From Scraps to Studs - Fine Homebuilding

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The Deans of Green

The Deans of Green

From Scraps to Studs

comments (4) August 3rd, 2009 in Blogs
MikeGuertin Mike Guertin, editorial advisor


What do you do with the 2x4 and 2x6 cut offs and sheathing scraps left at the end of a framing or remodeling job?   Sure, you could burn the solid wood in your wood stove and stack up the plywood and OSB streetside with a ‘Free’ sign.  Here’s another idea that never occurred to me – turn the scraps into non-bearing wall studs by sandwiching a row of 2x blocks between outer layers of sheathing strips ripped at 3 ½ in. or 5 ½ in.  The idea was developed and engineered by Building Science Corporation as part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Build America program a several years ago and deemed Site Engineered Environmental Studs (SEE Studs for short).  They have free specifications for building them; just click here.

Some contractors will be concerned about the labor cost to assemble SEE Studs when a new stud is only a couple of bucks.  But there are things to consider aside from the labor cost.  Waste management is a part of building green so turning waste into usable materials will show your clients you walk the walk.  Plus you save on the disposal cost of those scraps when you divert them from the Dumpster.   

Try incentivizing the process of building SEE Studs by paying workers on a per stud basis.  If you run a crew there are likely one or two eager young guys on it looking for extra pocket change.    Let them work after hours either on-site or at a site of their choosing.  They’ll hustle to increase the rate they earn extra money on the side.  And the hustle may even carry over to their regular work habits.

I doubt I’ll have any trouble with my local building inspector when he sees SEE Studs in my walls; but you may want to run the idea by your inspector if he or she tends to be on the conservative side.


posted in: Blogs, green building, remodeling, framing, , lumber, recycling, studs, waste management

Comments (4)

winner winner writes: Green construction is not always the least expensive method but rather is designed to leave a future foot print of efficency and a passed foot print of the least waste. Using scrap 2X lumber and scrap sheating is yet another method to achieve green construction. If the shoe fits wear it! waste not want not.
Posted: 10:53 am on September 8th

bennerm bennerm writes: I'm intrigued. This has inspired me to dig out my finger jointing kit. I've used some open web trusses built from finger jointed material and glued joinery, no mechanical fasteners at all. A little glue and in a non-bearing condition, I think the idea of using site scrap in a constructive manner is a great idea.
Posted: 2:09 pm on September 3rd

patchjob patchjob writes: That seems like a pretty non-green idea to me. What about the energy cost of producing those 84 steel nails? I like the chipper idea, as long as there isn't any lead paint, tar materials, etc. in the scraps.
Posted: 4:59 pm on August 12th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: I hate to be a naysayer, Mike, but that will never happen. For starters, there is a 14 point check list required to make one stud!

I am no engineer but dual 5" OC nailing seems overkill.

That's a nail every 5" per side. Most new framing material doesn't take 4 nails well; Try putting in 84....that's how many 6d RS nails would be needed to make one 96" stud. Now combine that with the amount of time it would take to rip two strips of ply, efficiently combine 2-3 lengths of 2x to form a 96ish length, shoot 84 nails, then trim to fit. I would ballpark about 10 min. per stud. That's 6 studs per hour at $45 hourly rate.....I am charging my clients $7.50 per stud before it goes in the wall.

I just accumulate as much scrap wood as I can (off cuts and demo lumber) then go rent a wood chipper from Home Depot. I can put nailed together cornerbucks in with no problem and I get great (environmentally sensitive) garden mulch.
Posted: 7:37 am on August 4th

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