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Framing the Wall The first step in actually framing the wall is to cut the sole plate and toe-nail it on edge to the subfloor (Figure 3).

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Figure 3. Framing begins by toe-nailing the sole plate to the deck (top left). Before sheathing the wall (left), fasten steel binding straps around the plate (top right) and nail them to the joists. This will keep the wall from kicking out when you stand it up.

This allows me to frame the wall right over my snapped layout lines. Since I’ve already done all the math while snapping the layout, I physically lay studs on the deck and scribe the bevel cut where the stud crosses the top plate. I start with the longest and shortest studs; if there are a lot of windows, I frame all the king studs next. Before standing a tall wall, I use a metal lumber strap to anchor the sole plate to the deck in a few places. These straps keep a tall wall from kicking out at the bottom as we lift it. Facing the edge of the deck, I slide a strap under the sole plate, then bend it up and nail through the strap into the edge of the plate. I use a 16d nail fully set. I nail the rest of the strap through the subfloor into solid floor framing in three or four places. On most walls, I install all of the sheathing while the wall is still on the deck. If the wall isn’t too large and heavy, I raise the wall up high enough to slide some sawhorses underneath. Then I nail a couple of long 2x4s or 2x6s to the side of a post or king stud within the wall. (I avoid the studs at either end, because the push-sticks will get in the way later and have to be removed.) I nail the 2-bys with a couple of 16d nails, placed close together so that as we raise the wall, the push-sticks will rotate. The push-sticks add overhead leverage and balance, and serve as braces after the wall is standing. I never use this method, however, on an extra-tall or very heavy balloon wall. It’s just too difficult and dangerous to raise a wall when most of the weight is way above your head as you raise it. For some large walls, I use Proctor wall jacks (Proctor Products, P.O. Box 697, Kirkland, WA 98083; 425/822-9296), which are slow but safe, and give me complete control over the lift. If I have a lot of tall, heavy walls, I use a crane. In this case, I try to schedule the crane for a time when it can also be used to lift beams and trusses into place. Once the wall is standing, I plumb and brace the center of the wall and throw a few more braces on king studs or posts. I also nail diagonal braces to adjacent walls from top plate to top plate to add some strength to the wall until it’s completely plumbed and lined. In Colorado, where I live and work, it gets really windy, and it sometimes seems that I use more braces than studs. But those tall rake walls are like sails and I wouldn’t want to lose one. Feet-inch calculators make it easy to work with building dimensions, but you can convert between decimals and feet-inches using an ordinary calculator. The easiest way to explain the steps involved is to work through the sample dimensions I mention in the main article.

Converting feet-inches to decimals.

The span in my example is 13 feet 3-3/8 inches. To convert this to a decimal, first solve the fraction; next, add the number of full inches, then divide by 12; finally, add the full number of feet. Enter the numbers or operations into the calculator in sequence, one after the other:
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3 ÷ 8 = .375 + 3 = 3.375 ÷ 12 = .28 + 13 = 13.28.

In decimals, then, the center of the ridge is at 13.28 feet.

Converting decimals to feet-inches.

The key to working in the other direction — decimals to feet-inches — is to remember that you’re always working with either 12ths of a foot or 16ths of an inch. Let’s work the problem in the article, which is to convert 14.87 feet to a feet-inch measurement. What we’ll do is subtract out the feet and multiply the fractional part of the decimal by 12, which gives us full inches plus a remainder; subtract out the full inches and multiply the remainder by 16 to get sixteenths of an inch (again, key in the following numbers or operations in order):
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14.87 - 14 = .87 x 12 = 10.44 -10 = .44 x 16 = 7.04

Now add the whole numbers together and you get 14 feet 10 and just over 7 sixteenths inches. Simple.

Pulling diagonals.

This method is also handy when you have to pull long diagonals to square up a foundation or deck. Following the Pythagorean Theorem (a² + b² = c²), take feet-inch measurements of the two sides, then use the calculator to convert them to decimals and find the square. Add the squares together, then take the square root. Convert this decimal number back into feet-inches and check it against your measurement of the diagonal. For example, say a foundation is 21 feet 8-7/8 inches on one leg, and 15 feet 9-1/4 inches on the other. The calculations to find the feet-inch dimension of the diagonal should go like this:

Long leg (a²):

work the fraction   7 ÷ 8 = .875

add full inches   8 + .875 = 8.875

divide by 12   8.875 ÷ 12 = .7395

round up and add feet   21 + .74 = 21.74

find the square   21.74 x 21.74 = 472.6276

Short leg (b²):

1 ÷ 4 = .25 + 9 = 9.25 ÷ 12 = .771 + 15 = 15.771

15.771 x 15.771 = 248.7244

Diagonal (a² + b² = c²):

472.6276 + 248.7244 = 721.352

The square root of 721.352 = 26.858

Convert to feet-inches:

26.858 - 26 = .858 x 12 = 10.296 - 10 = .296 x 16 = 4.736

The diagonal should be 26 feet 10 and just under 5 sixteenths inches long. Close enough. Eric Dickerson, a long-time framing sub, owns and operates a general contracting company in Ridgway, Colo.