Saturday, June 9, 2012

Small Building Construction, Part Two

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

Building the Walls
The recently completed floor makes a great place to assemble the twelve feet long walls.

The Sill Plate
This is a picture of the wall that will have the double doors. The doors will be in the center of the wall.

Since the wall is 12 feet long, I had to add a four foot piece of 2X4 to an eight piece of 2X4 to get my twelve feet.

If you enlarge this picture and look at the bottom of the forth 2X4 from the left, you will notice the splice for the two pieces of 2X4.

The Top Plate
Now, the top of the wall (top plate) will have double 2X4s. These double 2X4s will support the roof.

I staggered the seams between the four foot and eight foot pieces of 2X4s. This increases the stability of the wall.

After I did that, I added headers for the door. The headers are made from double 2X6s. Just like the top plate, the headers will help support the roof.

Next, I 'squared' the walls, just like I did for the floor. I measure diagonally from corner to corner, remembering the measurement. Next, I measure diagonally from the other corner then pushing or softly kicking the corners make them the same distance.

After I squared the wall, I screwed oriented strand board (OSB) to the 2X4s as sheathing. I used 2 inch exterior deck screws to secure the sheathing.

Next I cut the sheathing to the proper length.

To do this, I made the saw blade just a little bit deeper then the sheathing then I very carefully, using the top plate as my guide, cut the OSB

If you want to, you can measure the sheathing, cut it to length then secure it to the 2X4 studs with nails or screws.

Figuring the Length of the 2X4 Studs
Ok. The walls for this small building are going to be 7 feet tall that means I am going to have to cut a bunch of 2X4s.

Since 2X4s are really 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches. I am going to have to figure how much I need to cut off each 2x4.


We added a sill plate which is one 2X4 (1 1/2 inches) and a top plate which is two 2X4s (3 inches) to the 2X4s; we used for the wall.


7 feet times 12 inches equals 84 inches long minus 4 1/2 inches gives us a length of 79 1/2 inches.

So, each 2X4 stud needs to be cut to 79 1/2 inches.

Needless to say, if your walls are going to be 8 feet tall, the home improvement stores will have 2X4s already cut to the proper length, for 8 foot walls.

8 feet times 12 equals 96 inches minus 4 1/2 inches equals 91 1/2 inch long 2X4s for 8 foot tall walls.

Back to Work
Once the first wall is complete, I built the second 12 foot long wall on top of the first wall. This second wall will have two windows.

Before I begin, I want you to notice the location of the tarp in this picture and the very first picture, at the top.

In the first picture, the top plate is next to the tarp.

In this picture, to the right, the second wall's sill plate is next to the tarp.

There is a very important reason for this.

Next, I add window headers.

Lastly, I added the wall sheathing. Just like the first wall, I 'squared' the wall, use OSB as sheathing, and 2 inch exterior deck screws to secure the sheathing.

Raising the Walls
There is a reason why we built the walls on the floor. They are heavy.


To raise the walls, you want to screw two short pieces of 2X4, using at least two screws, to the side of the floor, then pick up the wall. You'll want at least two more people to make the lifting easy.

You can probably lift the wall with two people, but why kill yourself.

In the picture above, this is the second wall. You can see the two pieces of scrap 2X4. They act as stops to prevent the wall from sliding off the floor when you pick it up.

Using your foot, maybe a sludge hammer, and a little brute force, you need to line up the wall on the edge of the floor.

Once everything is lined up, you are going to add two diagonal braces to keep the walls from falling over. Next, raise the next wall and add two more diagonal braces.


We ran out of daylight, so I added some top braces to add just a little bit of stability to the small building, just in case.

Remember me mentioning the tarp. Make sure you have the sill plate (single 2X4) on the bottom and the top plate (double 2X4) on the top.

The next day, we removed the top braces. Next, my wife held one wall as I removed its diagonal braces, and I plumbed (made sure the walls were straight up and down) that wall with a four foot level. Once, that wall was plumb, I screwed the braces back in and we did the other wall.

After plumbing the walls, I screwed two 3 inch exterior deck screws through the sill plate into the floor. This will prevent the wall from moving.

It would be great if the screws went into the joists. Also notice, the two screws are in the middle of the two 2X4 studs.

Now, remember.

If you want to use nails, use nails.

But, remember, too

Screws are a lot easier to take out, if you screw up. ; - )

Note: I might have a separate article on all the mistakes I made. We'll see.

Building the Other Walls
The short walls, on the ends, will be less than eight feet. There's a reason for this. The 12 foot long walls are  over 3 1/2 inches thick. Remember, 2X4s are 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.

Instead of figuring the length of the short walls, I just took measurements with my tape measure.

After I took my measurement, I built the end wall in the grass.

Just like the first and second wall, I cut a bunch of 2X4s to the proper length (79 1/2 inches for a 7 foot wall).

I added headers and window sills for the two windows on each wall then carried the wall over to the building.

Just so you know, the end walls also have a top plate (double 2X4) and a sill plate (single 2X4)

Next, I placed the wall into proper position, and I screwed the end wall to the other wall.

If you look closely at this picture, you will notice the top plate is only a single 2X4.

There is a reason for this.

I notched the two 12 foot walls, so an eight foot long 2X4 could be added to the top of the end wall, stabilizing the building.

After both end walls have been added, I added the sheathing to the end walls.

I didn't cut the sheathing for the end walls.

As you can see, I used the complete 4 foot by 8 foot of the sheet of OSB; additionally, the OSB overlaps the sides of the first walls.

Just like all the other sheathing, we used 2 inch exterior grade screws.

The next step is the roof.

What I Would Do Differently
First, I would have built the smaller end walls on the building's floor. It was a pain getting them set-up properly. Plus, the end walls were just a hair bigger, this made it slightly difficult (I ended up taking one end wall down and re-cutting the sill plate), but remember just a little brute force.

Wikipedia - Wall Plate

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