Novice do-it-yourselfer or experienced pro, there’s always something new to learn. So if you’re wondering what to get your favorite handyman or woman this year, here are a few suggestions for some books and software that are sure to be appreciated.


  • “The Very Efficient Carpenter: Basic Framing for Residential Construction” (Larry Haun, Taunton Press, suggested retail $22.95): This is a very nicely done book that covers a wealth of information on basic residential framing. Written by a pro with many years of practical experience in the field, the book has a number of time-saving techniques and practical advice, and is suitable for carpenters of all levels – including professionals.

  • “Complete Guide to Roofing & Siding: Install, Finish, Repair, Maintain” (Black & Decker, Creative Publishing Co., suggested retail $24.95): The name pretty much saves it all. If you or someone you know has been looking for a nice, practical book on common roofing and siding installation and maintenance, this well-illustrated volume will be greatly appreciated.

  • “Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home”(Julie Sussman, Stephanie Glakas-Tenet, Harper Resource, suggested retail $14.95): This well-written, informative book is aimed at women who want to do basic repair work on their own homes or apartments, but perhaps lack the confidence they need. It covers areas such as clearing a plumbing drain, fixing a faucet, replacing a doorknob, and a variety of other repair and maintenance issues. As the book says, “this is not your father’s home repair book.”

  • “Renovating Old Houses: Bringing New Life to Vintage Homes”(George Nash, Taunton Press, suggested retail $32.00): If you know someone with an old home that’s in need of some tender loving care, this is a great reference book. It features some 450 color photos and drawings, and covers a wide range of topics of interest to anyone renovating or repairing an older home, including foundation repairs, siding repairs, porch additions and much more.

All of these books are available at local bookstores, in stock or by special order. Some can also be purchased at home centers and discount outlets, as well as on the Web at online stores such as or


  • Scanalog: Many people collect magazines, clippings, photos and other material because they really want to have them available for reference – but then can never find them when they need them. Well for all of you out there who share that dilemma, here’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” products that can really simplify your life. 

If you have a computer and a scanner, you’re all set. As you peruse your favorite magazine, use the color-coded tabs (included with the kit) to mark articles you want to save for reference. Then, at your leisure, scan the article into your computer, and use the Scanalog software to organize it into easy to find categories. The software includes 11 master categories and 102 subcategories you can move your articles into for fast organization, and you can also add and name new subcategories yourself as the need arises. Once they’re safely stored, you can use the global search feature to quickly find the article, using your own keywords to search with. 

Scanalog is very reasonably priced at $59.95 for the software, tabs and even a new mouse pad, and also includes very clear and easy to follow instructions. You can order on the Web at, or by phone at 866-849-7226.

  • SmartDraw: SmartDraw is a very nice, easy-to-use software program that will help with a wide variety of drawing needs. For your next remodeling project, you can quickly create and alter scale floor plan drawings, then add in scale cabinets, furniture, even plants by using the included symbols and templates library. The drawings are even good enough to use when applying for building permits.

The software also includes additional libraries with thousands of symbols for electrical layouts, fire and safety planning, heating, plumbing, you name it. You can also quickly and easily do flow charts, organizational charts, forms and many other useful drawings for home and business. The full program is $297, and you can download a free trial version off the Internet if you want to check it out. For more information, visit

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at


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