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Volume 8 Issue 3“Building Confidence”March 2010



Welcome to another newsletter from, the website that builds confidence.

What's New

Dan, my brother and webmaster, has been working hard on updating our website. He edited two videos for you.

Ask Away!

Here are some of the questions I have received from our readers this month:

For installing 2 1/4 x 7/16" casing and 3 1/4 x 5/16" base and
3/4" quarter round, What size and length of air gun nails would you
recommend? I plan to use a finish nail gun. Should I use one size on
the thicker part of the casing and another on the thinner side?
Do I need top and bottom nails for both?
I assume that if I need a top nail for the base I will need to find a
stud and then nail every 16 inches. (True?)
Do you always put the base up 1/2" or does this vary depending on the
carpet thickness?
For ceramic tile floor should I put the base in after the floor or is
there a standard height for this?

Hi Mark,

For casing I use 18 gauge x 2" air nails. In the base I go about halfway up and at a slight angle into the bottom plate. For a tall base, over 4", you need 2 nails, 1 into the plate and 1 into the stud, like you said. For a half jamb of 1 1/2", for a bifold door, change your nails to 1 1/2 for the casing through it, 2" through the wall. For casing I put 2 nails in side by side, 1 1/2" into the jamb and 2" into the wall. Space the nails out for the base and casing about 16" apart. Be careful with the nail through the casing into the jamb so it doesn't come out the side of the jamb - that's why I go with 1 1/2" here.

I usually put the base up 1/2" before the carpet. I've never run into a situation where I needed to lift it higher. Put the base on after ceramic tile or vinyl or hardwood, etc.

Always put the nail through the flat part of the base or casing rather than through a Vee or ridge. This makes it easier to fill and sand.


Hi Dave, love your site, and can't tell you how often I have referred
to it for great info. I am in the process of planning a garage addition
to our lake house. It will be 30 feet deep, 22 feet wide, tied into our
existing house. My FIRST questions is this: the architect has planned
102 inch walls, all 2 X 6, to meet the present wall height of the house.
The foundation height is 4 inches below present floor height of the
house. I was wondering if I could put a double plate on the foundation,
using a treated 2 x 6 on the foundation and then an untreated second
plate on top. I could use 12 or 14 inch anchor bolts to catch the double
plates. What do you think?
Thanks, Bob

Hi Bob, thanks for the email.

Yes, you could do what you suggest with the double plate on the bottom. You could just bolt the bottom plate down as usual, then drill holes for the top double plate and nail the two together. Another option for the sill plate, rather than pressure treated, is to place a non-treated 2x6 on a sill gasket. This not only keeps the wood sill off the concrete, it also fills in any gap between the two. This is acceptable to the building code and is the most common practice.

For a garage you want to match the ceiling height not the floor height, right? Why don't you put on a single sill plate and adjust the exact length to match the ceiling in your stud lengths. You need to cut them out of 2x6x10', anyway. With the 4" added onto the 102" of the ceiling height of the house = 106". You need studs of 101.5, right? With a double plate on the top and a single plate for the sill = 4.5". Am I figuring this out correctly?


Hey Dave

Has "Spring sprung" in BC yet? [British Columbia - Canada's westernmost
province north of and bordering Washington, Idaho and part of Montana]

Just doing some planning for a house we are breaking ground on in a
couple weeks. My lumber yard is now selling an OSB stair stringer and
tread material by Weyerhauser, "iLevel". Available in 1 1/4" x 11 1/2"
for stringers and 1" x 11" for treads. Have you any experience
building stairs with this stuff. Obviously no good for exterior
application, but aside from that... would you have any hesitations using
it? Seems to be tough for us to get good 2x12 Fir for stringers, so
the engineered "wood", has an appeal in terms of straightness and
stability, etc.


Hi Richard,

Yes, Spring has sprung, actually saw a robin today while having breakfast. It has been 10 degrees C for a while with 12 and 13 last week.

The only thing I have against OSB stringers is that OSB and MDF don't hold the nails in very well in the end grain. So to nail the treads on use construction adhesive, such as PL 400, along with nails. Yes, the straightness and stability far outweigh the lack of nailing strength which is corrected by using PL 400. Yes, not to be used outside.

When I framed new construction I preferred using plywood for subfloor and stair treads rather than OSB. We frame in such wet weather, here on the coast, and the OSB tends to soften up on the edges and mushrooms when pounding the T&G together. The plywood is so popular here that the price is very competitive. We also use the PL 400 with plywood.

My experience in OSB is in sheathing and engineered beams, where we don't nail into the end grain.


Hi Dave, I'm installing a light in my closet and would like to put in
a door jamb pressure switch. Everything I've seen out there is 10amp.
Will this cause problems if my light source is coming from a 15 amp


A 10 amp switch is okay for a single or multiple closet light up to 1200 Watts, as long as it is connected properly.



