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Lesson 1.3 Building Materials

This part covers basic building materials, which include lumber and hardware. The term hardware is used to identify the metal items used by carpenters. The two general types of hardware are rough and finish. Rough hardware is usually used where extra strength is required. It is not decorative. Finish hardware is used for ornamental purposes, such as hinges, drawer pulls, or other miscellaneous items.

1-8. Lumber.

Sizes of softwood or building construction lumber are standardized for convenience in ordering and handling.

Lumber is sawn in standard (nominal) sizes:

Length: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 feet.
Width: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches.
Thickness: 1, 2, and 4 inches.

The actual width and thickness of dressed lumber are less than the sawn dimensions because of drying and planing (or finishing). For the relative difference between sawn (rough or nominal) dimensions, and actual sizes of construction lumber, see Table 1-6.

 Plywood is usually 4 feet by 8 feet and varies in thickness from 1/8 to 1 inch.

Stock panels are usually 48 inches wide; lengths vary in multiples of 16 inches (up to 8 feet) because the accepted spacing for studs and joists is 16 inches.

Table 1-6. Nominal and dressed sizes of lumber

Actual Nominal
Actual  Nominal
1 2 3⁄4 in 1 1⁄2 in 2 2 1 1⁄2 in 1 1⁄2 in ( 4 4 3 1⁄2 in 3 1⁄2 in
1 3 3⁄4 in 2 1⁄2 in 2 3 1 1⁄2 in 2 1⁄2 in 4 6 3 1⁄2 in 5 1⁄2 in
1 4 3⁄4 in 3 1⁄2 in 2 4 1 1⁄2 in 3 1⁄2 in 6 6 5 1⁄2 in 5 1⁄2 in
1 6 3⁄4 in 5 1⁄2 in 2 6 1 1⁄2 in 5 1⁄2 in 8 8 7 1⁄4 in 7 1⁄4 in
1 8 3⁄4 in 7 1⁄4 in 2 8 1 1⁄2 in 7 1⁄4 in  
1 10  3⁄4 in 9 1⁄4 in 2 10  1⁄2 in 9 1⁄4 in
1 12 3⁄4 in 11 1⁄4 in 2 12 1 1⁄2 in 11 1⁄4 in


1-9. Nails

Nails are the most commonly used items that are under the classification of rough hardware.

Types. Nails come in different sizes and are divided into two general types: wire and cut. Also, special nails are available for some jobs.

(1) Wire Nails. Wire nails are divided into five main types: finishing, casing, box, common, and duplex-head.

(a) Finishing Nails. Finishing nails (Figure 1-24) and box nails are made of the same diameter wire. The head of a finishing nail is only slightly larger in diameter than the body of the nail so that it can be embedded (set) into the surface of the wood. There is a slight depression on the top of the head to prevent the nail set from slipping off the head. The small hole that is made in the wood is filled with putty or some other type of filler to hide the nail when the surface is finished.

Figure 1-24. Finishing nail

(b) Casing Nails. Casing nails (Figure 1-25) are similar in appearance to the finishing nail. The head, however, is slightly larger and has no depression in the top. These nails are used to nail doors and window casings in place.

Figure 1-25. Casing nail

(c) Box Nails. Box nails (Figure 1-26) are used in box construction or whenever there is a possibility of splitting the wood with a common nail. The head of a box nail is somewhat thinner and larger in diameter than the head of a common nail. Box nails are sometimes coated with a special cement to give them better holding quality.

Figure 1-26. Box nail

(d) Common Nails. Common nails (Figure 1-27) have a thick flat head. They are used for most phases of building construction.

Figure 1-27. Common nail

(e) Duplex-Head or Double-Headed Nails. Duplex-head or double-headed nails (Figure 1-28) are used in temporary construction such as form work and scaffolding. The advantage of using this type of nail is easy removal. It has a collar that keeps the head away from the wood, and the claw of the hammer can easily engage the head for removal.

Figure 1-28. Duplex-head or double-headed nail

(2) Cut Nails. Cut nails are wedge-shaped with a head on the large end (Figure 1-29). They are often used to nail flooring because they have good holding power and are made of very hard steel.

Figure 1-29. Cut nail

(3) Special Nails. Rustproof nails are sometimes used when the head is exposed to the weather. The head often rusts and causes a black streak along the grain of the wood, even though it is painted. Therefore, it is desirable to use a nail that will not rust. Plain wire nails that have a zinc coating are often used where there is a possibility of rusting. These are called galvanized nails (such as a roofing nail).

(4) Drywall Nails. Drywall nails (Figure 1-30) are used for hanging drywall and have a special coating to prevent rust.

Figure 1-30. Drywall nail

(5) Masonry (Concrete) Nails. Masonry nails (Figure 1-31) are available in lengths from 1/2 inch to 4 inches, with a single head. These nails are usually hardened steel. Concrete nails are thicker and are used to fasten metal or wood to masonry or concrete.

Figure 1-31. Masonry nail

 Sizes. Nail sizes are given by penny number from two penny to sixty penny (Figure 1-32). A small letter d is the recognized abbreviation for penny. The penny number refers to the length of the nail. Nails are normally packaged in 50-pound boxes. Table 1-7 gives the general sizes and types of nails preferred for specific applications.

Figure 1-32. Nail sizes

Table 1-7. Sizes, types, and uses of nails

1-10. Screws

Screws are another means of fastening one member to another. Screws have some advantages over nails. They have greater holding power, present a neater appearance, and have more decorative possibilities than nails. They also have the advantage of being easily removed or tightened.

