|Volume 20 Issue 12|
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 https://daveosborne.com.
Sprinkle Borax powder, lightly, on carpet or furniture to kill flees in the home.
Clean vinyl siding with a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of warm water, plus a squirt of liquid detergent. Use a window or deck brush with an extension handle, brushing lengthwise on the siding, let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then gently rinse off with water from a garden hose with nozzle. Start from the top working down in about 4-foot-wide sections. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves with protective clothing and boots. Protect plants with a covering of polyethylene.
Since our website is almost completely do-it-yourself, and I don't get too many questions from our members, I'll review some questions that I received for our December 2012 Newsletter. I found these questions interesting, hope you will as well.
In crawl spaces we usually put the rigid styrofoam against the concrete. This acts as the vapour barrier, as well.
Between the studs in a crawl space including the cavity of the floor box joist, after insulating with fibreglass insulation, we still apply the black goop, called Acoustical caulking. It is applied with a caulking gun and the 300 ml tubes.
The trick isn't to touch it. Just apply a bead to the perimeter of each joist space and along each stud and plate. This is only done if the wall isn't covered with drywall or paneling. Don't apply too heavy a bead - just enough to seal the poly to the wood as you staple it in place.
Remember that vapour barrier is never installed on the cold side of the floor joists, always on the warm side of the room.
If you choose to insulate the floor, rather than the walls, of a crawl space, don't install any vapour barrier - the floor covering inside is considered the vapour barrier.
Hope this helps,
This question is referring to the Plan: Bedroom Furniture: King Size Bed on our website.
The molding isn't necessarily routered. I left it up to the builder. One way of installing molding is layering up a series of different purchased moldings. When I make custom moldings, panels, etc. I put my router under a table and push the piece against a fence with the router bit in its center. This bed was originally a custom plan. He wanted it to fit his mattress.
Editor Comment: I don't know if we had disposable latex gloves back in the day, or I would have suggested using them, rather than "The trick is not to touch it".
Checkout my article on this: Remodeling 11: How to Cope and Install Crown Molding
Try coping the inside corners, following the instructions in this article. The first piece of molding is cut square into the corner - a snug fit. The second piece, coming into the corner is coped. the outside corners have to be mitered. This means that each side of the molding has the same angle. If the corner comes to a 90 degree angle then each molding is mitered at a 45 degree angle. If the corner is a 45 degree angle then each miter would be 22 1/2. Check with a framing square and see how close the corner comes to a 90. If it is a bit larger, make the miter a bit larger, same thing if it is tighter than a true 90. Remember that the extra angle over or under a 90 is halved, so adjust only slightly over or under a 45.
To measure the outside corner, measure to the outside of the 45 degree angle of the molding. We call it the long angle. When I measure a door casing I measure the short angle and add 3/16", off the floor or 2 times 3/16 = 3/8 for the header.
Hope this helps, or did I confuse you more?
Editor Note: As mentioned in my article on Cope Joints: We generally cope the inside corners of baseboards and crown moldings. This started in "the old days" when air nailers were not invented yet. A carpenter would nail everything by hand. He noticed that in an inside corner of molding, if the base molding was mitered the opposing corner of molding would have a tendency to open up with the hammering process, making it tough to get a nice tight joint. Mr. Cope came along and thought that if he could easily cut the profile square on the opposing crown molding, as he nailed it in place, it would remain a tight joint because it would slide along the crown molding instead of opening up. This was explained to me, at a very young age, by my father and I never forgot it. The part about "Mr. Cope" is writer's privilege, sorry about that.
Wow! I am impressed, Andre. Looks like you can run a Sherman tank up those stairs and they won't fall down. Good job. Nice to a have a friend who is a tradesman to help with the layout. As soon as I saw those pics, before reading your comment, I thought, wow, Andre is good!
With the balusters always use glue. Either toenail them in place or use handrail screws, which have small heads, screwed in like toenails from opposite sides. The top of the baluster is cut on the angle and the bottom is cut square to fit on the tread. The trick is to layout the spindles evenly, and to space them out no more than 4" between. I go into this in detail at: Stairs 5: How to Install an Inside Handrail
Thanks for the photos, Andre, appreciate them. I'm glad everything worked out well.
Thanks, Andre. All the best for you and yours.
Have a good Christmas and great new year.
I laid out your ramp and slab full size and came up with this drawing:
Diagram of vehicle ramp into a shed or garage with measurements.
