Building Confidence

Volume 20 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

Tips of the Month

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 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)

Ask Dave!

Hello Dave, not sure if you remember me. I bought the Gabled Shed with loft plus a door and 2 windows - it was fun and easy to build. Now I wish to replace my yard doors by something we would build ourselves (I still have teens to keep busy and proud) - we have a vinyl fence but the doors are so weak that just the wind damage them. I wish to build something better in wood we will paint. The doors are 70" tall by 41.5" wide each, the posts are treated 4x4 with 4 bags of concrete for each post so they can take the weight without problem. These doors are mainly to keep the dog in :) and to make the yard entrance beautiful. Hoping you can help as you did for the shed. Pierre

Hi Pierre,

How is this?

Diagram of gate for customer.

Below is the frame - 2x4s on the flat. Notice the brace with the bottom of the brace against the hinge side. Hinges are 4" strap hinges in black or galvanized. Make sure you have about 1/2 " clearance between the two gates and about 3 or 4 inches on the bottom.

Fasten the boards on the frame first, then cut the tops off to suit.

Diagram of gate frame for customer.


That is terrific! How much do I owe you? Can I use Paypal or a Credit card? Thank you Pierre

Hi Pierre,

Thanks, glad you like it. No charge, Pierre, I notice you have been with us since 2008. I just would not feel good charging you for this. It is not really a plan, as such.

Enjoy working with your boys.


Thank you for the design, I really appreciate it. Do you know when my subscription is due? By the way, my teens are all girls lol. You should see them using framing guns and other cool tools!

Ha! You got me there! I had 3 daughters myself, no boys. One was a book worm, and 2 were pretty handy around the house. Their husbands are jealous that they know more about do-it-yourself stuff than they do.

Yes, you renew on Oct. 3rd. It should be automatic, unless you cancel.


Dave, I was interested in the stair calculator and decided to check out what other information you provide on your site. I am a building code official and have found your site to be very friendly and informative. I will recommend your site to home owners wanting to do weekend projects. Thanks Again. Dave A.

Hi Dave,

Thanks very much for you taking the time to send me this email. I appreciate it. Believe it or not this arrived on my birthday!

Thanks, again,


Dave, I am installing a 7000 watt electric heater. It draws 31 amps. So I will install a 40 amps breaker. It needs to be "hard-wired". What size wire should I use? I am thinking either 8/2 or 8/3. The run will be about 15 feet from the "main".

Yes, you need either 8/2 with ground or 8/3 with ground. Usually, if it is strictly 220V, you would use 8/2. If it has lights or anything that is run on 110V then you need the 8/3. It should have a terminal block with the color of wires marked clearly. Red and Black are the load; White is neutral and Ground is the bare wire or green.


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

How to Build a House 4: Install Aluminum or Vinyl Soffits

Our construction dictionary on our website defines a soffit: The underside of elements of a building, such as overhangs, staircases and beams. In this How to Build a House article we will concentrate on the underside of the roof overhang, the eave of the house and the overhang at the slope of the roof, the rake of the house. Generally, there are three ways to frame a soffit, where the rake meets the eave, as shown here:

Drawings of three types of soffits showing soffit-at-rake and soffit-at-eave for each type.

Before a house siding job can start, the soffits at the eaves and the rakes of the house should be already installed. The soffit of choice for a house in my area for new construction is the perforated aluminum soffit material. Other choices for a house are perforated vinyl and ventilated wood or equivalent. It is important that the soffits are ventilated sufficiently to work with the roof or gable vents to keep air movement in the attic to prevent condensation in the house. In this article I'll discuss the installation of the aluminum and vinyl soffits on a house.

With most house installations a bit of preparation is required. With soffits we need to check that the house framer installed backing. Sometimes they do, most of the time they don't. Backing consists of lumber on each side of the overhang to support the soffit material and keep it in place. On the rain gutter side this is usually built in.

The rafters or trusses of the house are trimmed with a 2x4, 2x6 or piece of dimension lumber their same size. This is called the rafter or truss fascia.

A 1x6, 1x8 or a finish piece one size larger than the fascia is applied to it, called the fascia board, which hangs down below the fascia forming a drip edge for rain water. The fascia also hides the edge grain of the roof sheathing, as well as that of the soffit material. A fascia gutter acts as a fascia board, eliminating the need to use a fascia board on the house. The rafter or truss fascia automatically creates the backing required for the one side of the soffit. The other side of the soffit is added after the wall sheathing is in place on the house. For light soffits such as aluminum and vinyl, simply nail a 1x2 along the wall of the house with its bottom level with the bottom of the rafter or truss fascia. For wooden soffits a 2x2 or 2x4 is usually installed. Here is a drawing to make this clear.

Diagram of soffit at the eaves showing rafter, seat cut, rafter fascia, fascia board, J-molding, siding and wall line.

Along the rake of the house, a 1x2 is also nailed to the wall, parallel and level to the rafter or truss trimmer forming the overhang.

Aluminum and vinyl materials usually come in corrugated sheets 16" wide by 12' long. They are cut to length to match the width of the eave or rake. That is the corrugations go across the overhang of the roof, not lengthwise with it. A circular saw or table saw is generally used with a fine tooth blade that is put on backwards. This prevents the teeth from catching the thin material and ripping it instead of cutting it clean. Use ear muffs, because it is noisy. Don't forget the safety glasses, as well. The vinyl can also be cut to length with a large tin snip, but snips will crimp the aluminum corrugations together. The circular saw or table saw is the best way. Allow 1/4" clearance for expansion and contraction when cutting the lengths of the soffit material.

Start the installation at a corner of the eaves. Choose the method to frame the soffit at the rake if there is one. Fasten the 1x2 to the wall, as described. Install the J-molding on the bottom of the rafter or truss fascia, as shown in the drawing. Notice that the soffit material has a tongue on one side and a groove on the other.

Place the groove of the soffit material into the J-mold against the rake framing and fasten it to the 1x2, against the wall of the house with galvanized shingle nails or staples, where the flat part of the corrugation comes up against the 1x2. On the other side, nail the tongue into the fascia with one nail or staple. This will keep the material square with the wall of the house. When you have a 12' section of soffit finished, fasten a J-mold under the soffit, below the 1x2, as shown in the drawing. This will hold it in place and be ready for siding installation. The manufacturers suggest sliding the soffit material into J-mold on each side, or an F-mold on the wall side. The way I have described is how the soffit pros do their installations and is much quicker.

If the house has a cottage or hip roof, usually the soffits are all level, that is no rake. The soffit should be mitered at the corner.

Cut 45 degree cuts on a 2x4 and toe-nail it in place, on the flat, from the inside corner of the two fascias to the outside corner of the wall of the house, flush with the bottom of the fascia. Install two proper length pieces of J-mold, back to back, to cover the edges of the mitered soffit material. Start the installation working out from the corner, as described above. Some pros will eliminate the 2x4 in the corner and just support the mitered J-mold in the J-mold on the fascias and fasten the wall end to the 1x2. It depends on the width of the overhang. For a 2 foot overhang and larger, I prefer to add the 2x4.

I try to start my soffits at the front of the house where they get the most exposure to view. Go both ways from the corner at the front of the house and finish at the back corner of the house. Trim the final piece with tin snips.

Checkout these pictures of the finished job.

Photo of both soffit-at-rake and soffit-at-eave on a house.

This picture shows the rake and the eave with the finished transition.

Photo of soffits from another angle.

This picture shows an alternate way of installing soffits in a corner rather than usual method of mitering. Just be consistent with either method you choose.

The next article in the How to Build a House series explains how to install vinyl siding on your house.


Almost the End

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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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