A.Howard Cook, of Bay Area Retrofit in Berkeley, Calif., responds: Since the home was built in 1930, it's probably framed with old-growth, full-dimension, close-grain Douglas fir lumber, a framing material we've found practically impossible to split.

You can experiment on a cripple stud by nailing slightly staggered nails 2 to 3 inches on-center to see if it splits, but I doubt it will.

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