Building Confidence

Volume 14 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

Attach stair gauges to the edge of the steel square so it can slide along the stringer or rafter, maintaining the same measurements.

And a Bonus Tip:

To nail brads or very small finish nails use a brad pusher.

Ask Dave!

Pole Building I am preparing to build a 40x16 addition to an existing structure. The customer wants me to use posts on 8' centers to avoid any footings and true framed walls but wants me to use 16' common truss' 24" oc. Not certain how best to top plate this economically without 192' of 2x10's or appropriate LVL's, maybe that is the only way. Side walls are 14' and a 10-12 pitch roof that he wants to sheet and steel roof. Thanks!


Be sure that a pole building is allowed in your jurisdiction. Most areas only allow pole buildings in non-living structures, such as feed storage, etc.

If this is allowed: Use pressure treated 6x6 posts; double 2x10 headers on top of the posts, flush with the outside and scabbed, along each 40' wall. Truss right on top of the 2x10's; no headers on the 16' ends - the trusses will tie the sides together and form the ends. If he wants side walls, they need to be on a strip footing, below the frost depth, depending on the use of this building.

You don't need to sheet a steel roof, strapping is okay, but up to the owner, of course.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 11: How to Cope and Install Crown Molding

COPE: To cut or shape the end of base molding or crown molding so it will cover and fit the contour of an adjoining piece of molding.

We generally cope the inside corners of baseboards and crown moldings. This started in "the old days" when air nailers were not invented yet. A carpenter would nail everything by hand. He noticed that in an inside corner of molding, if the base molding was mitered, the opposing corner of molding would have a tendency to open up with the hammering process, making it tough to get a nice tight joint. Mr. Cope came along and thought that if he could easily cut the profile square on the opposing crown molding, as he nailed it in place, it would remain a tight joint because it would slide along the crown molding instead of opening up. This was explained to me, at a very young age, by my father and I never forgot it. The part about "Mr. Cope" is writer's privilege, sorry about that.

Drawing of a coped baseboard over the end of another baseboard.Now, to actually cut the cope joint. On one side of the inside corner of molding measure the length of the required base molding or crown molding, cut both molding ends square and fasten it in place. On the opposite inside corner of molding cut the crown molding at a 45° as if you were going to miter the molding joint. The cut edge will show the profile of the crown molding to follow. Use a coping saw, hence the name. Instead of cutting the molding profile square on the end, bevel it back just slightly, so in case of adjustment there is less material to remove this way. See the picture, below.

Photo showing how to use a coping saw to cope the end of baseboard.

When installing crown molding, I prefer not to cope the inside corner of the molding. For one thing, I always use a nail gun and the second thing is the crown molding is viewed from below, not giving as nice a cut as a miter. If tying in a crown with one that is already in place, then a cope joint is necessary. Follow the same procedure as coping a baseboard.

Coping crown molding—try it, you'll like it.

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I hope you enjoyed the Newsletter this month and that your summer was a good one.

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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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