Constructing a wood frame house requires a handful of specialized tools, as well as a way to carry the tools. For this reason it is virtually impossible to find a framing carpenter who uses a tool belt to hold all his tools. Tool belts can vary widely from an elaborate leather enclosure with numerous pockets and pouches to a very basic cloth apron.
The retractable tape measure is an indispensable item on any house framing job site. Most carpenters use a measure with a tape length from 16 to 30 feet. The tape blade is typically ¾ or an inch wide, made from thin metal and printed with markings that give accurate measurements to ¹⁄16 of an inch. The metal band is retractable and easily recoils into the housing when not in the locked position. Yet when extended from the casing the measuring surface maintains a stiff position for many feet.
The advent of pneumatic nailing guns have lessened, but not eliminated, the importance of the framing hammer. Before the widespread use of these hand nailers, major companies put much design effort into producing the most efficient and easy-to-use framing hammer. Some were made from one forged piece of steel while others had a bulky wooden handle that absorbed some of the force from driving a nail. In general, the head of a framing hammer should weigh between 20 and 24 oz. (20 oz. is standard), have a large driving surface and a straight claw for pulling nails.
Two types of squares are employed by framing carpenters. The framing square is the larger and is commonly used in laying out framing rafters, lining up vertical studs or checking squareness, especially within window and door frames. These L-shaped tools have one edge that is 2 feet long with a second, slightly shorter side. Most tool belts have a special loop, where the square hangs when not in use. On the other hand, the smaller speed square is used for marking perpendicular cuts and guiding a circular saw across a framing member, so the incision forms an exact right angle.
A power circular saw is the primary tool for cutting framing members and plywood sheathing. Saw horses are employed as supports for any piece of lumber that needs cutting. The cutting area needs to be located in a central, level area, where electricity is readily accessed. Occasionally, a reciprocal or scroll electrical saw may be needed for special situations, as are several types of hand saws.
A few specialized tools are usually taken on site by a framing carpenter. A thick carpenter's pencil is a necessity, as is a utility knife with a retractable blade, which in the very least is needed to keep the pencil sharp. Another tool that no framer would be without is the 4-foot level. Also important is the chalk line, which makes cutting plywood sheathing and flooring much easier. Then there is the bevel gauge, flat pry bar, 2-foot level and versatile locking pliers, all of which seem to be needed at some point during the job.
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