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Assembling the Pieces

After cutting all the pieces, we nail the wall together. The only thing we haven't cut is the fire blocking. We do this after the wall is assembled by holding scrap pieces of framing stock in position and cutting them by eye.

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The layout is used to position studs as the wall is assembled.

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After nailing the studs between the plates, the carpenters nail the rake rafters on top of the wall. Door and window headers are installed as needed.

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Rather than waste time measuring blocking with a tape, a carpenter lines up the saw by eye and makes the cut.

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Once the blocks are fastened in place, we nail a pair of rafters to the top of the wall. Normally, the next step would be to square the wall — but we don't need to do this because we framed it on top of a full-size layout that was either drawn square to begin with or measured off a deck we knew to be square.

Strapped to the deck. Before sheathing the wall, we slip a short piece of metal strap beneath the bottom plate and nail it to the deck. We bend the other end around the bottom plate and nail it to the plate and to the edge of a stud. The strap will prevent the wall from slipping off the edge of the deck when we stand it up.

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Metal straps function as hinges to prevent the wall from sliding off the deck during lifting.

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On large walls, the crew installs reinforcing straps next to the studs where the lifting straps will go.

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Carpenters sheathe the wall in the usual way, then use a powerful router with a flush trimming bit to cut out openings.

Typically we install two or three straps per wall, but if the wall is really big, we install them every 6 feet or so. Once the straps are on, we sheathe the wall in the usual way, with 1/2-inch OSB.

Fly rafters and rake trim. Framing rakes flat on the deck allows us to easily install parts that might otherwise have to be installed from staging or ladders. We like to install the rake overhangs and fly rafters — or bargeboards — before standing the wall. The overhang consists of a 2x6 nailed to short studs toenailed 24 inches on-center to a 2x6 cleat on the wall. The fly rafters are 2x10 trim, which we nail to the overhangs. They run long at the bottom and are trimmed off later when we run the fascia.

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It's easier to build overhangs while the wall is lying flat.

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Instead of measuring the outer piece of the ladder, a carpenter laps the stock, squares up to mark the cut, and cuts the piece in place.

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Fly rafters — or rake trim — are installed the same way. The first piece is nailed to the ladder, the second piece is lapped over it, and the joint is cut in place.

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The result is a perfect fit.

Two cuts at once. To avoid measuring, we lay the long pieces on the rake wall and trace the end cuts onto them. The outer pieces butt at the peak; to get that cut, we lap one over the other, square up, and draw the cut line.

We do something similar to get the miter cut where the fly rafters meet. With the first piece nailed to the overhang, we lap the second piece over it and use the 33/4-inch cutting capacity of the Big Foot saw to cut through both pieces at the same time. We then pull the second piece tight and nail it off. There's no need to caulk the joint; cutting it this way gives us a perfect fit.

If it weren't for the local inspectors wanting to examine the shear nailing, we'd paper the wall before we stood it up. And if we're doing the finish in-house, we might install windows and some of the siding — though we'd have to be careful not to make the wall so heavy we couldn't stand it up.

Lifting the Wall

Rake walls are typically tall and heavy, so they can be dangerous to lift. Our four-man crew can safely lift small rake walls by hand, but large ones are beyond our ability.

Fortunately, we own a forklift, which we use to lift all but the smallest rakes. To prepare a rake for the forklift, we cut a couple of holes through the sheathing near the top of the wall and thread a strap through the holes; we try to put the strap about one-third the way down from the peak and spread it as wide as possible.

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To prepare this wall for lifting, the author's crew puts a heavy lifting strap through holes in the sheathing, runs it across the inside face of the studs, then loops the ends onto the forks of an all-terrain forklift.

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A carpenter uses hand signals to direct the forklift driver as he lifts the wall.

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The crew quickly plumbs and braces the wall with prepositioned diagonal braces.

We're not concerned that the strap will break because it's rated for much more weight than our machine can lift.

Strain of lifting. Lifting puts a lot of strain on a heavy wall. Since the tension on the strap squeezes sideways against the studs, we try to install the strap near a run of horizontal blocking.

Before sheathing a really big wall, we take yet another precaution: We use metal straps to reinforce the stud-plate-rafter connections closest to the lifting-strap holes. The sheathing would probably provide enough reinforcement, but the metal straps make us feel better.

Even with a machine, lifting rakes can be dangerous, so for this part of the job we make ourselves slow down and check everything twice before moving ahead. We plan all our moves in advance: where the forklift will go, where people will stand, and how we're going to brace the wall once it's up.

Bracing the wall. The outermost braces can be preattached to the wall; once the wall is standing, all we have to do is nail them to the deck.

The center braces can't go in until the wall is partway up, but we at least have the stock and framing guns there and ready to go.

When the wall is about 10 feet up, we stop lifting long enough to nail center braces to it. We put two nails very close together through each of the braces, so they can pivot down as the wall goes up. The carpenter who directs the forklift driver must pay close attention, because once the wall is partway up the driver can't see what's happening on the other side.

After the wall is partially braced, we let some of the tension off the lifting strap but do not remove it until the wall is plumb and securely braced in place. Sometimes we leave the strap and forklift there until the rake is fastened to the adjoining interior and exterior walls.

Tim Uhleris a lead framer for Pioneer Builders in Port Orchard, Wash.