Just outside Seattle, where I live and build, code often requires a structural connection between trusses or rafters and walls. Traditionally, this connection has been made with hardware like a hurricane clip. FastenMaster’s TimberLok is a structural screw that also meets that code requirement; it’s faster than clips but still needs to be installed with a traditional driver from a ladder (usually). In our testing, TimberLoks install twice as fast as a Simpson H2.5a or H1 hurricane clip off of a ladder. FastenMaster now has a new tool dedicated to tying trusses and rafters to walls that don’t require special hardware. It’s called the FrameFast. The FrameFast system looks like a typical screw gun with an extended drive attachment that straddles a truss or rafter and guides the screw into place at the correct angle. This lets me attach the fully threaded, 6-inch screw to the top-plate-rafter connection up to about 10 feet without using a ladder. The tool has “wings” on top to align it on a truss or rafter. One wing folds out of the way—nice for us because we stick-frame every roof. Folding the wing away lets us fit the tool next to the ceiling joists nailed to the side of each rafter.
I typically install hurricane clips with a Hitachi NR38AK Strap-Tite positive placement nailer. To do some comparison testing, we first installed the 6-inch TimberLok screw using our Milwaukee impact wrench. When you can reach the top plate without a ladder, the impact gun and the FrameFast gun seemed to be identical in speed. But for most connections, because we didn’t need a ladder up to 10-foot ceilings, we went about three times faster with the FrameFast. If we had made more connections, the difference in speed would likely have been even greater.
The tool worked very well. My only complaint is that when the heel of the rafter wasn’t within about an inch of the inside edge of the top plate, the FrameFast didn’t drive the screw properly. That isn’t a common framing condition for us, so I can’t fault the tool. Since most framers will use this tool in a truss-to-top-plate application, it’ll work well every time.
The FrameFast tool retails for $550. That is too much money for me in custom residential, but I think in larger developments for production crews, it would make sense. The more connections you have, the greater the time savings.
I priced out the FrameFast screws and they cost about $0.55 a screw, whereas the H2.5 we use costs $0.49 + $0.16 for nails ($0.65 total per connection). Factoring in labor, I would recommend that wherever possible, ask the engineer or code official to go the screw route over hardware. Even without the FrameFast tool, it is cheaper and faster, and easier on the body, to install FrameFast (or any fastener in the Lok line; these are our go-to structural fasteners as a replacement for hurricane clips on all our jobs). The hi-torque impact wrench we’ve been using for about three years retails for $230 (tool only) and has been very reliable.

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