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Volume 1 Issue 6“Building Confidence”October 2003



Welcome to those who have joined us since our last Newsletter in August.


We didn't put out a newsletter for September. Dan and I lost our mother on August 25. After a week in hospital she died peacefully in her sleep, thank God. Her passing just took the wind out of our sails. After we looked after Mom, we both escaped to our wives' home towns for two weeks. Frances and I went to Texas, Dan and Marillyn went to England. We got back to our jobs (yes, we both work for a living) to regain our composure and then our step-mother, of 34 years, passed away October 1. The two women in our fathers life died within six weeks of each other, odd.

Life goes on.

What's New

I wrote three new articles since our last newsletter; all three spawned from questions from our members:
How to Cut and Install Crown Molding Around a Ceiling
How to Cope and Install Crown Molding
How to Install a Round Corner in a Door Opening.

Dan has them on the site now.

Also, based on a question, I added a new table entitled, Estimate Check Sheet. This is a good checksheet to follow for the home handyman doing a renovation in an existing structure or a professional building a complete new house. While researching for this check sheet, I found it was tough to find a formula for converting RSI, which is the metric equivalent of R-Value for insulation. I found the formula finally and Dan added it to our site under the Common Conversion Table, as well as our Conversion Calculator. If you need a conversion that isn't on our site, just let one of us know and we will do our best to get the conversion formula and put it on our site for y'all. Oops, from my Texas trip.

Coming Soon

I will be adding a new section called jigs, which will include jigs for making dados with a router; a tapering jig for tapering legs or boards on the table saw; a jig for making feather wedges, useful for many applications such as raising a cabinet a bit, packing the space between a door or window jamb and the stud, before nailing it in, etc. I use wedges all the time in my work. Any other ideas from members will also be added.

T'is the Season

With the coming of Winter, a homeowner should prepare a To Do List. Here are some ideas:

  1. Change the furnace filter.
  2. Seal up any leaking windows and doors with weatherstrip.
  3. Install plastic over any windows that are not thermopane.
  4. Clean out range hood and bathroom fans.
  5. Caulk up any exterior cracks in the siding or stucco where moisture can get in and do its evil deed.
  6. Any outdoor painting should be done before the temperature reaches 10°C/50°F or below.
I won't even mention what you should do in the garden at this time of year.

Fall is a busy time.

I have an article on our site that is worth the read at this time of year as the weather gets wetter: Moisture and Humidity Problems in the Home

Ask Away!

Here are some questions I've been answering lately:

Well Dave--here goes...
Knowing very little about anything I'm about to undertake, I hope I can even ask
a clear question :o)
We have recently added onto our house and had a flagstone patio installed. My
project is to build some stairs from the door to the patio. I really would like
to do more of a landing. Here are the measurements: 17 3/4 inches from the
bottom of the threshold to the top of the flagstone. As you are facing the door
from the corner of the house to the bay window (this is where the door is
located) is 44 inches. The bay window juts out at a little less than a forty five
degree angle for 29 1/2 inches. I am toying with making the landing a hexagon
shape with the top step coming even with the point of the baywindow side.
(Is this clear as mud???)
My thought is--rather than messing with risers and such--make a two level
mini deck. Just don't know where to start here and what kind of wood to use.
How to attach it to the house, etc. etc. Any direction you could give would be
very much appreciated!

Hi Peggy,
Each riser is 6 29/32 or a 32nd less than 15/16. The idea of 2 landings is good.
I would frame it up with pressure treated wood and use 1 1/2" cedar for the
treads or you could use flagstone on top of plywood for the treads. You should
decide what to use before you build , so the heights will be allowed for. The
best way to frame it up is to rip down the correct size of 2" material, probably
2x6 to allow for the total height of 6 29/32" and make the first step large
enough to support the one on top of it, then frame it up on top of the first one.
Attach it to the house with a couple of screws.
If you want a landing to come up under the threshold and then 2 steps down,
allow for this too.
Let me know what you decide to use as a finish for the steps/landings and I will
draw a simple plan for you. Let me know how wide the steps will be as well. If
you could send me a drawing or picture by email, that would be great.

