2007 November Lumber Talk.com: Professional-Level information and how-to-build articles for wood, timber, and lumber professionals and users. 2007 November » Lumber Talk
By Chris | November 30, 2007 - 12:19 am - Posted in Alternative Materials

How to Install Roof Trusses Easily

First, this is not an endorsement – just an interesting product I found when looking at one of my sketchcasts about the parts of a timber truss.

The video shows a system for installing roof trusses that makes truss installation look pretty easy. So, if you have been wondering about how to install roof trusses easily – here you go.

The video is pretty long so prepare yourself or fast-forward to the explanation at the end but the Truss Me roof truss system is an interesting system worth considering if you are building a house, shed, or barn. I have watched crews put trusses up before and even the pros don’t make it look easy all the time. If you want more information about the Truss Me system for installing roof trusses, see their website at Kelnick Enterprises.com.


By Chris | November 24, 2007 - 12:45 pm - Posted in Plans, Specs & Data

Simple Board Foot Calculator

This board foot calculator from the University of Missouri is the most straightforward and simple to use board foot calculator I have seen. The calculator even includes spaces for quantity and price/board foot to calculate your total price for you.

Calculate Total Weight Using Board Foot

To calculate weight, you can use the wood weights chart at WoodScience (the old home of Lumber Talk) and multiply the weight per board foot of the species of wood by the total board feet given by the board foot calculator.

That is, total weight = pounds/bdft X total bdft

Calculate Board Feet in Logs and Poles

I do not have a board foot calculator for round stock but here is a fairly simple way to calculate board feet of logs and poles. Use the average diameter of the pole or log to find the radius (r, or half the diameter) and use that to calculate the volume of the log or pole in board feet. Remember radius is simply half of diameter. To find the average diameter of a log or pole use:

Average diameter = (tip diameter + butt diameter)/2

Keeping the length in feet, use the average diameter in the equation for the volume of a cylinder to calculate the total board feet. Calculate board feet of logs and poles using:

Board feet of a log or pole = ((pi (r^2)) X length ) / 12

That looks uglier than it is. Once you have the average diameter of the pole, you can treat the pole as a simple cylinder. If you find a good board foot calculator for a pole, please comment on where it is. I will be happy to post it here and link to you for finding it.

By Chris | November 20, 2007 - 5:24 pm - Posted in Alternative Materials, Farm & Ranch, Plans

Barns for Sale

Finding barns for sale online is more difficult than you might expect. There is only a hand full of places listing barns for sale and most of those are not high-quality sites. There are many resources listed here to help you find what you are looking when buying or selling a barn.

Top Reasons You Find Barns for Sale

To help you in your search (and give you some ideas for search phrases) here are the top reasons you will find barns for sale. The reasons a barn is being sold usually falls into one of these categories:

  • Profit – The barn was built (or bought) to be sold for a profit
  • Moving/Relocating – The owners are simply moving or relocating a home or business
  • Wood Reclamation – Old barns may be worth more when sold as reclaimed wood than as barns

Barns for Sale for Profit

Building and Selling Barns: Selling barns for profit is straightforward and simple. Just as with any real estate flip a barn can built on property to add value and that property can then be resold at a greater price to take the profit. Similarly, property with an existing old barn can be bought and the barn and property can be fixed up and resold at a nice profit.

Old Barns for Sale: There is also a market for antique barns that have been photographed, dismantled with the pieces marked, and stored so they can be sold and rebuilt on the buyer’s lot. This is a really interesting transaction altogether and a great way to maintain the heritage many people behold in old barns. There is actually money to be made selling old barns.

Barns for Sale Because of Relocation

Cheap Barns: You might find an excellent deal on a barn if you run across just the right situation. With that, let’s include death and estate sales in this reason for selling barns. Be on the lookout for bargain barns for sale and you might get lucky. Further, while I hate taking advantage of sticky situations, divorces are another reason for relocation sales. The lesson for this paragraph is to be on the lookout for divorce sales or estates sales that might include barns.

Barns for Sale as Reclaimed Wood

Old Barn Wood: Selling barns to break them down into the parts is sometimes profitable (not usually) but is often done as a cheap way of clearing the land. There are companies that buy old barns in order to carefully take them apart to sell the lumber as reclaimed wood, reclaimed lumber, antique lumber, or other such names. Common uses for the used barn lumber include reclaimed timbers for timber trusses and beams, siding, flooring, and furniture lumber and it is sold at an absolute premium.

Barns for Sale Online

(NOT sponsored listings)

Equine.com has barns for sale and their listing change fairly often.

Historic-Architecture.com lists barns for sale that have been dismantled and are ready to be rebuilt on your lot.

