|Studs: They're a lot easier to find when the room looks|
like this. Otherwise, buy a good studfinder.
• Stud. We’ll start with an easy one, what? Anyone who’s ever hung a picture knows that a stud is one of the vertical 2x4s that make up the wall framing. They’re usually spaced 16” apart (or “on center”, as architects and builders like to put it). However, knowing what a stud is is one thing; finding one is another. A sharp rap on the wall with a knuckle will do for the experienced; for the rest of us, an electronic studfinder is a better choice.
|Pressure treated 2x4 lumber as now|
used for mudsills in place of redwood.
Some is dark brown; some is greenish;
some has telltale needle marks
like this does.
|A header beam carries the load of upper floors or roofs|
whereever there is an opening in a wall,
such as a door or window.
• Header. This is the elusive critter you hunt for when you’re hanging curtain rods. Most people have heard of it, but because it’s hidden by drywall, they’re not quite sure what it looks like or what it’s for. A header is simply a heavy wooden beam—nowadays usually a 4x12—that bridges a door or window opening and carries the load above it.
|The part of the rafter that stick out past the exterior wall|
is variously known as a lookout, an outlooker,
or a rafter tail, depending on where
the carpenter comes from.
• Outlooker, rafter tail, lookout. Carpentry terms vary a lot by region—a fact that’s nowhere as evident as in these terms. All of them refer to the part of the rafter that projects past the outside wall and is visible under the eaves. While they’re all charming terms, “rafter tail” is my favorite, because it jibes delightfully with the carpenter’s name for the wee notch in the rafter where it crosses the outside wall: birdsmouth cut.
• Ledger. Maybe you’ve already guessed that this term doesn’t relate to bookkeeping—something both contractors nor architects are famously bad at. In carpentry, a ledger is a piece of 2x lumber that’s attached to the face of a wall to support some other structure—the floor of a deck, for example. I suppose it derives from “ledge”, which is sort of what it creates. So why isn’t it just called a “ledge”?
Look, I just write about this stuff, I don’t invent it.