Building Confidence

Volume 13 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

What's New

Dan, my brother and webmaster, spent the last two months updating the look of our site and uploaded all his work onto our server just this afternoon. He asked an old artist friend of his for new designs for the site. I hope you like the new look of our site!

Next newsletter will use the new designs. We wanted to warn you first so you'd recognize the newsletter when you see it in your Inbox!

Tip of the Month

To help hold up a set of stairs when the box joist is not large enough, install a plywood riser onto the stringer and fasten it onto the riser below the upper floor.

And a Bonus Tip:

For stairs without enough run room, you have to make some choices, move a wall to make a better set of stairs, or enlarge the opening to allow for a staircase landing.

Ask Dave!

This month, rather than show you questions, I'll share some of the nice responses I get from subscribers to our website.

Hi, Dave. Today I replaced the stairs to the basement of my house. The bottom step of the original stairs was about 1/2 the rise of all the others; apparently the basement floor was poured after the stairs already were installed. Now the stair rises are all even. Having lived here 8 years, that first step being the same height as all the others is still a bit of a surprise. I'm sure it won't take long to get used to it. This was a major project for me, and thanks to your videos and your stairs calculator, it was successful. I was able to cut stringers, correctly, on the first try. Given the number of things that could have gone wrong, it's surprising to me that nothing did. This is a project that is well outside my "comfort zone." Your yearly membership was well worth it! Thank you. Brian Dave, Just wanted to send you a few photos of the finished workshop I built with the plans you drew for me last fall. As you can see it ended up matching the existing garage nicely. Needless to say, I couldn't have done it without your help. Regards Jim 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. Thanks Dave. I'm new to your website and I'm liking it. Dear Dave, Thanks a ton for the information and drawing, that's exactly what I needed! I really appreciate your site and its' thoroughness, not to mention being able to ask you this type of question and get your expertise. Thanks again! Regards & God Bless, Bret Dave, Our company contests usually create very little interest on the part of our customers so don't feel like the Lone Ranger (the marketing people never really understand quality builds brand loyalty, not gimmicks). Just keep doing what you are doing. Getting the kind of info you dish out for $50 / year is like winning the Handyman Lottery. Trace Dave, I love your site and newsletters and read every word repeatedly to learn new info and techniques. You also answered several of my questions when I replaced the staircase in my home. Thanks for all your help. You are a great resource for "jack-legged" woodworkers like me! Larry

Thanks for all your nice comments. Dan and I sure do appreciate them.


Before Winter sets in with all its fury, check out the following list to keep your home warm, cozy and secure.

  • Seal up any leaking windows and doors with weatherstrip.
  • Install plastic over any windows that are not thermopane.
  • Clean out range hood and bathroom fans.
  • Caulk up any exterior cracks in the siding or stucco where moisture can get in and do its evil deed.
  • Any outdoor painting should be done before the temperature reaches 50°F (10°C) or below.
  • Remove all hoses from their hose bibs. Even the frost free hose bibs need to have the garden hose removed so that any water remaining in the valve stem can drain out.
  • Close all vents to the crawl space. The crawl space should be insulated to prevent pipes from freezing. A small baseboard heater or inline heater, along the pipes, is recommended during this time of year, if temperatures in your area drop below freezing. Secure the heater well to prevent problems.
  • Basements should be insulated. I recommend constructing a 2x4 wall in front of the concrete foundation wall, floor to ceiling, installing insulation and vapor barrier. Strap and insulate short concrete walls.
  • Your furnace filters should be changed by now. Cleaning the air ducts is also recommended.
  • In older homes, check out ways to insulate. Foam pads are available under face plates for plugs and switches. Clear film is made for covering single pane windows. Use caulking to fill gaps around windows, doors and siding.
  • Check to see if you have fresh air coming into your home in a regulated fashion. Check out the dehumidifier switches for bathroom fans. Forced air furnaces should have fresh air introduced to their cold air return. Talk to local experts who can advise you on this subject. Usually local government departments have free brochures and advice.
  • Roofs and gutters should be cleaned of moss and debris.

Almost the End

Hope you enjoy the Newsletter this month.

We BUILD CONFIDENCE. If you need advice on your projects at work or home, please become a member of our website, then send me a question via email.

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(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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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.

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