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Volume 1 Issue 5“Building Confidence”August 2003



Welcome to those who have joined us since our last Newsletter in July. I haven't heard from some of you for awhile, so I included your email addresses to our Newsletter mailing list, to update you on the changes to our site. You'll notice that our site continues to grow, members registering every day with questions, comments, suggestions.


Dan and I are noticing that with the increase in membership comes an increase in workload and cost of upkeep to our site. We will institute a slow increase in our membership fees, for new members, starting in September and increasing them each month for the next several months. This increase, of course, will not affect those already registered. Your fees will remain the same as long as you continue to be a member of our site.

If you are not registered, yet and have been thinking about it, I would suggest you take advantage of this information and register while the cost of membership is low. Currently, for less that one dollar a month we provide a site full of articles on construction techniques, discuss your personal projects with you via email, include free access to our ever growing list of projects and plans. For our members, I will draw up custom plans for your special projects, charging a nominal fee which averages $20 US.

What's New

I've added three new articles since our last newsletter; Mold Removal. Although a bit technical, I added this article, written by a Canadian Government Ministry, to show you what can happen in a home that is neglected and allowed to collect moisture from within as well as from outside the house. The article following this one explains how to solve some of these problems.

I wrote an article on How to Lay Ceramic Tile, as requested by some of our members. Coincidentally, I am working on a job right now, installing tile in an ensuite. The third article, new for this month, is How to Remove and Replace Plumbing Fixtures. As I was writing the Tile article it dawned on me that you should know how to remove the faucets, toilet, etc before installing the tile. Check these out.

Coming Soon

I've had a number of members ask me for different size gambrel roofed sheds. I figured out the new size of trusses and emailed the new plans and instructions to them. I will organize these and get Dan to put them on our site so you can have direct access to them, yourselves.

With your questions and comments I receive lots of ideas for new articles. Rather than wait for an article to come out, ask me specific questions and I will get back to you in a couple of days.

Articles coming soon include: How to Read a Tape Measure; How to Make a Straight Cut with a Circular Saw.

Ask Away!

Here are some questions I've been answering lately:

Here are a few examples of the questions and exchanges between
our members and myself:

... Also can not find the stair gauges anyware, seems every
place is going to new gadgets for this purpose. still hunting.
Thanks Cliff

Hi Cliff,

... Instead of stair gauges you could clamp a board between the
two marks on the square, just so you can slide it along the
stringer without having to accurately line up the rise and run
every time.


I know you say there is no such thing as a stupid question but here it goes is there any atricles on the proper way to read a tape measure I think everbody knows a half inch and so on but what about 15/32 . This is not a stupid question, basic, yes, but we all had to be taught how to read a tape somewhere along the line.

I wrote a short article for her and others that may have trouble with a tape. It's called Basics 1: How to Read a Tape Measure and is at

I enjoyed this exchange with John and Judy, who are not reluctant to give me pertinent information as well as a friendly chat-it-up:

Dave, what we are wanting to build is a 10' x 10' barn (gambrel)
shed. We want the shed to have a loft with ladder and a main
floor workbench. We have an existing concrete slab, but would
want the new shed to sit on skids at that site. A window would be
nice, but if it will add a lot more to the overall price, it will
need to be left out. Also, there needs to be a wheelchair ramp.
The door will need to accomadate our tiller, possibly a double
door? I have looked at your plan for a 12' x 8' shed but it isn't
the right size for our needs and I don't know how to adjust the
plans and the building materials. Our existing slab is 10' x 10'.
Also, we will need a materials list. We have seen some pre-built
sheds like this locally, but we need to keep the cost much lower.
Thanks for your input and help!


Hi John,

I can modify the shed for you. What is the width of your tiller?
Would a door to the loft be okay outside at the front or rear,
rather than losing space for an opening inside? How high do you
want the loft, kneeling height or standing height? I have
modifications already for a loft 10' wide that is 55" high inside
to the ridge. Let me know of any other details that you want.
What part of the country do you live in so I know about snow or
wind loads, etc.?

Hi, Dave...

