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Volume 2 Issue 6“Building Confidence”June 2004



June has almost left us for another year and our childrens' school days are almost over. Time to think about keeping them busy with little projects. Help them build a dog house, bird house or feeder, even hold the wallpaper border while Mom is installing it on the wall. Welcome to our new members of our web site, Dan and I hope you are making use of the articles and plans.


Thanks for your good wishes, prayers and support regarding my prostate surgery. My doctor assures me that he got all the cancer and my last PSA test confirmed it. Keep up to date on your PSA test, guys over 50 and under if there is a family history.

Dan just returned from a cruise as a staff member to help you cruisers out with computer problems, teaching courses while at sea and administering the Internet Cafe. That's why the newsletter is late getting out for June. He went from Seattle to Alaska on June 25 with Celebrity Cruises. Where was his big brother when Dan was cruising? Anchored to my computer desk, of course!

What's New

I've added some new Gambrel Roof Shed Plans and two new jigs - one for making feather wedges and the other for making dados with the router. I've been busy this past month a new article too:

Ask Away!

Here are some of the email questions I have been answering this month:

hi dave,

can you advise me on making a large door way in a load bearing wall. the span of
the opening will be 3 metres and i will use a 300x100 beam/lintel. i am wondering
how i hold the roof etc. up in between pulling out the existing framing and
putting in a the lintel?

thanks dave


Jasson is from New Zealand, that's why he talks funny!

Hi Jasson,

Your lintel, 300 x 100, is a bit light. My code book shows 3 - 38 x 286 for
a span of 2.97 M for a roof and ceiling supporting a snow load of 2.5 kPa.
The cripples supporting the lintel should be doubled to make sure that the
surface area is at least 76 mm by their width. The ceiling should be supported
during this with a temporary beam and posts about .6M away from the wall
to allow room to work. Make sure a plate is on the floor, as well, across
the floor joists to help take the weight. Just snug up this temp beam,
don't lift the ceiling and roof.


