Subscribe/unsubscribe to this free newsletter from Dave's Shop. (You don't need to be a member of to receive these free newsletters, but only members can access our library of earlier newsletters.)

Select a newsletter to view:

Volume 6 Issue 10“Building Confidence”October 2008



Welcome to another Building Confidence newsletter.

Ask Away!

I've had a busy month answering questions. I've also been busy doing custom plans. Thanks for your input.

These are some of those questions I answered this month.

Dave: we are getting ready to put down a new floor in the kitchen, we
want to use the "pergo type" [ not specific to that brand] laminate.
What do you recommend, glue or glueless joints? any other info is

Hi Rick,

I've done both and prefer the glueless, Clic brand floating floor. Watch for those offshore brands that are cheaper than the rest. They may give you more trouble than they are worth. I've seen some pretty bad laminate glueless - not snap together well and the tongue and groove breaks apart. It is quite simple to lay this stuff down. Follow the manufacturers instructions. Buy the packages at least 24 hours before installation and put them in the room to acclimatize. For installation on concrete use the styrofoam pad.


Hi Dave,
My name is Mike and I am a construction trades instructor at a technical
college in Utah.  I am interested in using your site and or a printed
version in my classroom.  My questions are, (1) do you publish a paper
version or do I just print off the web, (2) do I need some type of written
permission in order to use your info in my class or do you not allow this
to be done, (3) if you have a textbook of some type can I get a desk copy
to look at in order to see if I want to teach the entire book or just
portions of it. I have plenty of textbooks now that teach the fundamental
of the various trades but am looking for more text on terminology.
Thanks for your time

Thanks, Mike for the email.

Please consider this email as my permission to use the articles on for use in your classroom. I retain copyright of all the articles, plans and content on the site and would appreciate you giving us credit in your printed copies.

The best way is to print directly from the website. I don't have any textbooks out there, but have been compiling our content into ebooks, hopefully ready in the near future. Checkout our Dictionary, if you haven't done so already. I add more terms as needed for clarification of new articles and plans.

Thanks for your interest in our website.


Dave, I just stumbled upon your site today as I looked for some outdoor
stair building information.  Great website!  Really nicely done.
I've looked through the questions about stairs but didn't see anything
regarding my particular scenario.  Maybe it would also help someone else.
My front "porch" is really just a stoop.  It's 5ft x 4ft and I need to
replace the stairs.  My problem is placement of the stringer furthest
from the house.  The stoop is attached to the house, and extends out 5
feet where its 2x8 outer joists (the perimeter) sit on 1ft x 1ft brick
columns at each corner.  The perimeter 2x8s are flush with the outside
of the brick, so I don't know how to attach the stringer there.
Someone before me has the top of the stringer sitting on a 4x4 post which
is flat against the bricks, but I feel that there has to be a better way
to do this so that that extra visible support is not there.
Hopefully I've painted a decent picture of the setup.  What is the best
method to hang a stringer like this?
Thank you.  Greg

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the nice comments.

Usually, we support the stringer, if unable to tie to the box joist, by installing a 2x4 or 4x4 as you said the previous guy did. You can go a bit further and accentuate the 4x4 by continuing it up the side to make a handrail. In this case the 4x4 is notched 1 1/2" to go under the stringer, the rest forming the handrail post or the 4x4 is attached to the side of the stringer with a ledger, as shown, fastened to the post to support the stringer.

Another idea is to cover the supports under the stringer with siding or lattice.

Here is a drawing:

Deck stairs showing handrail cap, pickets or pales, decking, stair stringer, scab, ledger, post, footing, ground grade, concrete or pressure treated wood pad, stair tread, beam and joist with measurements.


looking for plans for a wall stud jig, I have seen some different versions:
plastic, wood and medal. just wondering If you can help with were we can
get them

Hi Rob,

I never heard of a wall stud jig. If you elaborate a bit, maybe I could come up with something for you.


Hi Dave
they are cut to 16"or 24" spacing and u just advance it down the wall with no
measuring, for accurate centers all the time.
other then that I don't know much more

Okay, thanks, Rob.

I searched the web, but nothing. In your travels, if you come across one of these jigs, I'd be interested in learning more. A picture would be great.


Hi Dave,
I always read your answers to people questions and read some of them to
my husband, Roger.
He has been gutting and redoing our small Cape Cod home here in Pennsylvania
(one room at a time) the last 15 years.
He also built a two tier deck out of TimberTek and used stainless steel
screws. We have plenty of lights for entertaining (lampposts on the corners
and fancy sconces on each side of the deck doors, and we have an exterior
vertical outlet next to the doors.
He wants to put in a recessed exterior electrical outlet in the floor of
the deck so we can work/play on our computers. He's not sure how to protect
it from rain and snow...  He doesn't want to put a vertical outlet on a post
and run a cord to the table because of the trip hazard.
Any suggestions...or is this a nightmare in disguise?
Thanks for sharing all your experience and hard work...
Ilene & Roger, Exton, PA

Hi Irene and Roger,

Sounds like Roger is doing lots of work.

