Framing Carpentry

Have you ever built anything with your hands? Maybe a birdhouse? What about a model car or plane? We’ve all built a gingerbread house before; haven’t we? Well, no matter who we are, or where we come from, most of us have built, or helped to build, something with our bare hands. The satisfaction a person gets from completing something with their bare hands is an amazing feeling. Now, have you ever built a house before? Yes, I mean an entire house. Starting from what is basically a pile of sticks. Most people haven’t. Being a framing can give a person satisfaction that is not easily found.

But this is not a job for the weak. Being a carpenter may be one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs a person can do on a daily basis. Framing is a job that anybody should be proud to do. Not only does is take a great amount of physical and mental strength, but it takes an artist’s touch as well. Whether you rent a home, or own your own, somebody put their blood, sweat, and/or tears into building the place you call home. Blood may not be as common as sweat, and tears even less so, but with the amount of physical energy that it takes to build a home, yours took at least one of them; more likely two.

I’ve been working as a framing carpenter for a quarter of my life, so I hope you take my word when I say it can be flat out exhausting. An August day spent at the lake can drain a man. That same August day on top of a roof can reach 130+ degrees, and will push even the fittest men to their physical limits. People might say, “I hit the gym every night, I could handle it. ” Okay, put on a tool belt and give it a shot. But remember, that tool belt weighs about ten pounds. Now factor in repeatedly, and I mean hundreds of times a day, lifting anywhere from two to one hundred and twenty pounds; and don’t forget the heat.

I’ve personally seen this drain a man’s energy so much that in just one moment of exhaustion, he buried a saw (mind you a power saw) in his left thigh almost four inches deep. There was blood and tears, and for a moment I feared for his life. Of course this isn’t as common as a shooting yourself with a nail gun, slicing yourself on a strap, or stepping on a nail, but it happens. These lapses in judgment happen on some small scale everyday so you must always be mentally aware. There is so much more to building a house than being able to work hard.

As much, and sometimes more energy can be spent on the mental process that takes place. I asked you earlier if you’d ever built a house from a pile of sticks. Essentially, that is what takes place. Imagine your house being sent out on the back of a truck. And it’s not like a Lego house that is ready to put together. Critical steps must be taken from the moment you set that first nail. A mistake in that took five seconds to make could take days to fix. I know a guy who built a 5,000 square foot building too tall. I know a guy who built every window in the house six inches to small.

I know a guy that cut over 5,000 dollars worth of logs the wrong length. Sure these were stupid and costly mistakes, but if you can show me one person that hasn’t made a dumb mistake at work, I can show you a thousand who have. Being physically exhausted keeps your thought processes from working properly. Your body will take care of its physical needs first, and if you don’t have enough left it will shut down mentally. I believe this has happened to most of us at some point; studying perhaps? Keeping your mind fresh is most crucial when you get to the roof.

Making four different roof lines come together harmoniously can be very difficult. Calculating multiple angles for each roof to blend perfectly can be a headache for even math majors. But when all is said and done, you can look back at your own little masterpiece with pride. Can you really consider framing a house….. a masterpiece? Absolutely! Here in St George, UT we have an annual event known as the Parade of Homes. This is where local construction companies show of the skills of their trades, and what I believe you could call their artists touch.

Many of us attend this annual event, and gawp at the beauty within these homes. We look at the intrinsic details of a fireplace or ceiling, but do not take much time to think about the work it took to build these. It once took me a day and a half to build fireplace; with a helper. The details were absurd. It was something that should have been built with foam, not wood. Six different radiuses, some of which had moon sliced openings with waves protruding on every surface, and a light bar that followed the last one. Now, did I feel like an artist upon completion?

You better believe I did; I felt like Picasso. It wasn’t easy to build this with a power saw and nail gun from only a pile of sticks. But it is precisely these types of projects that leave me with an overwhelming sense of pride. After all of the houses I’ve built I still take pride in my work. It feels good to drive through a neighborhood, and to remember each house I’ve built. There are memories that come to mind with every house. I can picture the first house that I built as a grunt, as well as the first I built as a foreman.

I remember how good my first house as a foreman felt, and how I sat in my truck when we were finished, and felt the pride of doing it my way. It’s always a good feeling to accomplish something that you take pride in, and everybody needs that feeling. Whether it was a million dollar home, or a track home that took three days, it’s always felt good to finish a home and admire it. It’s great to know that it was through my knowledge, skills, and strength that I took a pile of sticks, and built a house. This is why I think framing is a job to be proud of.

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