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Volume 3 Issue 4“Building Confidence”April 2005



Welcome to those new subscribers to our free newsletter and those who have joined our website. Spring is in full swing, now, Dan and I hope your renovations, repairs and new construction projects are going well.

In this newsletter I will discuss various projects that we worked on together, as you asked for my advice.

What's New

Dan and I have been very busy this month. Dan has been going over the entire website and re-vamping it with new technology, adding definitions we needed and speeding it up, even more. He showed me a report done by an independent agency which rated our website in the top 5% of the fastest loading websites on our planet. Well, done Dan! This apparently is a webmaster's nightmare, getting pages up and running on so many different browsers. Give it up for Dan, my brother and webmaster!!

I have been writing or actually typing new stuff to send Dan, throughout the month, my two fingers are shorter, I'm sure. Checkout these new articles: Remodeling 18: How to Hang a Pocket Door; Decks 3: Deck Stairs; Decks 4: Deck Stairs with Returns. I also added two new jigs: Jigs 7: Construction Compass and Jigs 8: Circular Saw Cutting Jig . Checkout the new tip added in Helpful Stuff 4: Some Helpful Tips, the last one is compliments of Damian, from Saltspring Island, BC, Canada. I even added a new table under Tables 12: Conversion of Inches to Decimal Foot. In surveying we usually take elevations in decimal feet, this table converts these decimal feet into feet and inches. Dan created a calculator for this page also, so you can calculate to or from decimal feet.

We finally put the Stair Calculator on the website for downloading for non-members for $9.99 which can be downloaded onto their own computer or taken with them to the job site on their laptop.

Of course, members of our website can continue to download this software and all our plans. Check it out under Downloads on the left column of the Home Page or at the bottom of every web page.

Ask Away!

The following are some of the projects that I have been working on with you, this past month:

Hi Dave,

First let me thank you for your site! It is the first tool I use when doing
home projects...
My question... How can I prevent exterior surface water from draining down
into the ground to a depth of 4'- 5' where it then finds it's way through the
mortar joints in my block foundation? My rain gutters are kept clean and
drain to a pit in the lower portion of my yard, but during heavy rain and
snow melt there is enough surface water to slide down into the soil.
Can I bury some type of drain pipe, stone and water-proof fabric that would
collect the water and drain it to the lower portion of my yard?
Warm regards, Norm

Hi Norm,

Thanks for the nice comments.

A concrete block wall used for a foundation wall should have a 1/4" layer of cement mortar applied to it, called parging. When dry, this surface is covered with a damproofing material either painted on or professionally sprayed on. Then 4" perforated pipe is laid below the slab level around the perimeter of the foundation leading out to a rock pit or drained away. This pipe is covered with 6" of drain rock. In some areas the pipe maybe eliminated and only the drain rock used. Check with your local building officials. They usually give a free handout of what is required in your area. This should have been done during the building process, before backfill was completed.


I hope your Dad was right and this isn't a stupid question!
Why is the term 'linear foot' used? Is there any difference in that and
just 'a foot' ( no not the one on the human body!! :-)? If so, what is
the difference??

Look forward to your reply.
Denise from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada

Hi Denise,

A linear foot refers to a foot in one dimension only, its length. We also have square foot and cubic foot, feet in two and three dimensions, as well. Going a bit further, we have a board foot which is a type of cubic measurement which is 12" wide, 12" long and 1" thick. Mainly in construction terminology we refer to a lineal foot as a one foot length of 2x4, 2x6, 1x4, or 1x6, etc. We don't hear the board foot talked about too much, although building supply dealers in dealing with large amounts of lumber, still refer to cost per 1000 feet board measure. Dan put together a conversion calculator which will actually convert between lengths of lumber to quantity of board feet.

So to answer your question (which is not stupid, in my opinion) no there is no difference in the linear foot and the foot, because when we use just the term foot we imply the length of the piece measured. We always specify square or cubic footage.



I have found in my bathroom ceiling that someone has cut out a section
of one of the 2x10 joists to install a shower trap in the bathroom above.

The room is 9' x 9'. The joists are 16" O.C.
The gap in the joist is about 24". It is currently cantilevered on a
curtain wall - not meant to take weight and that I want to remove.
I want to sister in another 2x10. Issues are:
1- I cannot remove the blocking from one of the supporting walls, so there
will only be a 2" overhang on the one ledger.
2- I don't know how long to make the sister joist or what size bolts to use.