Here is a picture of a floor receptacle that has a gasket under the plate. You may have seen these in commercial installations. They are not cheap, but should do the job. This one is a Leviton brand.

Photo of a floor electrical receptacle.

Hope this helps,


I'm going to build a shelf in my garage to store some wood.
Shelf will be 48" X 96".  It will need to bear a low of weight.
How long and what angle do I cut my support braces that go from
the shelf to the wall below the unit?? Is there a formula to use??

The minimum angle should be a 45. So if the shelf is 15" wide the lower leg is 15" below the shelf. With the brace cut at a 45 on each end.

Here is a drawing:

Diagram of a shelf brace with measurements.

Notice the horizontal 2x4 on the wall that the brace is notched into. This acts as extra support.


Hi Dan,
I am sorry to read about the restrictions (Journeyman and Foreman
[these old membership levels discontinued in December 2009, so ALL
members can ask Dave questions]) on memberships.
But I do thank you for allowing your info to be read and searched on
through google. I am disabled and on a small fixed income.
I've worked 2 years to get the insurance company to help pay for a
power wheelchair. And now I need to build a deck and a ramp.
I pride myself in trying to do these projects myself, though driven
by financial reasons more than pride. Previously with my manual chair,
we had 2 stools set up (one on the concrete porch outside the door,
and one on the sidewalk below the concrete porch) where I would
hop from chair to chair as my disabled wife got my manual wheelchair
out of the house. This won't be possible with new chair.
I had hoped to ask Dave about a sloping concern with the sidewalk.
My North Facing concrete porch is 6.5 inches below my threshold.
The concrete sidewalk is 7.5 inches below the concrete porch on the
East end and 6.5 inches below the concrete porch on the West end.
While I haven't put a level to either, I know when it rains water
pools at the east end of the sidewalk against my house foundation
(block). Even though my porch has a small overhang, hard
northwesterly's do blow up onto the porch and I've
never seen such pooling or indication of the porch being off level.
Though with my house facing North, it usually always shaded on the
porch and sidewalk, thereby taking some time for water to dry up
after a rain. I hope to build a flat deck (treated lumber) covering
the 140" x 60" concrete porch AND the 140" x 52" parallel sidewalk
that is even with the my front door threshold. Then build steps on
the West end and a "L" shape ramp coming off the Northside with
a short left turn at the bottom.
My question I've spent 2 days searching the internet is I am concerned
about moisture under the deck in both the porch area but particularly
the east side of the sidewalk area where water pools with a long hard
rain. I am planning to try and run my decking east west (140 inch) as
one single length. That would then require my stringers to run
north-south. With an elevation difference of only 6.5 inches between
the porch and threshold , the porch stringers would need to be 2x6
(unless I notch out 2x 8 or 2x10's, but I fear the notched out section
may eliminate the wood treatment part and as the porch stringers would
have to sit directly on the porch, it may invite rot, so this is up
in the air yet). I am concerned about both the possibility of mold
growing, and of what the moisture will do to the treated wood under
the deck. I did see a suggestion in your sight to one other question,
to put asphalt shingle piece under the wood (between the wood and
the concrete) but it seemed to qualify if you were not using treated
lumber. So I am not clear if its required with treated lumber.
I had also thought about drilling holes or v notches in the 2x6 stringers
on the porch to allow any water between the stringers to move verses
being stagnate. But I am not sure how deep in the wood the treated
lumber goes, and if I notch the wood, I fear I might expose untreated
section allowing for more rapid rotting to take place. I wasn't sure
if on the sloped sidewalk if I should try and pour some type of skim
coat to level it to prevent water sloping (but feared any skim coat
would just break up with the weight of the decking stringers/beams or
posts) I also looked at underdeck water systems (they appear to be
designed to allow for dryspace under a deck that might come off a 2nd
floor), but they are expensive. If you know of where I might search to
find these answers it would be helpful. I might suggest you missing out
on a market, of home do it yourselfers by limiting your membership?
Again I appreciate the opportunity to see some of Dave's answers and
I thank you in advance if you can direct me to any place that might be
able to help.

