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Commercial Metal Stud Framing
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Introduction | Table of Contents | Back Cover

Section I: Tricks of the Trade 

Welcome to the world of metal stud framing. My name is Ray Clark and I'll be your guide to this challenging and rewarding trade. I've been working in the metal stud and drywall trades for 15 years, and have taught these trades as a junior College instructor. While teaching, I contacted publishers from coast to coast looking for a text to use in my class. I couldn't find one. So I started writing one for my class - and it evolved into this book.

To keep the information simple, to the point, and useful for both journeyman wood carpenters and apprentices alike, I've organized the book into two sections. The first, Tricks of the Trade, focuses on the unique methods and techniques common to the metal framing trade. The second, the Step-by-Step Methods section, concentrates on the process and flow of work involved in framing metal stud walls, ceilings and soffits. As we work through each chapter, I'll also introduce you to tools that are common to the trade, but which may be new to you.

We'll cover the many advantages of framing with metal studs as opposed to the traditional wood. The most obvious is that metal studs won't burn, rot or become a termite buffet. Structurally, as in bearing walls, metal studs are many times stronger than wood studs, greatly reducing the amount of materials needed to support the load, as well as the amount of time it takes to frame the job. And the fact that you screw metal studs together as opposed to nailing wood studs also makes them stronger and faster to assemble. The metal stud material doesn't dry out, either, so warping, bowing and twisting aren't problems. That lets you build straighter walls and flatter ceilings.

And here's another advantage. Wood prices are lumping all over the place. You can bid a job in January, based on lumber prices at that time, then get a nasty surprise when you get the job and order the lumber in February. Maybe you'll find an owner who's sympathetic and understanding about your request for more money. But probably not. I never have. Steel, on the other hand, remains pretty stable. Weather, politics, overharvesting, environmental issues, rarely come into it. Plus, you don't have to worry about quality. Twenty-gauge steel is 20-gauge steel, no matter where it comes from. With wood, especially lately, you never know what you'll get.

Commercial metal stud projects range from small, tenant finish jobs that'll only take a few hours to frame up, to extremely large project that often lost for a year or more. Most metal stud contractors, whether union or not, will pay by the hour, with wages ranging from a low of $7 in some areas of the country to $20-plus, depending on your experience, in others. Many contractors also offer benefit packages including health insurance and 401(k) plans, as well as paid vacations and holidays.

In this section we'll discuss some commonly used tricks of the trade in metal stud construction. They're short- cuts and methods that have become standards of this trade. Obviously, knowing the tricks of the trade gives you an edge. First, it'll reduce the time it takes you to reach journeyman status. Second, you'll know "what's going on" when you begin working with a new partner or new outfit. In either case, the result is the same. It'll help you become more proficient, which makes you a better hand, which means you earn more money. Isn't that the reason you bought this book?

Consider this section as a reference guide that lets us cover the principles of metal stud construction without getting sidetracked on the details of how to accomplish each particular step. This is general knowledge you need under your belt before you actually begin putting up metal stud walls. If you're already an experienced wood carpenter, you may know some of this already. If that's the case, skim through any familiar material in this first section. But I don't recommend skipping anything entirely. You never know when you might pick up a new idea or improved method. It's probably worth your time to read these first four chapters just in case there's a trick or technique that's new for you. And I'll bet there is. Nobody knows it all - not even the authors of books about it.

As you put these methods to work, experience will quickly teach you in where you can put them to work. You can also use this section as a reference guide in connection with the step-by-step directions in the second section of the book.

Chapter 1
Wall Methods

Reading the Blueprints

Reading blueprints and layout are subjects too large for us to cover thoroughly here. There are many books available about both subjects. I'll only cover the fundamentals of layout work and blueprint reading to give you a basic understanding. Experience will teach you much more. If you need more information, look at the order form in the back of the book for Blueprint Reading for the Building Trades and Building Layout. In this chapter, I'll just cover the basics of print notations.

