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Volume 5 Issue 3“Building Confidence”March 2007



Welcome readers. This newsletter comes to you from the road of our vacation to Texas and later into Northern Mexico.

Ask Away!

So far, I've been keeping up with questions from our members while on the road. We've been picking motels which have internet service.

Here are some of the questions I have answered this past month.

Dave, what is the best way to hang a prehung door if you have to cut off
the pre hung framing around the door, as well as the door. I have to
shorten the framing 1 1/4", and shorten the door as well. Thanks in
advance Brandy

Hi Brandy,

If you have to cut the door and frame off, always cut off the bottom of the door and the jamb. If the door is not solid, remove the solid section you just cut off. Remove the facing of the door on each side of it. Apply glue to both sides and slip it back into the hollow door. Either clamp the bottom of the door or use masking tape from the face across the bottom to put pressure on the strip. Don't nail it. To prevent the door from chipping along the saw cut when using a circular saw, score the cut off line with a sharp utility knife on the top face of the door. When cutting the door off, just come up to this cut line. Sand the bottom of the door off and there you have it.


Dave, I want to build a movable 12x20 garage on my property. I'm sure I
won't get approval to erect a permanent building as I plan to build it
on a city utility right-of-way on the side of my property. I need
advice on whether or not I should build it on a wood skid floor, or put
in a separate wood removable floor after it is erected. I would also
like to know what kind of foundation or base to set it on and whether or
not I can lower it such that I don't need to up a ramp to enter it. If
moving it was required, I would plan to jack and roll it about 10 feet.


Hi Neil,

I would go with a 6x6 wooden skid foundation. You can see what's involved in this by looking at this plan, Shed 12'x16' Gable Roof Plans. It would be easy to modify this plan to be 20'. The floor would be about 12" above the grade, though, requiring a ramp or one step.



My wife favors the recessed lighting for our basement renovation.
I am under the impression they are probably the most energy
inefficent option we could go with. With bulbs costing close to $5
and energy wasting bulbs, aren't there better basement options.
I want to keep the high ceiling feeling so I respect that the
recessed lights are a good option for that. I'm also worried the
kids will be running hard on the upper floor of our 1922 bungalow
and the recessed light bulbs will get shaken a lot.

I have thought of just getting different bulbs but all my energy
efficient bulbs give a dull light in comparison to hallogen and
the standard bulbs.

Got any ideas?


Hi Erik,

I know what you mean with the new screw in fluorescent bulbs, they take awhile to brighten up after being turned on, but they are energy saving and the price has come way down.

The incandescent bulb is the worst bulb for loss of energy. Another option is the fluorescent tubes. These can be mounted flush between the floor joists. There are various tubes out there now for these beside the original cool white and warm white. A good lighting shop would be a good start to check out your options.


I have finished framing in a new foyer 8X9 off the front of my two
story colonial and am about to cut out the existing wall and open
up the foyer. I have put up a temporary stud wall on the inside
of the house. The total opening will be about 100 inches. In
order to reduce the size of the header required I am putting in
two columns with the centers 15 inches in from either side leaving
a new total opening of about 70 inches (5'10"). Would like to use
a beam made of two lvl 7 1/4 (2x8) equivalent. I have not been
able to absolutely confirm or deny that this would be adequate. I
know two lvl 9+ inch lvls will work but would like to keep the
couple inches. The opening is on the first floor so it will be
supporting second floor and roof. Just your thoughts on the 7+"
vs. the 9+" lvls to support the load.

I'm pretty sure a double 2x8 header would also do for this span. Remember that they measure a span to the inside of the supports, not to the centers. This will give you a few more inches. Your best bet is to contact a truss plant. They usually engineer and make up these LVLs. They would know the exact span for their units. I'm on vacation right now, sending this email from Baker City, Oregon. Quite the world we live in! So I don't have my span books with me. We are on our way to Texas to visit my wife's family, then on to N. Mexico.


