10 Golden Rules of Framing
Bits of framing advice the Fine Homebuilding editors all wish they'd known the first (and last) time they strapped on their tool bags.
I’ve been a reader of Fine Homebuilding since the first issue came out in 1981, about the time I started being paid to bang nails into lumber. As it has for many other builders, the magazine served as the textbook that taught me the trade I love. Becoming an editor here and getting to know the building heroes whose bylines I’d been reading was both humbling and inspiring. It was humbling because I found them to be even more knowledgeable and talented than they seemed in print, often leaving me feeling like the village idiot. But it was inspiring because none of them were the kind of people who’d point out your ignorance. Instead, they’d invite you to grab a cold beer and a seat on a tailgate with them at the end of a hot day while they explained everything they knew that you didn’t.
From that deep well of building knowledge, FHB editor Justin Fink and I worked with the current crop of editors to winnow ten bits of framing advice we all wish we’d known the first (and last) time we strapped on our tool bags.
1. Start solid
Foundations are rarely perfect, so it’s on the framer to ensure the mudsills are an accurate template for everything that follows. Make sure they’re square and that they and the beams carrying the first floor are level and at the right height. Spending time where the wood meets the concrete makes the rest of the job go faster.
2. Lay out walls alone
You may want help snapping lines, but otherwise, transferring wall locations from prints to floor requires solo concentration. Any mistake can mean hours of rework. Do whatever it takes to work on this step without distractions—get to the job before anyone else, send the crew to lunch or set them to sorting lumber, and turn off your phone.
3. Waste nothing
Every pallet of incoming lumber should be culled and the straightest pieces set aside for the places where straightness matters most (top plates, king and jack studs, etc.). Crooked, bowed, waney, and knotty lumber has its place too. These defects matter very little when the piece is being cut short for cripples, blocking, or temporary supports.
Continue reading the 10 Golden Rules of Framing by clicking the PDF button below.
And for a peek back at some classic advice, here are Larry Haun’s 10 rules for framing from 2003.