Must Have Tools For Homebuilding

There are many tools that you must have handy when building a house but there are a few that get used often in the building process.

I'll start with the obvious. A hammer. In this day and age, many builders use compressors and framing nailers. The hammer still has a place on the jobsite. Most carpenters still use the hammer to frame floor joists, walls, ceiling joists and rafters. The feeling is that they can draw connections tighter with a hammer. I'm in favor of using a hammer for framing and using a nail gun to nail off plywood on decks, walls and roofs.

Another obvious tool is the circular saw. I like to have at least two on the job. one for me to do laying out of plates and roof cutting and one for the crew to cut headers, cripples and whatever else they might need it for. I prefer a worm drive saw. Its a heavier saw but I like to use that to my advantage when cutting. I also like the fact you can see the blade cut the line. Others prefer what is called a sidewinder. The blade is on the other side ofthe saw thus the name. A righthanded user will ususally find himself leaning over the saw to see the blade and follow the cut line. This is a lighter saw so it may fatigue the
user less than a worm drive.

Layout tools. These include pencil, speed square, framing square, chalk line, dry line and tape measure. Obviously the pencil is a companion to most of the other tools for making layout marks and lines. The speed square is used primarily to square lumber and laying out plates for wall, floor joist, ceiling joists, and rafters. It can also be used for rafter cutting layout but I prefer a framing square,which I feel is more accurate. The framing square is also used to square up wider lumber like 2x10's and 2x12's. Pages can be written on the many uses of a framing square. I've even heard stories of guys being able to figure their paychecks with one. A chalk line is a necessity and is one of the first tools used to start building a house. Lines are snapped on top of foundation walls, on decks for wall
layout and for cut lines on plywood, OSB and wall sheathings. A dry line is used to keep things straight. Its used to straighten tops of walls, basement steel, and hip rafters among other things. Last but not least is the tape measure, the most important of the layout tools. It would be impossible to build a house without it.

There are also what I like to call lifting and persuading tools. A handy tool to have on site is a prybar. On my jobs its primary function was to lift a wall to put a 2x4 block under the top plate. This is for finger room when it is time to lift the wall. The main persuader on any job is the sledgehammer. Also called a trim hammer for moving that heavy wall that last 1/8th of an inch to the line. I also like to use it to tap a wall square before sheathing it. Another necessary use for the sledgehammer is to tap tongue and groove plywood
decking together.

Don't forget the erasers. Sometimes we make mistakes. Thats why we keep nail pullers (cats paw) and a sawzall or reciprecating saw on hand. I prefer the sawzall. I like to cut the nails rather than pull them. I feel its quicker and makes for a cleaner job.

Don't forget a 4 foot level. I almost did. This is considered a layout tool. You'll need one to level interior walls to brace them off and to install window and doors. Other than this thats almost all you'll need it for except for an occasional check for plumb and level.

With the above mentioned tools, you've got what you need to build a house.

(c) Mike Merisko 2006




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