Just had to include this email from a non-member: Hi Dave - I am thinking about joining your great site, but I'm not sure it would be appropriate, due to the extreme unusualness of my project. I live in an old schoolbus converted to a cozy, beautiful dwelling which is totally outfitted and hooked up to all services and so mainly stays parked. But I do move every few years to greener pastures, so to speak. I am determined this summer to remove the original metal roof and replace it with something more roomy and actually insulate-able. I'd like to build a gambrel roof since it so nicely mimics the original bus shape. I've been looking at gambrel plans, none of which (of course) fit my situation exactly. The bus is 8 ft wide and the roof could be 32ft long, give or take. Troubles include attaching roof to bus, making sure the roof structure is sufficient to keep the walls where they ought to be and, most importantly, how to be confidant enough that whenever it may be that the bus goes down the road the roof and walls will hold up to the strains. My question to you is: would you be willing to field occaisional questions and brainstorm on a modified version of your gambrel shed plan for my wacky application? I understand completely if this is out of your comfort zone and/or scope of your website. Thanks a million! Mari Hi Mari, I've been thinking about your question and your project. Wow! I can't get the image out of my head of a gambrel roof school bus running down the highway with shingles flying off it. My concerns: Removing the existing roof weakens the whole structure - tying the walls together. Wind force on the roof and shingles. I've seen huge roofs lift up and bend over on itself in a 60 mile per hour wind. Driving down the road will put wind forces greater than this on the roof. Extra weight associated with adding this new roof, if made of wood. I'm not saying this can't be done, I watch Monster Garage. I'm saying that for a project like this you may want to consider a metal frame to be welded to the existing frame in the shape of a gambrel. This way it can be light as well as strong to keep the initial integrity of the existing roof. The shingles could be sheet metal or just go with a complete one piece sheet metal. I don't know at this point how far you will drive the bus to new pastures and your anticipated speed As for becoming a member of our site, great, I'll do everything I can to help and guide you through this project, or any other. Dave
Dave, My husband and I are about to put up one of thoses easy set pools. This is about our third one to buy we keep getting a bigger one each time we purchase. We have had problems with leveling those things so we are planning on doing it right this time. Here is our you think we should pour concrete to level or would a wooden deck work? We are concerned about weight on a wooden deck. What do you think? Not a deck high off the ground just something low and level. This pool will hold about 5,500 gallons of water. We want it to last as well. We have no idea about cost of concrete right now either as to wood cost. Just your suggestion would help greatly in our decision making!!!! Thank you for your help!!!!! Sincerely, Denise Hi Denise, At 8.33 lbs per gallon (US) the weight in your pool would be 45,815 pounds, almost 23 Tons. Rather than concrete or wood, may I suggest a level bed of compacted sand. Then after the pool is installed you could raise a wood deck around it. To make a large area of sand level, make a form up around the perimeter, as you would to pour a slab of concrete. Use pressure treated wood, to be left in place - 2x6s. Use screeds to get the sand level and compact it well. The sand should be at least 6" thick when compacted. Hope this helps, Dave Drawing of a pool set into a backyard deck.
what is the proper way to hang drywall? Gotta rope? Ha! This is a pretty broad question. Walls or ceiling? Elaborate a bit on what you are doing. Dave sorry about that. Is there a standard size for the ceiling and walls? Are screws better than nails? What kind of saw or knife should you use to cut out the switch and outlet boxes? No problem!! The standard size for drywall on the ceiling is 5/8" thick, but 1/2" thick ceiling boards are acceptable. These are a bit more dense than the standard 1/2" drywall. They are used when the trusses or rafters are on 24" centers, instead of 16". Standard lengths are 8', 9', 10' 12' and 14'. Screws are better than nails. If nails are used they must be doubled up, that is spaced about 1" apart, screws are placed about 12" in the middle of the board and 6" along the edges. Use a drywall saw, a short course toothed saw. Pre-measure carefully and cut out, then install. The pros use a router with a 1/8" bit to cut out around the box after installing the sheet. The outside of the box is used as the bit guide. Try to keep no more than 1/8" larger than the box on the sides for the cover plate to cover. There is more coverage on the top and bottom of the cover plates than the sides. For cutting the drywall score the face from side to side, bend away from the score and cut the back side with the sheet still bent. Nail or screw the board on horizontally across the studs or joists. Pick the longest board for the wall to eliminate joints that have to be mudded. Start with the ceiling, then apply the wall board tight to the ceiling, next. Apply the lower board tight to the one above it leaving a space at the bottom for the baseboard to cover, as well as expansion. Hope this helps, Dave
Hey Dave, Hope all is well with you guys! I was wanting to see if... 1) you had any pic or diagram of how to frame the cornish, I was planning to do a Wide Box Cornish and use a ledger as I built a long overhang 2) to ask you if there is a real need to put vents in the cornish, if you're using the attick area (this is a wood shop) and want to be able to control the temp somewhat. I'll be using an on-demand louvered vent electric fan and using this area to store wood and other materials. Thanks again, - I still enjoy your site, Usually when you are using a loft over a garage or shop the insulation is placed in the roof joists and there is 2x4 strapping above them to provide an airspace. The soffit vents, then circulate air in the structure and not in the attic itself. The idea of using the fan is good, though, to keep the air circulating in the attic. Here is a drawing for the framing: Hand drawn sketch of the detail of a roof rafter near the eave. Notice the framing is already there at the rafter or truss end and a 2x4, 1x2 or molding (depending on the soffit material) is nailed to the wall through the studs. Dave
Hi Dave, I was wondering if you have any articles that make hanging pre-hung doors easy. I have done two indoor doors in the basement that I had to cut down to size then I had to deal with un-level floors etc. Each time I hung a door I did it differently and each time I was running into the same issue. I get the pre-hung door where I want it but then I have to open the door so that I can put the screws in the area where the door sits. This causes the shims to fall out and other not good stuff. Then I manage this issue and in the first door the door won't open and in the second door it wouldn't close. Any direction would be appreciated. Thanks Thomas I wrote an article on this subject, that is now on our website:
Dave, Thank you so much for this forum for weekend handymen (and women). I bought my first home 2 years ago, the home inspector said I needed to sister beam or replace a floor joist in basement that is cracked and breaking. I have been putting it off, and can't afford to pay a contractor. The beam is so riddled with holes from the pipes and wires that it is beyond help of getting a big and strong enough sister next to it. Can I use an iron 2x4 (like with car frames or something else) to place next to it. I'm figuring that as long as I have a floor jack and a strong joist I can leave the original beam without messing with cutting wires or moving pipes. The worst part is that the floor above is now very bouncy as a single mom of 4 kids they run around alot. Can you tell me if this will work? If not what can I do short of selling a child to pay for it. ; ) Diane Hi Diane, Don't sell any kids, we can fix this!! Could you measure, for me the length of this joist that is damaged and the ceiling height under it. What I have in mind is to scab a joist under it supported by 3/4" plywood scabs, but I need to know the length so I can determine the size of joist required. Also, what is the entire length of this joist between its supports - the wall or the beam holding it up? I'll send you a drawing of what to do, but first the answers to my questions. Dave Dave, My children thank you ;) This beam is right in the middle of the basement. The joist runs from cement wall to cement wall (1939 home) stuck in the concrete wall. From wall to wall it is 170". It is a 2x8 beam and is 86" from basement floor. The biggest worry I have is that it is not supported by anything and is surrounded by heating ducts and wiring. Hard to get at, and that was my reason for thinking of jacking up an iron beam about 10 feet long just next to it. Thanks again for all your help on this. Diane ********************************* Faith is more then just blind hope! ********************************* Is this what you had in mind with say a 4x4 angle iron slipped next to the joist and supporting it. At each end of the angle iron will be a 4x4 post, next to the concrete wall. Here is a drawing: How far from the bottom of this joist is the wires or pipes to prevent a 4" angle iron to slip up against it? Diagram of how to use an angle iron to repair a broken roof joist. Hi again, Diane, I just referred to your other email about the iron beam being 10' long. That would be good, better even, since it would shorten the span up. Dave I guess the biggest thing was I wanted to make sure that I wasn't crazy by doing that. Yes a 10' beam will be heavy but I think with the floor jacks it will be easier and the shorter span will hold up the portion of the floor that is the worst. Sorry to be such a pest about this silly little job ;) I think you have a good grasp of what has to be done. I would stress putting the iron beam under the existing broken joist rather than beside it, to bring it back to the original position, this would put less stress on the pipes as well. No bother, glad I can help. Let me know how you make out. Dave
hi Dave Manny here I just started my own construction company . i have a potential client who would like a deck built onto the back of his house. the dec is 30ft w by 20 ft also i have to build a ramp 8ftby 6 ft how much should i charge him if the materials are $3,847.00 and is there a patern for steps since the deck is 3ft high i need to cut my own steps . Hi Manny, I can't get into charges for an estimate. You should break each labor step down and figure how long it takes for each one to do. Don't just look at the whole job and try to estimate your time. I don't know what the average hourly rate is where you are. One thing I noticed when I was contracting is that almost 90% of the time my labor and materials were about the same. Don't go by that alone, though, since you may have a job that requires very expensive materials, like putting in a kitchen or bathroom. When estimating labor with the one step at a time method, make sure you add 10% for a continguency on top of labor as well as on top of materials. Some jobs, you get into pretty weird things which can't be forecast - you need that contingency factor. Make sure if you need to rent tools, etc this is added into the materials part. Also don't forget to add you time in estimating, delivery and pickup of materials as well as clean up and disposal. Checkout my Estimate breakdown sheet: For a small riser like you have you can get pre-cut stringers from the building supply stores. I prefer to make my own. Read my article on building stairs and get familiar with the stair calculator, real handy, because sooner or later, you will get a request to build stairs inside or out. Once you know the basics you've got it made. Besides if you run into a problem, I'm as near as your computer. Dave

