Building Confidence

Volume 16 Issue 5
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

For a straight cut, look at the edge of the circular saw blade to see where it is cutting on the line.

And a Bonus Tip:

Before staining or finishing woodwork projects, sand lightly all over. Plywood and solid lumber will come with what is called a mill glaze over it. This should be sanded off or roughed up, with the grain, so the stain will cover evenly - use a 120 grit sandpaper before you stain.

Ask Dave!

Dave, New member here and after searching thru your exhaustive list of DIY projects, i couldn't find info on building an inclined ramp for my shed. My previous one is falling apart - my wife's leg went thru the old planks and hurt her leg last season- so I've got to build a new one or else move into the shed myself! I'm 70 in decent physical shape, but pushing a roto-tiller and snow blower up the ramp AND over a rise into the shed's floor won't be getting any easier for me over time.The two doors close and extend down three inches to the end of the ramp. Those three inches are my problem. Could you offer a suggestion? Thanks. Fred

Hi Fred,

I don't want to see you having to move into the shed!

What are the doors made of? Can you trim 3" off the bottom easily? How high up off the ground is the floor of the shed?

Please answer these questions and I should be able to draw you up a sketch of a ramp.


Hi Dave, I never thought you would respond so quickly - I hadn't checked email since I sent that one to you yesterday am. Thanks for getting back so quickly. I have some info here; I can easily take material off the bottom of the two doors. I had indicated about 3" - turns out to be 2 3/4". The left edge of the floor is 19" above ground level (it's a bit of a hilly terrain) and the right edge is 20 1/2" above the ground. The doors are T-111 material with 2x4 back framework. I'll cut the door bottoms and add two new hinges. The present ramp is just over 8 1/2 ' long (109"), and the door opening is 4 feet. I have plenty of tools. Thanks for your help. Please - no hurry required. Happy Mother's Day to your family.

Thanks, Fred.

I'll enjoy Mother's Day with my wife of 50 years, today, as well.

I'm a bit ahead of you in the age department. I'll be 74 in September.

Presently I am helping build our new Baptist church building, up a scaffold 30 feet in the air, installing Hardie plank siding. My wife is on the ground cutting the siding to length. My partner on the scaffold is the same age as I am, so don't count us old guys out, yet! Sure, my body is sore at times, but we are really enjoying the work and the fellowship that goes along with it.

I'll get some ideas for you. The first thing is to trim those doors off a bit. You don't want the ramp too low below the floor surface if wheeling equipment in there!

Also, you can checkout my plans on a wheel chair ramp, that may give you some ideas, as well:


I built two cabinets for each side of my fireplace; each cabinet has 4 doors. The cabinets are frameless and each door frame is 2 1/4" width and 7/8" thick. I want to use the full overlay European hidden hinges but I can't seem to find the right hinge to do the job. Need your help. Thank you

These are the most common hinges to buy, as shown below:

This is taken from my first article on Cabinets: The hinge for this type of kitchen cabinet is the European Blum brand 5/8" overlap 100° hinge (see it at It is drilled into the cabinet door with a 1-3/8" Forstner bit (see it at, to a depth of 7/16" deep. I use a drill press to prevent the bit from going through the face of the cabinet door. Before drilling, mark the door with the center of the hinge at 3" from the top and bottom of the cabinet door and 13/16" in from the edge, and centerpoint with an awl.

Notice that the cabinet hinge comes in two parts, the mounting plate and the hinge itself. I like to mount the hinge and plate together on the cabinet door, then mount the door onto the inside of the cabinet gable after the modules are installed, securely. When making the cabinet doors for a double door kitchen cabinet, be sure to allow space between the doors. I allow 1/16" between the cabinet doors and on each end of the doors. The height of the cabinet doors allow for the door and a drawer sharing the same rail and flush to the bottom of the cabinet's kick space. Allow 1/16" for the space between doors and drawers. The hinges on the kitchen cabinet doors are adjustable, so leave enough room for adjustment.

Hope this helps,


Dave, I watched your video several times and read your entire stair building guide. Haven't seen anything about size of board. I bought pressure treated 2x10x8 boards, couldn't figure out why my board didn't look like your diagram provided for members. I finally found a video where they specify always using 2x12's. My rise is only a little over 23 inches for my deck.I'm going to use 3 stringers. Will 2x10's be okay or should I take boards back? My rise is 7 7/8 and run 11 inches. Attached picture of first cuts. I'm concerned I just don't have enough wood to screw into. Cecil

Hi Cecil,

Checkout my article on laying out a stringer:

Size of the Stair Stringer

In choosing the size of your stair stringer, a 2 x 10 should be the smallest board chosen. A rule to follow is: the amount of solid wood remaining on the stair stringer after the stair rise and stair runs are cut out should be a minimum of 3 1/2" to support the weight of your 350 pound neighbours when they come over to inspect your work. (See Figure 1.) In some cases, a vertical post or two can be placed beneath the stair stringer to the floor to help support the stairs. In other cases, the stair stringers can be nailed securely to the sides of the walls for added support. When circumstances demand no posts under the stair stringer or walls for support, use a 2 x 12 stair stringer for added protection.


Dave How are you doing? My name is Ken from Denver Colorado and I am going to try my first stair project and I was wanting to know where to find a set of stair gauges like you have.... I bought some and they where the octagon type from Ace Hardware and they are a pain to use can you help me out????? THANK YOU !!!!!

Hi Ken, doing well, thanks.

Unfortunately, those are the only ones that I know of, that are available. They work well, when you get used to them. Set the square on the stringer first, then set the gauges on the square against the stringer, in position, your correct rise and run. The ones I have are from my father, oldies, but goodies!

Use our Stair Calculator and you will get a print out of the measurements from one end of the stringer to the other, to be sure of your accuracy.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Tables 3: Span Tables for Rafters

These span tables are taken from the National Building Code of Canada, 1998 BC Edition (current edition) and are for reference only. The final authority in building codes, including rafter spans, lies with the building inspector in your local area. To improve the span of rafters it is recommended to use collar ties or pony walls.

Maximum Spans for Roof Rafters

Span in feet-inches using No. 2 and better

SpeciesDimension20 lb per sq ft snow load30 lb per sq ft snow load
Rafter SpacingRafter Spacing
2x1026'-11"24'-6" 20'-11"23'-6"21'-4"17'-8"

SpeciesDimension40 lb per sq ft snow load50 lb per sq ft snow load
Rafter SpacingRafter Spacing

SpeciesDimension60 lb per sq ft snow load
Rafter Spacing

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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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