Basic Carpentry Framing Tips
My carpentry experience has been obtained by working in the highly
competitive west and southwest side Chicago land housing market for the
past 30 years. This experience includes working as an apprentice,
journeyman, lead man, roof cutter, and foreman. During these years the
advancements in house framing technique and tools has been astounding.
When I first started hardly anyone used an air gun, the framing
square step off method was the normal way of laying out common rafters.
There are still roof cutters out there that refuse to use any other
Build from the Roof Down
Of course I don't mean build the roof first.
You should be aware of where the rafters and ceiling joists are going to sit before framing the first floor.
Place the floor joists directly under the rafters and studs on the joists, this will give you straight mechanical runs, and proper load bearing.
Rough framing is hard work don't make it even worse by not making a plan and then following it.
Sill Plates and Beams
The first step in framing any residential structure is the laying of the
sill plates and beams. Many carpenters get in a hurry during this
process. You should take great care and get these located in the proper
Squareness and proper dimensions will make the rest of the carpentry job go more efficient for you and everyone down the line, finish
carpenter, flooring installer, and even the roofer's job will go
better. I can't elaborate enough the importance of getting the building
When framing the floor take note of any concentrated loads from above
and if solid blocking is required. It is much easier to put it in before
the floor is sheathed.
Little carpentry tricks like this is what will make or break the bottom line!
When framing walls, pay attention to where the beam pockets go and put
them in while the wall is still laying on the deck as opposed to after
it is stood up. Nine times out of ten if you put them in later there
will be a stud nailed to the wall sheathing that will have to be removed
costing you time.
Whenever possible sheath exterior
walls before standing. I always get a good laugh whenever I see
carpenters slogging around in the mud trying to apply exterior
sheathing. We won't even talk about the second floor!
Learning how to build stairs is an excellent way to move up the ladder within a small or large construction company. Cutting stair stringers is similar to rafters.
Ceiling and Roof Framing
Framing of the ceiling joists and roof rafters go hand in hand. You
must know where the rafters are to be located before placing ceiling
The use of a Construction Master Calculator increases speed and accuracy in all phases of rough framing carpentry.
Carpentry Words of Wisdom
Changes usually come slowly in the rough framing world, however I'm a
firm believer in implementing new tools and techniques as soon as it
becomes apparent they will improve quality and efficiency.
Keep an open mind, every once in a while the apprentice will come up with a good idea.
Always Remember, "A Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail!
You Must Learn From the Mistakes of Others, You Can't Possibly Live Long Enough to Make Them All on Your Own!
can't just jump out of the truck and start bending nails. My theory
is to build from the roof down. Look at the roof plan and take note of
any concentrated loads, varied wall heights, vaulted or cathedral
ceilings, etc. A good rough framing carpenter knows these things
before floor or wall framing begins.
Information is added on a regular basis so check back often.
Carpentry is Tough in Winter
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Basic Roof Framing InstructionsWhen roof framing it all begins with the framing square and the layout of the common rafter.
Framing Square BasicsTips for using a framing square to layout and cut common rafters. Including some carpentry shortcuts gained from my many years of experience.
Gable Roof Framing TechniqueGable roof framing is the most common type of roof in North America. Here is the technique used to frame a simple gable roof.
How to Determine Roof PitchDetermining roof pitch is a rather simple process if you use one of these five techniques.
Basic Roof StylesThe same basic roof styles are used in any type of residential construction. Whether you are building a dog house, shed, garage, single family home, or mansion.
Framing a Hip RoofFraming a hip roof may look difficult, but if you can cut a gable roof you are well on your way to cutting a simple hip.
Correct Hip Rafter LengthCorrect hip rafter length can easily be determined with the use of a Construction Master Calculator.
Dropping Hip RaftersDropping hip rafters is required to get the jack rafters to plane into the hip properly.
Cutting Hip RaftersWhen cutting hip rafters I prefer to cut them one at a time, because of the size and complexity, gang cutting is impossible.
Hip Roof Ridge BoardWhile the ridge board length on a gable roof is simple, a hip roof is only slightly more difficult.
Pyramid Roof FramingWhile it may seem intimidating pyramid roof framing is easy as long as you follow a few simple rules.
Installing Trusses on a Detached Garage
Installing trusses on a shed, detached garage, or other small building is a good alternative if you don't know how to cut a roof.
Types of Prefab Roof TrussesNearly four out of five new homes built in America use manufactured roof trusses to frame the roof. Prefabricated trusses replace rafters and ceiling joists used in conventional roof framing.
Ordering Roof TrussesBefore ordering roof trusses several options must be considered and decided upon before placing the order.
Learn How to Build StairsLearning how to build stairs is one way of advancing your carpentry career. This is the method I use for site built steps.
Construction Master Stair Calculator The Construction Master 5 has a stair calculator function to greatly improve stair layout speed and accuracy
Portable StairsEven if custom wooden stairs are to be used portable stairs should be installed as soon as possible.
Wall Framing BasicsHere you will find the basics of wall framing,studs, headers, cripples, corners, and such.
Squaring WallsSquaring walls before standing is a rather simple process. Whenever possible, walls should be squared up and sheathed before standing.
Balloon FramingModern balloon framing, lay out and construction methods for framing a gable wall. This method is only used in certain situations by modern carpenter's.
Garage Door FramingFollow this advice on garage door framing and framing your garage door should be a snap.
Rough Openings for Door FramingHow to determine door framing rough openings for the most common residential doors.
Conventional Window Framing TipsStep by step tutorial showing how to assemble window framing components using diagrams for clearer illustrations.
Installing Exterior DoorsStep by step instructions for installing exterior doors including wood, fiberglass, and steel pre hung doors.
Floor Framing Floor framing requires careful planning starting with the sill plates and beams.
Sill PlatesThe first yet most important step in carpentry is the laying of the sill plates!
Planning to Build a ShedBefore starting to build a shed there are many things that must be considered, what size, location, type of foundation, and do I need a permit.
Basic Carpentry Tools ListHere you will find a list and short description of basic carpentry tools used in modern house framing.
Cordless Power ToolsWhen purchasing cordless power tools it is important to be well informed. Would you rather purchase a Chinese, American, or Swiss drill?
Carpentry MathCarpentry math ranges from simple addition and subtraction to trigonometry, geometry, and the Pythagorean Theorem
Pythagorean Theorem and CarpentryThe Pythagorean Theorem makes carpentry work so much easier when it is used for squaring walls, foundations, and roof framing.
Carpentry Training CoursesCarpentry training courses are offered by many vocational schools as well local carpenters union training schools.
Carpentry Tips for House FramingCarpentry tips including house framing, roof framing, how to build stairs, carpentry tools,and related equipment.
Basic Concrete FormsIn residential construction several different types of concrete forms are used.
Common Carpentry TermsA lot of the carpentry terms and definitions vary from region to region and sometimes from town to town.
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Carpentry Related SitesThese are related sites to the house framing industry.
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