Write It Down To make layout easier, I do the
necessary homework. But let's face it: Time is limited for
going over the plans with a fine-toothed comb, and no one can
carry all the layout dimensions in his head. There are just too
many to remember, and eventually they'll all get jumbled up -
and many will change. The key for me is to keep a small
notebook for each project that I constantly fill with all the
important dimensions, and where I track changes as they
Framing layout includes three basic steps: snapping,
plating, and detailing.
I measure and snap all the walls at one time.
I prefer to use a geared chalk box for speed and fill it with
standard red chalk blended with red mortar dye. This leaves a
line that's not easily removed. I also carry a blue chalk line
that is used to override errors.
all the layout lines have been snapped on the deck, I spread
long lengths of 2-by plate stock over the deck, and cut these
to length, mirroring the lines snapped on the floor. In order
to properly plate the walls, a carpenter must visualize how the
walls will fit together. Plates must be cut so each end will
either butt to a wall or receive one. Tight-fitting and clean,
squarely cut plates are a must for a plumb frame.
Plate details are like a map, telling the carpenter what and
where all the framing parts will go. With a series of pencil
and crayon marks on the plates, I describe everything necessary
to frame a wall, from stud lengths, beam pockets, and hold-down
posts to window and door sizes. Clean and complete detailing is
essential for a smooth and efficient framing job.
Two tools that come in handy for detailing are the channel
marker and layout stick. The channel marker is a template tool
that lets you quickly mark all corner and wall intersections.
The layout stick is a 4-foot-long pattern that makes 16- and
24-inch on-center stud marks (see photos).
Rules of Thumb for Window & Door
Window width R.O. + 3 inches
Sample R.O.: 3'-6" x 4'-6"
Header: 42 in. + 3 in. = 45 in.
Note: Check with window manufacturer for R.O.
Door width call-out + 5 inches
Sample call-out: 2'-8" x 6'-8"Header: 32 in. + 5 in. = 37 in.
(Pocket door width call-out x 2) + 5
inches Sample call-out: 2'-6" x 6'-8"
Header: (30 in. x 2) + 5
in. = 65 in.
Note: For full-height pocket doors, headers must be one lumber
size narrower than a standard door header to accommodate
call-out x 2) + 4 inches Sample call-out: PAIR 3'-0"
x 6'-8" doorsHeader: (36 in. x
2) + 4 in. = 76 in.
Note: This accounts for a 1-inch overlap between
Don Dunkley is a semi-retired framing
contractor from Cool, Calif., and a contributing editor to