Walls set living spaces, provide privacy and support the structure above, but getting them perfectly straight can be frustrating if you are not a seasoned carpenter. Standard wall-framing is not difficult, but because wood is a product of nature, no two studs are equal. By using the very same techniques the experts use, you can construct straight and even walls.
Everybody wants to go green, but when it comes to timber, green wood — newly milled lumber — usually contains more moisture than experienced wood. The greener the studs, the more inclined they are to warp or shrink as they dry, resulting in lumps and bumps in your wall. If you can, hand-pick your studs, then turning every single one on-edge and eyeballing down its length to check for warping. Pick the straightest studs you can find for your own walls. If you are building a partition wall which will not keep weight, you can use finger-jointed studs, which are created by laminating short lengths of timber together to form a straight stud that is prone to warp. Finger-jointed studs are not acceptable for load-bearing walls.
In new construction, most walls are framed on the ground, then raised and installed. For your straightest walls, position every stud with any overhead facing upward. The crown is the slight bow at the middle and every fireplace has just one, though some are far more pronounced than others. When attaching the wall studs to the top and bottom plates, lift the end of the wall fireplace only enough so the edge of the fireplace is flush with the edge of this plate. To frame an erect wall, face all of the stud crowns to a side and flush the edge of the studs to the edge of the plates to the same side before nailing the studs to the plates.
Whether you are framing the wall in place or on the ground, it has to become aligned and plumb. Now’s construction laser degrees simplify this job. Position the level at the edge of the ground plate and project the beam upward to make sure that the edge of the top plate is at vertical alignment prior to securing the upper plate. Laser levels can also be favorable for squaring the wall frame during installation.
If the plane of the wall is uneven, it is not always the fault of the timber studs. During drywall installation, the panels meet about the centers of wall studs. When the long edges of drywall panels, which are beveled, meet, the bevel offers an indention for applying joint compound and tape without bulging. The ends of drywall panels, however, do not have bevels and when two ends meet on a hammer, it results in a “butt joint” that can show after taping. To prevent this issue, staple drywall shims to the studs on either side of the bottom joint before attaching the panel. This makes a very minor indentation over the bottom joint which accommodates tape and chemical without showing a bump.