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So, I a closet with a lot of wood over the door area. I was hoping to make a small window over the door area for a projector.

It currently looks like this from the outside.

outside

Here are the beams seen from the inside of the closet.

inside

Here's what I'm trying to accomplish.

final result

To do this, I'd need to remove a 6" x 7" chunk from the two back-to-back beams (6" in from the bottom, and a 7" horizontal cut).
The beams I want to cut support beams that go across the ceiling. There's a floor above where I'd be cutting.

If there are more things I need to factor in, lemme know and I'll post more info.

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Sure you could cut a 6x7 chunk out of that header if and only if you don't like your second floor where it is! The architect called for that sized header for a reason, it is most likely in the center of your house, so it is transferring the large load of what is above it. People really shouldn't go messing with structure without consulting an architect. –  Gunner Aug 25 '12 at 18:35
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The way it's described, it's a load bearing beam intended to take the weight of floor joists in the upper floor and spread it across the opening in a load bearing wall (the wall the opening is in). The answer is Not At All. You can drill holes through the beam for pipes of a certain maximum size, but you must not notch the lower third of the beam. It will weaken the beam so you have a sag if not ultimate failure, plus the stress riser you've created will cause the beam to fracture under shock loading. –  Fiasco Labs Aug 25 '12 at 18:41
    
Wasn't planning on cutting the beams. My plan was to move the bottom of the wall over the closet down a little (already started a bit on that - you can kinda see the drywall I removed in the first pic). I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being too cautious and needlessly adding more work for myself. –  MicronXD Aug 25 '12 at 20:01
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From International Residential Code, your local planning department is the final authority on what may or may not be done after inspecting what modifications you are intending to do. This is a job that requires a permit and consultation with an experienced contractor.

R802.7.1 Sawn lumber. Notches in solid lumber joists, rafters, blocking and beams shall not exceed one-sixth of the depth of the member, shall not be longer than one-third of the depth of the member and shall not be located in the middle one-third of the span. Notches at the ends of the member shall not exceed one-fourth the depth of the member. The tension side of members 4 inches (102 mm) or greater in nominal thickness shall not be notched except at the ends of the members. The diameter of the holes bored or cut into members shall not exceed one-third the depth of the member. Holes shall not be closer than 2 inches (51 mm) to the top or bottom of the member, or to any other hole located in the member. Where the member is also notched, the hole shall not be closer than 2 inches (51 mm) to the notch.

The tension side of members: In normal gravity loading, this is the bottom of the beam, in cantilever, the top of the beam.

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Thanks for all the info! I didn't expect to find the area so filled with wood supports. When I first opened the wall and saw that it wasn't going to be as straight forward as I thought, I started cutting the dry-wall on the side of the closet opening in preparation for extending the wall above the closet downward. I just posted here to make sure I wasn't being overly cautious and needlessly adding more work. Thanks again! :) –  MicronXD Aug 25 '12 at 19:54
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You should definitely not cut those beams! They are massive because they carry the load of whatever is above you. If you want to modify the structure to carry that weight elsewhere, that is possible but you will need to get help from someone who knows how to safely modify structure and you will need a building permit.

I'm guessing that sort of cost and effort isn't worthwhile for this project. You could probably reframe the top of your closet opening, moving it down a bit and leaving an opening for the projector beneath the large beams. This would give you the right appearance, but the projector window or closet opening might not be at the height you want.

Finally, you could do this the easy way and just put in a shelf or projector mount. You definitely can attach to some reliable structure here. :)

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I'm not sure if you can tell from the 1st picture, but I already started working on you suggested! That was the first thought I had when I opened up the dry-wall and found solid wood :P. You just confirmed for me that it's the best option in this case. Thanks :) –  MicronXD Aug 25 '12 at 19:36
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