Hi Dave, My question is: Is it ok to alter my garage trusses to accomodate a larger opening for stairs? The trusses are currently 24" on center and I want a 48" opening. I would greatly appreciate your advice. Mike Hi Mike, Yes, you can do that, BUT, you have to double up the truss on each side so they can take the additional load. The framing would be supported off these trusses.This is really a question for an engineer. I would strongly suggest you talk to one at a truss plant. Cutting trusses is not a good thing without proper design. While you are talking to the engineer, ask him if the trusses are designed for a floor instead of a ceiling - something else to consider. Dave
I've gotten a few questions requiring an engineer and have never heard back from them after stating that. Hmm! Sorry, folks, I'm not a structural engineer.

Hi dave, just a thxs for concern about getting on your site. Got paypal in
wifes name and now a member. Your answers regarding stairs are very
helpfull. I may use some of your suggestions and make a few turns going
down from loft. Home has small floor space and I don't want to use a
lot of it for stairs. Looks like this would make a square spiral if carried to
extream. I plan to use native log cedar for most of construction except
treads, which I have access to good maple. Going to basement was
solved by making an outside covered stair, unusual, but saves space inside.

I like Brad's answer to his limited space inside - he just goes outside and puts a roof over his basement stairs. Good work, Brad.

want to build encosed (or housed) stringers for outside front steps. Do I need a jig so as to rout the stringers? is there a preferred method? should I use pressure -treated wood as I live in wintery eastern Ontario.... Allan Yes a router and jig would be good. I don't like to put a closed stringer outside because it traps water in the corners and rots or freezes Yes, use pressure treated wood anywhere close to the ground and on concrete. If you are determined, I would cut out an open stringer to support the treads and then attach a closed string on the outside before I install the stringers. Dave Thanx loads, D. I will take your advice & double up on the stringers- just because I'm bullheaded. A
Hey, I tried!

I am installing a stairway off an outside deck and I want to know the best way to attach the stringers to the cement pad at the bottom of the stairs? Hi Tiana, When installing the stringers nail in a pressure treated 2x6 on the flat between the two stringers at the bottom and affix the 2x6 to the concrete with plastic or lead inserts in the concrete and screws into them through the 2x6. If treated wood isn't around, put in a piece of asphalt shingle under the 2x6. The point is to keep the 2x6 off the concrete or it will rot.
I am building new steps for our deck. They will be 8 feet across. I am planning 4 steps with a total run of about 42 inches. The total rise on one side is 29 1/2 inches and the other side is 33 1/2 inches. I plan the step rise to be about 7 inches and the run about 10 1/2 inches. I am planning on using 6 stringers across the 8 foot width. How do I cut the bottom of the stringers so the steps stay level to make up for the unevenness of the ground. Thank you. Dick
My answer includes a diagram and is too long for this newsletter, but Dan added it to the site. How to Build Deck Stairs.

The following is a prime example of my head not on straight:

Dave can you glue down laminet on top of old laminet? and if you can what
type of glue do you use?

Usually a laminate floor is not glued down at all, it is just glued to itself
and it floats. They call it a floating floor in some areas. A thin pad of
styrofoam is placed between the laminate and the sub-floor, whether
it is wood or concrete. The base board around the perimeter holds the
floor down. These floors are very popular now, especially for the DIY
trade since they are very easy to install. There are two types
out, that I know of, a glue the tongue and groove together type and a snap the
tongue and groove together type. I've installed both and am really impressed
with the snap together type. One thing to be aware of with this floor is that
it is disposable, in that it cannot be sanded down and re-finished like regular
hardwood flooring.

Hope this helps,


Dave I meant counter tops, can you glue down Formica over top of the old
Formica thanks

Hi Wayne,

Was I ever off!!
Yes, I've glued down laminate on top of old laminate for a counter top before.
Make sure the existing is glued down well and no holes etc. out of it. Sand the
existing laminate down - rough it up to remove any gloss and glue the new
laminate on top as usual with contact cement on both sides.

Survey Says

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

  • Shed Plans 17%
  • Patio deck plans 16%
  • Planter plans 15%
  • More how to articles 26%
  • Outdoor furniture plans 13%
  • Picnic table plans 13%

The following titles were suggested for articles: various cupboards and display cabinets; remodeling; wood bulkheads; spackling; home repairs; renovating old homes.

Keep in mind that I am only a computer click away from specific questions on the above subjects.

Thanks for your time in filling out the survey.

Finally, thanks for your continued support in our goal to help build confidence out there.

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