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Fast Layout for Tall Rake Walls - Continued

Snap Out the Wall

Next I snap out the wall on the deck. If there isn't already a line for the rake wall bottom plate, I measure in 3 1/2 inches in from the outside of the deck at each end and snap a line. For purposes of layout, this line will represent the bottom of the rake wall, and from it I measure the low and high points of the wall (see illustration, below). Measuring along the bottom inside of the two standing walls, I mark out 8 feet 9 3/16 inches. I next locate the center of the room and, starting from the bottom line, I pop a line at least 14 feet long. Then, measuring from the bottom along this centerline, I mark the peak at 13 feet 10 7/8 inches.


The rake. Now I can pop two lines from the center high point to the low points I marked on the inside of each outside wall plate. These angled snap lines mark the very top of the rake wall. It's easy to create an accurate top plate layout by using a 2-by scrap to scribe the double plates at the low points and at the peak. I then snap a line between these scribes and now have three lines marking the top plates full-scale on the deck.

King Studs & Beam Pocket

Next come door and window openings (see illustration, below). Starting at the bottom plate line, I locate all king studs, paying attention only to the edge that attaches to the header. To make things easier later, I go ahead and cut a bottom plate to fit snug between the outside walls. I place it on the outside of the bottom line. I mark the bottom plate at the same time as I mark the deck, locating post hold-downs as I go.


After the king studs, I mark out the 6x12 exposed beam, again using scrap stock. I make plumb cuts on a couple of pieces of 2x10 and place them on the deck at the layout peak with the plumb cuts butting. Then I fit a short piece of beam stock under these rafter templates and trace the beam location. For me, this is by far the easiest, quickest, and most accurate way of figuring out beam pockets.

I'll also determine the ridge board width, placing a short piece of 2x12 so it sits dead center above the beam location. I slide the two rafter pieces up tight to the ridge stock and place a mark where the tops of the rafter pieces touch the ridge stock. This tells me how wide the ridge will have to be. A ridge may require some ripping or it might float a little above the beam depending on the pitch of the roof, the width of the rafter, and the thickness of the beam. I find using a ridge board easiest in this situation, while others might prefer to lap the rafters and run blocks in between. Either method works fine.

Filling In

I now lay out the studs. Here's where the bottom plate I cut comes in handy. I mark the studs on the bottom plate line and on the plate itself. Then I place the plate just above the peak, parallel to the bottom plate, and quickly transfer all the layout marks to the deck. Now I can snap out all the standard studs, the king studs, and the beam pocket studs.

Headers. I snap lines representing the tops and bottoms of the headers, then mark out rough sills. I clearly delineate each window opening, because gable end walls tend to get filled up with windows. Lastly, I fill in all the cripples above the headers and below the sills.


The beauty of full-scale layout is that cutting is a breeze. I measure and cut the headers, sills, and beam support posts first. To cut studs and cripples, I carry plenty of long stock to the rake wall area. I tack the bottom plate in place on the inside of the bottom snap line (so that I have 3 1/2 inches from the bottom of the plate to the outside edge). With the plate securely in place, I spread out all the 2x4 stock exactly in line with the layout on the deck, selecting material that reaches just beyond the upper plate layout. After making sure that the studs are butting tight to the bottom plate, I mark each one where it intersects the chalk line for the bottom of the first top plate. Because the leading edge of the standard stud layout goes in one direction throughout the length of the wall, half of the studs marked will be short point, the others long point. To avoid mistakes, I mark the top edge of each stud with a slash showing the direction of the bevel angle.

After all the studs are marked, I set the table of my circular saw for a bevel cut (33.7 degrees for an 8/12 slope) and cut the studs and cripples in place. The little bit of extra time it took to snap the layout on the deck is more than paid back as the wall quickly comes together.

Contributing Editor

Don Dunkley

is a carpenter in Cool, Calif., and construction events manager for the JLC LIVE expo.