I have 2x8x13 joists that sit on top of a 2x4 ledger that is nailed to a 6x8 beam. The ledger is sagging off the beam, pulling away 3/4 inch at the top àand sagging 3/4 inch below the beam. The joist are sagging with the ledger.

The house is 140 years old.

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Proposed solution: I want to cut the end of the joists 3 inches from the beam. Remove the sagging 2x4 ledger board. Install a double 2x8 ledger board through bolted to the 6x8 beam, using 1/2 hex bolts. Jack the joists back level to the beam and ledger and attach with joist hangers.

Questions: Will this work? Do I need to worry about splitting the beam by using through bolts?

  • 1
    I have a feeling any random person on the internet would need a lot more information (loads, rest of the framing structure, etc.) to answer this intelligently, and even then it would be a bit of a guess. Strongly suggest getting someone (engineer ideally, but possibly a contractor or architect who is familiar with these types of buildings) to do an on-site inspection and recommendation. Jul 11, 2021 at 4:19
  • You should label the ledger, the beam, and the joist on the photo for ease of identification and to avoid making a false judgment. As suggested, it eventually may need an engineer to work out a solution, but between now and then you might be able to do something to stabilize the situation. I would agree with Jim Steward that unless necessary, cutting structural members should be avoided, especially such a short cutting (3") at the end, that almost impossible to rebuild it back to the original strength.
    – r13
    Jul 12, 2021 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


It's not uncommon to create a ledger by laminating dimensional lumber, as you seem to propose. You'll see this for instance with deck building.

When using a through-bolt (through the 6in width of the beam, nutted on the far side) you have to pre-drill to the diameter of the thread, and so there will be no splitting. Make sure you use washers on both ends of the bolt.

Since the joists will no longer be seated you have to use hangers, as you correctly propose already.


Is this beam and are these joists floor or ceiling?

Whichever it sounds risky to cut them off without considering it at length. That the joists have not failed at the ends in 140 years points to leaving the ends alone. Installing a new ledger held to the beam with bolts would depend on the bolts and friction to carry the joists. Of course, maybe with modern construction adhesive. . .(edit) between the ledger and the beam the stress would be taken off the bolts.

If I understand the picures, right now the top portion of the ends of the joists are fairly tight to the beam. It seems that you should figure out a way to insert hangers to secure the ends of the joists directly to the beam.

Perhaps you could raise the joists slightly to allow room to insert hangers. According to you the load is carried by this 2x4 ledger which has sagged. Are the joist ends nailed to the beam at the tops?

Perhaps it would be sufficient to use a pair of angle brackets on each joist, one on each side. But maybe it would be better to figure out a way to insert a hanger around each joist.

  • The picture is a bit misleading. The ends of the joist are pulled one inch away from the beam and ledger.
    – Ozixic
    Jul 11, 2021 at 11:18
  • What I see is the lower part of a joist having a 1 inch gap from the ledger, but the top part of the joist tight to the beam, and the joist is cut out so it is bearing on the top of the ledger. Jul 11, 2021 at 17:49
  • Where have your thoughts led? I see now those nails in the beam pulled out of the end of the joist! What shifting or distortion caused that? Did the joists sag? Did the beam twist? Jul 12, 2021 at 20:52

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