Building Confidence

Volume 11 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

Usually a raised backyard wood deck has a slight drain, unless covered with a roof. Figure about 1/4" per foot, so that is a 3" drop in a 12 feet run. Ref: Cabinets 4: How to Make a Formica Counter Top.

And a Bonus Tip:

For heights over 2 feet above the ground, we must install a deck railing or guard as the building codes call them. A deck railing should be at least 36" high, although 42" is more of the acceptable standard for high decks. The deck railing should be vertical barriers, rather than horizontal, where a child cannot climb up on them. They should also be less than 4" apart so that a toddler's head could not fit through and get stuck. Ref: How to Build a House 2: The Concrete Foundation.

Ask Dave!

I've gone through my emails for this month and really haven't found anything that I feel would be beneficial to any of you out there. I've decided to do something different this month and submit a custom plan that I drew up for a subscriber. It is a small cupola for one of our gazebo plans. Hope you can use it or just get a kick out of following along.

Instructions for the 18 x 18 Cupola

Drawing of a cupola for the top of a gazebo.

The cupola is made from 3 frames: the 18" on the top tapered to 20" on the bottom - square X 8" high bottom section, the 18" square x 12" high center, louvered section and the roof with 1" overhang, all around. Each section is framed with 2x2 and sheeted with 1/2" plywood. The bottom section does not have a 2x2 on the bottom so that the plywood can be fastened with screws, tight to the roof of the gazebo. The vertical 2x2s are tapered at the bottom, as shown.

Refer to the Detail 1 drawing for making the center section for the louvers. The louvers are dadoed into 3/4" x 1 1/2" boards with a sloped edge to give rain water a chance to run off. Rip the louvers about 1 3/4" wide out of 3/4" thick material to fit the dadoed board fully. The dadoes are 1/4" deep. Notice the drip cut on the trim cap in Detail 2. This is just a saw cut to allow any water to drip off before it gets to the plywood sides.

Diagram giving details of dado for louver and trim cap of cupola for gazebo with measurements.

Drawing of cupola for a gazebo.

The roof is framed with rafters of 2x2 covered with 1/2" plywood and asphalt shingles.

Diagram of cupola roof with measurements.



Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Jigs 1: Table Saw Feather Board

A feather board is a handy jig, something you can make yourself or purchase ready made.

Feather boards are used for two purposes. First to hold your work when ripping tight against the table and tight against the table saw fence. Second, they are used to prevent kickbacks when ripping small pieces, if the piece twists between the blade and the table saw fence. There are feather boards out there that you can buy that will do this very well, they either clamp on the table saw fence to hold the work tight to the table or clamp in the miter slot of the table saw to hold the work against the fence. There are other feather boards out there that actually are magnetic and hold securely anywhere on the table. That's the problem of a home made feather board, how to fasten it to the table to hold the work against the table saw fence. Here is a table saw feather board I designed:

Cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to length the width of your saw table and rip it 7" wide, for now. Lay it in position against the table saw blade and flush on the table ends. Mark out the position of the front of the table saw blade. The feathers should be positioned as shown, with the feathers a bit ahead of the blade. Layout a 3" swath of feathers at a 45 degree angle as shown. Cut the feathers as shown by using your miter fence with the blade set at 45 degrees and about 1 1/2" high.

The cuts for the feathers are about 1 1/2" deep and spaced about 1/8" apart leaving the feathers about 1/8" thick. Push the plywood slowly to avoid breaking up the veneer, use a sharp blade with about a 1/8" kerf.

Make sure there is... Read more at Jigs 1: Table Saw Feather Board

Almost the End

Now you know why I need emails and questions.

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.


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