Cabin building - Day 3

Ok, now we’re going to have some fun!
We’re at the stage where the slow and careful work of establishing a square and level floor begins to pay off, and you finally have a smooth surface to work on. Let’s lay out some walls.

The RavenMini has walls that are 82” high, so the first step is to cut the wall studs (the vertical boards) to the correct length. Every wall has a bottom ‘plate’, running horizontally, studs running vertically and a top plate (sometimes two of them) running horizontally.

Since conventional framing lumber is 1-1/2” thick, the wall studs need to be 82” minus (2x) 1-1/2” = 79 inches

I like to build the two shorter walls first, so I cut the top and bottom plates to 107 inches long. Why 107” and not 108”/9 feet? It’s because the plywood sheathing that will be on the outside of the wall framing is 1/2” thick, so in order to stay inside our sub-permit size of 9’ x 12’, the walls are 1” short, so that the plywood finishes it to a perfect 108”/9’.

I lay the top and bottom plates down on their edges, with the ends even with each other and, measuring from the end that will be to the back of the building, I mark every 24 inches with a pencil, indicating the edge of the stud. If I’m measuring left to right I put an ‘X’ to the right of each 24” mark, indicating that the stud edge will be lined up with the mark and under the ‘X’.

Before you begin attaching the studs to the plates, look down the length of each stud to see how straight (or not) it is: often there will be curvature, either ‘bow’ or ‘crown’. The photo shows a stud with a lot of crown..less than this is preferred (I did not use this one). Place and fasten your studs with the arc of the crown facing up.

The two short walls have windows, so you need to know the dimensions of the window unit you’re installing. Let’s say the window frame size is 24 wide inches x 60 inches tall: decide where in the length of wall you’d like the window to be, and mark out the width of the opening at 25”, giving a 1/2” extra space around the window unit, for easy installation and a gap for a spray foam seal around its perimeter (more on windows later).

 Once all your stud locations and window opening are marked on both the top and bottom plate, lay your studs out between the plates, and start nailing (or screwing) them together with 3” nails, or screws (screws have many advantages, and I recommend beginner builders use them instead of nails for assembling wall framing)

When all your studs are fastened to the top and bottom plates, the frame needs to be made perfectly square before attaching the plywood sheathing. Squaring is easy: temporarily secure one of the plates in place and then measure diagonally across the two corners, and move the opposite plate until the diagonal measurements are exactly the same. Secure both plates temporarily so that the wall stays square while you attach the plywood.

Attach the 1/2” plywood to the framing with 1-1/2” ardox (spiral) nails; start at the bottom of the wall, with the plywood running lengthwise across the studs, with the long edge along the outer edge of the bottom plate.

Once your plywood is installed it’s time to stand the wall. Two people makes it easiest, both to lift the wall and to attach a temporary brace to one end of the wall, to hold it upright (use a level to set it plumb / perfectly vertical) while the other walls are being built. If it’s very windy, you may need a brace on both ends of the wall.  Fasten the wall to the floor using  3”-4” screws, every 24”.

Build the other short wall next. Be sure it is fastened in place perfectly parallel to the first wall, then continue building the long walls. Once the walls are all standing, connect them together at the corners using screws, to pull the corner studs together tightly.

Use your spirit level (or laser level)  to check that each wall is standing perfectly plumb; use temporary bracing to hold the corners plumb and true.