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Volume 4 Issue 11“Building Confidence”November 2006



Dan (my brother and webmaster) and I hope this newsletter finds you well and ready for some time off with your family and friends during this upcoming Christmas season. Welcome to our new subscribers and those still with us from January, 2003.

What's New

We experienced a very disturbing disruption of our website for about 6 days in December caused by a very unprofessional, unfriendly and brutally overbearing Internet business called We had our domain name registered with them for several years and they completely shut us down for no reason except to penalize one of the websites that Dan had registered with them over a misunderstanding that could have been resolved amicably and easily with normal neighbourly communication. Since was registered under Dan, it and all his websites were shut down. We were registered until February, 2007, and Dan had been a regular customer of theirs for years, but that didn't seem to matter. I would caution any of you that have dealings with, or if you know someone who does, to seriously think about registering your domain names with a decent, fair and trustworthy firm like (which we have switched to). Do a google search on registerfly and you'll see what I mean.

On a happier note, I was checking out our membership list to our website the other day and was overwhelmed by the number of countries represented by our members, past and present: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, India, Italy, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Cayman Islands, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States, Virgin Islands, Vanuatu and South Africa. Wow!! Just thought I'd share that with you.

Last Minute Gift Idea

I know it's pretty late, but if you're stuck without a gift for someone, you can quickly purchase a Gift Certificate of access to our site for a year or for three months. This includes being able to download all our plans, full access to all our site's articles and calculators as well as being able to get answers directly from Dave.

Ask Away!

Well onto some of the questions from our members during the month and my responses to them:

Hi I am building the 12 by 16 shed with loft storage.
I want to build an inside access to the loft. What should I do
to my rafter spacing is 16 on center. How do i sure up the loft floor?


The best way to access the loft through the ceiling is to frame in an access hatch. This requires that the joists on each side of the hatch are doubled up and the ends of the hatch framing is tied into these double joists with joist hangers.

Here is a drawing of a stair opening in a floor.

Drawing of the opening in a floor for stairs to go down to the next story giving details of how to construct it.

A hatch opening is done the same way. Notice the header that is single and doubled. This depends on the length of the tail joists. As a general rule, if the tail joists are over 6' long the header is doubled. Support these headers to the doubled up ceiling joists with single or double joist hangers, as the case may be. The minimum size of an access hatch in a ceiling is 20" x 28", of course you can build it as large as you want. For the cover just fasten a 1x2 ledger around the bottom of the headers and double joists, then cut a plywood piece to fit on top of this ledger, or leave it open.


Hello Dave, How are things up in Vancouver??  It's raining hard
down here.  After a beautiful summer, guess we just had to have
some wet stuff.  My question:  Do you have any idea on building
a "butcher block" table top?  I am planning a kitchen island
[on wheels] for my wife.  Approx dim:  44" X 30"; so the  top
will be a little bigger.  I am going "high dollar" making it out
of solid oak, so I want the top to look good.  Got any good

Kelly in Port Orchard, WA

Hi Kelly,

I just came back from Northern Mexico on a missions trip for our church. I got in Saturday night 2 hours late leaving Seattle, due to mechanical problems on our Horizon Air plane. I was glad it was our last leg. Boy, was it ever raining hard in Victoria when we landed!!

Butcher blocks are so named because of a bunch of blocks fastened together to form a large block, rather than made out of a solid piece of board. The blocks are all arranged so their tops are showing the end grain. You can checkerboard them by having the grain run in opposite directions, etc. The finish is just a mineral oil - no varathane or varnish on the cutting surface.

Hope this helps,


Dave, we are remodeling a 16x35 foot room addition.
The roof trusses span the 35' distance. There is one non-load
bearing wall we will have to move about 2 feet. This wall
divided the room at 14 feet from the end. Now it will be 12 feet
from the end. We are going to be adding another non-bearing wall
to make a bathroom. This wall will not go across the full 16 feet
but will be about 8' long. My question is about fastening the
non-bearing walls to the roof trusses. The walls will be
perpendicular to the trusses. Can we fasten the top plate of the
walls directly to the trusses or should we use slotted anchors?
I don't think the original walls are tied to the trusses with
slotted anchors. I think they are nailed.


