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Volume 6 Issue 7“Building Confidence”July 2008



Welcome to another newsletter. I hope our website is helping to build your confidence.

What's New!

Dan and I, with our families, have had a very busy summer enjoying travel and the great outdoors. Dan actually made it to Britain, we made it as far as Alberta (the neighboring province about 600 miles to our East).

Ask Away!

I think you people are enjoying your Summer, as we have. I haven't had too many questions in July. Here are some of the better ones:

Hi Dave,
I'm looking to install vinyl siding to my home, and I'm looking for
professional results. I'm a mason, and I believe I have the skill
sets for the carpenter trade, but I've never did it before.
I read your siding article and I think I'm going to give it a shot.
Think that's a good idea, or leave it to a "pro"?

Hi Frank,

In my opinion you are a pro. You are a construction tradesman, first and second you read my article to find out about a new procedure.

As I said in the article, it is very easy to install vinyl siding. If you can build a chimney, you can apply vinyl.

A few things to watch for:

  • Do not nail the roofing nails home, leave an 1/8th inch or so space, the vinyl should be able to move back and forth.
  • Nail in the center of the slot.
  • Only miter the one side of each corner on the J-mold, leave the opposite side full length so the mitered side will overlap. You've probably done this with flashing, before.

Just follow the article for direction. If you come across something I missed or need better explanation on, please let me know.



Quick question regarding finishing siding around the soffit area:
I've recently had my soffits redone and I want to install the vinyl
siding under the soffit.
I've seen this finished basically as the soffit f-channel is nailed
directly on top of the siding.
I was wondering if there is any other option because I don't want to
remove any part of the existing soffit. Is it possible to use the
under window channel along the soffit, or even J-channel?

Hi Frank,

It depends where the cut comes on the siding itself. You need to hold this last piece of siding up under the soffit. If the nailing strip is removed, then it won't stay there. This is where the finishing strip comes in. It is nailed into position under the soffit and the top of the siding, without the nailing strip, is dimpled with either a special tool or with the head of a nail. Then this last row is shoved into the finishing trim to hold it in place.

The soffit, when finished, should have a J-mold under it already to receive the siding. This is standard. If not you can use a vinyl J-mold as well as the finishing trim.

Here is a pic of my top row. Notice the soffit channel already installed. If this is not present, just nail up a vinyl J to finish it off, then use the finishing trim, as well.

Photo of vinyl siding trim below the soffit.


I have question about the sewer rough-in for the detached garage
I'm building. Attached is my sketch. When do I use a Sanitary Tee
versus a Sanitary Tee with a build-in sweep 90?. I purchased both,
but don't know when to use one or the other. In the sketch between
points (k) and (i) and between points (a) and (j), the pipes run
directly beneath directly below non-load bearing walls. Is that OK?
In the sketch I'm venting at points (j) and a wet vet at (h).
Is this adequate venting?

Handdrawn sketch of sewer vent in a house.

Try to use Y's in drainage rather than Tees. The rule is that no 90's are allowed in drainage on the horizontal. The only time you can use a 90 is vertically as in coming off a toilet flange or the base of a stack. Use the tees in the vents, only. When turning a 90 corner use a Y and a 45 street el or a 45 and a 45 street el. This applies to perimeter drainage as well.

I noticed you have a couple of floor drains. If you can avoid connecting the floor drain to the sanitary sewer, so much the better. If you do you need a trap primer to keep the p-trap full of water. The floor drain may sit for months without any water going through it, the p-trap evaporates letting the sewer gas back up into the house. The trap primer prevents this by allowing a bit of water to fill the floor drain trap each time a toilet is flushed. You are far better to run your floor drains outside to connect to your perimeter drain. No vent is required, either.

A 1 1/2" vent has to be within 10' of a 3" pipe from a toilet. A 1 1/2" sink drain should have a vent within 5'. Lay the pipe to drain at 1/4" per foot. If the drain is too steep the solids are separated from the liquids.

For the concrete slab under a pipe make sure there is a minimum of 3 1/2" of concrete. For the slab under a load bearing wall, you should build up the thickness to a minimum of 12"x12". Don't just put a bearing wall on a 4" slab.

Hope this helps,


Hi Dave,

thanks for the opportunity to 'do it myself!'

I am a fifty eight year old woman and I built a six step outside
staircase in one day! your instructions are deliciously clear.
while I have a good mechanical and engineering mind, I have not
had much time with power saws and exact measuring. probably in my
life I have had the opportunity to make a half a dozen cuts with a
circular saw. and yet - because you were so clear, I was able to
have the confidence I needed to accomplish the task.

I bought new wood for the stringers and was able to use good
recycled wood for the rest. the project cost less than $200
including the new saw and framing square w/stair gauges!

yes, I am probably guilty of putting some man out of work -
thank god!! you guys work way too hard!

thanks for all you do in the world - it is superb human beings
like you that make our crazy human world work in spite of ourselves!


p.s. I have a picture of me with my first stringer. holler if you
want a copy for your kudo's file - you rock!!

Hi Andrea,

I just want to thank you for your inspiring email I read when I was drinking my morning coffee. You are the reason why my brother and I have this website, to give confidence to people to do it themselves. When I was working in Northern Canada in heavy construction (industrial work, building bridges and mine buildings) I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing my trade "tricks" with them.

Isn't it a good feeling to look at your stairs and be able to say, with pride, I did this myself?

Well done,


I would like to use your design for making a shaker door using
splines. Does the plywood panel need to be cut undersize slightly
to allow for expansion? Does the spline need to be slightly
undersize of the dado to accept the glue? Best wood for splines?

There shouldn't be much expansion in similar woods if kept indoors.
The panel should be a loose fit, but not sloppy. The spline should
be a loose fit, as well, made out of hardwood, like oak.
I use scrap hardwood flooring.


When installing the toilet flange to 3" ABS 90 degree elbow does the flange go inside or outside on the elbow?

The floor flange has the same size hub as a 90 degree elbow. You can either put a short piece of pipe between the flange and the elbow or you can use a 90 degree street elbow. The street elbow has a spigot (same size as pipe) on one end and a hub on the other.


Thanks for those emails, keep them coming.

Thanks for the interest in our website.


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