Monday, July 31, 2017

Tips to keep you out of trouble

These days I am working with very old stone construction where I live...chestnut beams and tiles everywhere, But I have still to upload pictures of construction projects from the past.  Here is a bit of general advice when doing wood construction, till I can figure out a way to upload photos of other construction.

Use a framing square.  There are many times when you use a square, to make straight cuts on your 2x4s or on your plywood.  I am pretty sure that most people know those.  However, it is imperative to use it other times as well. When you gang several framing members together, such as when you add cripples to a framing member to support as window lintel or the bottom of a window.  You might think it is Ok to eyeball or use your fingers to determine if the bottom is level.  But it is so easy to run the ganged members uphill by just feeling that they are flush with your hands, and if you do it with one, several ganged together will really go uphill.  Use the square to make sure the bottom of the column is level.  This is true of corner posts as well.

When you put blocking between floor joists to make nailing surfaces on sheet good or board seams, or if you put in blocks to keep joists from twisting, make sure that they are not too tight.  you can easily bow the entire joist out of straight by just forcing one block in that you have cut a 16th too long.  If you continue to do this, you can multiply the problem each time till you are way out of straight and no longer can match up seams going the other way.  The only remedy is to take the blocking out and start over, or sister new beams onto the joists so that the edge of the sheet goods land on a joist.

Don't allow a mistake to go unrepaired as you are doing the lower parts of a building.  as you work on the building, the mistakes show up as you try to fit the walls, and roofing together and they can get to be bigger and bigger headaches as you continue to work.  Take it apart when it happens even if it is difficult...correct it and start fresh.

Use the proper nails.  Get advice from the lumber yard.  Tell them what you are doing and have them advise you as to guage, length material and special texture of the shank or head.  There are nails for decking, roofing, laying floors, shingles and clapboards.  Choose the right one.

Choosing between nails and screws is another personal issue for me.  When I am working where there is no electricity, it is hard to use screws, and I hate battery operated tools!
One thing I have to say in this age of sheet rock and similar screws, is that nails have great tensile strength.  They will take a lot of twisting, wind movement and walking over, before they will break.  Screws tend to be a bit more brittle when they are bent a couple of times.  When the wind buffets your hose a lot, it is not good to have metal fasteners fail from metal fatigue.  Nails do have a weaker hold when you try to pry members apart, but if you choose the right nail that is large enough to do the job, I find them better in many ways.

Use diagonal metal straps to help reduce sway and racking in your building.  This is essential....DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS... when you build with boards, even tongue and groove or ship lap boards.  Sheet goods such as plywood, Oriented Strand Board etc., will do much of this job for you, but it might be wise to do diagonal bracing anyway, in case metal fasteners or even the wood itself around the fasteners and on seams fail in time from repeated movement. Use the braces horizontally in ceilings, rafters, on roofs, floors, and vertical places like in all walls.  This is very true if you are using a purlin system for your roof
, like in metal roofing.  They are very cheap, and though they may prove to be redundant, it will not bankrupt you to be sure.  This is extremely important in buildings with very large openings in the walls, like screen houses, open pavilions and buildings with large windows and doors.

One thing you might not realize when working in these days of standardization.  You need to check your lumber before using it.
It is not unusual to find that your 8 foot long 2x4 is 8 feet 1/2 inch long, or 7 feet 11 1/2 inches short...so to speak.
Measure every piece of wood that you use.  Lumber is often a little long or short, and this can be a nightmare if you have constructed something complicated and find that that last piece of wood just does not fit, because three other pieces that you assumed were a standard length....WEREN'T.
This also goes for the dimensions of the lumber...your 2x4 is supposed to be 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches.  But sometimes this is not the case...again...to late to fix it after the construction is almost done.

Also, check your sheet goods....you may be planning on using a sheet of plywood only to find that it does not fit because it has tongue and groove or lap cuts.  Your piece may be 4 feet wide, but do you have to overlap or fit the tongue into a groove to make a slight difference, or it might be a bit wider that you expect.