Building Confidence

Volume 16 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

Safety Tip: Know your power tools is almost a common sense rule. Take the time to review the power tool manual. Try different things with the new power tool and get familiar with it. Then go back and review the power tool manual again after using the power tool for a while.

And a Bonus Tip:

Safety Tip: Guards on cutoff saws and circular saws are very important and should never be removed. Even wedging the guard up is a bad habit to get into. Any renovation to a power tool should be carefully thought out. Most manufacturers have a process to develop safety with their power tools. It doesn't make any sense to remove them. Keep those power tool guards on.

Ask Dave!

What should the rough opening be for two 3 foot bi-fold doors on a closet?

The finished opening for bifolds is their listed size. For 2 - 3' bifolds the finished opening is 6'X6'-8". The bifolds are made smaller to fit the opening. Bifolds don't have a jamb like a hinged door. So the rough opening width, if you are finishing the opening with 1/2" drywall, would be 6'-1" X 6'-8 1/2" to the finished floor.


How do you screw through a prefinished door jam to set and square it? Wouldn't the screw heads have to be filled and painted?

Yes, the only other option that I can think of is to insert a cap type wood plug that is pre-finished to match the jamb, as well.


Laying out stairs I am taking my first crack at building stairs. I will be tying the stringers to an 8 inch metal I beam. In order to do so I hoped to make the top step even with the top of the second story rather than one rise down. How to I go about calculating the rise and run in this scenario? Thanks

You can use our Stair Calculator, with a slight trick.

Put in your total rise, as usual, choose the range of rise and run, choose the correct thickness of your treads, click on Calculate.

Now with the calculated rise, add one extra rise to your stringer layout. You should have the same number of rises as runs on your stringer. Cut off the bottom of the stringer the thickness of your tread and drop the stringer down from the top floor level by the same amount, so the top tread is flush with the top floor when the tread is installed.

Hope this helps, Dave

That does help. I'd figured on adding the extra rise but hadn't thought to cut the thickness of the tread off of the bottom of the stringer. Thanks!

Hi Johnathan,

Also, you may want to checkout this and the following article on stairs:


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Roof 6: Insulation and Soffits

You order insulation by the square foot. Measure the area you need covered and divide it up into the square footage on each bundle. Each bundle is different depending on the R-value (thickness) and width between studs - 15" or 23". Check out the R-value needed in your area for walls, floors and ceilings. Your building supply dealer should know that.

You should wear a dust mask while installing. Install the batts snug to the sides of the studs or joists, flush with the warm side of the room. Don't jamb it in tight, make sure nothing sticks out over the face of the studs. Apply acoustical caulking to the joint of the floor and the bottom plate of the wall. When installing the polyethylene vapour barrier, bed the poly in this caulking to give a good seal at the bottom and wrap the vapour barrier around the top onto the ceiling. This is a special 6 mil poly used specifically for vapour barrier.

Perforated aluminum or vinyl soffit along the eaves is cut into short pieces along the length of the sheets. A J-molding is nailed to the underside of the rafter or truss trim, against the back of the facia board or gutter. On the wall side is installed a 1x2 with its bottom edge level with the bottom of the trim board. Notice that the aluminum soffit has a tongue on one side and a groove on the other which will snap into each other. Start off at the corner of the house, inserting the soffit into the J-mold and lift it up against the 1x2 and staple or nail it in position. The soffit is usually installed prior to the siding, so the siding acts as a finish under the soffit. If the soffit is put on after the siding then install a trim piece under the soffit on top of the siding. Another way of installing the soffit is to put in an F-molding, if available or a J-molding against the wall in place of the 1x2. This method requires that the soffit panels are slid along the J-mold tracks instead of lifting the panel up against the 1x2. Make sure the panels are cut about 1/4" short to allow for expansion and contraction.

Read this article and many more on our site! Roof 5: Re-Roofing a Roof.

Dan and I thank you for your interest and support of our Website.

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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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