Building Confidence

Volume 10 Issue 4
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter of questions from our members on their construction projects, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

Tip of the Month

When cutting a machine screw to length, thread on a proper size nut first, cut the screw and back off the nut which cleans the threads in the process: Ref: Jigs 8: Circular Saw Cutting Jig.

And a Bonus Tip:

An easy way to figure out the length of rail between two stiles. Place the two stiles together, edge to edge. Put your tape measure on the right side edge at the measurement wanted, say 13 15/32 and read off on the opposite edge what the measurement will be, as shown on the drawing: Cabinets 2: How to Build Face Frame European Cabinets.

Ask Dave!

Hi, I am trying to calculate sq footage of a floor plan that has a 1/8: = 1' scale. It measures 4 3/4" x 5". Can you tell me how to do this?

A scale of 1/8" = 1 foot. This means that a line measured in inches on the plan is 8 times smaller than what it shows full scale. Multiply the length of the line by 8.

4 3/4 = 4.75" X 8 = 38 feet; 5" X 8 = 40 feet. Just make sure that your measurements taken from the plan are in inches multiplied by 8 (for this scale), giving the answer in feet. Square footage is calculated: 38 x 40 = 1520 sq. ft.

Hope this helps,


I have to replace the stairs to my deck as the wood is rotting with artificial decking boards. After i bot and cut the boards i was advised that a third stringer would be required. I have the board but not sure how to measure, cut and make sure it is level with the two existing stringers. There are ten steps. This is new too me and would love any advice you may have to make this job go smooth.

Hopefully, you didn't install the stringers into the steps, yet. We usually layout one stringer, cut it out, dry fit it in place to be sure there are no mistakes and it fits okay, steps level, etc. Then we use this stringer as a template for the others - just trace around it on the new board. Then when we cut them out they are exactly the same. How wide are the steps, so I can tell you if you do indeed need a center stringer? And how thick are the treads?


How do I build a ledger for stringer that is only catching 1" of my rim joist.

I like to support the stringer as in the drawings below:

Diagram of securing stairs showing box joist or header with stair stringer fastened to it.

Or another option is to incorporate the handrail into the support of the stringer:

Handdrawn sketch of deck stairs showing deck, stair stringer, ledger with measurements.

Hopes this helps,


Hello Dave I have a set of stairs that have 69.5 height and 97.3/4 and I did 6 15/16 raise and 11" run and I have to raise the stringer about an inch off the landing to be level. what did I do wrong?

Did you cut the thickness of the tread off the bottom of the stringer? The top of the stringer should be installed from the top floor, at 1 rise down plus the thickness of the tread, as well.


When installing new stair treads, should I glue each one before nailing? Should I use screws instead of nails? Thanks! Gary

Hi Gary, Yes, always glue new treads to the stringers and nail them with at least a 2 1/2" galvanized finish or truss head nail, for 1" treads. Set it below the surface. For 1 1/2" treads, use a 3" galvanized finish nail. The reason we don't use screws for threads is the size of the head. They do make a small head screw for handrails, etc. which can be found in finishing stores. Usually, glue and nails work well. For initial glue of treads to the stringer, I prefer a construction adhesive, applied from a tube. It fills any gaps left from saw cuts on the run of the stringer.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 20: How to Build a Wheelchair Ramp

I have noticed an interest from members of our website about the specifications of building a wheelchair ramp for a disabled person entering their home. Most Building Codes are very specific about the requirements for wheelchair ramps. In the United States, there is The Americans with Disabilities Act, which outlines the dimensions for wheelchair ramps. Let's go over the key points for building a wheelchair ramp to gain access to the interior of your house, in simple terms. It is always a good idea to check out your local building codes, as well.

Ramps are necessary for individuals in wheelchairs, as well as those pushing strollers, grocery carts and the elderly or infirm to access the entrance to a home. A wheelchair ramp should have a level area at the bottom as well as... Read more at

Almost the End

Hope you followed all these questions and answers. If not send me an email with your own questions. You don't have to wait to read the answers in the Newsletter, I send a response within a day or two.

Dan and I appreciate your emails and support.

If you need more advice, please become a member of our website, then send me an email.


(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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