Tidbits and Tips


This page is used for tips and facts one might find useful for homebuilding, remodeling, or any home improvement project one might take on.  We will try to keep updating with helpful tips, hints and  resources.

Nail Sizes- The most commonly used nails in homebuilding and rough framing projects are the 8 penny (8d) and the 16 penny nail (16d). Eight penny nails are used to nails the plywood or OSB sheathing to the walls and floors. Nailing schedule is usually a nail every 8 inches in the field and ends. Sixteen penny nails are used for rough lumber connections in framing, such as walls, floor and ceiling joists, and rafters.

Toe Nailing- Toe nailing is the act of driving a nail at angle to make a connection. This technique is most often used to nail floor joists to sill plates or top plates and ceiling joists and rafters to top plates.

Door Rough Openings- A typical rough opening for a door is 2" wider than the door and 2" taller than the door. The rough opening for a 3'0" x 6'8" door would be 3'2" wide by 6'10". In some cases one might want to add 2 1/2"  to the height instead of  2" for more shim room.

Garage Door Opening- The rough opening for a garage door is the size of the actual door.

Lumber Sizes- A 2x4 is not actually 2 inches by 4 inches. Here are the actual sizes of the most commonly used sizes of lumber.

1x4 - 3/4" x 3 1/2"

1x6 - 3/4" x 5 1/2"

1x8 - 3/4" x 7 1/4"

2x4 - 1 1/2" x 3 1/2"

2x6 - 1 1/2" x 5 1/2"

2x8 - 1 1/2" x 7 1/4"

2x10 -1 1/2" x 9 1/4"

2x12 -1 1/2" x 11 1/4"

Openings For Tubs and Showers- When framing for a tub or shower opening, frame to the actual length of the fixture. If a bathtub is 5'0" then make the opening anywhere from 5'0" to 5'0 1/4". This will allow the tub to go in the opening easily.

Standard Door Thickness - Standard interior door thickness is 1 3/8". Standard thickness for an exterior door is 1 3/4".

Birdsmouth - This is a notch at or near the tail end of a roof rafter. The seat cut or level cut of the birdsmouth sits on top of the wall. The plumb cut of the birdsmouth completes the notch at a 90 degree angle. This part of the birdsmouth should fit snugly against the outside of the wall.

Jack Rafter -  Jack rafters are associated with hip and valley rafters. For hip rafters, jack rafters run from the top plate of a wall to the hip rafter. For valley rafters, the jack rafters run from the valley rafter to the ridgeboard. Sometimes jack rafters get framed between the hip and the valley rafters.

Joist - Joists are framing members that support either floors  and/or ceilings. Floor joists provide the nailing for a plywood subfloor. Ceiling joists provide the nailing for drywall and other ceiling finishes. When framing a two story building, the floor joists for the second floor do double duty as the ceiling joists for the first floor.

Ridge Board - The ridge board is the highest peak of a roofs framing. The plumb cuts of  rafters from each side of a building are nailed to the ridge board.

Framing Square - This is the most valuable tool a carpenter can have on the job. Not only can you check things for square, but it is extremely useful when marking and cutting a roof. Most framing squares have lots of information on them, like nail and screw sizes, rafter run and rise, rafter angles and so on.

                       Roof Pitch       Degrees

Rafter Angles -    1/12              4 1/2

                                2/12              9 1/2

                           3/12              14 

                                4/12              18 1/2

                           5/12              22 1/2

                           6/12              26 1/2

                           7/12              30 1/4

                           8/12              33 3/4

                           9/12              37

                         10/12              40

                         11/12              42 1/2

                         12/12              45

















Door Openings


Garage Door Openings


Lumber Takeoffs

Nail Guns

Plywood Deck 


Roof Framing


Sill Plates

Speed Square






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