So the ramp length is 7'. Since I don't know how level the bottom of the ramp is on the site, the critical height is the 2" up from level or 4 1/2" below the surface of the slab, 4'-8 1/2" away from the edge of the nose of the garage floor, as shown. This ramp should give the car a clearance of 2"+ over and above the 4 1/2" above the tires of the car. This gives a bit of a margin when the car is loaded more heavily or less air in the tires. If this is a concrete ramp, I would recommend a pea gravel mix of 3/8" aggregate, instead of the usual 3/4 minus. This would facilitate a finer finish at the bottom of the ramp. I would also go with the glass fiber reinforced concrete made up of chopped strands of alkali resistant fiberglass. More at this link: http://www.grca.org.uk/product/default.asp
I used this type of concrete for my new exposed concrete driveway, last year and am very happy with it. They say this fiber reinforcing is as strong as rebar. I'm thinking of particularly for the tapered area at the start of the ramp.
Hope your Christmas was Merry and your new year will be a good one.
Hope this helps,
Yes, I tried geometry, at first to get an idea of what I needed. I then drew up a scaled sketch. Then to be accurate I laid out the sketch full size and came up with the drawing I sent you. Here is a better drawing showing the tires and the clearance.
Diagram of vehicle ramp with vehicle tires and frame superimposed to see clearance of vehicle frame.
The position of the car with the least clearance to the hump, is shown. As the back tires move up the ramp, the clearance gets greater. I found that you need 2" down the ramp at the halfway point of the wheelbase. I then just extended the ramp line to come up with the 7'. That's why I said to make sure the 2" or 4 1/2" from the slab level is accurate, depending if the area in front of the garage is level or sloped.
Thinking of your ramp - I solicited help from my daughter and her husband. My daughter, Jacqui, is a Math wiz, - tutors Math, etc., but loves practical math challenges. So her and Mario, her husband, got right into this problem. I wanted to know how realistic the numbers were that you gave me. They have a 1965 Mustang with very similar measurements as yours. The Mustang clearance is 5" with a 9' wheelbase. What surprised me is that its bumpers are extended 3' in front of the center of the wheels. Now this may be a problem with your ramp. I went to my full scale layout on my garage floor and found that with a 4 1/2" clearance at 3' in front of the wheelbase your front bumper had only 1 1/2" clearance above the ramp. The rear bumper had no problem clearing the ground as it started up the ramp. Jacqui figured out that if the front bumper was extended out 3' with a 4 1/2" clearance at that point the best length of ramp to give a full 2" of clearance is closer to 8'. So you may want to consider this. There are things we don't know: if the driveway is sloped or level; how far are the bumpers in front of the wheelbase measurement and what is the clearance under them? If you want to verify these measurements, I can ask Jacqui to verify the ramp length for the new data. Also, you may want to consider them buying a new or another car in the future, so they need a longer ramp to accommodate more average vehicles.
Something to consider talking over with your client.
All the best in the new year.
Okay, thanks Ron.
All the best,
Note: Thanks to Jacqui (my daughter) and Mario (my son-in-law) for their help with Ron's ramp.
Here was a question on our weekly tip:
"When cutting a machine screw to length, thread on a proper size nut first, cut the screw and back off the nut which cleans the threads in the process."
We had a special tool when we owned a hardware store in which we would screw the machine screw into the appropriate sized hole then close the plier jaws and screw out the shortened machine screw. Now I screw on a nut, put the end I want to cut off in a vise, cut the machine screw off with a hacksaw and screw the nut back off, which cleans it. You also can screw the nut on and cut a small machine screw with a good set of cutting pliers. The pliers really crimp the threads up though. The best way is with a fine blade hack saw. If you don't have a vise, just hold it with pliers on the end that is coming off or get a helper to hold it while you cut it off with the hacksaw.
The trick is putting the nut on first. On a large bolt it is handy to have a bench grinder setup to grind the end of the bolt off smooth.
Yes, I put the head in the vise, as well, but it moves around too much.
(taken from our website: DaveOsborne.com)
Building stairs is a job that experienced carpenters know requires accurate measurements and diligent work habits. I'll attempt to guide you through the steps, pun intended, of staircase construction in a 'dwelling unit'.
Knowledge of how to build stairs is very important not only in the stairs being useful and looking good, but also in preventing accidents. Besides needing to be sturdy and wide enough, stairs need to be consistent. Each step must be exactly the same size as every other step. (see Figure 1)
The first thing to do is to measure the height where your stairs will go. This is your most important measurement. It is called the total rise. Every other stair measurement depends on it. The total rise is the vertical distance between the surface of the higher floor and the surface of the ground, sidewalk or the lower floor that the last step will be on (see Figure 2)
The total run is the horizontal distance between the edge of the upper floor and the end of the bottom step.
