Basic Carpentry, Roof Framing, and House Framing Tips

Basic Carpentry, Roof Framing, and House 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 method.

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 place.

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 square!

Floor Framing

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!

Wall Framing

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!

Stair Building

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 joists.

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!

You 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.

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 method.

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 place.

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 square!

Floor Framing

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!

Wall Framing

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!

Stair Building

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 joists.

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!

You 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.


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