Thanks for your help!

Hi Charles,

That's plumbers for ya!!

If you have room beside the cut joist, great. Install it beside the joist and just nail it in every 16" top and bottom, if you can get full bearing. Full bearing is at least 1 1/2" of the end of the joist on a bearing wall or ledger. With this joist replacing the original, the cut one won't be needed anymore, but I would leave it in and just nail the other one to it. If you can't get good bearing on both ends the sistered joist becomes like a scab over the cut joist. This is where the bolts come in. I would use at least 3/8" bolts top and bottom every 16" apart. The longer the joist to replace the cut one the better.

When you refer to the ledger is this a 2x4 nailed to the face of the studs or the top of a bearing wall?


Charles wrote:

Hi Dave - that was quick! Yeah, plumbers......
I meant a 2x4 on top of a bearing wall. This is the top of the first
(ground) floor, and above is the second (top) floor.
I think I will use bolts because I can't sister it exactly face to face,
due to the shower trap, I need to actually use other bits of 2x10
as spacers or shims which I will sandwich in between the old and new 2x10s.
I guess its important to used washers with the bolts to spread the load?

One last thing, I guess I will measure the existing 2x10 and try to get
the lumber yard to shave off a hair of the new one if the new is
slightly taller. I get 9" on the old one circa 1962.

Charles (San Francisco)

Hi Charles,

Yes, that's the idea with the spacers, use flat washers for sure. Yes rip the joist down to 9". In 1962 that joist probably started out 9 5/8", today it is more like 9 1/4", dry.


Charles wrote:

Dave is 3/8 really enough shear strength do you think?
I was thinking 1/2 inch or 5/8.


Hi Charles,

If the replaced joist has full bearing, nails would be enough just to hold the broken joist to it. If the new joist is a partial one then heavier bolts are required, 2 - 3/8" bolts every 16" should be sufficient, 1/2" is also good, 5/8" is overkill.


dave i am planning on building a 24x16 addition with a roof deck above
do you have any suggestion on roof construction, and roofing materials
in order to avoid any future leakage problems?

thanks sean

Hi Sean,

When you say roof deck, are you talking about a sun deck incorporating the roof? We refer to the roof deck as the sheathing under the shingles.


dave I am referring to an actual deck built on a flat or very slightly
pitched roof

Hi Sean,

Sounds like you are talking about a vinyl deck which is roof quality, being a bit heavier material than a standard deck covering. I have this decking on a deck off my kitchen which acts as a roof for a part of my built in garage, below. The slope on the deck or roof should be at least 1/4" per foot. This is a very good way of waterproofing a deck with "living quarters" under it. It has been there since 1992 when I built the house and has not given me any trouble. I got a dealer to install this himself. Check out what's available in your area for costs, etc.



I would like to install a prefab fireplace on an existing 4" slab.
This will be a metal firebox with wood framing around it. My question
is can I put it on the existing slab if I'm also going to make it a
stacked stone front (from floor to ceiling ---8 feet high,
about 6 feet wide). Or could the 4" slab crack with this additional weight?

Also was wondering about tempered glass. I have a screened in porch
where I want to put windows and a patio floor where the screens are.
Besides the patio door glazing, do any of the windows have to be
tempered glass? (I live in Georgia, if this matters)

Thanks a bunch,


I would think that the 4" slab was designed for the hearth and the extra load from the rocks would crack it. Maybe get the advice of a local bricklayer. He may suggest an angle iron attached to the chimney face to support the rock.

The glass would have to be tempered or safety glass if they are used for a railing system around an elevated deck, 6' above the ground or more.


Hello Dave,
I have a barrel, a very small one and the rings for the top and bottom
are missing, as you know they are tapered, I have the flat stock to cut
them I just don't know how, can you help me?
David B

Hi David,

That's a tough one. I'm a carpenter, not a cooper. Try to measure the top and bottom circumference of the rings and cut the ring where it joins together on an angle. Then weld it. I think this should give it a twist when installed in the right place so it will fit the taper.

I've never done anything like this before. You probably know more about it than I do.


Well, that concludes this issue of the Newsletter, hope it gives you an idea of what we do here at and how we can help with some of life's little problems during your renovation experiences. Thanks for the questions and comments.


PS Let your do-it-yourself friends know about us!

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