Building Confidence

Volume 20 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

Tips of the Month

Buy short lumber, if you can. Two 6 footers are cheaper than one 12 footer.

A finishing carpenter never leaves the edge grain of plywood visible in his work. Use edging tape or apply your own edging.

Ask Dave!

Hey Dave and Dan... Planning on finishing the basement. I'm a pretty sharp guy, but I guess not that Many questions on where and how to start and have been on the computer a lot. Wanted to put in new steps into the basement as my ribbon cutting and was a lot intimidated by cutting the stringers. I saw your site and many others and took a leap of faith with you two for a year. Entered my info into your Stair Calculator and holy man...can't wait to start making saw dust. This isn't a question but just wanted to say I was impressed and can't wait to struggle through my basement project and your site...From sub of Milwaukee Wisconsin. Thanks much already... John

Thanks, John,

I'm here for any questions. If you can build a set of stairs with a bit of instruction, I would say you are pretty sharp. Of course, I could say we have pretty sharp instructions, too. Ha!

Nice email, thanks,


Thanks, you have a great site here. I signed up for a year. The info about stairs and saw blades really helped out. Your site will be my #1 go to site. Thanks, again Harlan

Thank you, Harlan, that's good to know.


Hey was time for me to cancel my membership BUT, I want you to know that it's only because you solved my problem and I'm not planning any projects for the time being. The Stair Calculator was a god send....made a seriously iffy project into a pleasure. While not fully assembled, my son reports it's all looking good. Thanks --Bless you all. Steve

Thanks, Steve, glad we were able to help.

All the best in the future,


Here is a question on one of our shed plans:

On the 12X16 shed with a gambrel roof with loft, can you do the loft half way leaving the other half open without joists over head? Will the trusses, without joists support the weight?

Yes, you can have a floor in the loft half way. You need to continue the 2x6 along each 16' side to have the overhang the same as well, as act a bit like a strongback, for strength. I would double up the box joist on each half of the long sides. Then nail on the 2x6 as on the other half, with the floor. and a single box joist on the end.

The open trusses will then sit on the 2x6, on top of the double box joist on top of the wall at the same level as the other trusses. Toe-nail the double box joist into the last joist of the floor, securely and the 2x6 into the box joist, well.

Hope this helps,


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Electrical 1: Electrical Safety

During my years as a carpenter in heavy construction, that is construction of industrial and commercial projects such as mine buildings and machine bases to hospitals and schools, I've experienced first hand the various trades involved in my industry. Most men and women are conscientious tradespeople adept in their particular trade. As a carpenter I worked closely with the various trades and picked up some of their skills and knowledge along the way. I noticed with electricians, in particular, how organized and orderly their work was. Electrical wires were routed along cable ways and into electrical panel boxes in a very neat and orderly fashion. When I had the opportunity to wire my own house I bought a book on the Electrical Code and purchased a permit for homeowners doing their own electrical wiring from my local government department. I used the principles I learned from watching electrical tradesmen and applied it with the electrical code requirements as I read the book. As a backup I hoped the electrical inspector would slap my hand if I made a mistake. I was reprimanded on only one fault, not putting in a large enough electrical breaker and cable to a 60 gallon hot water tank. The book suggested the electrical wiring and breaker for a 40 gallon tank, which was smaller. No problem, I easily changed the electrical breaker and upgraded the electrical wire accordingly. Luckily I had an electrical inspector watching my back.

Safety First, Especially Electrical Safety!

During the construction of this website, I've answered questions on simple electrical wiring problems. I want to make it clear here that those not experienced in the basic principles of electrical wiring of lights, plugs and switches in their home should not attempt it without realizing the consequences that their errors may have. If a fire was caused by your negligence or oversight your house insurance may not cover the damage. If removing the electrical panel cover to change a breaker, even though the main electrical breaker is turned off, the electrical panel is still hot. Handling electricity in the home may cause serious injury, death or a fire.

If you want to do electrical wiring in your home, I strongly recommend purchasing a book on the subject that is up to date with the current electrical codes and taking out a permit, if allowed, from your local jurisdiction. The permit provides a backup in case of error, although don't depend on the inspector finding every error you have made. Some homeowners, to reduce the electricians time and ultimately the cost of labor, make an agreement that the homeowner does the electrical work under the supervision of the electrical contractor. This is another form of backup. Of course, the electrical contractor usually has to be a friend or have the confidence in the homeowner to agree with such a proposal. If you are not willing to learn the electrical codes or do not feel confident in performing this work, by all means hire a professional electrical contractor to do the job for you.

The following articles show the ways of connecting 3 way electrical switches, etc. but by no means advocates changing the electrical wiring in your home without the full knowledge of the electrical codes for your area and the consequences of your causing an accident.

Work Safe!!

Almost the End

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Dan and I wish all our readers and members of our website, all the best in 2022 and stay safe out there and thanks to our Front Line Workers. All of them.


(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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