Building Confidence

Volume 15 Issue 8
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

If the drawer is slightly too large for the opening and is binding on the sides, remove the slide on the left side of the drawer and with the table saw remove a thin slice the height of the slide off the drawer side. It is better to be 1/16 inch too small than too large.

And a Bonus Tip:

I've recently learned an interesting trick for anchoring wood to concrete or rock. If you want to remove the piece later, drill a 3/16-inch hole through the wood and the stone or concrete, slide a piece of rebar tie wire into the hole and drive in a 3 1/4-inch duplex nail. If you never and I mean never want the nail back out, skip the wire part and drive in a galvanized 3 1/2-inch spike. I've found this to be a quick and more reliable method than power fasteners or concrete nails and is way cheaper than Tapcons! (Thanks to Damian in Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada) I also discovered that a 3" common bright nail with 2 pieces of tie wire works well for a temporary hold.

Ask Dave!

Thank you for all the great info you provide. I would ask that you put into your stringer formula the rise and run. I am replacing an existing second floor deck that had steps but were taken out by others and am trapped in by the run length. Rise is 121.5", run is 149.5". Could you help solve this and provide the technical drawings as you normally do? Thank you, Jim

Hi Jim,

Your rise is 7 19/32 for 16 rises and run is 9 30/32 with 15 runs. Add a 1" nosing to make your tread depth a bit wider.

You can plug the total rise in the Stair Calculator and choose 9.96 for the custom run. Click on calculate, then print your drawings. Hope this helps,


I'm planning to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit on my property and plan to have a slab on grade for the foundation. The footing needs to be more than 12 inches down to avoid the frost line. I've reviewed your article. Can you recommend additional study material as I make up my workflow for this DIY project. I appreciate your website very much and it is really helpful as I move forward in planning for this project. Jens

Sorry, I'm away from the office, on vacation. Check out our shed plans for info on the slab on grade. I've gone as deep as 2' around the perimeter without inside forms. Here is a drawing of a slab on grade:

Drawing of a concrete slab foundation with measurements.


Hey Dave do you happen to have a gravel calculator to determine how much wash gravel I need in a French drain?

Hi Kelley,

Yes, there is a Concrete Calculator on our website, which simply does volume. This should work for the volume of your drain gravel, as well. Choose cubic yards.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 22: Wood Framing Answers

Here's a few samples of a list of Dave's answers about home improvement you might find of help.

Filling in a Window With Sheathing


My question right now is on removing (filling in) an existing window. I am clear on what I will need to do with the framing. My question is on the exterior sheeting. Do I need to replace entire sheets, or can I simply patch in the areas of sheeting that I must remove in order to create the new framing (and fill in the window area itself)? I'm not sure how much structural strength comes from the sheeting and how far to take back the existing sheets.


Sheathing keeps the walls plumb and square to support the weight of the top floors and roof. The sheathing is most important about 8' from the corners, which acts as a brace. When removing or enlarging windows remove the least amount of sheathing as possible, then fill in as needed. If the sheathing is OSB leave about 1/8" expansion between the joints.

Concrete House


Do you know how I might find information on building the walls and roof of a residential home from cement as they do in commercial construction? This seems like it would be an extremely strong and inexpensive building.


Concrete is not really inexpensive. The forming material alone would be the cost of the conventional framing. The roof slabs would require beams and posts to hold them up for 28 days. An engineer would have to be involved since it is not conventional. Forming pockets for plumbing and wiring through the walls and roof would have to be considered. Attachments for windows and doors would have to be allowed. Once built, it would last forever, though.

Most of the industrial buildings that I worked on were structural steel buildings with suspended slabs of concrete for the floors, the roofs were mostly steel as well. The buildings that were made totally of concrete were built that way for the structural strength required to support primary crushers and the like.

Commercial buildings including schools were built of concrete block with steel or timber roofs. I worked on high rise buildings that were mainly concrete construction. These are very expensive structures to build.

All things considered, I wouldn't advise building a residence out of concrete, there are too many better products out there. Concrete is best left to the footings and foundation walls.

Connecting Wall to Foundation


Should I put tar paper against the cement foundation wall before I put up the 2x4's?


Tar paper isn't necessary inside, as long as the foundation walls are covered with a bituminus coating (standard) on the outside. Leave an air gap between the concrete and the studs—about 1"—and insulate with fibreglass with a vapour barrier on the warm side of the wall.

The above was taken from our webpage: Remodeling 22: Wood Framing Answers

Thanks to all your questions this month, hope I was able to answer yours, as well.

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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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