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Volume 2 Issue 2“Building Confidence”February 2004



Welcome to those who have joined us since our last Newsletter in January. Thanks for submitting the survey and comments. The way February came and went, I was caught off guard, but here's February's issue.


Our site can now receive Visa and MasterCard payments. Our secure payment system is administered by a Canadian Company called Moneris Solutions, which is a joint venture of two of Canada's largest banks The Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal. Since my brother and webmaster, Dan, added this to our site on February 27th our new members are preferring our own system over PayPal three to one. Dan's system has been validated by Comodo as secure enough to warrant their insurance for purchases up to $10,000!

We also now have a third choice for people who'd rather send us a personal check. This costs an extra $10.00 due to the extra work for me to process it and for Dan to create the person's login by hand.

What's New

The newest feature on our site, the Member's Project Photos has another contributor. Thanks to Hans, Chuck and recently, David, for their contributions. Check out their photos at

I started a new series of articles on jigs with the first one about how to make a feather jig to hold your table saw pieces to prevent the wood from kicking back at you. You can find it at The next in the Jig series is a useful pattern for a table saw push stick at

Ask Away!

Some of my latest questions I have answered:

Thanks for the help you have given me in the past. I built myself a nice
storage box/stand for my miter saw and haven't finished it yet because
of the door. I need some ideas. I would like to finish it off with
something nice but not fancy. It will be primed and painted. I am working
out of my garage right now until I get my workshop built so I am trying
to get as many of tools on wheels so I can move them around and work on
the "apron" in front of the garage. I don't have a router table, but I do
have two routers and a great table saw; SO I was thinking about a frame
work for the door made with a "slip joint" joint but I can't figure out
how to get the 1/4" plywood attached to the door frame. Any ideas?? I do
have a tenoning jig for my table saw to cut the mortise & tenon. I wanted
to use some White Pine [1"x3"] that I have for the frame. If you have a
better suggestion, please say so.
Thanks, Kelly

Hi Kelly,

I would do a 1/4" wide dado in the edges of the 1x3 in the center. Make the
dado about 3/8" deep. Cut the top and bottom rails in between the sides. Fit
your panel in the dados and glue it up. Make up small splines to slip into
the intersection of the top and sides and bottom and sides, 4 of them. Cut
the splines off flush with the top and bottom and there you have a door.
Clamp until the glue dries. If you don't have long enough clamps, lay the
door down on a sheet of plywood and screw in stops on 4 sides - leaving a
space for wooden wedges to tighten up the assembly.

Hope this helps,


Thank you again for the help. It sounds so simple, don't know why it didn't
occur to me. Guess I was trying to make it too complicated. Sometimes I just
need to have somebody tell me to "just keep it simple".
Keep up the great work; it's great to have somebody on hand to answer the
"dumb" questions that I keep coming up with.


