Fast and Accurate Wall Framing
An experienced builder’s no-nonsense approach to the bones of a house.
Synopsis: As builder Mike Norton explains, framing is hardly glamorous work. Nevertheless, because the framing embodies the physics of a house, if it’s not done right, the house will fail. In this Master Carpenter article, Norton shares his methods for framing walls efficiently and accurately.
If there’s a glamorous job in carpentry, it’s not framing. It might be finish work; everything looks so good after that final piece of molding is nailed in place and the job is complete. Framing, on the other hand, is called “rough,” and it requires an experienced imagination to see the finished product in its earliest stage. But framing embodies the physics of the structure, and if you don’t get it right, the house will fail. You’ll also have a hard time nailing your fancy trim where there is no blocking.
Whether the plans call for traditional stick framing or optimum-value engineering, the skills are relatively simple: straight and square cuts, a good hammer technique, economy of motion, and a strong back. There are a few tricks, however, that make the job easier and the results more professional. Here, I’ll explain some of the methods I’ve picked up, using a simple exterior wall as an example.
Even though you’re probably the one who laid the sill plates and framed the deck, it’s still a good idea to make sure that the deck is square before framing the walls. The simplest method to use is to check the corners by measuring a 3/4/5 triangle and then extending the angle with a reference chalkline. I’ve found it faster, however, to use a laser that shoots two lines at 90°. Two people can square up a deck in about 10 minutes, and there’s less chance for error. If the deck isn’t…