Building Confidence

Volume 10 Issue 9
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

Clean vinyl siding with a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of warm water, plus a squirt of liquid detergent. Use a window or deck brush with an extension handle, brushing lengthwise on the siding, let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then gently rinse off with water from a garden hose with nozzle. Start from the top working down in about 4 foot wide sections. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves with protective clothing and boots. Protect plants with a covering of polyethylene. Ref: How to Build a House 5: How to Install Vinyl Siding.

And a Bonus Tip:

Use clear plastic peanut butter or mayonnaise jars for storage of screws. Mark the size on the lid with a felt pen. Ref: Jigs 2: Table Saw Push Stick.

Ask Dave!

Hello Dave, not sure if you remember me. I bought the Gabled Shed with loft plus a door and 2 windows - it was fun and easy to build. Now I wish to replace my yard doors by something we would build ourselves (I still have teens to keep busy and proud) - we have a vinyl fence but the doors are so weak that just the wind damage them. I wish to build something better in wood we will paint. The doors are 70" tall by 41.5" wide each, the posts are treated 4x4 with 4 bags of concrete for each post so they can take the weight without problem. These doors are mainly to keep the dog in :) and to make the yard entrance beautiful. Hoping you can help as you did for the shed. Pierre

Hi Pierre,

How is this?

Drawing of Pierres Gate.

Below is the frame - 2x4s on the flat. Notice the brace with the bottom of the brace against the hinge side. Hinges are 4" strap hinges in black or galvanized. Make sure you have about 1/2 " clearance between the two gates and about 3 or 4 inches on the bottom.

Fasten the boards on the frame first, then cut the tops off to suit.

Diagram of gate frame with measurements.


That is terrific! How much do I owe you? Can I use Paypal or a Credit card? Thank you Pierre

Hi Pierre,

Thanks, glad you like it. No charge, Pierre, I notice you have been with us since 2008. I just would not feel good charging you for this. It is not really a plan, as such.

Enjoy working with your boys.


Thank you for the design, I really appreciate it. Do you know when my subscription is due? By the way, my teens are all girls lol. You should see them using framing guns and other cool tools!

Ha! You got me there! I had 3 daughters myself, no boys. One was a book worm, and 2 were pretty handy around the house. Their husbands are jealous that they know more about do-it-yourself stuff than they do.

Yes, you renew on Oct. 3rd. It should be automatic, unless you cancel.


Dave, I was interested in the stair calculator and decided to check out what other information you provide on your site. I am a building code official and have found your site to be very friendly and informative. I will recommend your site to home owners wanting to do weekend projects. Thanks Again. Dave A.

Hi Dave,

Thanks very much for you taking the time to send me this email. I appreciate it. Believe it or not this arrived on my birthday!

Thanks, again,


Dave, I am installing a 7000 watt electric heater. It draws 31 amps. So I will install a 40 amps breaker. It needs to be "hard-wired". What size wire should I use? I am thinking either 8/2 or 8/3. The run will be about 15 feet from the "main".

Yes, you need either 8/2 with ground or 8/3 with ground. Usually, if it is strictly 220V, you would use 8/2. If it has lights or anything that is run on 110V then you need the 8/3. It should have a terminal block with the color of wires marked clearly.

Are you okay with the color code?


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

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.

Drawing of the blade set of a circular saw blade.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. Kelly told him... Read more at

Almost the End

Well, that does it for another month. I had some interesting emails last month, thank you for the support we get out there, it is appreciated.

If you need advice on your projects at work or home, 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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