Building Confidence

Volume 10 Issue 11
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

The height of a kitchen counter is 36". The height of a bathroom vanity is 32". Ref: Tables 8: Cutting Crown Molding.

And a Bonus Tip:

The height of a 1½" kitchen sink drain is 16" from the finished floor, centered for a single bowl and offset for a double bowl, 8" to the left. The supply shutoffs are centered with the sink, 8" apart and centered 23 1/4" above the finished floor. Ref: Plumbing and Ventilation 3: Questions on Plumbing and Ventilation.

Ask Dave!

I joined because I was hoping to find plans for carriage house doors for my timber frame garage. I would like to build outswing doors in the old traditional manner. Do you have access to such plans? Thanks Bill

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the email. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, I found your email in my spam folder. This happens from time to time.

I do have an article on building doors: The following article discusses how to hang a pre-hung door.

I think your photo that you attached is actually a mock swing door. It looks like an overhead door with half a strap hinge and the door hardware is only for show. This seems to be a new trend these days. So that is an option, as well.

To actually build a double door, with astragal is not that hard. I could certainly help you with this. Usually, we have an active door and the other is a stationary door fastened to the header and the concrete floor with barrel bolts. Then when you need both doors open, just release the barrel bolts and both doors can swing out.

If you want conventional locksets installed, you should be careful to end up with the finished door thickness between 1 3/4" and 2".

If you give me your rough opening, I could draw up a simple plan to help you get started.


Hi Dave Thanks for getting back to me. I have a scenario similar to below. Specifically, two openings each being 10'-6" wide by 8' tall. I would like to build the doors very similar to the doors below. The information that I need is about the joinery. How are the rails attached to the styles, what are the respective dimensions of the rails and styles, how are the cross members installed and the vertical pieces? How do you control warp etc? I would consider the mock swing overhead door as well, but then I would need detailed plans for how to build the panels and how to cut the panel joints so that they seal correctly. Thanks Dave Bill

Hi Bill,

This is going to be quite the project. You should have at least 3 pipe clamps about 6' long to clamp up the doors. Ideally, the rails are tenoned into a mortise in the stiles. Without the proper equipment this is tough. I would suggest going with a tongue and groove (T&G) scenario. Instead of the tongue, you can use a spline of 1 1/2" x 3/4" between two 3/4" grooves to tie the rails into the stiles. You can use the same groove to insert the 3/4" T&G paneling. The stiles and rails should be 2" x 3" actual size with a 3/4" deep dado. You should have an exterior glue for the rails to stiles. This stuff is usually grey as opposed to white or yellow for the interior glue. The cross members are 3/4" or less x 3" fastened together through the T&G. Notice how they did the cross brace with the lower part against the hinge side. This is the correct way to brace a gate or door. You control warp by purchasing very straight and true boards which should be dry. A surface planer would be handy to get the stiles and rails to the right size.

Maybe split the door into 3rds: 1/3rd for the glass and 2/3rds for the lower section. The strap hinges attach to the rail connections to help strengthen them, as well.

I'll leave it here for now, Bill. Any other concerns?


Hi Dave Awesome response! Just what I needed to get out of the gate. (pardon the pun) I think I can do this. I have a few concerns about how to build and insert the window grid and glazing and then about weather seal at the threshold, between the doors, and all around the doors actually. I thought I'd deal with those issues after the frames were built but now it occurs to me that you might have a few suggestions that I should take into account during the construction process. Additionally, I have a Makita chain mortiser that I used to make my mortises for the timber frame home that I built. Do you think it would cut adequate mortises for the rail/stile joinery? It cuts 5/8th X 2" in a single plunge but it creates a curved bottom. Thanks again, this is MOST helpful. Bill

Hi Bill, good pun!

I've been closely looking at your photos of the door. Given the size of the doors themselves, maybe increase your top and center rail to about 4" wide, and the bottom to 6" wide. The stiles could also be increased to 4". All stiles and rails should be minimum 2" thick, actual measurements, 2 1/4" would be better, but the t&g panels are probably 11/16" these days. I'm getting the thickness with: 3/4" paneling and 3/4" cross braces on each side. With the 3 thicknesses at 11/16" each, the total thickness comes to 2 1/16". The bottom rail is usually wider in case of the need to scribe to the floor.

Weatherstrip: for the top and sides of the door you could use a black self adhesive weatherstrip on the stops of the door jamb. Install the stops with weatherstrip attached after the door is hung. With the door closed, just come up to the door, snug with the stop and weatherstrip. For the bottom of the door, either a door sweep attached to the outside, if the door swings over a sloped driveway.

I wouldn't put in a threshold for garage doors. Usually the garage floor slopes toward the front and the front apron slopes away. The overhead door has a rubber gasket on the bottom, which drops straight down.

Are you having heat in this garage?

The glass: there are 2 options - either 1 pane of glass with mutton bars on the outside or mutton bars with individual panes. I prefer the 1 piece glass. The mutton bars have putty tape (available at glass shops or some building supply stores) which is applied to the inside of the bars. The glass is then inserted against the putty tape and bars, from the inside. Then wood strips called window stops are nailed or screwed in place to hold the glass in. If the glass breaks, the stops are removed for easy replacement. This gives a good waterproof installation. If you want to have the look of solid mutton bars you could even make up a grid to match the outside bars and attach them on the inside, as well. Putty tape would be used on the inside to keep the grid against the glass to act as a shock absorber.

