Frank J. Borkowski

The new remodeler-friendly apps for smartphones are typically inexpensive and are often better than anything available for your computer. Check these out.

  • BuildCalc: Turns your iOS or Android phone or tablet into a feet-inch construction calculator on steroids. In addition to the expected conversion, volume, and framing calculations it has stair/baluster layout, estimators, converters, and more. The interface includes “mini-apps” that produce complex results that can be emailed, printed, or imported into a spreadsheet. Work through the examples in the on-screen demo version, or just buy it for $20; you won’t be sorry.
  • BeamBuddy: (iOS only) For those with basic structural knowledge who want to do preliminary design for a particular size or species of wood beam or to spot-check suspicious structural elements, check out BeamBuddy. After picking the beam loading condition (uniform load, point load, cantilever), you can use the iPhone’s “spinner” interface to select material type, adjust the section modulus to the most economical size, and test against shear and acceptable deflection. Free to try, but $5 to unlock all the features. Try the YouTube tutorial.
  • DesignEasy Joists: For a simple joist/rafter span table, the Western Wood Products Association has made DesignEasy available for the iOS for just 99 cents. Enter the species, live and dead loads, and it shows you a range of spans you can achieve safely. DesignEasy is also available for PCs (and would run on a tablet spreadsheet program).

—Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant helping remodelers be successful with their technology.;

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