Dave: Another question re the flooring project. I have one finishing contractor suggesting that we finish the floor with a linseed oil then the polyurethane coats. Does this make sense to you? Also; what would you recommend for a finish to a butcher block type counter top. I would like to use an oil wipe but not sure which to use. Recommendation? I did read your item on finishing floors....very informative. Thanks in advance for your interest & attention. Terry Hi Terry, Linseed oil is the base for the old 'Oil' stains and penetrates the wood very well. He sounds like "old school". This is what they used in the old days, but then had to keep the shine up with waxes. He may just be wanting to get the color to match the original. Polyurethane is compatible with linseed oil, no problem there. Urethane applied directly to wood tends to yellow the wood slightly. Butcher block should be seasoned with plain ordinary mineral oil, you can buy at the drug store. Hardware stores sell similar products called Non-Toxic Butcher Block Oil, but is probably the same thing. The thing not to put on is any of the corn oils, etc. which go rancid over time. Dave Dave; Thank you so very much for the info. Your sense of know-how & knowledge is a great resource! I appreciate your timely response. Terry
Dave, good morning. Looking for your advice on a flooring project. I am planning to reuse random width (3" to 9") T&G southern pine flooring which I salvaged from an old factory. In the process of lifting the old flooring some boards have damaged tongues and/or grooves rendering them unuseable. I would like to use all of the material so I am considering trimming off the damaged edges & face nailing the boards to the 5/8" plywood sub-floor. The moisture content of the wood is less than 5%. Question: Have you ever done this? Should I use a good construction glue? Would you suggest ripping at a slight angle, say, 3 to 5 degrees for overlapping the edges? Terry Hi Terry, Rather than what you suggest, I would rip the boards to clean them up and then rip them on edge to form a groove on both sides and ends. You can do this with a router and a 1/4" slotted bit or on the table saw with a dado blade or two identical saw blades together to form a 1/4" groove. Make the groove 3/8" deep. Then cut up some splines, 1/4" thick by 5/8" wide to slip in between the two grooves, nailing through the tongue as usual. I wouldn't use any glue in a hardwood floor except at a nosing or doorway reducer. You want the wood to expand and contract naturally. Just remember to use the same widths in the length of the room. For a board as wide as you say, you should end match the boards, as well. That is have a tongue and groove on the ends as well. The splines you make up should be about 6" to 12" long and should fit the groove snug but not so tight as to have to hammer them together and mushroom over the edge. Leave about 2" between splines. The splines can be made from the discarded rippings. Face nailing is fine, but every time you sand the floor they have to be set and filled. With a little care the groove can match the existing wood. Dave Dave: Thanks for your advice on this. I did per your suggestion & have been able to save about 60% of what would have otherwise been scrapped. It worked well. Now we can finish the job without running out of material. (Also it gave me a good reason/justification to buy a good dado blade!) Terry
How to do the framing for the basement bathroom? Thanks, Eugene Hi Eugene, Can you be more specific... Dave

I get a few like this. Eugene must figure I can read minds. He never did get back with me.

I still get a few questions on stairs. Some complain about our Stair Calculator not working for them. After a few questions on my part, I find that for the majority of these people, the problem is not with the calculator, but with their space not having enough run room. My typical response for this is:

You have three options:

1. Get more run by enlarging the opening in the floor at the top floor, where the steps start.

2. Get more run by enlarging the opening in the floor at the far end and increasing the run at the bottom of the stairs - eliminate the obstruction, wall, etc. which is limiting your run.

3. Put in a staircase landing to change the direction of the stairs, providing you have the headroom or make the opening fit.

In my opinion the run you have now is not an option for a decent set of stairs. It is about priorities, move a wall to make a better set of stairs, for instance, or enlarge the opening to allow for a staircase landing.

The Stair Stringer Calculator on our site is set to work within limits as prescribed by building codes. If someone is having a problem with the calculator, I would rather explain this to them rather than for them to go ahead and build a set of stairs that are unsafe or too steep.

If you could give me a bit more info on what is limiting your run, headroom, opening, etc. I could help you with your next stage of building you a set of stairs.

One member's problem was the heating ducts were in the way, so he moved them, giving him room for a decent run. Another in wanting to build stairs up to a loft in his work shop, put the stairs outside and then returned them into his shop to save space. He put a roof over them and did a fine job. People are very innovative if they really have a desire to do something. In the "old days" they did things differently, a basement wasn't a living space but a storage space and the stairs down to this area reflected this — very steep and narrow. Some people want to put in a new set of stairs without increasing the space available for the total run.

I got an email from a member who had framed up another story on his house. Unfortunately, he hadn't done his homework to find out the proper way of framing it. Nor did he research the original structure to find out the size of footings and foundation he had under it, the size of walls and stud spacing to support another floor. As a result he framed it incorrectly, spent his allotted budget and now is in a fix because his job isn't supported properly. He found our site, joined us, and now I'm trying to help him out of his misery.

It's very important to get some information and spend some time researching your project before starting it. I'm not referring to getting a permit and going through the legal hoops, although that is the recommended procedure, I am stressing the importance of doing a job right the first time, especially if you are on a limited budget. Now that you have received this Newsletter, if you are contemplating a renovation, do a bit of research, check us out or other sites first, before starting to tear walls out. There is a wealth of information out there, some for free, others at a price. Our site charges under $10 to have access to all our articles and our 17 plans for small projects, but our big bonus is one on one consultation with an experienced carpenter, to guide you through your project.

My commitment to our members is that if I don't know the answer, I won't guess. I'll try to lead you into finding the right answer. Actually, for the five years I've had this website I haven't been stumped yet, other than by a couple of Engineering questions.

Enjoy our site and let me know how your projects are coming!

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