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What Does a Framing Carpenter Do?

A framing carpenter may hang and finish drywall.
A framing carpenter constructs buildings from wood products.
Wood frame housing construction built by framing carpenters.
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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 01 August 2014
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Carpenters use a variety of power and hand tools to shape objects out of wood. A framing carpenter specializes in constructing residential and commercial buildings from wood products. He works with lumber, sheet wood, rough timbers, and even composite lumber materials. The framing carpenter uses these materials to create the structural frame, or skeleton of the building. This frame supports the roof, finishes, and other building loads, as well as the people and property within.

Framing carpenters spend the majority of their workday out on construction sites. Given that framing the structure is one of the first steps in the construction process, these workers are on site just as the building is getting started. This means they are often surrounded by mud and dirt, and are exposed to all types of weather. Framing work can easily be interrupted by rain or snow, which can impact the project schedule as well as the carpenter's paycheck.

Once building foundations have been established, the framing carpenter constructs a subfloor on top of the foundation using lumber and sheet wood. Next, he and his fellow crew members build and erect walls to frame the exterior of the building. These walls are topped by other floors, or a roof structure. While some framing carpenters rely on traditional lumber to construct a roof, many now rely on pre-manufactured wooden trusses. These trusses reduce roof construction time and allow a framing carpenter to create more elaborate roof designs.

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After the building's exterior is complete, the framing carpenter moves inside to begin framing out the interior walls. He is often responsible for laying out these walls using chalk and other markers. The rest of the tradesmen on the site then use these same lines to complete their work, making layout a significant responsibility. Once walls are complete, the framing carpenter also frames out any architectural details or specialties, such as staircases, soffits or bulkheads.

Most framing carpenters learn these skills on the job, or through formal apprenticeship programs. In addition to understanding tools and materials used in construction, these tradesmen must also be familiar with building codes and standards, as well as all applicable safety regulations. They should understand how to read blueprints, which outline how the building should be constructed.

In addition to wood framing, a framing carpenter may also be responsible for a number of other tasks. Some work with both wood and metal framing studs, while others stick to one of these materials. Framers may also hang and finish the drywall that is used to cover the building's framing, or even install ceilings in smaller structures.

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