Also, as I was zooming in to the photos, I noticed they went with ribbon strips to hold the T&G panels in place all around, similar to a fence panel. My suggestion was to use the dadoes in the stiles and rails, but this means that you would have to insert the panels in the initial stage of laying up the stiles and rails. With the optional ribbon strips you could install the paneling after the frame of the door is glued up. The cross braces would be installed after the panels then the ribbons would be cut to fit against the cross braces on both sides, like the window stops. A little easier process. The paneling should not be glued to the rails and stiles, but should be loose in the dadoes or between the ribbons to allow for expansion and contraction.

Another tip to prevent warping is to be sure to put the same finish on the outside as well as the inside. We had to be careful with this especially, when we glued a plastic laminate to a cabinet door. We had to glue a backing laminate on the back side, too. This is back in the 60s and 70s, of course. Can't think of anything else, Bill. Don't hesitate to contact me if you need more or a drawing to help explain something better.

Oh, I was going to mention that it is far easier to make a dado along the edge of the stiles from one end to the other, rather than going with blind dadoes - just dado the length you need. Between the rails, if the dado is not needed, you could just glue in a flush spline to fill in the dado. You would see the dado and spline from the top or bottom, only; not a big issue. Even solid wood cabinet doors are made this way - exposed tenons or splines.


Hello Dave, I just learned something about the frost line for a concrete footing. In Sacramento, California snow is non existent, but we have a low frost penetration, since our days average about 33 degree or higher. What is frost line? Since I did not understand why the frost line with no snow! The footing of my 1927 built house is just under the surface, and about 16" height of foundation wall, and about 6" thick. But the foundation looks the same since new! Why does the frost line code bother with that? Thanks for your time! Ed

Hi Ed,

This is an interesting question, especially for myself, who has lived north of the 49th parallel all my life. You are absolutely correct. I looked up the ground snow load for Sacramento and it is 0. These figures are based on the average over a 50 year period, used by the US Army for design for their buildings.

The frost penetration for Sacramento is 5 inches.

The ground snow load is used to design the roof loads. In our area the roof loads need to support 60 pounds per square foot of wet snow. I've measured 3 feet of snow on my roof, one winter when we had a blizzard come through. This has only happened once in 20 years, since we have lived here, but the roof has to support this load even if it is once in 50 years.

Frost penetration figures are also based on a 50 year pattern. It means that in the coldest expected weather, the frost will go down to 5" in Sacramento. This means that the bottom of the footing should be below 5". Our frost penetration is probably 12", since we need 18" of frost protection. Frost penetrates the earth in a cold spell, freezing the ground solid. The problem is when it thaws in the Spring, the frost heaves and lifts the ground up and anything resting on it, including a building foundation. Up in Northern Canada, they build structures on the perma frost - ice that is permanent or so they thought, until global warming came into the picture. As long as the ice didn't thaw, the building didn't move.

Hope this helps,


As a neophyte woodworker I have lots of questions on this, but first - how did you go about making the "routed" moulding around the bed?

The molding isn't necessarily routered. I left it up to the builder. One way of installing molding is layering up a series of different purchased moldings. When I make custom moldings, panels, etc. I put my router under a table and push the piece against a fence with the router bit in its center. This bed was originally a custom plan. He wanted it to fit his mattress.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Cabinets 2: How to Build Face Frame European Cabinets

In my previous article, I discussed how to build the frameless European kitchen cabinet to add a Modern Home Decor. Now, lets talk about the companion to the frameless cabinet, the face frame cabinet. The cabinet with a frame around the doors is referred to in the trade as a face frame cabinet, since the frame is on the front face of the cabinet. The construction of the cabinets is the same in both designs, so I'll concentrate this article only on the face frame, door hinges and consequences of this design for drawer attachment pertaining to kitchen cabinets.

Some kitchen cabinet designers prefer the wider look of the frame of the cabinet showing with the doors, sharing some of the beauty with the cabinet as opposed to the cabinet doors stealing all the glory in a frameless design. I tend to agree. That is the "old school" coming out in me. I do prefer the euro cabinet hinges, though, to the old style Amerock cabinet hinges (shown on the left) which added to the decor of the kitchen cabinet. Today we can enjoy the look of the old kitchen cabinets, but benefit from modern technology with the European style of cabinet hinges. Once you build kitchen cabinets with the European cabinet hinges, you will have a tough time going back to the Amerock cabinet style, due to the ease in adjusting these cabinet hinges in the three different directions: up, down and out.

The face frame is basically a wide edging on the gable fronts, top and bottom. It usually is from 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick, made from... Read more at

Almost the End

Well, that does it for another month. I was kept busy with question this month, the way I like it. Thank you for your response.

If you need advice on your projects at work or home, please become a member of our website, then send me an email. Check out our website!


(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.


The Benefits of Membership

Membership gives you full access to our hundreds of how-to articles, woodworking plans, converters, calculators and tables. Our Stair Calculator is one of the most popular on the internet. We have projects you can build for (and with) your kids, furniture for your wife, and sheds and gazebos. If you run into a problem or need advice your Membership includes unlimited email questions to me through our Ask Dave quick response button.

Join us!