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Common Rules for Framing

Know the Building Code

Building codes exist to create safe structures, building inspectors are not capable of monitoring all aspects of every project it’s your responsibility to know the building codes and build to it.

There are codes that specify nailing patterns type, and size to use. Whether you’re nailing studs or installing sheeting, the rule for nailing studs is two 16d vinyl nails through the plate into the end of the stud, or four 8d nails if your toe nailing two on each side of the stud. When nailing off sheeting use 8d nails every six inches along the edges and every twelve inches in the field, although there are always certain circumstances that may require you to consult with the local building official/inspector. You can also purchase a copy of the International Residential Building Code. When using a pneumatic nailer be sure not to overdrive the nails into the sheeting.

Stay On the Ground and Off the Ladders

To be efficient and accurate ladders should only be used when walls are up, or in certain situations. For instance walls can be sheeted on the ground, taking the time to layout and determine what steps to take and when can save time and also material cost. In some cases rafter layout can be done on the top plates while the wall is lying flat on the ground otherwise you will be moving the ladder all over the jobsite. More importantly climbing up and down ladders can constitute for a potential fall or injury, let’s face it ladders simply cost you time and money in certain aspects of the job.

Cut Multiple Boards at Once

It takes less time to cut multiple boards than each one individually stacking lumber in a neat stack or when it gets delivered put it in a neat stack so that all ends are all lined up and flush with each other, you can use a hammer to tap them flush. Set the saw blade deep enough to the stud below. Mark a straight line and cut all you have to do from here is follow the saw blade mark, be sure to check the measurement every 3 rows or so. Another good method is to spread out the lumber flush the ends snap a line and cut. Cutting joists can be done the same way. If you have lots of lumber to cut and have access to a Bigfoot saw or beam saw this makes cutting more productive especially when cutting BCI’s or beam material. Always try to make less repetitive cuts as possible, try to incorporate stop blocks whenever possible.

Finish One Task at a Time

Most framing crews layout build and raise one wall at a time and then go on to the next task, sometimes they will even straighten and brace the wall. When installing floor joists be sure to crown them up and roll them into place. When you get ready to frame walls be sure to layout and snap lines on the floor, doing this will help to make a cut list for the entire project. Be sure to assemble the headers, doors, and window packages first then nail them into the wall framing. It’s easy to move forward to the next task forgetting about vital components, such as bird blocking, proper nailing, and hardware. Be sure to closeout each part of the job before moving onto the next.

Measure Only When You Need To

A good way to save time when framing is by keeping your tape measure, pencil, and speed square in your tool bag. Using a chalk line to mark lines on the deck is a great way to save time allowing you to place the board on the line(s) and cut. When making crosscuts on 2×4’s and 2×6’s use the front edge of the saw acting like you were using a chop saw pushing saw forward, with a little practice this method can save lots of time. If you end up a ¼’’ to ½’’ too long use the saw’s side edge as a guide, training your hand-eye to work together will save valuable time, as you develop these skills cutting and straightening walls will be easier each time.

Don’t Forget about the Other Trades

When building or adding on always look at the layout and position of the electrical, plumbing, hvac, drywall, and trim. It’s a good idea to think a couple steps ahead this will ensure you don’t forget something or have to re-work a task. For instance framing can be in the way, nails can be in the wrong location over the top plates, always keep nails close to studs leaving the bay open for electrical and plumbing. Proper backing and straight studs is critical for the drywall trades to do their job well. Another good tip is to have a carpenter on site when the drywall trade arrives just in case blocking is missing or a stud becomes warped. The carpenter can be working on another part of the house until he may be needed. Allowing this can save costly add-ons.

Work in Logical Order

Create an effective routine and do it the same time tackle each phase of the project in logical order. Having standard procedures will minimize mistakes and time, example would be to layout and snap all lines on the floor then cut the bottom and top plates laying them where they go on the floor. Next would be to detail the location of the doors, windows, headers and intersecting walls, this is called detailing the plates. When detailing the plates it’s a good idea to use a couple of 8d nails to hold the plates together one at each end, this makes detailing a lot easier and keeps the plates from moving when on their side once the plates are detailed use a flat bar to pry apart and begin adding studs. Finding and establishing a method that works for you will help you become efficient.

Use the Best Lumber Where it Counts

These days if you throwback every bowed, crooked or cupped stud you would have to own a lumber mill to have enough lumber to build a house. Making the most out of the lumber you get can often be a task all by itself often times you will have to plan ahead where studs will need to be placed. For instance use studs that are straight for walls in the kitchen, baths and hallways or wherever the imperfections will be noticed most. Installing cabinets on bowed walls is very time consuming pre planning stud placement can avoid this. Also use studs on corners and windows.

  • Most of the time you can work with or use studs that are a little crooked, bowed, or cupped depending on the location.
  • Studs that are simply too bad to work with can be used for blocking or backing.
  • Drywall finish will always look better if you take the time to use straight lumber where it counts it’s always faster and more efficient to fix lumber in the rough framing stage then in the finish stages.

Build a House Not Furniture

Meaning know how and where your tolerances can be. Rough framing does not have to fit like parts of a cabinet, to be acceptable you do need to get started right, mudsills are important as the framing starts right here mudsills need to be level, straight, parallel, and square. Always try to be accurate but a ¼’’ short is tolerable, but the rim joist needs to be within a sixteenth of an inch before it’s nailed to the mudsill. When it comes to framing try to be accurate but not so that it adds days or weeks to the project. Better to be 100% plumb than have every cut perfect. Whenever you build always now or have a vision of what the finished product will look like. All you’re trying to build to is based on the finish.

Avoid Handling the Material Twice

Prior to delivery have the lumber company stage the order according to what you’ll be needing first, such as mudsill, bottom and top plates studs and so on. Also clear an area on the jobsite for the delivered materials. It’s best to cut lumber right off the stack or unit.

  • Most lumber yards will stage the order in which you will need it first.
  • Be aware of potential equipment such as cranes, backhoes, or equipment from the other trades, be sure to allow room for this, always be prepared for the unexpected placing your lumber in the correct place is valuable. The last thing you want to do is move the lumber.
  • Whenever lumber gets delivered always place stickers, which are scrap 2x material underneath the lumber, never let the lumber especially sheet goods come in contact with the ground. It will bow and warp.




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