Carpentry & Framing

How To Build A Wheelchair Ramp

If you have a disabled family member, a wheel chair ramp is a necessity. But, Wheelchair ramps aren’t just for wheelchairs. While some elderly people don’t have any trouble walking, climbing steps can prove to be a challenge. A wheelchair ramp can make it much easier for them to leave or return to their home.

If you have rental properties, you must follow certain codes and guidelines, but whether it’s your home or one you rent to someone, you need to follow building codes. Not only is it the law, it will make a much safer ramp for anyone that is disabled or elderly to use.

A wheelchair ramp should always have a level landing area at the bottom and top of the ramp. There should also be a level area anywhere that the ramp changes to another direction. If the ramp is going to be over 20 feet in length, you should add another level section in the middle. This will give them a flat place to stop and rest a minute if they need to.

The levels areas that you place in the ramp should be the same width of the ramp itself and they’re suppose to be at least five feet long to allow lot’s of room for the wheelchair. The length is to provide enough room for someone to turn the wheelchair around and to keep it away from the edge of the level area.

The best width for a wheelchair ramp is three feet and handrails should be installed on each side of the ramp. The ideal height for handrails is three feet, but it’s preferable to have a rail also located at 18″ for anyone that has trouble reaching up to the higher rail. The handrails need to be along the entire length of the ramp.

The perfect sloping angle should be one foot for each twelve feet of ramp. For instance if the ramp is twelve feet long, the highest part should not be more than one foot off of the ground. For porches that are higher than one foot off the ground, the ramp should have levels. One twelve foot length of ramp, a flat section and then a turn to go up another section of ramp.

Having a wheelchair ramp with several sections and landings is much better than having one with a really steep incline that someone disabled won’t be able to climb. Another option would be to place the ramp at which ever porch is the lowest to the ground. Some homes have a higher porch in the front than they do at the back of the home.

As an added safety feature, a 3″ curb should be added to the bottom of the ramp. This curb will prevent the wheels of a wheelchair from slipping off of the ramp. The curb can either be placed on the ramp floor or incorporated in with the bottom handrail. But, if you’re going to use the bottom rail as a curb, it shouldn’t be any more than 3″ above the floor of the ramp.

Wheelchair ramps can be made from any material, wood, steel and concrete all make excellent ramps. Just make sure that the entire surface is slip resistant. The level areas of the ramp should be checked to make sure that puddles of water don’t form that can be slick or even freeze during the winter.

Understanding Basic Woodworking Terms

If you’ve got a lot of experience with woodworking, then all of the technical terms aren’t much of a mystery. But, if you’re an amateur that just loves doing woodwork as a hobby or likes doing your own home repairs, some of the terms used can be pretty confusing.

By knowing what each term means, you can get a better visualized idea of what the process includes. And, having some idea of what the outcome is suppose to be can mean the difference between a successful project and one that ends up in the scrap pile!

If the project plans includes a mitered joint, it simply means that the two ends are cut a different angles so that they will fit together without any gap being left. A perfectly square corner has a 90* angle, to achieve this you would just cut each end at a 45* angle, when placed together they will create the perfect corner!

Professional carpenters or do it yourself carpenters that work with miters a lot usually have a miter saw. But, for most people that just do woodworking as a hobby or hobbyists or do small home repairs, a miter box generally does the job. A miter box is a small jig that the wood fits into, the sides are pre-cut with guides, you insert the hand saw into the guide to cut the wood and there’s no guess work!

A crosscut is just like the name implies, it’s a cut that goes across the grain of the board. There’s slightly more resistance when cutting against the grain of the wood, but saw blades with larger teeth can make it a snap. A rip cut is just the opposite of a crosscut, it’s when you cut the wood in the direction that the woods grain is going.

If you need to plane a piece of wood, you just need to remove some layers to make it thinner. There are various types of wood planes, but the most common is a hand plane. The plane will have a small handle to hold while you slide it across the wood, an attached blade shaves layers off the wood.

One place that planing comes in handy is around doors or windows. Often, over time your homes foundation may shift, or moisture may cause the wood frames around doors or windows to swell. The result is a window or door that doesn’t close properly. Instead of replacing the entire frame piece, you simply shave some of the wood off so that it’s flush again.

