Wood Framing For Your Home Projects

Wood Framing For Your Home Projects

A house is a major undertaking and is best left to the pros. A shed, garage or a gazebo or other landscape feature is well within the average handyman’s ability. If you have basic carpentry tools you should be able with care, build a solid long lasting structure. There are many pre-made plan sets available at your local lumberyard or big box store.

They will provide a good layout, perhaps furnish lumber quantities needed for the job and are a good guide for you to follow. Remember you should always check with your local building department to inquire as to whether a permit is required or not. Many municipalities do not require permits for shed, decks and pools but do require them for garages, etc. It is always better to ask first.

Tools needed

Safety glasses, power saw with sharp blade, good hand saw, hammer, 4 foot level, square, string line, pencils, chalk line, tripod and level (available for rent at your local rental store by the day for only a few dollars), extension cords or other power source and a good tape measure.


Look at your drawings to see if a lumber list is printed on them. If it is, you may take it to your lumber yard and they will price all the materials for you. Don’t forget nails or screws. If there is no lumber list and you cannot figure out the materials you need, many stores will when they are not so busy, figure the lumber for you in order to make the sale. Ask the salesperson. Most will be happy it do it for you.

Hopefully you own a set of saw horses to use as a cutting table. They are not critical but if you can afford them or can build them they will save your back a great deal of pain. Look at your plans. Study them. Select the lumber you need for the floor framing and lay it out on the saw horses. If you’re building a garage do the same for the wall framing. The plans will show you what lengths to cut the floor pieces or wall studs.

Your footings or foundation walls should be in place by now. Frame the perimeter band or “rim” joists first. This will allow you to make sure the building floor is square and level. Using your tape measure, measure from one outside corner across to the opposite outside corner and record the measurement.

Lets say it is 110 ½”. Now measure across the other two opposite corners. If you get a measurement of 110″ even, you are 1/4″ out of square. It’s ½ of whatever the difference in your measurements are. Just move the corners a little bit until both measurements are 110 ¼”. Your floor frame is now dead square. Don’t be upset if you find you’re out of square.

Nobody gets it perfect on the first try. If you have made accurate cuts in your lumber and the lengths are correct, you will find it is easy to make the unit square. You now have a 4 sided perimeter rim joist box completed. Start to fill in the floor joists on the centers shown on your drawings.

Do not change the dimensions. They are drawn that way for a purpose. It is for structural support but you will find when you go to install your plywood flooring it will not fit in standard 4′ x 8′ sheets. Plywood comes in 48″ widths so if you alter your floor joist spacing, the plywood will not fit and you will end up lots of cutting to do and result in a huge waste of material.

So, we now have a complete floor framing system. Install any hangers shown on the drawing, wood blocking or other components shown on the drawings. It is time to install the plywood. Here’s where the good long lasting sheds begin and others fail. Take the time to use a good quality construction adhesive on top of each joist before you install your plywood.

Using an inexpensive caulk gun, apply a bead along the full length of the joists you are about to cover. Lay your plywood carefully on the joists so as not to spread the adhesive all over the plywood and you! Now nail or screw down the plywood. A general rule of thumb is space your fasteners 8″ apart along the perimeter of the plywood and 4-6″ apart on the “field” or inside of the plywood. This will provide a super strong and squeak free floor. Continue on until all the plywood flooring is complete.

Now for the wall framing. You have a great place to frame your walls on the floor you just finished! Just layout the stud and plate material on the floor for one wall. Place the bottom plate wood closest to the edge of the floor or bottom of the wall, layout the studs roughly where they go and then the two top plate materials across them.

Assemble the wall according to your plans. If there is a window or door in that wall, frame for it now. It’s a lot easier when the wall is laying flat on the floor then when it is standing upright. Measure across the corners again, the same as you did on the floor frame. Make sure the wall is square. Now apply your plywood.

Leave the plywood hang down over the lower plate at least a couple of inches. You will see why later. Yes, while it’s laying flat. It is not necessary to cut out the windows or doors, they can be cut out later. OK, the first wall is framed and covered with plywood or “sheathed”. Its time to stand it up into place.

Hopefully you have some help around. It’s not impossible to do alone but it’s a lot easier with help. If you have help, just stand the wall upright and using your sledge hammer and with at least one person balancing the wall, knock it into place along the edge of the floor frame.

When you finally get the wall to the edge, the extra plywood hanging down over the lower plate will drop off the edge. Push the wall tightly against the lower floor farming and nail the plywood to the floor frame. Now quickly as the other person is still holding the wall, take a 2 x4 and nail it to the end stud of the wall about ¾ of the way up the wall until it is finally nailed into place.