Each stair step has two basic measurements. The horizontal or flat part of the stair is called the run. The vertical height difference between two stairs is called the rise. The riser is the vertical part of the stair between a tread and the underside of the tread above it. The part of the stair that sticks out past the stair riser is called the stair nosing. The dimension of each stair depends on a number of factors. Your stairs can be steep or gradual. The rise of each stair can vary as well as its run. (see Figure 3)
Stairs and accidents often go together. Carrying a heavy, awkward load down stairs is an exercise in trust. Trust that the builder did a good job, that the rise of each step doesn't vary by much, that the next step down is where it should be, that the stringer is strong enough, etc.
Building Codes help the builder and everyone who uses his or her stairs. That's their purpose; not to make your life difficult with a lot of rules. A good builder knows his local building code.
The following table gives a summary of the 2015 International Residential Code for Stairways (Section 311.7). Your local building code is likely very similar.
|Width of stairs||36||914|
|Width handrail to wall||31 1/2*||787|
|Width between 2 handrails||27*||698|
|Rise between landings||147||3734|
|Riser height||7 3/4||196|
|Variation in risers||3/8||9.5|
|Variation in tread depth||3/8||9.5|
|Nosing projection||3/4||19||1 1/4||32|
|Handrail height on slope||34||864||38||965|
* The two starred measurements (Width handrail to wall and Width between 2 handrails) have a length in inches that is different to their lengths in millimeters. This is in the original document. All other conversions between inches and millimeters is correct.
The two variation items in the table refer to the maximum difference allowed between the smallest and largest riser or tread in the staircase.
For more info on Building Codes see my article Useful Stuff 5: The National Building Code
To prevent the stairs from being too steep or too gradual (see Figure 4), there is a relationship or proportion between the stair rise and the stair run. The British Columbia Building Code (where I live and work) says the stair rise must have a maximum of 200 mm (7 7/8") and a minimum of 125 mm (5"); the stair run has a maximum of 355 mm (14") and minimum of 210 mm (8 5/16"); the stair tread depth has a maximum of 355 mm (14") and minimum of 235 mm (9 1/4"). The tread depth is the stair run including the nosing. The stair nosing cannot be more than 25 mm (1"). You should check the building code of your own region before building or renovating anything structural for your home.
An old adage says that for older people the ideal stair rise is 6" with a stair run of 12". An intermediate stair rise is 7" and the stair run is 11". The steepest stairs should be no more than a stair rise of 7 3/4" and a stair run of 10". Notice that in each case the stair run plus the stair rise equals 18". This is the simplest way of determining stair rise and stair run but the size of each stair is totally up to you as long as they are within Building Code ranges. The ideal stair run and stair rise for a dwelling based on a 92 1/4" stud, 3-1 1/2" plates, 2x10 floor joists and 5/8" subfloor is 14 rises of 7 5/8" and 13 runs of 10 1/2" with a 1" stair nosing.
The preferred angle of stairs is around 30 to 35 degrees. There are three generally accepted rules for calculating the ideal stair rise to stair run ratio:
To keep each stair rise the same size, you'll need to make some calculations. Follow these steps:
Dan, my brother and webmaster, made a simple stair calculator for you to find the exact measurements of your stair rise and stair run. See our Stair Calculator
It's a good idea before you start building the staircase to make sure the planned staircase can fit within the space that you have. Calculate the total run of the staircase by multiplying the length of the run of each stair by one less than the number of stair rises you calculated in step #4. I like a stair run of 10" to 10 1/2" for a stair rise of 7 5/8". At a stair run of 10.5" for 13 stair treads, the arithmetic is: 10.5" x 13 = 136.5" for the staircase's total run. Then measure the physical space within your house to make sure there is enough room for the staircase. Hang a plumb bob from the edge of the upper floor, where the stairs are going to be attached. Measure from the plumb bob to where the bottom of the stairs will be. Make sure there's plenty of room so the stairs don't run into a wall or other obstruction.
