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Two Simple Curved Walls - Continued

Curved Interior Wall

The interior plans included a 14-foot-long 36-inch-high curved half-wall at the edge of a mezzanine overlooking the stairs. This wall was framed more conventionally than the exterior bay.

We drew the 9-foot 3-inch radius using the string-and-nail technique. Because the center of the circle was in midair, we had to erect a staging plank at the center location, to give us a surface where we could drive a nail to catch the end of the string. The curved wall ran from the front wall of the house to the stairway, so we had defined beginning and end points for our curve.

For the curved wall plates, we used a product called Flex-C Trac (Flex-Ability Concepts; P.O. Box 7145, Edmond, OK 73083; 405/302-0611; www.flexc.com). This is a lightweight, flexible metal channel that comes in 10-foot lengths that join together easily for longer walls. We snapped two sections of Flex-C Trac together, curved the track to correspond to the radius we had drawn on the subfloor, then cut the track to length.

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Flex-C Trac metal plates save the time required to lay out and cut plywood plates. Studs attach easily with screws.

We secured the bottom track to the floor with drywall screws and fastened 2x4 studs 12 inches on-center to the bottom plate by screwing through the light-gauge metal track. We snapped on the top plate, which was cut to the same length, then checked every stud for plumb before screwing it in place. Later, we framed a partition that intersected the curved wall near the center, helping to brace it.

Using our standard technique for stiffening half walls, we glued as well as screwed the 1/2-inch gypsum blueboard to the studs. Since the wall had a gentle curve, it was easy to bend the 1/2-inch blueboard — no need to wet the back or downsize to 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch drywall. The blueboard later received a coat of veneer plaster.

We trimmed the top of the wall with 3/4-inch birch plywood, edged with maple. To lay out the curve on the birch plywood, we set the sheet on top of the wall and traced the curve on the underside. We cut the curve with a jigsaw, then sanded the edges, being careful to maintain a 90-degree edge. Finally, we glued and clamped on 3/4x3/4-inch maple edge strips, which were flexible enough to require only minor persuasion from our clamps.

The curved opening by the stairs, set off with the curved balcony wall, is now a main focus of the house.

Chuck Greenis a NARI-certified remodeler and owner of Four Corners Construction in Ashland, Mass.