When I was a kid growing up on Vancouver Island in British
Columbia, one of my chores was getting the firewood in. I
started with an ax and a wheelbarrow, then moved on to a chain
saw when I was old enough. I spent many hours using chain saws
and became quite proficient and accurate.
I now run a small framing company; we frame 10 to 12 homes a
year. My skill with the chain saw has proved a timesaver,
particularly when cutting out window and door rough openings.
Most crews build walls on the floor and use a router with a
flush cut bit — or, after snapping lines, a circular saw
— to cut out rough openings before standing them. I
typically sheet my walls straight across, stand them, and
continue the framing until the interior walls and roof are
In our area, installing windows and exterior doors is part of
the framing contract. So once the house is dried in and the
doors and windows have arrived on site, I'll go around cutting
out all the ROs from the inside while two other carpenters
follow behind, the first detailing the openings with tar paper
and peel-and-stick and the second installing doors and windows.
I like this method because it's fast and we don't have to worry
about the wind picking up and blowing off the paper before the
windows are installed.
While the chain saw is running, I also cut out interior door
plates throughout the house. Using the chain saw is twice as
fast as using a reciprocating saw and easier on your
I make my first cut across the bottom, with the tip of the bar
following the bottom plate or rough sill. Next I cut one side
(1), then the other (2), starting from the top and working
down. The last cut is across the top (3); I let the piece fall
naturally to the ground with no binding on the saw.
I use a Stihl MS 290 for this job; I put a 16-inch bar on it,
so it's a little lighter — but it still pumps out 12,500
rpm. Eye protection and ear muffs are a must, of course. And
you have to watch out for nails; they'll dull the teeth in a
hurry.Kyle Dunkley owns Konstant Construction in
Victoria, British Columbia.
Restoration in the Round
Before starting the renovation of this nineteenth century
home (1) in Elgin, Ill., Chuck Keysor referred to photographs
taken in the '60s for original architectural details. The
gracious Queen Anne had gradually been "modernized," its
exterior woodwork hidden behind vinyl siding and the spacious
wrap-around porch (2) replaced by a concrete stoop.
To build a porch like the original, Keysor had to fabricate a
10-inch-tall beam with an 8-foot radius. Working on a temporary
plywood deck, he secured 2x10 blocks along the arc (3), then
used plastic resin glue (4) to laminate eight layers of
1/4-inch plywood (5, 6). At the ends of the curved beam, he
left staggered 2-foot laps to allow for tying the curved
section back into the straight sections on either side.
After lifting the 2-inch-thick beam into place, he added a few
extra layers to beef it up (7), then framed and finished the
porch roof (8). — Ted Cushman