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All hands on deck! All hands on deck! With warm weather the order of the day, people are once again enjoying the outdoors. What an ideal time to build the deck you have always wanted - but didn't feel confident enough to build.

Although you might not be able to afford someone else building it for you, you can rely on professional help for only $14.95. The help is in the form of a new book by Tim Snyder: "Decks: How to Design and Build the Perfect Deck for Your Home."Within its covers are 244 pages of step-by-step instructions on how to build a deck, stairs, railings and built-in benches. And the 113 pages of Chapter 8, practically half of the book, contain a wealth of other deck-building projects.

When it comes to any do-it-yourself project, a picture is worth 1,000 words. And the pages of "Decks" are sprinkled generously with photographs and detailed drawings. The first 15 pages of the chapter show off 28 colored photographs of a variety of decks, one of which might be perfect for your home and lifestyle.

Gene Austin of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the overview "is one of the best books he's seen on decks."

The pages are bursting with helpful information on wood, fasteners and tools - as well as design considerations and building techniques.

Every phase of deck construction is detailed here. So, let's start at the very beginning.

- Designing your deck. In Chapter 1, Snyder suggests that one of the best ways to get deck design ideas is to look at as many different decks as possible. In addition to looking at decks in your neighborhood, clip photos of interesting decks from magazines. Even in this book the photographs show a wide variety of deck sizes and shapes. When designing, important considerations are landscape; sun, shade and shelter; privacy; exterior access; and traffic flow.

- Wood for building decks. Much time and effort goes into building a deck. So choose wood with care. Chapter 2 discusses redwood, western red cedar, cypress and other decay-resistant woods. Snyder also discusses pressure-treated wood and safety precautions one must take when handling it.

- Fasteners. Chapter 3 is all about fasteners and hardware for deck construction. It's the "nuts and bolts" chapter that plays an integral part in building a safe and long-lasting deck.

- Tools and techniques. Of course other tools are absolutely necessary for this project. Snyder mentions all of them in Chapter 4, as well as techniques in using them. Carefully reading this chapter can build confidence in any do-it-yourselfer, providing courage to experiment with a variety of joints - not just the miter but end lap, lap miter, mid lap and dado.

- Foundations and framing. Anyone ignoring the next chapter will encounter real problems. Chapter 5 covers basic details for foundations and framing - from design through construction. When designing, one must keep in mind that according to most building codes, a deck must be able to support a live load of 40 pounds per square foot. Steps that follow include laying out the foundation, installing piers and posts, attaching a ledger board to the house and building the frame.

- Decking boards. Chapter 6 explains all about the most visible part of the project. It's broken down into three parts: selecting what type and species of decking to use, deciding on an installation pattern, and installation details.

- Stairs and railings. Once a do-it-yourselfer has mastered building a deck, he might want to try his hand at stairs, railings and built-in benches. Chapter 7 is filled with detailed "step-by-step" illustrations.

- Choosing a deck style. As already mentioned, Chapter 8 contains a number of projects - 12 to be exact. Some of them are: entry deck; two-level deck over concrete patio; deck with above-ground pool; deck around a spa or hot tub; and deep site deck.

- Maintenance and repair. No book on deck building would be complete without a chapter on this subject. Snyder carefully reviews this in Chapter 9.

- Outdoor wiring. The final chapter deals with outdoor wiring, an inevitable part of most deck projects. A few well-placed lights can make a deck inviting after sundown, as well as promoting safety and security.- "Decks: How to Design and Build the Perfect Deck for Your Home" is published by Rodale Press, 33 E. Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098; phone (215) 967-5171. Price is $14.95 (paperback) and $26.95 (hardcover).