Hi Keith,

Pressure treated wood (PTW) is guaranteed not to rot for 40 years. You can bury it in dirt, pour concrete around it and lay it on concrete without protection. It won't encourage mold, either. It is approved in my part of the world for house foundations. You are correct for not wanting to notch out any part of it, for then it loses its protection. Always put the cut end on the dry side, although you can purchase the chemical separately and paint it on the ends, which we seldom do.

Don't get pressure treated wood and treated wood confused. I was in Home Depot the other day and noticed treated wood, almost a stain applied on the surface. This is not the pressure treated stuff that I'm referring to.

We don't want standing water around a foundation or under a deck, pressure treated or not. If I was doing your deck, I would apply a topping to your low sidewalk area. If you rough up the surface of the existing concrete, removing all the laitance or cream of the cement which is floated to the top when finishing, you should have a good base for a topping to stick to. Topping mix comes in pre-mixed bags, as does concrete mix and masonry mix. It should be at least 1" thick. Try to slope the topping away from the house at about 1/4" per foot. This should be the same slope as your deck, as well. You won't notice this slope when walking on it, but will shed the water away from the house and keep it from pooling on the deck, whether it is decking lumber or plywood with a covering.

I don't agree with you about restricting our membership. We have just recently opened our website up to everyone and anyone. We restrict only the viewing of my plans and the Ask Dave feature which we charge for. Membership to our highest level is only $50 per year, hardly a restriction to most people. My brother and webmaster, Dan and I are the only people associated with this website, that is, we do all the work and pay for all the expenses ourselves. Yes, we get hate mail from people who believe the internet should be free, but we get more accolades from members and others we have encouraged and helped along the way. Like any responsible business we believe in giving back to our community. We don't charge anything for students or apprentices or those in need. If you would like to get free access to our plans, I invite you to simply request this and Dan will set it up. We have a plan on our site that shows a wheelchair ramp and an accessible article on the building codes of a ramp which I believe would be helpful to anyone building a ramp. Keith, if you find it difficult to raise the funds for the cost of materials for this deck and ramp, maybe contact a local service club. I was a member of the Kiwanis Club for 26 years until I moved. We helped the elderly, children and others in need in our community. We always were impressed with those who requested our funds who were willing to help themselves, as well.

Well, I'd better get back to answering my other emails. Hope I've answered your questions.


 You are a very kind and generous man.
I was under the impression when I visited your site that membership was
only for Foreman or Journeymen. Thus forbidding access by layman trying
to do home projects, etc.
 That must have been an oversight in my reading. That was why I made the
 comment about limiting membership access.
My point of being disabled was not of one seeking free hand outs, but to
try and convince you that not everyone can be a journey man or Foreman
and you should not limit your membership to just those people.
But as I said, I must have misread your website, I do apologize.
As stated in my previous email, I am very grateful you make your
information available via the search engines. [update December 2009 --
Foreman membership has been discontinued. Now ALL members can ask Dave
 I want to thank you for taking the time to provide me with the details
I do not fault you at all for charging for your service advice and
knowledge. Membership to be able to have access to your lifetime of
learning is a great process and great idea.
Attorneys do it daily for giving people information they have learned in
their trade. Why should others not be allowed the same in our society?
Your offer for free access is very commendable, gracious and an outstandingly
generous gesture.
While my funds are fixed and limited, I would not feel right taking you up
on your offer. I have trouble accepting help.
I've always said if you think you are a person with troubles, watch TV or
read a newspaper to realize others may and do have it worse.
I believe in God, and trust he will provide if I truly need something.
I am thankful I am able to get the power chair, and trust me the work I had
to put in battling the insurance company, Makes the efforts to try and build
this deck and ramp almost seem minor. Ha !
 I hope my research has covered all the planning I may need, as I have almost
 finished my design of the deck / ramp.
 If Dan has time and would like to forward the ramp information you speak of,
 I would most appreciate it. But do not feel committed, for you have done a
 lot and its truly appreciated.
 May the Lord be with you, watch over you and your family, Bless those that
 come in contact with you and reward you in heaven for all your Great Deeds.
 Peace be all around you.
 Thank you


Hi Keith,

Thanks for your nice email. I misunderstood your first email. Thanks for pointing out the Journeyman, Foreman issue. I never thought of it that way. Before we gave free access to our website, our first level was called Apprentice, which had access to only the articles. Maybe Dan and I should re-think the names of our two levels. [update December 2009: we have discontinued the different levels of membership. Now ALL members have access to Dave.]

I too am a Christian and try to follow the examples and teachings of Jesus Christ. Here is the plan of the ramp that I mentioned, hope you can get some ideas from it. Please, don't hesitate to ask if you need any further assistance.


Well, what better email to end on than that one.

Thank you all for your emails and support.

Dan and I hope we have built up your confidence, a little, so get that project done.


< previous next >