Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A How-To Guide for Homeowners

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A How-To Guide for Homeowners

Article excerpt

The Family Handyman magazine has been advising homeowners and do- it-yourself home improvers since 1951.

"Everyone on staff is a former carpenter or tradesman or plumber," said contributing editor Spike Carlsen. "They kind of hired people with the thought that you could teach a carpenter to write, but you could never teach a journalist all the things about the construction trade. ... But that's one of the cool things about the magazine. We know what we write about; we've skinned our knuckles doing this stuff we're writing about."

Now the Reader's Digest-owned magazine has compiled and condensed its expertise into a book, "100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know: How to Save Money, Solve Problems, and Improve Your Home" (some of which was excerpted in Reader's Digest). The book clearly and concisely explains how to handle everything from how to burglar- proof your garage (No. 32) to how to hire the best roofer (No. 54) and to how to sharpen a mower blade (No. 75).

Carlsen recently spoke to The Record about the book.

Q. How did this book come about?

There was a perceived need. You know, the classic Reader's Digest guide "Do-It-Yourself Manual" ... that's a very comprehensive book, filled with technical knowledge. And the idea behind this book was just to have something that was kind of a quick reference. ... If you have an emergency situation, you can go to this book, and it'll tell you how to shut off your water, or shut off your gas, or stop that toilet from overflowing. So if you're in panic mode, this book will take care of that. And then if you're in a more casual how-to- fix-things mode, the book addresses probably the most common repairs known to man. And then if you want to build something on a larger scale, it has tips on that. So it works on a lot of different levels.

Q. Was all the material taken from the magazine, or was it expanded upon?

Most of it is from the magazine, and then expanded upon. ... There's a great 10-page section on simple storage, and it is stuff homeowners need to know, hidden storage around the house.

Q. What was the process like in deciding what to include in the book or not to include?

The magazine forever has done surveys, you know, with our readers, and that really forms the core of what we write about. We also have things like "handy hints" and "great goofs" where readers are submitting their ideas and their experiences to us. ... For years, we did newsstand studies, where we find out what attracted people off of the newsstand to purchase the magazine, so we really have a strong feel for what our readers want, what the general public wants.

Q. How many editors contributed to this book, and what is their level of experience?

There's five staff editors, there's five contributing editors, including myself, who do a lot of the work. …

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