I'm starting to frame a small house. For background, the foundation is 2x12 sills bolted to pilings, then 2x8 joists and 3/4" plywood.

My question is about squaring the walls if they are sheathed while flat before raising. I'm reading Larry Haun's The Very Efficient Carpenter. He spends a few pages on the importance of plumbing and lining walls after they are raised, before sheathing.

If I sheath before raising, how to square? My first thought is to simply pull diagonal measurements and make them equal before sheathing. Then sheathing, raising with jacks, and hoping the sheathed wall stays square. Not sure how to line a sheathed wall, as it should be fairly rigid.

Any ideas?


Your plan is correct. I usually tack the bottom plate to the wall line on the deck at several points to be sure it's straight. If you do this correctly you can easily pull the nails once the wall is up and nailed down. Don't do it from the bottom of the plate as the nails will hold the wall off the deck.

Now you pull diagonal measurements from the bottom plate corners to the top plate corners (not the double/tie plates as they don't match). Tack the top plate to the deck in one spot and you're golden. Sheathed walls are extremely rigid with respect to square. Don't expect to be able to make adjustments. They'll even show you where your deck has dips.

I'm not sure what you mean by "lining" but if it means straightening the top, I usually tack a scrap of two-by at each end, run a dryline between, and measure for 1-1/2". You'd have your ends plumbed and braced (or tied into perpendicular walls which are already square) first.

  • Thanks. By "lining", I mean straightening the top plate after the ends of the wall are both plumbed so that, at the ends, the top plate is directly over the bottom plate. That is, even after the ends are plumbed, the top plate can be bowed horizontally in the middle of the wall. Haunt actually has a sketch showing exactly the method you describe. Thanks. That said, if the top plate does bow in or out, do you have a method to move it? I'm thinking that a bowed 1x6 could be applied to the top plate to move it in or out. – fallacybuffet Jan 27 '17 at 17:12
  • They're usually very flexible in that direction. A diagonal brace to the deck is commonly used, and remains in place util the roof system is there to take over the job. Bracing must be robust and rigid, so your idea wouldn't do. – isherwood Jan 27 '17 at 18:28

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