Cutting ILevel Floor Joists

 
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:18 PM   #1
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Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


I'm a regular volunteer with the Denver Habitat affiliate. We frequently struggle to cut a square and straight cut when cutting the referenced joists to length given the irregularity of the surface (~2x2 top and bottom chord with OSB web). It's hard to mark a straight cut line and hard to keep the saw on the line. I've seen in pictures a time or two adjustable saw guide/gauges that fit between the top and bottom chords (I think) and that you hold in the left hand while placing the plate of the saw against it resulting in a straight square cut. I've been searching Google for this thing and have had zero luck so far. Do you know what I'm talking about? Can you provide me a link or suggestion?

Thanks,

Mark
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:35 PM   #2
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


I personally use a chainsaw..

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Old 01-11-2011, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


I always make a cutting guide out of 3/4" plywood. First, I rip about a 3' piece to fit between the flanges, then use a framing square to mark a line about 4" back from both ends.

Then use a few 1 1/4" drywall screws to fasten a piece of plywood along the square lines.

The last step is to run your saw along the guide to cut the overhanging plywood back, which gives you the offset of the blade perfectly.

When you measure your joist, mark it on the inner edge of the flange. Set the saw guide to your mark and cut away.

The inset plywood will support the saw as you cross the web of the joist.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:38 PM   #4
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


We have a few of them. I believe we got them from the joist company rep.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:49 PM   #5
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


If they're taller than 12", I make a jig, otherwise I just use a 12" sliding miter saw.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:51 PM   #6
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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Originally Posted by markg2 View Post
I'm a regular volunteer with the Denver Habitat affiliate. We frequently struggle to cut a square and straight cut when cutting the referenced joists to length given the irregularity of the surface (~2x2 top and bottom chord with OSB web). It's hard to mark a straight cut line and hard to keep the saw on the line. I've seen in pictures a time or two adjustable saw guide/gauges that fit between the top and bottom chords (I think) and that you hold in the left hand while placing the plate of the saw against it resulting in a straight square cut. I've been searching Google for this thing and have had zero luck so far. Do you know what I'm talking about? Can you provide me a link or suggestion?

Thanks,

Mark
What are the normal widths of the houses? Are you framing with any experienced framers?
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:59 PM   #7
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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What are the normal widths of the houses? Are you framing with any experienced framers?
Now that you mention that, is Habitat in your area building two story houses now (with floor systems)? Otherwise, it's hard to imagine a small habitat house with any spans requiring I-joists.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:39 PM   #8
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


you can make a small cutting guide in about 3 minutes Grey is a piece of plywood approximately 6" x 16", orange are 2x2 and red is the wood joist. With this kind of guide, your weekend warriors can cut a square joist every time. Won't help if they cut it too short though. Just screw it together square
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:30 PM   #9
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


If I understand you properly, you have difficulty making a clean, square cut because the saw has to dip into the web area and then up again at the other chord of the joist.

Most rookies take a little while to be able to do this accurately, it can be a pain when you have some mid-span blocking that is cut out of square, etc. I'm sure the jigs that the other guys mentioned are great but, in my opinion, if you want something quick and easy to solve the problem just find a piece of scrap that is very close to the distance from the web to the edge of the chord (eg 1" on a 2 1/2" I-Joist). Cut it to fit fairly close to the size of the web and use it simply to support the saw over the cut. All this does is stop you having to make the dip which is mainlly what gets you off-line. In fact, your supplier should be sending web fillers anyway for various applications... 1 of these is perfect.

It works for my guys until they are good enough to cut without it.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:30 PM   #10
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


I just mark the top and bottom flange with a square

Then cut it . Just takes practice
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:05 PM   #11
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


Chainsaw. If there hung they need to have space and after a couple cuts you get pretty darn good.

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Old 01-12-2011, 01:52 AM   #12
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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Originally Posted by txgencon View Post
If they're taller than 12", I make a jig, otherwise I just use a 12" sliding miter saw.
Hummm you walk each joist to a cut tableI'll have to try that next time
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:58 AM   #13
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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Originally Posted by hughjazz View Post
I just mark the top and bottom flange with a square

