I'm capable and ambitious but inexperienced. If the solution to my question is obvious, I probably didn't find the answer because I didn't know the right terminology to Google the question!

In my 1938 bungalow, someone (probably in the first decades of the home's existence) created the semblance of framed walls in the basement. The bottom and top plates, however, were not attached to the floor above nor to the concrete below. (Some predecessor of sheetrock was clumsily nailed over the studs--a real mess which I'm glad to have outta there.)

I saved the studs and have them stacked in my garage. It seems silly to buy new lumber when I have this sturdy, dried, thicker-than-the-new stuff studs. Only they're all too short to frame a wall in the tidy ways I read about and watch on the Internet. I should probably trim off the ends that were previously nailed, too.

What would be the best way to get use out of these 2X4s? Would I double the top and bottom plates? Is there some convention for building a wall where the studs aren't tall enough to run from top to bottom in a single length--essentially building a wall with a top, "middle" and bottom plate?

Hope that makes sense. I appreciate your expertise and feedback.

By the way, from my initial research, I think I understand that what I'm proposing doing wouldn't probably be acceptable for load-bearing/exterior walls. If what I read is correct, the primary function of the walls I want to build will be to hold insulation and to secure drywall to.

Thanks a lot.

  • 1
    How short are the studs from the ceiling?
    – BlueJay
    Feb 18, 2019 at 21:27
  • 1
    And what are the actual dimensions? I'm guessing 1-5/8" by 3-5/8", but maybe bigger.
    – isherwood
    Feb 18, 2019 at 21:32
  • 1
    I might not trim if the studs are not split out, that old lumber will probably have 2-3x the ring count of modern 2x4's. Single plate non load bearing is fine.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 19, 2019 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


You could certainly double the plates if the size difference won't be a problem, or you can solve that in one of several ways if it is. Don't use studs that aren't full height otherwise. They won't be stable at the center joints.

If you're building new exterior walls, just flush everything to the inside. If not, you'll probably need to fur out at least the lowest and uppermost plates to flush on the other side as well. This will prevent cracked drywall, etc. Depending on the difference, 1/8" hardboard or 1/4" luan plywood could work well.

I wouldn't worry about cutting off nail penetrations unless there's obvious splintering or other damage. It won't affect the outcome of your project. You might find it appropriate to square up the ends and make the lengths uniform, though, especially if they were hand-cut.

Also be sure to crown them. This involves sighting down an edge from end to end and aligning all the bows the same direction (perpendicular to the wall). Discard any studs with bows greater than about 1/4", and use them for shorter lumber needs or where the bowing won't be a problem, such as in drywall backing.

  • 1
    Should have read your answer prior to commenting, fully agree +
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 19, 2019 at 0:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.