Yes, it is okay to nail the trusses to the top of the wall when they are perpendicular to each other. In new construction they build a crown into the bottom chord of a truss, but after a year or so it usually settles down to the wall plates.

For walls that are parallel to the trusses, blocking is nailed between the trusses, flush with the bottom of the bottom chord. The trusses are then nailed to these blocks.



I have a hip roof on my house and I wanted to know if there is a
way to extend the ceiling height at one end of my house.  I want
to convert the garage into a bonus room and I would like to extend
the ceiling as high as I can without impacting the structural
integrity. I was told that a hip roof would not allow me to do it
that way.  The distance is approximately 20'X24'


Hi Paul,

Yes, there is not much you can do with a hip roof. Have you considered removing the hip roof on one end and replacing it with a scissor truss roof over the garage? This would give a lofted ceiling. You would have to take it back to the point of the hip attachments and have a gable end rather than a hip. This would depend on the layout of the existing roof, such as whether it is a cottage roof or intersecting hip, etc.



I am ready to install 1X5 inch pine tongue and groove
panelling on a ceiling. What type of nails do I use and
how to nail these in? I have a couple of fixtures and
skylights to go around, any tips?


Hi Ralph,

This is where an 18 gauge air nailer would come in handy!! By hand, use at least 1 1/2" finish or casing nails. Sometimes you can get a 1 3/4" or 2" with the same gauge as the 1 1/2". Try for the longest and thinnest nail. Start the first board with the groove against the wall. Face nail this first board at the back and toenail through the tongue. Nail the other boards through the tongue only. Don't use any glue since these will expand and contract. Make sure the water content of these boards is very low which they should be if T&G. Before starting to install the boards have them in the room for at least 48 hours to have them acclimatize to the conditions in the room. If packaged leave them in their package.

Cut around the fixtures, I'm assuming electrical boxes snug but not real tight. Around the skylights, install a casing or trim around the inside of the skylight as well as around the ceiling face of the skylight. You can rip the 1x5 into a trim for this purpose, taking off the tongue and groove. Nail these together leaving a reveal on the ceiling face as you would a casing around the door. Consider the jamb as the inside of the tunnel of the skylight with the trim being flush with the ceiling boards, then install the trim around the skylight on the face of the ceiling with a reveal.

Here is a drawing:

Diagram showing details of a skylight tunnel.


Have room for an 8 foot opening for a stair well.
What do you suggest? Total rise is 106.7". Floor thickness is 1"
Calculator shows stair opening in upper floor as 11 feet.
How would I determine an opening for a stair with a landing or
tapered stairs to change direction?


Hi Chuck,

If you are putting in a landing or winders in a set of stairs, the opening has to match the shape of the stairs. Usually on a standard set of stairs with an 8' ceiling the opening extends above the second step up from the bottom to give you a headroom of 80". If you go with a 180 degree landing the opening has to be twice the width of the stairs. Remember the landing takes up the same amount of run as the width of your stairs. If the stairs are 3' wide, the landing is 3'x 3', so this comes off the total run. A landing is considered one run unless in a 180 an extra step is included. The calculator only gives floor openings in a straight run.

It is always tough when you don't have enough run. Most of my stair questions are about this problem.

There are three ways to improve run:

  1. Remove the obstruction at the top of the stairs - that is remove some of the floor opening to extend the stairs more at the top floor.
  2. Remove the obstruction at the bottom of the stairs - that is remove a wall, header, duct, door, etc.
  3. Add a landing to change direction - watch for headroom, though, the opening matches the stair layout.

It is all about your priorities - keeping the door at the bottom or moving the door and wall to allow the stairs to have a decent rise and run combination for the proper angle. Maybe leave the door and get more run at the top by removing some of the floor.

One guy removed his furnace ducts so he could have a better set of stairs. Another guy took a section of exterior wall out and returned back into his basement - a bit extreme, but all about priorities.


