October 18

Entry dress-ups: front door

Help your home emerge from winter’s blahs by giving it the quickest yet most effective face lift you can: Add drama and design to the frame around your front door. After all, the entry is the first thing your callers see.

I studied the style and proportions of my house before sketching up new casing that I could either make myself or create by combining stock moldings from the lumberyard. My design would adapt well to many other entries–even those without a soffit overhead. But one of the effects I like best is the way my new trim package fills that eight-inch gap on top by butting against the soffit, seeming to support it.

Sitting down to design your own casing can be intimidating at first, but these tips should help:

* Look at entry-door trims on well-designed homes in your area. Familiarize yourself with different trim styles, such as Federal, Georgian, and Greek Revival, by consulting books on architectural detail at your local library.

* Experiment on paper. Take a photo of your front door and have it enlarged to an 8×10 size. Tape tracing paper over the print and draw various designs around the door.

* Do sample assemblies with pieces of molding. Your new casing will consist of three basic parts–two pilasters (vertical strips that flank the door) and a head (the horizontal crosspiece at the top). It’s easy to make the pilasters of a single board, but the head is usually built up from several different moldings.

Head for your lumberyard to check out its moldings –you’ll probably find a dozen shapes that have possibilities. The larger crowns, coves, beds, battens, and stops –plus half and quarter rounds–are all worth looking at. If the yard doesn’t have samples to lend you, offer to buy a couple of inches cut off each molding you want to play with. At home, set these short lengths on end and arrange them like blocks, building up full-size cross sections of various configurations until you find one that appeals to you. Then trace around each molding to get a profile like the sketch at right. If your design calls for a shape you can’t buy, consider making your own–as I had to for my dentil and “panel-raising” moldings.

My actual trim work started with the pilasters–made from hald-inch clear pine 5-1/2 inches wide. I routed parallel flutes then chamfered the edges. I stopped both flutes and chamfers about five inches from the bottom and three inches from the top.

After nailing up all trim, fill holes with an exterior wood putty, caulk all joints, prime the wood with an alkyd primer, and apply two coats of latex trim paint.

October 2

4 Types of Materials Softball Bats Are Made Of

When you are using a good softball bat, you will easily be able to get enough single and double runs and increase the number of scores and wins that you can manage in a year. Once, bats for softball playing were primarily constructed of wood. However, technological advances have led to the introduction of a variety of materials, such as composites, graphite and aluminum. Each of these materials comes with unique and positive features.

Wood

Even a few years ago, wooden bats for softball were extremely rare. However, these are gradually resurfacing in the mainstream and are regaining acceptance with softball enthusiasts who prefer to hear a whack from their bat rather than a ping when the ball hits the sweet spot. A wooden bat for softball performances are bottle-like in shape and have a weight of around 32 – 35 ounces, which is about 8 ounces bulkier than bats made of aluminum. Wooden bats have been traditionally constructed out of ash. But ash is soft and light and bats constructed out of ash have a tendency to dent fast and splinter. These bats are also constructed out of wood from oak, bamboo or maple. Maple is firmer and has a denser grain than ash, which makes it less prone to chafing and splintering. Bats that are constructed out of Chinese bamboo are the closest wooden bat equivalent of an aluminum bat. Very lightweight bamboo has a higher tensile strength than steel.

Aluminum

Best softball bats that are made of aluminum is lighter and this helps players to get more control and speed. These are more durable and stronger as compared to wooden bats, and do not suffer any breaks. Over a period of time, however, these may suffer cracks or dents. Bats made of aluminum can be availed in varied weight and alloy combinations. Alloys of lightweight aluminum are thinner and have more resilience. They offer a larger “sweet spot” or hitting zone. You can get these types of bats in single or double-layer combinations. Power batters make use of double-layer bats.

Graphite/Titanium lined

Titanium or graphite is used to line bats made of aluminum. These strong and durable but lightweight materials are added to bats made of aluminum and with thin walls in order to reduce the weight of the bats. Batters can get more powerful swings with lighter bats. These bats, lined with titanium or graphite, come with a greater “sweet spot” or hitting zone. These are shock-absorbent materials and can help reduce the shock that is felt due to an ill-timed stroke.

Composite materials

Bats which are constructed of Kevlar, glass or carbon are strong and firm although light in weight. Bat manufacturers use composite materials to incorporate varied stiffness and strengths in various areas of a bat. This can help create bats with firm handles for higher amount of control. Such bats have a more prominent “sweet spot”. However, the very high velocities at which balls fly off bats can result in safety issues for pitchers who have to react very quickly.