Allow at least 36" between the end of the bottom stair and a wall, if inside a house. If your measurement is too tight, try a stair run of less than 10.5" down to 10". Our total run in this staircase would be 10" x 13 = 130". We just saved 6.5". These calculations show the versatility in choosing different stair runs and stair rises. If room is still limited try taking off a stair riser, thus eliminating a stair. Remember though that you must stay within the maximum and minimum parameters for stair rise and stair run. Maybe move the obstruction or move the stair opening back in the upper floor if you have reached your maximum stair rise and minimum stair run. Installing a stair landing will change directions of your stairs, which can give you more room in many cases. (For more info on staircase landings see Installing a Landing in a Staircase)
Watch the staircase headroom also. (see Figure 5). If the stairs are in an opening cut out of a floor area, headroom is a factor. The staircase opening must be long enough to allow adequate headroom when coming down the stairs. The minimum staircase headroom under a beam or joist is 1.95 m.(76 7/8"). Now that we have determined our stair rise and stair run and checked for adequate staircase headroom, we can cut the stair stringers. (For more info on stair stringerssee How to Cut Stair Stringers.)
Nail the stair stringers in place, securely to the top floor trim joist and to the bottom floor, or to the side walls. Next is installing the steps or stair treads. In our stair example we chose 1" plywood for the stair treads. Since our stairs are inside a house and will be carpeted, we will choose a stair nosing of 1" giving us a stair tread width of 11 1/2". Rip the 1" plywood 11 1/2" wide and the length to match the width between the walls less 3/4" on each side for the drywall to slip down. The width of the staircase is important as well. The minimum width is 860 mm.(33 7/8"). I prefer a width of 36" if appliances or furniture have to be moved up or down the stairs. If your staircase is wider than 36" put in extra stair stringers to support the longer stair treads.
In an inside staircase the stair riser is usually closed, there is a board for the stair riser to attach the carpet or other finish to. This is different to an open riser staircase such as outside off a deck where the stair risers do not have a board attached to them. In this case the stair treads should be made from 2 x 4, 2 x 6, or larger to stand up to the weather. Also, on this type of staircase overhang the stair step 4 1/2 inches from the outside edge of each stair stringer on a 3 foot or wider staircase. (Example of stairs off a deck.)
Back to our project. We have 13 stair treads ripped and cut to length now.
A tip to save your carpet is to round over the top edge of each stair nosing. Do this with a router, a belt sander or a block plane. It is easier to do this before installing the stair treads.
Let's rip the material for the stair risers. This can be 1/2" to 3/4" plywood. In new construction, there are usually scraps of 5/8" left from the sub-floor. Since our stairs will be covered with carpet let's use these. Rip the stair riser pieces 7 5/8" and the same length as our stair treads. Now start assembly at the bottom of the staircase. We discover that our first stair riser is too high, that's because we cut 1" off the bottom of the stair stringer. Adjust the first stair riser to fit the stair stringer. It should be 6 5/8", unless the depth of the floor covering on the bottom floor is different from the depth of the covering on each stair tread and on the higher floor. What you want is to have the exact same height of each step all along from the lower floor to the upper floor. In other words, if the depth of the lower floor's carpetting or tile is thicker or thinner than the material on the stair treads then subtract or add the difference to this lowest (first) stair rise.
Nail the stair riser on with some construction adhesive or use the adhesive and screws. Nail the next stair riser on, then put some adhesive on each stair stringer at the bottom stair and put some adhesive on the back edge of the stair tread where it meets the stair riser. Nail the bottom stair tread down to the stair stringer placing it tight against the second stair riser and from the back of the stair riser nail through into the stair tread. You can see that the stair tread is now supported by the stair stringer on each end and the lower stair riser supports the front while the upper stair riser supports the back - no squeaks here. Continue up the stairs following this procedure. When you arrive at the top stair riser, it will need to be trimmed to fit. If there is no nosing on your top floor to match your stairs, now is the time to put one in. I usually rip a nosing from solid lumber, say a 2 x 4, to match the overhang and thickness of our stair nosings. Glue and drill and screw this nosing on securely.
If your stairs were built outside and the stair stringers have no support under the middle of them now would be the time to put 1 or 2 posts under the stair stringers for added strength. Also if these stairs are hanging off a deck with a 2 x 6 trim joist, not much is there to secure the stair stringers to at the top. What I like to do is support the stair stringers with a 4 x 4 that goes from a concrete block or footing right up to above the deck level to form the stair handrail post. Below the stair stringers and tight up to them, nail a 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 ledger across the posts. Then nail a 2 x 4 across the posts near the bottom to prevent the posts from kicking out.
Stairs need handrails. These should be between 800 mm(31 1/2") and 965 mm(38"), measured vertically from the edge of the stair nosing (see Figure 6) to the top of the stair handrail. I suggest 32" as a comfortable height.At a staircase landing, the stair handrail should be 36" high and at a balcony edge should be 42" high. These measurements are for single dwelling residential construction (one family house).
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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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