Timbermeisters.com builds, restores, and buys and sells vintage barns. They have a great inventory of barns for sale.

IowaBarnFoundation.org lists barns for sale and for donation because its mission is to preserve historical barns.

Barnsetc.co.uk has barns for sale in the UK “and abroad.”

Property.org.uk lists barns and other agricultural building for sale in the UK.

1st-for-French-Property.co.uk lists barns for sale in France.

Decks are easy to build. You level an area, throw down some joists and stringers for a deck foundation, screw deck boards to the top of all that, and trip finish by trimming it up. Sure, it’s easier said than done but – still – it’s not hard. For some reason, though, this question comes up repeatedly as a sticking point for weekend warriors: “How do you build deck stairs?”

How to Build Deck Stairs – It’s Easy

Deck stairs are built just like the rest of the deck. To add deck stairs onto your existing deck, you simply fasten deck boards (steps or treads) to the tops of decks stair stringers and attach the stairs to your deck. You can make the stair stringers yourself or you may be able to find pre-made stair stringers but even the pre-made stringers will need some customizing based on the height of your deck. Now, let’s build some deck stairs.

Calculating How Many Steps Your Deck Stairs Need

The easiest way to figure out how many steps your deck stairs stringers will need is to use the very simple rule of dividing the height of your deck by the riser height of your steps (and round to the nearest number). Risers are usually 6 to 8 inches high. The height of your deck is measured from the ground to the top of the deck boards (where you step onto the deck).

So, if you want 7 inch risers and the height of your deck is 48 inches then 48/7 = 6.86 steps. After rounding, you will build 7 steps into your deck stairs.

Materials Required to Build Deck Stairs

The two main components required to build deck stairs are stair treads and stair stringers.

The treads, or steps, are made from one of the following:

  • side-by-side 2×6 or 5/4×6
  • 2×10
  • 2×12 (my personal preference)

The stair stringers are almost always made from 2×12’s, which are actually 1.5″x11.25″. You might want to use pre-cut stair stringers to ave yourself some time on measuring, layout, and cutting.

Other materials you may need to build deck stairs include:

  • Coated Screws (Primeguard Plus are excellent screws)
  • Metal Angle (for treads)
  • Lag Screws (for treads and/or connecting stairs to deck)
  • Hex or Carriage Bolts (for connecting stairs to deck)

Building and Attaching Deck Stairs – Build Deck Stairs from the Ground Up

It is easier to build deck stairs on the ground before attaching them to the deck but they get heavy once all of the stair treads are attached to the stair stringers, which makes them difficult to properly and safely maneuver into position at the deck. The best compromise is to attach your stringers together first and put only a few stairs treads on before attaching the stairs to the deck. Make to use strong hardware such as lag screws or hex bolts when attaching deck deck stairs as the consequences of failing stairs can be disastrous (hopefully this is obvious).

All I have done above is try to prepare you for a few of the sticking points that might make a deck stairs project less fun. Hopefully, by knowing those basics, you will be able to get through your building project a little faster. There are a million places online that will tell you how to build decks and how to build deck stairs. I listed the best of the best below for you.

Great Resources for How to Build Deck Stairs

Step by Step Plans for How to Build Deck Stairs: Installing Deck Stairs

How to Build Deck Stairs: Laying Stringers and Attaching Treads

How to Build Deck Stairs: Design, Layout, and Assembly of Deck Stairs (this is the best how to)

Building Deck Stairs

How to Build Deck Stairs Video: Video from This Old House About Building Deck Stairs

By Chris | November 14, 2007 - 4:16 pm - Posted in Marine Structures, Treated Wood

This sketchcast is an overview of the basic components required to build a pier or dock foundation and how they fit together.


The main components of a dock foundation are:

  1. Pilings
  2. Pile Caps/Beams
  3. Stringers

You will also need the appropriate hardware and surface deck materials for your pier or dock foundation. The sketchcast does not cover spans or what sizes of materials you should use. There are too many variables to even consider putting that here. So, if you want my advice on what sizes to use for your dock foundation I will go for the mega overbuild. Check with your local building codes and consult an engineer to be safe.

Make sure you use properly treated wood when building your pier or dock foundation. For fresh water, use wood treated to at least .60 pcf and use 2.5 pcf for saltwater. Marine environments are really tough on wood foundations.

Along the same vein, use the best hardware you can get. The price difference will be next-to-nothing and you will always know that your dock or pier is really strong. Use hot dipped galvanized or even stainless steel hardware.

If you have any questions about the components, where to get them, or how to build a pier or dock foundation, post a comment here.