Building Confidence

Volume 10 Issue 7
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

Save worn out socks for staining wood projects. They work great. Ref: Stairs 5: How to Install an Inside Handrail.

And a Bonus Tip:

Save nylons (panty hose, etc.) for straining paint. Do women wear these anymore? I might be dating myself. Deck 3: Deck Design.

Ask Dave!

Hey Dave I am currently building a small house, it is 24' by 22'. This is my first project. So on this house the trusses run north and south which supports the north and south walls great but what other then the sheathing and the top plate keeps the east and west walls pulled in tight??

This is a good question. We call the East/West walls the gable ends. The trusses for the gable ends are built differently than the main trusses. They are framed for the sheeting. They are tied at the top by the roof sheeting and tied at the bottom by rows of continuous bridging, we call it. At spans not more than 7' there are 1x4s across the top of the bottom chord of the trusses, from gable end to gable end. Some times on tall trusses the engineer specifies these 1x4s on the webs, as well.

Usually, when you get your truss package, there is a handout which includes the engineer's drawing of the truss layout and his specs. The trusses have to be inspected separately by the engineer, not the building inspector. He will check that his specs have been carried out - correct nailing, centers, bridging, etc. He will then give you a signed sheet to give to the building inspector. We say the engineer has signed off on the truss installation. This may vary in your area.

So to answer your question: the long walls are tied together by the trusses and the gable end walls are tied together with the rows of continuous bridging. In your case you would need two rows of 1x4s running the length of the house, giving 3 spans of 7'. A span is defined as the distance between supports. So between the outside walls and between the 1x4s, rather than measuring their centers.


I want to do stairs with a total rise of 104.5 inches and a total run of 110 inches. I tried using the stair calculator but can't seem to get it to give me the number of rises, number of runs etc . . . if possible I would like to stay with thread thickness of 1.25. Thanks Rebecca

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for the email.

Your run is a little short, but still within code limits. The calculator options for typical rises and runs don't include a short run like yours. We do give you the option of customizing your run and rise.

First, plug in the total rise of 104.5; a typical rise and run of the maximum allowed for a house (not the steepest, which is only allowed in certain jurisdictions such as New York); then choose the thickness of tread, 1 1/4.

The result is 14 rises of 7 15/32 and 13 runs of 136 1/2. Okay, what we need to do now that we have the rise height and number and the number of runs is to do some simple arithmetic. You want a total run of 110 and we have a total number of runs of 13. Divide 110 by 13 to get the run of 8.46.

Okay, lets go back to the calculator and plug in these new custom numbers: Total rise (never changes, although we can change the rise and number of rises. A good rise in a residence is around 7 5/8 to 7 7/8) of 104.5. Choose Customize Rise of 7.625 (just leave it) and plug in 8.46 for Customize Run. Leave Thickness of 1 1/4 the same. Click on the Calculate button and scroll down to read the results. Notice the rise and rises are the same, but the run is now 8.46 giving a total run of 109 31/32. The run of 8.46 = 8 15/32 or 1/32 larger than 7/16.

Don't stop here, the best is yet to come. Click on Print Results and watch what Dan has programmed for you. Three pages: one of the stair measurements and two drawings of your particular stringer and the placement of your stringer.

To give your tread a bit more space to stand on, install a 1" nosing to each step. This doesn't affect the total run, but it will shorten the landing space at the bottom by 1". This is required by the code with short runs. The minimum tread depth is 9 1/4 so your stairs will be good. They will be a bit awkward walking down them. If you have the room, you may want to change direction with a landing, which would give you a longer run and wider step and closer to the ideal rise/run of 7 5/8 and 10 1/2 or so.

Hope this helps,


Dave: I have a double flue chimney that I want to put a stainless steel flue cap on. One of the red clay pipe flues need to be shortened by a few inches. What is the best way to cut the flue pipe? I was thinking of using a saws-all with a fine tooth blade. What is your recommendation? Another question is how to weather tight a new window. I have a friend I am replacing his picture window with double hung windows mulled on each side. The window installed was nailed directly to the 2x6 vertical and horizontal studs and texture 111 siding was butted to the sides and the top and bottom of the window and caulked. This wasn't the correct way to do the install. I will be installing an Anderson 400 series window, picture, with a double hung mulled on each side. They will be vinyl clad. These windows come with a vinyl flange around the outside edges. My plan is to extend the rough opening to be even with the exterior texture 1-11 than install ice and water shield, secure the window and trim with PVC white trim. What is your recommendation? Thanks, Ron

Hi Ron,

I would use an angle grinder with either a carborundum or a diamond blade to cut off the clay liners.

We usually nail the flange on the sheeting. This makes the window jamb protrude out a bit past the siding or stucco, etc. I've never used ice and water shield around windows only tar paper. Some jurisdictions require tarpaper others don't. A 6" wide peel and stick works well. The window is then caulked to the siding or trim. On top is a drip flashing - required in most areas, if the 2' overhang is not within 6" of the top of the window.


Why does plywood come with 1/32 thick instead of 1/16 such 23/32 instead of 3/4? Thanks for your time! Ed.

Hi Ed,

If you buy cabinet grade plywood, G1S, it will come exactly 3/4", that is about the only standard size, that I know, that still exists. As the world community got closer to a common size of metric, the size of plywood started to change into our 1/32" but closer to the millimeter. We get our plywood from who knows where, now. This is just a guess on my part, but I never noticed this change until we (Canada) changed to metric. Half inch isn't 1/2" anymore!!


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Basics 2: Lumber Dimensions, Wood Grades and Engineered Wood

I was born into a family of carpenters and had sawdust introduced to my environment at age 6 when my father bought an old house. It was built around 1900 and was definitely considered a fixer-upper. Dad wasted no time in starting on his project and continued it until he sold the place about forty years later. I grew up in the construction world experiencing my father performing miracles almost every weekend in the remodeling to our old house.

I had an interesting email from Marc in Manhattan who suggested our website should have an article on lumber dimensions and plywood to inform the novice. Marc wrote:

"Actually, I'm talking about all pertinent information that a woodworker takes for granted but a novice needs to know in order to make the smartest decisions. The sizing issues with wood products drives me insane. Its history has been explained to me by professionals but, in my mind, that doesn't justify why a 2x4 shouldn't measure exactly 2 inches by 4 inches. This logic should apply across the board, so to speak. Then there's the issue of wood species, soft vs. hard and which application is best for each. I just discovered that 4x8 sheets of 3/4" oak are available for purchase. I never knew that. It just seems reasonable that your very charming website should feature an education on how to decipher and select wood products sold in a typical lumber store, such as Home Depot, Lowes, etc."

Thanks Marc. I thought everybody would know lumber dimensions, but realized through my emails that many people out there were not as fortunate as myself in growing up in a lifetime of remodeling. A subject as broad as this should start at the beginning. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Oops, maybe not that far back!

From Logs to Lumber

Living on the West Coast of Canada, since a boy, I'm familiar with logging trucks loaded with logs heading to the mill. At the mill the logs are... Read more at

Almost the End

Well, that does it for another month. I appreciate your emails, with your questions and comments.

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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