This is a 3 part question. I am turning an attic into a room and installing
a staircase. I cut out the ceiling and the floor joists are only 2X6's but
had 1X6 wood subfloor on top and bottom of joists with 1/4" sheetrock under
the wood underneath.
1. Do I need to add some extra support at the top floor to attach the
Stringers to? I was planning on attaching the stringers to it and putting
the studs at 3 to 4 points under the outer stringer and then close that in
sheetrock. What do you think?
2. I am just a tad confused on the stair skirt. Do you notch that out as
well like the stringers and set on top or just attach the full piece with
out cuts on the side of the stringer and attach to the studs behind the
3. Lastly, How do you attach the balusters to the treads properly?


1. Yes, you need to add a support for the stringers at the floor, riser. Here is a drawing:

Diagram of securing stair stringer to a box joist or header.

This is a good place for a closet.

2. Attach the skirt to the side of the stringer, then fasten the unit to the wall. Put some 2x4s on the flat under the stringer as well, so you don't just rely on screws through the stringer to hold up the weight.

3. This is covered in my article:

Let me know which way you want the balusters, if you have any further questions. Also, questions and answers on stairs:

Be aware that the 2x6 joists were originally installed to hold up a ceiling and not a floor. Be sure that the span of floor is not too much for 2x6 floor joists.


I'm redoing our carpeted stairs with oak treads and popular risers, the
balcony will be hardwood flooring and using nosing around the opening
(under the hand railing and on the top landing). What is the best method
to fasten the nosing pieces to the subfloor? What is the best method to
fasten the oak treads to the plywood sub treads?


Hi Ed and welcome to our website,

Glue (Carpenter's Yellow Glue) and nail the nosing and treads to the subfloor. Use 3" galv. finish or casing nails to hold down the nosing if it is separate from the tread, nailed into the stringer. There is a lot of strain on a nosing, so it should be fastened well. The treads can be nailed and glued with about 2" galv. nails. Nails are easier to fill than screws and hold just as well when the glue drys. I try to find a dark spot of the grain, especially in oak, to place the nail. Then set the nail with a slotted screw driver, matching the direction of the grain. When filled it blends better with the grain rather than a round spot from a nail set.

More on this in this article:

In our articles, notice that some words are highlighted/underlined. These are links to our dictionary for the word's definition. Also notice the small "Search" box in the upper left above the article. This will search for keywords on our website, including articles, plans and newsletters, if you are looking for a particular subject. Explore, enjoy and ask when needed.

Thanks for the interest in our website.


New Member here. Good site. Question regarding header for new door:
Rental house has a small sunroom add-on, concrete slab, vinyl siding over
wood studs, and flat, slightly sloping roof.
The room has a short ceiling. I want to install a sliding patio door in one
exterior wall in place of existing 4' wide window - it is not the wall that
carries the ends of the roof rafters, but the wall that is parallel to the
rafters. Rafters cover about a 10' span.
With the short ceiling, I don't have room for a normal sized header over
the door (following rule of thumb of inch/foot of span). Top of door will
be same height as top of window. Since that is not the "end" wall, can I
get away with a smaller header - 2 x 4 - and install extra reinforcing
"king/jack" studs along length of that end rafter to carry load?
Live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so rare accumulation of a foot of snow on roof.
Thanks for help!

Hi and welcome,

The gable end may act as a bearing wall to the extent of supporting the ridge. For a 10' span, the rafters support most of the weight. The ceiling joists should be supported on the same wall as the rafters. The sheeting of the gable end, over the wall, if tied into the wall, properly, acts as a huge beam and helps support the roof to some extent. So to answer your question, yes, use a double 2x4 as a header for the patio door. Nail the existing sheeting well to the new header. This will help support it, as well.

Thanks for the interest in our website.


I have a curved wall (38" Radius) that I need to put baseboard on
but I can't get the board to bend that far. I am using 3/8" x 3 1/4"
ogee oak base. I have tried curf cutting (even down to every 1/4".
I tried just wetting the board and it ended up warping (bowing in
at the middle of the board) which caused my curf cuts to break
through the front. I have not been able to find a plastic base with
real wood laminate in this size. They only seem to have the
1/2" x 4 1/4".


This is a situation where you need to steam the wood. Check out this page:

Use what you have around the house for the steam box. It doesn't have to be a pipe. Dad made his large steam box out of wood, lined with poly. Yours will only be temporary, so don't put too much time on it. You will need to leave the oak base in there for at least 20 minutes. Have everything ready for you when you take the base out. It will cool off quickly. When the wood is steamed it is quite soft and should bend around the wall, easily. No need to back notch the wood.


Well that's it for this month. Thanks again for your emails, questions and support.

Any comments on our new videos? I'm a carpenter not an actor, as you can see! I think Dan did a good job of the editing.


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