Talk about great service!!! I never expected an answer TODAY already!!
Our tiller is 19" wide at the widest, the riding mower is 38" wide.
We would want a door outside to the loft and an inside entrance
throught the center of the loft floor. We aren't certain yet if the
outside loft door would be at the front or the rear. It will depend
on where the loft door will be in relation to the carport roof. The
bottom of the crossbeam on the carport is 9' from the ground. Kneeling
height in the loft will be fine.
We live in Quincy, Illinois, approximately 1 mile east of the
Mississippi River, lucky us! Summer temps can reach up to 105
degrees F. with high humidiity. Wind speed up to 60 MPH with an
average of 10 - 20 MPH. We have winter-time ice and snow with snowfall
up to 12" deep.
That reminds me, we would want some type of ventillation system. Some
type of roof, as well as side wall airflow. It doesn't need to be
elaborate, just functional.
Our previous steel shed was demolished last month when a sheer wind
took down our big, old sycamore tree. The tree and the steel shed
were our only casualty, so we are very grateful!!
Thanks again for your quick response! Made my day...
John & Judy

Okay, Judy,

Please give me a couple of days so I can draw something up for y'all.
Do they say y'all in Quincey? I have relatives from Texas, when we
met in Yellowstone Park, my three girls picked up on their 5 cousins
saying y'all and the Texans picked up on my kids saying, eh. What an
exchange that was!
My wife and I are heading down there in Sept. so I'm scrambling to
finish a couples ensuite that I'm putting in for them, before I leave.
Bear with me!!

Hi, Dave... Thanks for your e-mail. You may "live up north", but
you give wonderful "midwest" service!

Sure, what ever you can do will be great. What would we do w/o
paperwork and
deadlines! Ha Ha

No," we'all "don't say y'all in Quincy or even in Illinois that I
know of.
When we go to the Chicago area, though," they'all " think
" we'all " have a
southern accent!! It's pretty funny...

Looking forward to, yet, another fun road on this journey called
life. My
husband has built things before, but this will be my first of
making something totally" from scratch ". He and I make a good
team, so I
know it will go well! Thanks for your help.

Do you included any sketches, just hand drawn, to illustrate any
points? That always seems to help clarify things. You know, if
you can't
figure it out, read the instructions & better yet, look at the
pictures! Ha Ha

Thanks again. We look forward to hearing from you when you can.

John & Judy

I sent them drawings and instructions which I will get Dan to put on the site when I get back in two weeks. The "rest of the story" will be there, then.

The next one is to mainly explain that I am a mere mortal and have no godlike traits of reading minds or forecasting the future:

Hey Dave . the first steps turned out A1 .but now I have ground
grade and would like to know how the stair calculator would work
with this . Thanks fred

Hi Fred,

I don't understand the question??


The stairs have to be laid out on the ground probally on a
10 foot slope would you use the same calculator I guess u would
just imagine the dirt not their right? Thanks Fred

Okay, Fred, sorry I get it now.

Yes, the calculator will help you get an idea of how many risers
you need and their size. You can also get a feel for the run, if
you can measure it. This is a bit tough with a slope but can be
done in increments moving down the slope with a level and board,
actually this is the way you get your total rise too. If the
slope is not too steep try to follow it with your stringers.
Less digging this way.

Thanks this will be a big help! Fred

We need BASIC instructions for a novice do-it-yourselfer. This is an open staircase (no wall support to mount handrail brackets to). It is 7 steps down from the main level of our house to another level. We want to put in a handrail with spindles and newel posts. The mounting surface for the newel posts will be a concrete floor, the stairs are wood. There are two steps that have been notched out to hold the previous handrail system (I hesitate to call it that since it was just 2 x 4's and 1 x 3's with a handrail bracketed to them). These notches are the right size for a 4 x 4 newel post to fit into them. We need to know how to attach the newel post and how to anchor it to the floor. Then, what my husband doesn't seem to be able to figure out is how the spindles mount into the handrail, i.e. how to cut the spindles (if you cut them) to allow for the downward angle of the handrail and how to make the holes for the spindles to fit into the underneath side of the handrail. Without boring you with the details, I walked Deb and hubby through the steps of building a handrail system. I asked questions on the stair layout to get a feel for what is going on. I have to depend on the writer to be my eyes and give me accurate measurements. Deb responded with some answers and more questions. Finally, I got her email that made it all worthwhile: Dave, thanks for all your emails, suggestions, pictures and instructions. We got our handrail built and installed. It WAS a trying, slow process, but we managed. Glad it didn't have to be any longer than 6' though. Thanks again. Deb

Survey Says

Here is the break down on our Survey for this issue:

  • Shed Plans 20%
  • Patio deck plans 18%
  • Planter plans 17%
  • More how to articles 17%
  • Outdoor furniture plans 15%
  • Picnic table plans 13%

The following titles were suggested for articles: Varnishes, poly's, finishes, etc; Garden furniture; Framing, roofing, foundations; Building out a house, adding walls, moving electrical; Home renovations, restoring/remodeling older houses; Maintaining a 120 year old house; Pouring concrete sidewalks. All good topics, watch for them in the future. Keep in mind that I am only a computer away from specific questions on the above subjects.

Thanks for your time in filling out the survey.

Finally, Dan and I appreciate your continued support in our goal to help build confidence out there so let's hear from you.

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