I want to end this newsletter with a humorus story sent to me by my 11 year old grandson, Jesse:

Subject: Our RCMP are so talented.

Toronto Globe & Mail
March 30, 2004

In most of the Canadian Provinces, there is a policy of checking on any stalled vehicle on the highway when the temperatures drop in the single digits or below.

One morning in March 2004 about 3AM RCMP Constable Bill Wisen was called to respond to such a call of a car off the shoulder on the Trans Canada Highway outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Constable Wisen located the car still running, stuck in deep snow alongside the highway. Pulling in behind it with his emergency lights on, Constable Wisen walked to the driver's door to find an older man passed out behind the wheel and a near empty bottle of vodka in the seat.

He tapped on the window and the driver woke up, seeing the rotating lights in his rear view mirror and the RCMP Constable standing next to his car. The man panicked, and he jerked the gearshift into drive and hit the gas. The car's speedometer was showing 20-30-40 then 50 KPH, but it's still stuck in the snow.

Constable Wisen, having a sense of humor, began running in place next to the speeding but still stationary car. The driver was totally freaked thinking the officer is actually keeping up with him.

This goes on for about 20 seconds when Constable Wisen yelled at the man ordering him to "pull over". This man obeyed and turned his wheel and stopped the engine.

Once out of the car the drunken driver asked about the RCMPs' special training and just how can the Constable run 50 KPH. The man, Mr. Robert Duport of Medicine Hat was arrested still believing that an RCMP Constable had outrun his car.

Only in Canada, you say. Thanks, Jesse we all needed that!

Enjoy your summer with your kids and stay safe.


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