Figure 1-1Figure 1-1. This shows a north or "magnetic north" arrow which points to true north, and helps keep everything going in the same direction.

The magnetic north arrow, shown in Figure 1-1, is located on the right-hand side of each page of the prints. It helps keep all of the work on the job site going the same direction.

The detail symbol indicates a specialty item or condition in a wall, and gives the location of a detailed drawing for the item. The detail symbol in Figure 1-2 refers the reader to detail A (top letter) on page A2.4 (bottom number). The detailed drawing is often called a cut.

The wall legend, also known as a key (Figure 1-3), distinguishes the various wall types in the prints. Each wall type in the legend has a detailed description and a number. The wall numbers in the legend coincide with wall numbers in the floor plan. The wall legend tells you what type of metal stud framing material you'll use for each wall. It also lets you know whether the wall is freestanding or framed to the deck. If it's a freestanding wall, it also gives you the required height. The wall legend also indicates the thickness, type and the number of layers of drywall used, and any insulation materials.

Figure 1-4Figure 1-4. The reflective ceiling plan shown here breaks this floor of the building into "grid ceilings" and "hard lids." You can see a large stair-step drop in the entry way in the rectangle grid near the bottom of the plan. The lines around the rectangle show the separate widths of the stair-steps. The detail symbol cutting through the drop will give the rest of the information.

The reflective ceiling section of the prints (Figure 1-4) gives all the ceiling elevations and the material they're to be built of. Rooms that show light grid lines have a grid ceiling, while clear rooms have a drywall ceiling. The dimensions and elevations for soffits are also given in the reflective ceiling plans, as well as the location of recessed lights and HVAC vents in the ceiling. All elevations are finish elevations, so you've got to add the thickness of the drywall to achieve the frame line elevation.



The 3-4-5 Squaring Method

Let's begin with one of the most basic tricks in construction-making a right angle that's exactly 90 degrees. If you can't do that, you'll create problems that will affect not only your work, but that of all the trades that follow you.

The 3-4-5 method is a simple way to square a perpendicular line off an established wall or reference line using only your tape and pencil. It's accurate, it's easy and it's faster than setting up a transit or loser to do the same job. There are five steps in this method:

Step 1. Mark a crow's-foot anywhere along the reference line (see Figure 1-5). That's your starting point for the squaring process.

Step 2. From the first crow's-foot, measure straight down the reference line 3 feet and mark a second crow's-foot.

Step 3. From the 3-foot mark, measure 4 feet off the reference line, as close to 90 degrees as possible, and strike an arc approximately 1 foot long (shown in Figure 1-6). As you draw the arc, hold the tape measure to the crow's-foot on one specific edge of the tape. To ensure accuracy, you've got to hold the pencil on the some edge of the tape while striking the arc. Striking the arc is easiest as a two-man job. But if there's no help close by, drive a concrete pin into the pivot point and hook the end of your tape to the pin.

Step 4. Return the end of your tape measure to the first crow's-foot marked on the reference line, and from there strike a second, intersecting arc at 5 feet (see Figure 1-7).

Step 5. Next, pull a chalk line from the 3-foot crow's-foot on the reference line, through the point where the two arcs intersect (Figure 1-8). Pull the chalk line quite a ways past the intersecting arcs. Just be sure you can see the chalk line pulling through the intersecting arcs. To square larger areas, double the 3-4-5 measurements to 6-8-10.

Laying Out the Walls

Establishing the reference lines and laying out the work area are the first steps in metal stud framing. The layout work is critical to a quality frame job. That's why it's entrusted to only the top hands on a job. The reference line (sometimes called the gospel line) is the centerline of the job. All the other wall lines will be established from the gospel line. It has to be right.

Establish the gospel line by measuring the overall width of the concrete slab (or pad) at the two opposite ends of the building. Or you can establish the gospel line from the red iron columns to the structural steel. Then mark half of the overall width at each end (Figure 1-9). Next, snap a chalk line from mark to mark. For long slabs, use a loser to make multiple center reference marks so you can snap a consistently straight chalk line. Finally, spray clear enamel over the chalk line to protect it. You want it to last until the layout is complete.