I have had a pole barn style garage built and I am framing
up one end for an apartment for my aging mother.
The entire structure is insulated with app. 3" of
fiberglass with a plastic facing.  I have framed up 2x4
walls and I want to add more insulation to help with the
cold here in the mountains.  My concern is water
condensation within the wall.  I am afraid if I use regular
kraft faced batts that I will trap moisture between the two
vapor barriers.  Should I use unfaced batts or maybe drill
some holes in the top plate for moisture to escape??
Hope this explains my situation.  Thanks for all the good


Hi Dennis,

I would slit the existing plastic on the 3" insulation where ever you are going to put some added insulation. I would go with the batts without any kraft paper on them and then put on a 6 mil UV vapor barrier poly over the studs. No need to drill out the plates just slit the plastic facing between each joist space.


I am preparing to refloor a double wide mobile.
It has partical board flooring. I am going to install
some floating lock in laminate.
The construction of the manufactures flooring joists
is such that every 4th joists has a 1 by 3" on top of it,
then the partical board.  I guess they did this to
strengthen floor somehow. The problem is it is maybe 1/8
or perhaps 16th higher then the other joists.
Weird people. Anyway Question #1, Is it imperative or
important to install luan over the floor? I will be
installing good underlayment also.

Question # 2: Will this minor difference be OK and or
does leveling compound work on luan or partical board or
will I just be as I said, OK with the luan?

Hi Doug,

A laminate floor doesn't need luan or underlay as does a lino floor. The laminate floor should be installed with a 1/4" thick mat of styrofoam which acts as a cushion as well as a vapour barrier. Attach seams together with duct tape or equivalent. The more even the floor is the better. A 1/16" is not too bad, but 1/8" is getting to the threshold of having to fix it up first. If using floor leveling compound use the kind for floors not for concrete. I wouldn't waste my time with underlays for a laminate floor, unless more than 1/8" difference in places.


Dave: I was wondering...what kitchen cabinet do you think would
be best...a solid construction or using stiles and rails
for the construction? I think the solid construction
would be called a frameless one, right? I am confused.
Also, what type of wood would be best for the backing
and for the kitchen cabinet drawers? Thank you! Lisa

Hi Lisa,

I would go with the frameless kitchen cabinet these days. It is easier to get the cabinet hinges. Most boxes for the cabinets are made from 5/8" melamine unless they are high end ones of oak, etc. The cabinet drawers also are made of melamine. The cabinet drawer fronts and cabinet doors are usually made of paneled oak, molded plastic or painted MDF with a fancy profile.

Here is an article I wrote on this:


I have an older odd size copper pipe that is just a bit
bigger then 1/2 in. and significantly smaller then the
next size up, any sure fire way to attach a 1/2 in elbow
to this slightly bigger pipe?

Hi Doug,

It sounds like the pipe froze once upon a time. Copper pipe will swell a bit from freezing. Try to sand it down a bit with some emery cloth, just enough to get the fitting on. The pipe should be 5/8" outside.


Dave: I have a question about ceiling applications.
Out of the gypsum wallboard ceilings and the suspended
acoustical ceilings, which would be best for commercial spaces?
Also, which ceiling application is most effective in terms of
acoustics, reflection of light and the overall appearance out
of the ceiling applications available in the market today?
I have to do research on the various ceiling applications along
with interviewing a contractor so I thought I would ask you
first. : ) Thank you! Lisa

Hi Lisa,

In my opinion, the T-bar suspended ceiling is the best application for a commercial building. Here are my reasons:

  • Easy for removing panels to add wires, cables and repair plumbing and electrical, etc.
  • Easy for installing fluorescent light fixtures, heating and air conditioning registers, which fit standard t-bar openings.
  • Recessed lighting, pot lights are easy to install.
  • A wide range of acoustical panels are available, including vinyl and tin for better light reflection.
  • Easy to install and to drop to any height, with different panel profiles available.
  • The tiles are sound absorbent and fire rated.

Hope this helps,


Well, that's it for this month. Since the next newsletter will come in January, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.


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