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What's the point of a thin (1/4" width, ~2-3" wide) piece of wood set diagonally between two studs?

I just took out a piece of drywall for some other work I'm doing, and between two studs, there's this thin piece of wood diagonally, notched in each stud so the diagonal piece is flush with the studs.

I doesn't have anything nailed into and it is getting in the way of some 4" venting duct pipe I'm installing in the wall.

Can I just remove it?

enter image description here

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Does it only span between the two studs? Usually, these will span across the entire wall to add shear strength. If this is the case, then I would not remove it or cut it. – Zach Apr 15 '14 at 23:19
Only between two studs. Not the whole wall. – Matt Apr 15 '14 at 23:28
See this post: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/31336/… – Erik Apr 16 '14 at 20:26
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would knock that sucker out with impunity. If it is to serve some purpose, it most likely would not be code compliant. Fire blocking is the first thing that comes to mind, but it is only in one stud section.

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I haven't got a clue what that is. Wonder if it is manufactured housing? Rip it out!! +1 for impunity! LOL – shirlock homes Apr 16 '14 at 9:48

You are most likely referring to Cross bridging or blocking. They must be installed to keep the joists from twisting.

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What's my solution if I need to pass a 4" dryer vent pipe there that will not fit with the cross bridging? Any tips? – Matt Apr 15 '14 at 23:27
You certainly want to preserve the integrity of the structure. In order to do so, I would suggest to replace the cross bridging by reinforcing the studs with noggings/dwangs. – Jimmy.D Apr 16 '14 at 0:01

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