Building Confidence

Volume 14 Issue 2
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

To make a stationary tool out of a portable tool, place it in a vice. You can put your belt sander upside down in a vice. For small pieces of wood it is better to hold onto them than the sander.

And a Bonus Tip:

When trimming off an asphalt shingle roof, use a utility knife with a hooked blade. You'll find it cuts easier than a straight blade and stays sharper longer.

Ask Dave!

Since we are a little late with February's issue of our Newsletter, I decided to write you an article on getting the house ready for Spring. Then Dan can place it in the Seasonal articles on our website.

Seasonal 4: Spring

With the passing of winter and the coming of Spring, it is time to get your house ready for the new season:

  1. Check out the roof for broken shingles from the last windstorm or evidence of moss taking over. Remove moss from the roof with a stiff push broom or carefully with a power washer. If power washing, start at the ridge and spray down the roof to protect the shingles. Don't use too high a pressure, or back off on the distance from the nozzle to the roof. Use proper safety gear for working on the roof.
  2. Seal up any leaking windows and doors with weatherstrip.
  3. Install plastic over any windows that are not thermopane.
  4. Clean out range hood and bathroom fans.
  5. Caulk up any exterior cracks in the siding or stucco where moisture can get in and do its evil deed.
  6. Any outdoor painting should be done before the temperature reaches 10° C (50° F) or below. Wash the skylights, be very careful not to use too much pressure on skylights or windows to break the thermal seal.
  7. Clean the gutters after cleaning the roof.
  8. Power wash the siding if vinyl. Use a mixture of 1 cup of bleach and a squirt of Ultra Dawn detergent to 5 gallons of water and brush it on the surface, first. Use a window or deck brush with a broom handle and rubber gloves.
  9. Clean your bathroom fan grill, blades and motor. Most of these have a grill that snaps in place. Pull down on the grill and remove the wire spring from both sides by squeezing them together and pull them right out. Most of the bath fans can be removed from the frame by undoing the plug, removing a single screw and pulling the unit out. This way you can view the fan blade or squirrel cage and the motor and remove the dust and dirt from them. Reverse the procedure to re-install the unit.
  10. Clean the kitchen fan, as well, by removing the filters and clean the motor and fan blades or cage. Make sure the fan is turned off, first.
  11. Clean the furnace filters, fan and motor, or get the technician to service the furnace and filters. Check the air registers to be sure they are clean. Have a look at the duct under the register and vacuum clean, if needed. This applies to your HRV and/or the AC, as well.
  12. Vacuum under the bed, behind and in the refrigerator and deep freezer, good places for dust to accumulate.
  13. Check out and clean the dryer exhaust hose and vent.
  14. Caulk any splits in the siding or wood trim and paint to suit. Don't paint or caulk when the outside temperature is below 50° F or 10° C. Check around windows and doors for expansion cracks in the caulking, as well.

Hope this list helps to locate possible trouble spots in and around your home.

Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 5: How to Install a Window in an Existing Wall

The main thing to be aware of in home improvement when installing a window into a wall is that you will be removing studs, which are the parts of the wall that support the upper floor or roof.

Let's use, for example, a 2'x4' window. You can put in a window that is 2' wide without a header. If the studs are on 16" centers, you will have to remove one or two studs and put a stud by each side of the rough opening.

If you are not too fussy about the exact position of the window, use one of the existing studs for the side of your opening.

Usually for a vinyl or aluminum framed window, check your size of window. The rough opening for a 2'x4' window is 23"x 47", ie. 1" under the named size. The actual size should be 22 1/2"x 46 1/2", thus giving 1/4" clearance around the window.

Here is a home improvement picture that may help to inform you of what is behind the drywall or finish on the inside wall.

Diagram of window framing showing double top plate, header, studs, cripple stud, rough sill and window studs.

As you can see the inside edge of the trimmer studs, the bottom of the header and the top of the rough sill, form the rough opening of the window. Between these members and the window frame should be a clearance of about 1/4". Cut the hole through the wall and frame the rough opening.

If the outside wall finish is stucco or wood siding, cut this out about 1 1/2" to 2" (the width of the window flange plus the clearance) around the opening just to the depth before the sheathing, which could be about 1/2" OSB to 3/4" shiplap or straight boards. For stucco use a carborundum blade on your circular saw.

Put some tar paper around the opening of the window on the outside of the wall. The window can now be installed.

On the outside of the window look for drain holes and the nailing flange. The holes go on the bottom when installing the window. Place the window in the opening, center it in all directions and level it, then shim up the bottom slightly to make sure it is level.

Now nail the window flange to the outside of the wall. The window flange should go against the sheathing of the outside wall. Nail the window flange into the sheathing and into the studs and sill. In home improvement we don't nail the window flange at the top so any settling will not crack the window.

To finish the outside, cut and install cedar 1x4 over the window flange and over the existing siding or stucco. You may need shimming material here to bring the surface over the flange, flush with the siding or stucco.

Caulk around the outside of the cedar and the siding or stucco and the inside of the cedar and window frame with a paintable sealant, such as Alex Plus (a latex sealant with silicone).

On the inside of the wall, cut and install the window liner, from the window frame to the full thickness of the inside wall finish to cover up the trimmer studs, rough sill and header.

If the window is only 2' wide, you don't need a header. Just put a 2x4 or 2x6 (depending on what the wall was framed with) in its place.

If your window is wider than 2', a header is required to support the floor or roof above it. The header essentially transfers the load above it to the sill plate and ultimately to the foundation, protecting the window from damage due to deflection.

Now add the casing around the window, a little paint and sit back, relax and admire your home improvement job.

Note: With modern home improvement, most house framers use double 2x10's for the headers over doors and windows up to a span length of 8'. These are placed tight under the top plate. If the window will be wider than 8 feet, consult your local building inspector for the correct size of header.

You can find this article at Remodeling 5: How to Install a Window in an Existing Wall.

Almost the End

Hope you enjoy the Newsletter this month.

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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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