift. When the tube has been filled, air pocketed and tamped and topped off, I then force a properly sized Simpson post anchor (PB8) down into position and use a steel triangle trowel to smooth the top of the column and slope it slightly for water run-off.

    Prior to all of that I have already created the design for the project in AutoCAD and the materials list, then using FatMax 30′ and 100′ tapes I lay out the batter boards and double lines for the column centers and building exteriors. Proper planning is essential for correct construction. Get the foundation wrong and it won’t matter what you put on top of it cause it won’t last. Our house is on dual steeply sloping dense clay so there is no room for error.

    My first project upon moving here in 2006 was to construct a 2 story porch across the rear of our house that was 28′ long and 12′ deep. Looking at the house from the rear, the bottom of the floor joists on the first floor were about 3′ above the existing grade on the right and about 6′ above the grade on the left. The first floor of this porch has 9′ ceilings to match those in the interior and the 2nd floor has no ceiling and is an open deck. The entire first floor of the porch is screened in with a screen door on each end. The 2nd floor has a RS cedar railing. I built all of this by myself in 2006 at the age of 51. I have the tools, the know how, and the money, so why not? Besides, it’s almost impossible to buy decent construction these days. Seems like everything is built to self destruct in as little time as possible.

    This porch faces west out into the sloping forest behind our house and when it gets to the bottom some 200′ away there is a babbling brook running south to north toward the Bean Blossom creek in the distance. At the edge of the forest, and flanking the porch, are 2 huge sugar maples that become flaming torches in the fall. Our 5 cats lounge on this porch all day in the summer and frolic in the snow that penetrates the screen in the winter. The sunsets in the summer/fall are stunning from this perspective and my wife and I frequently sit out there sipping suds and rose, becoming increasingly mesmerized by the view, as the cats do what they do and the mutt lays on my feets making sure Caramel doesn’t eat another bug.

    When the sun touches trees on the top of the hills some 8 miles away the sky turns a firey magenta-yellowish that hurts the eyes making them water and fades upward into the full spectrum from light blue through cobalt to ink, and then the twinkling stars harmonize with the lightning bugs in the trees. It is about then that the ‘possum and raccoons come spying about and the cats are on full alert and Shannon is watching the cats. She will die before anyone hurts HER cats. The ‘possum is looking for whatever he can find and the coons are making a b-line to a suet cage. 3 coyotes in the distance sound like 9 with their haunting warbling a hoot owl harkens to another way over there. The mamma and baby turkeys single file down the side yard into the forest, preen for a bit and then launch up to the lowest branches of their chosen Holiday Inn for the night. As it gets darker I see several pairs of green eyes down in the woods and they stand about 4-5’ tall.

    THAT is why I spent $10k in cash for materials and 6 weeks of sweating in the blazing sun in the summer of 2006, because the rewards are priceless and ongoing. When we had a satellite connected to the big screen I used to watch nature shows cause everything else was retarded but for the past 12 years we have been watching our own nature show right up close in person and probably always will….

  • RigelDog April 4, 2018, 10:16 AM

    Thank you Gerard—I needed this. I took an early retirement 2 weeks ago (unbeatable incentive program) and found myself feeling pretty low today. Weather here in Pennsylvania has been so cold and rainy, except when it’s snowing so that’s not helping at all, at all. Somehow, though, this video has refreshed and restored me.

  • Gordon April 7, 2018, 10:19 AM

    John, I like shoveling snow also, but not as much as I used to. That’s why I bought the Toro Snow Destroyer Xxtreme Edition Maxx XXL. I got it lightly used at a quarter of list. It’s too big really for my house, but I like being able to throw snow across the street and into the park.