In my 30 years of framing houses on the West Coast, I've seen
a steady rise in the use of techniques and materials designed
to resist the powerful lateral forces imposed by earthquakes
— "shear" forces, as most West Coast carpenters call them.
When I first started framing in Southern California, we simply
used let-in 1x6 braces and 1/2-inch-diameter foundation anchor
bolts 4 feet on-center. By the end
of the '70s, let-in bracing began to
give way to small amounts of
shear-nailed plywood. By the mid-1980s, exterior shear-ply completely
covered exterior frames, and, for good measure, a few
hold-down brackets were tossed into the mix.
But none of this compares to the