By Larry Haun
Learn Carpentry from a
Professional with 50 Years of Experience
Few of us were fortunate enough to have an experienced carpenter
like Larry Haun to teach us the basics of the craft. With nearly 50
years of experience as a production framer and as a long-time
teacher of carpentry and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Haun is
a master of his trade.
Homebuilding Basics: Carpentry offers newcomers to the trade, or
anybody interested in acquiring the basic knowledge of carpentry for
their own projects, Larry Haun's many years of knowledge and
experience building accurately, efficiently, and safely.
I've tried my hand at many jobs. I worked
for several years as a farmer. I was a spiker once, laying railroad
track. I taught Spanish and carpentry at night for years, and I even
worked as a counselor for the deaf and for wounded Vietnam veterans.
But I always came back to carpentry. It must have been the smell and
feel of wood.
Not all of carpentry is easy. Moving and
cutting lumber all day long can be hard work. Yet I hardly remember
a time when I wasn't doing carpentry work. I was born in a
farming-ranching region of western Nebraska, and carpentry -- like
sleeping and eating -- was something everyone did.
I helped build my first house before I
was out of high school. I worked with a kindly old man, a craftsman
who taught me "white-overall" carpentry, the way houses were built
from Civil War times until about World War II. Hand tools were used
to cut the wood and build the homes because few power tools existed.
I was deeply impressed by the beauty of the tools this old carpenter
had and the skill with which he used them, and I'm thankful for the
knowledge he passed along to me.
When I was still a teenager, the
post-WWII housing boom was beginning, and I found myself in
Albuquerque trying to earn money to go to college by building houses
with my older brother Jim. Because returning veterans were able to
move into houses with nothing down and payments of $75 a month, the
demand for housing was enormous. To meet that demand, we had to
change the way we built. So, unlike Henry Ford, who took the
automobile to the production line, we took the production line to
the building site. We laid aside the white overalls and packed our
pickups with tools built for speed. I set aside my handsaw and
picked up a power saw that could cut wood to size in seconds, and I
tossed my 16-oz. curved-claw hammer in favor of a 22-oz.
straight-claw hammer that could drive a 16d nail with one lick.
In 1950, at age 19, I moved to Los
Angeles to study at UCLA. I went to school three days a week and
worked three days as a journeyman carpenter in the union. I got
intellectual food for my mind and physical food for my body. On
Sundays I rested.
By the mid-1950s, the building boom in
Los Angeles was at its peak. Instead of building one house at a
time, we were building 500 or even 5,000 at a time. Every person
working in every trade was adapting. New tools, new procedures, and
new materials were in evidence everywhere. It is a tribute to
American ingenuity that we were able to build thousands of new homes
without sacrificing quality for quantity. During these fast-paced
days, I learned a lot about carpentry.
Nowadays I realize how fortunate I was to
learn how to use hand tools from a traditional master builder when I
was young. Today's carpentry is different in that we have all kinds
of power tools, nail guns, and hand-held computers that help us
build. But carpentry still requires that some basic knowledge of
hand tools and layout skills be acquired so we can move on to become
masters of our craft. And this is my purpose in writing Homebuilding
Basics: Carpentry. I want to share with others what I have learned
from my teachers. Just as in my first book, The Very Efficient
Carpenter, this second book continues the process of making
information available to people about carpentry tools and the
techniques for using them.
Homebuilding Basics: Carpentry is a
step-by-step guide book to building. There is something in this book
for anyone interested in carpentry or home improvement. In it, you
will learn how to work safely and how to choose and use the basic
hand and power tools for carpentry. You will learn the vocabulary of
carpentry so that you can read plans and order building materials.
You'll learn the basic steps of how to put together an entire house.
And you'll see when precision counts and when it doesn't.
I no longer make my living as a full-time
carpenter. Instead, among other things, I now spend a lot of my time
writing and teaching the trade. But that doesn't mean I have stopped
I help family and friends who need a
willing hand. And my younger brother Joe and I work with Habitat for
Humanity, building houses where we live in Oregon. Doing this
physical work makes me feel good. It must be the smell and feel of
1. HAND TOOLS
2. POWER TOOLS
3. ON THE JOB SITE
4. FRAMING FLOORS
5. WALLS AND CEILINGS
8. FINISH DETAILS
9. SOURCES OF SUPPLY
Hard-cover, 8 x 10 in., 208 pages,
with color photos and drawings