I want to put down tile on the kitchen floor. The floor currently
has vinyl from the 70's and is flush with my hardwood floors in
the dining and living room. My question is do I need to take out
the subfloor and replace it so once my tile is laid it will be
even with the hardwood?

It is very important when putting in a tile floor that the floor is stable. The building code requires 1-1/4" of solid wood. In new construction, we put down two layers of 5/8" tongue and groove plywood. This usually makes the tile floor higher than the hardwood, so we use a transition strip. In your house check the total height of the sub-floor. You can do this easily by looking at the heating duct cutouts, if you have them. The maximum height difference, according to the code, is 5/8" between floor finishes.

Hope this helps,


Hello, Dave..
I'm a novice woodworker, and am learning mostly by trial and error
(and lots of reading). I've found a plan for an Adirondack chair
I want to build and it is not full scale. The plans say that
"each square represents one inch".
If the answer to this is obvious and simple, then I'm
embarassed...but I can't figure out how to get the plans to full
scale so I can trace them off to hardboard for use as a pattern.
Can you help me?

Hi Murray,

Drawings of how to make a template.They do this so you can easily duplicate a part of a plan that has curves in it. In your example the full size template is made by duplicating the drawing on a piece of board or cardboard, using each square on the drawing as a 1" square on the template. If your drawing has 15 squares long by 8 squares wide, the full scale would be 15" long by 8" wide. Then layout the grid of squares to match the drawing, square by square. Example: See the attached drawing.


Hi Dave, I see alot of people using pex for domestic water in new
houses. In your oppinion what are the advantages and disadvantages
of using it.
Thanks, Rich

Hi Rich,

Pex is an excellent product for hot and cold water. Use the fittings that insert and are crimped on instead of the bulky outside fittings. You can rent the tool to crimp each fitting. The only restriction that I know of is Pex buried under concrete, check out your supplier if going this way.

Hope this helps,


I am going to be pouring a concrete slab. When using a power
trowel to finish, what settings of blade angle and speed produce
the best results? Are there different blades to use, such as
width, rounded corners, anything of that nature. How big of a
slab can a 36" trowel be expected to finish without running into a
problem like concrete setting before you can get it finished? I
did some finishing when I was a young man, but have forgotten how
to set machine. Thanks for your info,

Hi Randy,

I've run those power trowels twice and did a 24 x 20 ft slab by myself. The settings are not that hard to figure out, just trial and error. There are float blades you can put on and the finishing blade. Talk to the rental guy for info on his particular machine. My only advice is to have some help, don't get on the slab too early or too late, the timing is important and don't bite off too big an area to finish at one time.

Hope this helps,


Hi Dave,

I want to add a wood counter top to my kitchen base cabinets and
would like to hear some ideas. I can't afford the regular hard
maple counter tops (I need about 8 feet in length, possibly with a
2-3 ft right angle at one end) so I'm considering buying butcher
block countertop from Ikea...but it's made from birch(or beech, or
oak) and is only 1 1/2 inches thick. Another possibility is using
a 1 inch plywood base and hard maple wood flooring strips over it.

I've thought of using a 1 (or 3/4") inch plywood base under the
Ikea butcher block. What do you think of that, and how best to do
I'd like to hear your suggestions on this matter.



Hi John,

I don't see a problem with using the birch or beech or oak. Don't use a hardwood flooring. This is flat grain. A butcher block ideally is made up of blocks glued together with their edge grain up. I would think that the Ikea top would be strong enough to support itself as a top without a plywood base, being 1 1/2" thick. I maybe wrong on this, since I haven't seen their tops. The top should be sealed only with mineral oil not varnish or varathane. Mineral oil is available in drug stores, usually.

A normal top is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 thick - that is two layers of 5/8" or 3/4" plywood or fiberboard. I prefer the plywood.

Hope this helps,


Well, that's it for another month. I'll be out of touch for about 3 weeks while in Northern Mexico. Please bear with us. I'll update you on our project when I get back, safe and sound, into Canada.


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