If you have a lot of planing projects, you may want to consider purchasing an electric plane. They come in all different sizes, from smaller ones that you can carry around like a drill, to sizes that are not portable. Electric planes are mainly used when you need to reduce the thickness on large areas of wood.

An electric plane can be very handy if you already have a lot of wood that is too thick for the project you want to do. And, the new trend is to make furniture and wood accessories out of vintage boards. Most older wood wasn’t always cut in perfect sizes, the thickness can vary just enough that when they’re put together the surface isn’t completely flat.

You may rarely run across a project that requires a mortise, but when you do you, you’re probably going wonder what it means. The most common places that you find a mortise is on doors. A mortise is an area of the wood that is removed so that another item can sit in the wood and be flush with the woods surface, such as the area where a hinge attaches to a door frame.

You can make a mortise with a sharp utility knife or a wood chisel. The surface should be as smooth as possible, but it doesn’t even have to be perfectly smooth since the hinge will cover it. If you enjoy making hope chests, cabinets or even jewelry boxes, you’ll need to make mortises quite often.

Add Attic Stairs for Access to Extra Storage

Seems like everyone I know is in desperate need of more storage space. With all the things we tend to collect on a daily basis, our closets are packed full! I have lots of closets and still can’t find the space to put the vacuum cleaner away!

But, don’t worry, many of us have an untapped source of wasted space - the attic! It’s a perfect place to store all kinds of things that aren’t needed all the time. Especially seasonal stuff like Christmas decorations and even folding lawn chairs.

If you’re lucky you actually have a stairway tucked in an upstairs corner that leads up to your attic. But, if like most of us you have a small square opening in the top of one of your closets or a hallway, then using that space can be hard to do.

You can easily add a folding attic stairs to allow you to take advantage of all that open space! They may seem hard to install, but you really can do it yourself!

No matter what brand of folding attic stairs you buy, the technique for installation is pretty much the same. However, before shopping for a set of stairs you’ll need to measure the opening to the attic.

Installing the stairs is a project that almost any one can do as long as you know a little about carpentry work. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to find steps that will fit the existing hole exactly. You’ll probably have to enlarge the opening to make it fit.

Remove the trap door on the attic opening and remove all the trim around the hole, down to the bare rafters. Measure the opening and then measure the frame of the steps. The opening will need to be 1/2 inch larger than the frame.

Measure and mark the drywall and cut it away using a utility knife. If you’d prefer once you’ve got the cut started in the drywall you can use a small saw to finish cutting it.

Now you’re ready to measure and cut the rafters. You’re probably not going to be able to use a jigsaw, it will be easier with a good sharp hand saw.

It will probably be easier to cut the rafters from inside the attic, you’ll have to install the stairs from inside the attic anyway. Just make sure to put everything in the attic so you’ll have it close at hand.

Now you will need to make a frame to fit around the stair frame. There is already a frame on the stairs, but you need to make one to mount inside the opening to have something to secure the stairs to. Place the frame inside the hole and mount it to the ceiling rafters.

Once you’ve gotten the rafters cut away and the new frame in place, use two pieces of scrap lumber and screw them onto each end of the opening onto the ceiling. These will only be temporary to hold the stairs in place until you get them installed and should only extend 1/2 beyond the opening.

Insert the attic stairs into the opening and secure them to the surrounding frame. There should be screws included with the steps, but if there’s not any you’ll need to buy some 3 or 3 1/2 inch screws. Check the manufacturers directions for the suggested position of the screws.

Next remove the temporary boards and attach the trimming. Allow about 1/4 of an inch gap between the stairs and the trim so that the stairs won’t stick when you try to open them.

All that’s left to do is to cut the stairs to the correct length to sit on the floor properly. Be very careful with your measurements, if you cut them too short the stairs won’t reach the floor!

Unfold the stairs leaving the bottom section folded to the back. Hold a scrap piece of board to the side of the stairs and measure how far you need them to go to touch the floor and mark the place. Do each side separately in case the floor isn’t completely level on both sides of the stairs.

Now that you’ve gotten the stairs cut to the right length, you’re ready to pack all that stuff up into the attic and out of your way!

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