Take the other end and nail it to the floor or rim joist on a 45 degree angle. This will help hold the wall until it is securely nailed and other walls are in place. There are commercial wall jacks that can be purchased or rented that will not only jack up the wall but will hold it until final nailing. Great tool! Now nail the new lower wall plate securely to the rim joist making sure the wall is even on the ends and not sticking over one way over the other. It is time to frame your 2nd wall.

When the 2nd wall is completely framed and sheathed, again slide it into place with one end matching one end of the first wall. Using the sledge hammer and with your partner balancing the wall upright, make sure the corners are tight together.

Once they are, nail the corner 2 x 4’s together making up the corner. Nail the sheathing to the bottom rim joist again. The walls along with the brace should stand on their own at this point. Now frame the 3rd and 4th walls and install them the same way as the first two always checking with your 4′ level to assure the walls are plumb before you nail them to the floor and each other.

Once all 4 walls are erected, plumbed and nailed, you may want to place some 2×4’s across the walls to further brace the structure while you frame the roof. Make a note here that we are using 2×4’s for our walls but the framing sequence is the same whether your walls are 2×4, 2×6 or whatever is called for on the plans. It is time to install your top plate.

This will be a 2nd set of 2×4’s running around the tops of your walls tying them together. The first 2×4 starts on the end of the corner wall and runs across to end of the 2nd wall This ties the corners together. Each subsequent 2×4 does the same thing. It is not necessary for these to be one piece but it helps. Each 2×4 “laps” onto the wall before it. When you are done, the top plate will be a double layer or 2-2×4’s thick. This provides the added strength for your rafters to sit upon.

Headers-Over every wall opening either for a door or window perhaps, it is required to strengthen the wall where the studs have been cut away. Your plans will call for 2-2″x6″s perhaps. Cut the 2″ x 6″ the length of the rough opening plus 3″.

Your window size rough opening, say is 30″ wide and 40″ high. You need to cut the 2 x6’s 33″ long. Your wall studs will also be 33″ apart running from floor plate to top plate. Measure up from the floor to where the top of window will be above the floor. Mark your studs. Now install the header with the bottom of the header on that mark.

Nail it securely through the sides of both studs. Now cut 2 more 2 x4’s that will be installed as “jack” studs. Install these jack studs directly under the ends of the header and nail them to the full height studs. Your finished rough opening should be 30″ wide. Many framers will install the jack studs first and then simply lay the header on top and nail into place. Now cut a 2×4, 30″ long.

Measure down from the bottom of your finished header 40″ and mark the jack studs. Toe nail this bottom window sill plate into place. Your rough opening is now 30″ x 40″. Infill under the bottom window sill with 3 pieces of 2×4, one under each end and one in the middle where it will fall at the 16″OC wall stud layout. This will help later if drywall or other wall finish is to be installed. Repeat for any other wall openings that were not framed during wall construction.

Roof Framing

There are many types of roofs that may be used on buildings today. Common types are gable roof, shed, mansard, barn or hip roof. Most sheds or garages use a simple gable roofing system. Do not be afraid to try the others, just follow your plans carefully. Layout the materials for your rafters.

Each rafter will have a cut at the top to match the ridge board and another set of cuts at the bottom called a “birds mouth” for where the rafter sits on the top plate and another vertical tail cut which provides the vertical face for you to nail your fascia boards against. Rafter cutting can be tricky. Most plans provide a rafter cut template which makes the job real easy.

Your plans will tell you what overall length to cut the rafter, what angle the top must be cut and the shape of the birds mouth.


Cut your ridge board to length. The ridge board will also be one size larger than your rafter. 2×6 rafter, 2 x 8 ridge board. Place the ridge board across the wall top plate and then cut two 2×4 to support it. A little math here.

If your ridge board shows it is 10′ above the floor and your walls are 8′ high, and your ridge board is 2×8, deduct 7 5/8″ (nominal size don’t forget) from 10′ leaving 9′-4 3/8″. Deduct 8′ walls from this answer and we get a piece needed of 1′-4 3/8″. Cut your 2 x4’s this length. Placing one 2×4 under each end of the ridge board, nail the 2×4 to the top plate and to the ridge board. The ridge board is now temporarily supported on each end by this short stud.

Now test fit the first rafter you cut. It should sit snugly on the top plate and lay flat against the ridge board with no spaces. As the weight of the roof load is applied, (plywood, shingles, snow perhaps?) it will push down on the rafters against the ridge board. If there is a space between the rafter end and the ridge it will not work correctly.

Check the birds mouth cut on top of the wall. Does it fit snugly?

Now is the time to adjust. If everything fits well, clearly mark your rafter TEMPLATE and do not use it UNTIL THE END. You will use this rafter to cut all the other rafters without having to measure each one. Ok, now cut all your rafters on your sawhorses using your rafter template for layout lines. Just trace it.