Then cut it . Just takes practice
Yes go for this onemaybe use a 12" speed square to guide you and pop a wheelie over the osb till you reach the bottom coard
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:48 AM   #14
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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Hummm you walk each joist to a cut tableI'll have to try that next time
The supplier unloads them in one place, usually all strapped together. I set up my saw (on a portable stand) and make all my cuts right there. I use the same setup that I use for lap siding (supports for long stuff). I probably use a circular saw less than anybody.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:02 AM   #15
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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The supplier unloads them in one place, usually all strapped together. I set up my saw (on a portable stand) and make all my cuts right there. I use the same setup that I use for lap siding (supports for long stuff). I probably use a circular saw less than anybody.
Lot of double handling. When there all straped there perfect top seperate the number you need and whack them. If im not using a chainsaw I still stack and use either a bigfoot or beam saw. Let the kerf mark your next cut.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:45 AM   #16
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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Lot of double handling. When there all straped there perfect top seperate the number you need and whack them. If im not using a chainsaw I still stack and use either a bigfoot or beam saw. Let the kerf mark your next cut.
I adopted most of my practices from some framers I worked with a long time ago. First day on the job they would set up a radial arm saw and fashion long infeed and outfeed tables. One guy cut everything, including jacks, cripples, door/window headers and even ripped plywood for fabricating the headers. They even cut the roof with it. A circular saw was a rarity(They subbed out the decking). They've leave everything on the job for the few days they were there and take only the sawhead. I kinda do the same thing - never gave much thought to double-handling stuff. About the only thing I do differently is cutting sheet goods. I do that with a circular saw on a platform table. I guess it's all in what you get used to. Like I said earlier, I don't use a circular saw all that much. When I do, I usually use my blade-on-the-left PC (although I also have Makita's). You've got me to thinking about this. Maybe I evolved away from the circular saw because of the way the blade-on-the-left throws chips and sawdust in my face (even though I can see the cut line better). Interesting...
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:48 AM   #17
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


It's like anything else. It's all what you are used to doing and how much you do. Framers frame every day and KNOW their saws like the back of their hand. I know every move my saw makes and I can tilt a piece of wood and my hand when cutting a 2x to land the drop off where I want.

Cutting I-joists when not cutting them on the plates I just mark with my framing square and cut with no guide and the cuts come out perfect top and bottom flange. Picking up I-joists and bringing them over to a miter saw is something I would never in a million years do because you are handling that joist way to many times and wasting a ton of time. There is no need at all for me to do that.

If you know your saw, you don't have to use anything to cut I-joists IMO.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:58 AM   #18
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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It's like anything else. It's all what you are used to doing and how much you do. Framers frame every day and KNOW their saws like the back of their hand. I know every move my saw makes and I can tilt a piece of wood and my hand when cutting a 2x to land the drop off where I want.

Cutting I-joists when not cutting them on the plates I just mark with my framing square and cut with no guide and the cuts come out perfect top and bottom flange. Picking up I-joists and bringing them over to a miter saw is something I would never in a million years do because you are handling that joist way to many times and wasting a ton of time. There is no need at all for me to do that.

If you know your saw, you don't have to use anything to cut I-joists IMO.

I've used and liked the framing square method. I just like the cutting template provided to us by the rep. because you make one mark, line up and cut.

I would like to try the chainsaw method sometime. Especially on townhouses where there are 100's of joist to be cut. Cutting them all at once would be a major time saver.
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:02 AM   #19
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


I really appreciate the responses! Some houses are 2 floors but most are 1 and some duplex. The typical design is a WF at mid-span supported by small pipes and iLevel joists on top of a 2x on top of the beam.

Most houses have one to three regulars like myself and the rest inexperienced to very inexperienced. You can never count on a more experienced person doing any particular task unless for some reason the supervisor says so.

Obviously the chain saw is out :-). Using the framing or speed square is out because that's what doesn't work with the saw dipping. We do not have plywood on the job and the ability to match the differential size between the chord and OSB isn't going to happen since we only have OSB for wall sheathing and roof sheathing--even though the difference is small, small is big in this instance. The one jig that works on the outside of the joist might work but to tell you the truth I don't think it would hold up from job to job and then you're counting on a lot of folks to 'remember' how and to do the thing. The affiliate builds maybe 6 houses at time every 3 months.

I think for our case a manufactured, strong jig is what is needed. I'll check with a local supplier--never thought of that--the obvious.

Given all the responses, I'll be back. There's a number of other questions that I'd like to clear up.

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Old 01-12-2011, 09:10 AM   #20
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Re: Cutting ILevel Floor Joists


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I've used and liked the framing square method. I just like the cutting template provided to us by the rep. because you make one mark, line up and cut.

I would like to try the chainsaw method sometime. Especially on townhouses where there are 100's of joist to be cut. Cutting them all at once would be a major time saver.
The I-joists that I get are square on one side. After the sills are down I nail the riimboard on one side of the foundation. I then lay all the I-joists flat on top of the sills on the marks across the whole foundation. After that, I measure back a little more than the thickness of the rimboard because you get a little flex in the center of the joists and snap a line and cut the I-joists in place.

I never cut all the main I-joists on the ground. I do the same procedure on the top plates for the second floor. I've always done this even with 2x joists.

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