Building Confidence

Volume 8 Issue 5
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to our newsletter about home improvement questions.

What's Happening

Our fun quiz, found on our website at, is going well. We have had lots of responses and comments. Thanks for those.

Our weekly tips are going well, after a shaky start. Dan made an error in his programming, which sent multiple copies of them to almost everyone. Dan was appropriately mortified, but discovered that our members are the nicest, most understanding people anywhere. Thank you for your nice comments of encouragement to him!

Checkout our new section: Feature Article of the Month, taken from our website, of course, at the end of our Newsletter.

A Tip

Make a feather board to keep pieces tight against a saw fence when ripping. Also make a push stick to save fingers when ripping narrow pieces on a table saw.

Ask Dave!

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

Hi. I'm replacing a garage exterior door. No jambs. The door hangs on the doorway framing.I took the old door in to a reputable door shop and they made the new door to match the old one. New hinges, different hole pattern on new hinges. How would you go about hanging this door and could you do it by yourself or need a helper.

What is the size of your door? What kind of hinges?


It's a 2-6 door and its got (2) 3 1/2" butt hinges. It also opens out rather than in.

Okay, the door is flush on the outside of the jamb, since it opens out. The jamb should be flush or proud of the siding or exterior finish. The butt hinges are also offset past the door or jamb by about 5/16".

Start by putting the door in place in the jamb. Wedge it in place, leaving about 1/8" at the top for clearance, making sure the center of the latch pin fits into the center of the strike plate. Mark the position of the hinges on the jamb to match that on the door. Mark the top and bottom of each hinge, very accurately with a sharp pencil. Measure the offset of the hinges on the door and mark them the same on the jamb. Trace the shape of the hinge on the jamb, using the marks and correct offset. Chisel the hinge dado only the depth of the hinge. Install the hinges on the door with the pin upright. Remove the pins and install the correct hinges on the jamb. This is where a helper comes in handy. Hold the door in place and get the helper to put in the pins. Do the top pin first then tap the bottom hinge up or down with a hammer to get it lined up and insert the pin.

If the jamb doesn't have stops in place, add them loosely against the shut door, allowing for any weatherstrip to be applied.

Hope this helps,


Great site. What distance do I need from bottom of stairs to a door.(interior) I'm in Nanaimo.

[Nanaimo, BC is about 1 hour drive north of where I live.]

From the bottom step to the door swing clearance has to be a minimum of 300 mm = 11.81". The door swings over a landing which is the width of the stairs, square.


Sorry, it's me again. Haven't built a house in about 15 years. Codes have changed a lot. I really appreciate your site. I am building for my daughter and of course there are changes. I am stumbling along a bit in the dark. Anyway is there a minimum height for crawl space??

Hi, no problem. Minimum height of structure above the ground is 450 mm = 17.72".


Dave, minimum step down from main house to exterior deck, and deck slope 1/4 inches per foot??
We usually drop the deck about 2" below the sub-floor. There is no code on this. The slope for a deck is 1/4" slope per foot.


Hey Dave Wanted to ask if you've had any experience building without basements in Prairie climate. I realize some type of foundation needs to be in place below frost, but wondering if piles could work. Just looking at a seniors townhouse concept, everything on one level. Basements can be nice for storage, but they are expensive, and seniors living alone, falling down basement stairs, etc. is something maybe to avoid. Wondering if a slab on grade with supporting concrete piers could work. Then again, grade issues have to be all resolved before pouring the slab. Maybe trenching for a frost wall on footing with an engineered floor over a "crawl space"? Trying to keep costs down. I really like ICF, and it is a superior product, but expensive. Land costs aren't a major factor here, and I would like to avoid a 2 story plan given the target market, so need to have a good foundation that won't add a lot to the cost per sq. ft. By the way, I did get the deck/ramp project.... went with 6x6 upright posts under the deck. Looks like they could have an elephant dance on the deck, but won't have to worry. Thanks again for your input on that project. Cheers, Richard Herbert SK

Hi Richard,

Thanks for the update on the deck/ramp job. Glad it went well. Elephants are good!!

Yes, I had a contract in the late '70s to build a 96,000 square foot foundation for a warehouse building, in Fort McMurray, Alberta. It had pilings (concrete sonotube columns) every 8', if I remember correctly, with 2' high, grade beams on top of them. Some jurisdictions allow slabs on grade in the interior, others don't. I built a slab on grade in Williams Lake, BC with winter temperatures to minus 40, frost depth of 8'. The perimeter depth was 2'. It was for a garage and shop, heated when I used it as a shop. I had no problems with frost heaves or the like. With the first snowfall of the season, I would bank up the snow against the foundation, which may have helped too. I noticed the frost did not penetrate the ground as deep when we had a good layer of snow on it prior to the temperatures going way down.

Some jurisdictions require the normal footings at the required depth then go with a slab on grade over them or an insulated crawl space of wood. Wood is nicer for a floor being easier on the feet. When putting in the foundation walls, to keep the floor lower to the grade, especially for seniors, you can have the foundation wall split to have half the concrete going up to meet the top of the subfloor. The outside wall would then rest on the top of the concrete wall rather than the top of the subfloor. The other half of the foundation wall is lowered to form a ledge for the joists and box joist for the floor to sit on.


Feature Article of the Month

Basics 4: How to Make a Straight Cut with a Circular Saw

The circular saw is a tool that is supposed to help you cut wood in a straight line. However, without a guide, this is very difficult. That's why someone invented the table saw.

First, with any tool, make sure your circular saw is sharp. If the blade is dull or chipped on one tooth, it will pull to the left or right. If the set on the blade is not wide enough for the material you are cutting, it will heat up, warp and do unpredictable things. For wet lumber you need a blade with a wide set or the blade will bind.

I remember on one job, The Canadian Syncrude (Oil Sands) Project in Northern Alberta, the company was to supply all the power tools and the carpenters were to supply their own hand tools. My partner, Kelly Johnson, was cutting some form ply with a circular saw for the huge forms we were pre-fabricating and he looked at his saw cut in the middle of the board. The cut was all over the place, off one side of the line and then off the other. He felt the circular saw blade and it was hot. It was a thin, cheap, dull blade. He took it off the circular saw and chucked it as far as he could into the bush, uttering some rude comments to goad it on its way. He turned around and right behind him was the superintendent of the job, glaring at him... read more

Almost the End

Well, that's it for another month. Hope you are enjoying our website and newsletter and one tip at a time.

Thanks for the emails, comments and questions.

Until next time,


(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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