Take all the rafters into the shed and lean them against the top of the wall approximately where they will be installed. You will appreciate this if you’re working alone. Using a sturdy ladder, place your first rafter against the ridge board and nail it to the top plate on the wall. Now install the opposite rafter on the other side of the ridge board. Start on the end rafters first.

Now do the two rafters on the opposite end of the shed. You will see this stabilizes the ridge board. Now take a few minutes to make sure everything is straight and plumb. Make sure your ridge board is level and not bowed. If everything is correct, go ahead and install the balance of the rafters using the TEMPLATE as the last rafter. Make sure all rafters are nailed properly.

Roof sheathing

Using the plywood thickness specified in your plans, start installing the roof sheathing. Depending on the shed size, a full sheet can almost always be placed at the bottom starting in one corner.

NOTE: Before you start installing the plywood, tack nail your fascia board to the vertical end cut of your rafter. Using a scrap piece of wood, hold the scarp on top of the rafter sticking over the end. Slide the fascia board up against the scrap and nail. You will see the fascia dos not come all the way to the top of the rafter tail. When you install the roof sheathing, you want the plywood to hang over the rafter tail and end at the fascia board. Install your roof sheathing and nail it completely to the rafters. You want to leave a small opening at the top of the rafters perhaps 2-3″ wide on each side of the roof. This will allow hot air to escape out the roof and keep your roof cooler. Install all your fascia boards.


There are also many types of roofing available today. Most common are fiberglass shingles but wood shingles, metal roofing and rubber membrane roofing are being used much more often today. Assuming you are using fiberglass shingles you need to figure how much you need.

The simplest way to measure your roof. If the roof is 8′ x 8′ on each side, that’s 64 square feet each or a total of 128 square feet. Most shingles come 3 bundles to a square. 128 equals 1.3 square or 4 bundles of shingles. You will need some shingles for cuts and roof ridge caps. Buy 6 bundles. Shingles come in many colors today and some shingles come 4 bundles to a square. Check the packaging.

You will need enough aluminum drip edge to go all around the perimeter edge of the roof. Measure it. They come in full 10′ pieces only but also come in varied colors. Felt or tar paper. Many contractors today do not install felt paper but I still think you get a much better job it you use it and it’s cheap. It provides a 2nd layer of roof protection in case of damaged or missing shingle.

If your heating the shed or garage it is strongly suggested and required today in most states that you install ice and water shield membrane. It comes in various widths and roll sizes. You want to install a minimum of 2 widths starting at the lower edge of your roof. It is sticky and tricky to install but is well worth it. It prevents ice dam build up at the eave edges from the re-freezing of water melted from the heated portion of the roof and the unheated soffit area hanging outside your wall.

Install your drip edge holding it tightly against the fascia board and nailing it down through the roof sheathing. This is a finished piece you will see later under the edge of the shingles and helps prevent shingle edge damage. There are so many types of shingles available it is impossible to describe them all here.

Follow the directions on the shingle bundles. Work you way up the roof from one side making sure you keep the shingle tab slots straight with one another. Cuts for one end can be used on the other and so on. You will have some scrap left over. Keep them for now. After your drip edge is installed, you must install one row of shingles upside down along the bottom edges of the roof. This will provide a water seal when the first shingle is installed directly over the upside down shingle and you will see the same color underneath the all the tab slots.

With all the shingles installed it is time to install the ridge vent and cap shingles. Make sure your roof shingles do not cover the slot you left in the roof sheathing. If they do, trim them back now. Continuous ridge vents come in many sizes and shapes as well. Some are pre-formed paper, wire mesh, cellulose and many others.

They all serve the same function. You carefully bend the vent in half and place it along the top of the ridge board over the opening you left in the plywood. Place a few roofing nails as you go holding it into place. Stop each end of the ridge vent about 8″ from the ends of the ridge board. Now gather all your leftover and cut shingles. You want to cut the full tab off the shingle to make ridge cap shingles.

Shingles are cut into tabs of 1/3 shingle each. Use 2 nails on each cap shingle lapping each shingle so nails do not show. Place a small amount of roofing tar under first shingle to hold it down so you will not see exposed nails and to prevent wind ftom lifting the first edge. Install the ridge cap shingles end to end.

Face the shingle ends away from the prevailing winds. If it is a large roof, you may install one-half from each end and end in the middle of the roof. You then cut one smaller tab to use as a closure piece the same color as your shingles and nail all 4 corners. Place a small dab of roofing cement on each nail to prevent water from entering into the nail hole.

Basically your shed or garage is done. Install the door hardware, windows and trims if you have any. A good coat of paint and your ready to go! All the dimensions I have provided here are samples and are provided as a guide only. Please double check all your dimensions before cutting your lumber and remember to always wear safety glasses when using power equipment.

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