Figure 1-9Figure 1-9. Here you can see the center of an 80-foot slab marked near one end of the pad.

With the gospel line in place, your next move is to establish a perpendicular reference line exactly 90 degrees to the gospel line. You can establish it with ct transit or laser, or with the 3-4-5 or 6-8-10 method (as long as you do it carefully and accurately).

Now check the floor plan section of the blueprints to determine the layout of the wall line. Begin with the exterior walls and then move to the interior, starting on the long walls first. The hallways are a good starting point, for two reasons:

  1. They're long continuous walls you can use to establish other parallel wall lines.

  2. The hallways are among the few walls on a job that have very little tolerance for variance. The Accessibility for the Disabled Act requires you to meet stringent guidelines for width. Bathrooms are another area where wheel- chair accessibility is very important, so you don't have much tolerance for these walls either.

As you lay out the wall lines, remember to allow for the thickness of the drywall. Forget this and your walls will be more than an inch short. When the building inspector takes out his tape measure, you're done for! All wall line dimensions in the prints are Finished walls unless otherwise noted. You have to consider all the thickness of all the layers of drywall. You'll find this information in the wall legend section of the prints.

After you've marked the starting walls (exterior walls and hallways), work your way through the job from end to end, snapping all the long walls first. As you figure the wall dimensions, mark them as close to the ends of the wall as possible. Then snap a chalk line between the marks. It's common to add the width of the framing material and snap a line for both sides of the bottom plate (Figure 1-10). This eliminates a common mistake: plating the wrong side of a wall line. Snapping a chalk line to both sides of a wall also makes it much easier to mark the next wall, since you measure it from the wall you just completed. If you don't snap both sides of the plate, always mark an "X" on the side of the line where the wall will sit (Figure 1-11).

Laying Out the Doors and Windows

As you're laying out the walls, it's important to lay out doors and windows at the same time, completing each wall as you go. Square the wall lines off on both sides of the door opening and clearly mark the, opening DOOR. Then write the door number inside the opening and mark the swing of the door (Figure 1-12). Lay out the opening for a door 4 inches wider than the door's width according to the prints. The dimensions in the door schedule section of the prints are the size of the door itself. You need to add 4 inches (2 inches on each side) for the jamb.

After you've chalked the wall lines, go back and lay out the windows. Write the window number between the layout marks, as well as the elevation of the bottom of the jamb. Figure 1-13 shows a properly laid-out window. The window studs are clearly marked right at the wall line. The information (42" off FF 40" x 40") tells the framer that the bottom of the window jamb is 42 inches off of the finish floor, and the window is 40 inches tall and 40 inches wide.

Every outfit has its own customs, so you won't find windows laid out like this on every job. It's also an accepted practice to lay out the window jambs after the plate is shot down. In this case, the layout for the window studs is marked along the edge of the plate with the layout for the studs. You can also use this method for laying out items like fire extinguishers and tissue dispensers that are recessed in the wall. Write their elevations inside the plate between the stud layout marks. You'll find items recessed in a wall noted in the prints on the wall line with a detail symbol.

It's important to maintain consistency in the window and door jamb elevations. It's common to find an unlevel or poorly-floated pad that causes the top elevation of the jambs to be uneven. In most cases, the jambs should have a common elevation throughout a given work area. If they don't, it'll be noticeable when the room's finished-and then it's too late. Make bench marks with a water level or transit, or use a loser to make sure they're consistent.

Introduction | Table of Contents | Back Cover

Commercial Metal Stud Framing - Craftsman Book Co - CR713 - ISBN: 157218079X - ISBN-13: 9781572180796
Paperback, 208 pages

Commercial Metal Stud Framing

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Commercial Metal Stud Framing - Craftsman Book Co - CR713 - ISBN: 157218079X - ISBN-13: 9781572180796
Paperback, 208 pages

Commercial Metal Stud Framing

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Usually ships in 24 hours

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