Phillips Head. Screws are usually either slotted-head or Phillips head (Figure 1-33). Phillips head screws require a special screwdriver for driving them. Some advantages of Phillips head screws are that the screwdriver does not slip out easily and that the head is not as apt to break as that of a conventional type screw.

Figure 1-33. Slotted and Phillips head

 Wood Screws. Wood screws are made of iron, bronze, brass, copper, or other metals; however, some are coated with nickel or chrome to match special-finish hardware. The main types of wood screws are roundhead, oval head, and flathead, which can be either slotted or Phillips head.

(1) Roundhead Screws. Roundhead screws (Figure 1-34) are usually used on a surface where the heads will show. The head is not countersunk, and for this reason it should have a pleasing finish-either blued or polished. If slotted-head, the screw slot should always be left in a parallel position to the grain of the wood.

Figure 1-34. Roundhead screw

(2) Oval-head Screws. Oval head screws (Figure 1-35) are used to fasten hinges or other finish hardware to wood. If slotted-head, the screw slots of these screws should be parallel to each other for better appearance.

Figure 1-35. Oval head screw

(3) Flathead Screws. Flathead screws (Figure 1-36) are used where the head will not show. The head should be countersunk until it is level with or slightly below the finished surface. If flathead screws are used on an exposed area, they should be countersunk in a hole that can be plugged.

Figure 1-36. Flathead screw

(4) Other Screws.

(a) Lag Screws. Lag screws are longer and heavier than the common wood screw and have coarser threads. They have square and hexagon heads (Figure 1-37). They are used when ordinary wood screws would be too short or too light and spikes would not be strong enough.

Figure 1-37. Lag screws

(b) Drive Screws. Special screws, made to be driven with a hammer, are called drive screws (Figure 1-38). They may have a roundhead but are usually made with a flathead, and they may have no slot for a screwdriver. (They also come in larger sizes with square or round heads.) The threads are far apart. Drive screws are available in the same size as wood screws.

Figure 1-38. Drive screw

(c) Special Screws. Many special hanging and fastening devices have a screw-type body (Figure 1-39). The screw eye is often used on picture frames, screen doors, and many other items. The curved screw hook and square screw hooks are mainly used for hanging articles. The curved screw hook is usually used in the ceiling, while the square screw hook is more often used on vertical walls.

Figure 1-39. Special screws

Sheet-Metal Screws. Like wood screws, sheet-metal screws can also be slotted or Phillips head. They are used for the assembly of metal parts. They are steel or brass with four types of heads: flat, round, oval, and fillister, as shown in Figure 1-40.

Figure 1-40. Sheet metal screws

Pilot and Starter Holes. Prepare the wood for receiving a screw by baring a pilot hole (the size of the diameter of the screw) into the piece of wood. A smaller, starter hole is then bored into the piece of wood that is to act as anchor or hold the threads of the screw. The starter hole has a diameter less than that of the screw threads and is drilled to a depth 1/2 or 2/3 the length of the threads to be anchored. This method (shown in Figure 1-41) assures accuracy in placing the screws and reduces the possibility of splitting the wood.

Figure 1-41. Sinking a wood screw

Covering Material. Both slotted and Phillips flathead screws are countersunk enough that a covering material can be used (Figure 1-42).

Figure 1-42. Screw-covering material


1-11. Anchors.

Fastening wood or other materials to concrete or other materials has always been a task for carpenter's. Anchors (fasteners) for such work can be divided into three general categories. The first group includes anchors installed during the initial construction. The second group includes anchors installed in solid concrete or masonry after construction is completed. The third group includes anchors installed in masonry, plastic, or drywall that has a hollow space behind it.

Anchor Bolts. Anchor bolts (Figure 1-43) a used to fasten sills to masonry foundations. These bolts are used to fasten the sill to the footers. Anchor bolts are installed when placing the footer while the concrete is still wet.

Figure 1-43. Anchor bolt installation

 Expansion Anchor Bolts. Lead screws, plastic anchors, and lag expansion shields all work with the same basic idea. Drill a proper size hole and insert the expansion shield into the hole. The insertion of the screw or lag bolt expands the fastener to provide a secure hold. Figure 1-44 shows how expansion anchors work.

Figure 1-44. Expansion anchor bolt

Molly Universal-Screw Anchors. Molly fasteners (Figure 1-45) provide a solid means of attaching fixtures to interior walls. A hole is drilled the same size as that of the outside diameter of the fastener. These fasteners are designed to expand behind the wall covering.

Figure 1-45. Molly universal screw anchors

1-12. Bolts.

Bolts are made of steel with either round, square, or octagon heads and threaded shanks. The threads may run the full length of the bolt, or they may stop a certain distance from the head, leaving a smooth upper shank. Bolts are used to fasten timber, steel, or other materials. They range in diameter from 3/16 to 1 1/2 inches, and in lengths from 3/4 to 30 inches. They are available in three main styles: stove bolts, machine bolts, and carriage bolts.

Stove Bolts. Stove bolts are used mostly with small items of hardware. Roundhead or flathead stove bolts (Figure 1-46) range in length from 3/8 to 6 inches. They are used in light construction.

Figure 1-46. Stove bolts

 Machine Bolts. Machine bolts (Figure 1-47) are used in woodwork. They usually have square heads and square nuts. A metal washer is usually used under both the head and the nut. These washers prevent the head from embedding into the wood and keep the nut from tearing the wood fibers as it is turned. Two wrenches are required when tightening machine bolts.

Figure 1-47. Machine bolts

Carriage Bolts. Carriage bolts are like machine bolts except for the heads, which are round (Figure 1-48). The shank of the carriage bolt has a square portion, which is drawn into the wood to prevent the bolt from turning as the nut is tightened. A washer is used under the nut, but not under the head of this bolt.

Figure 1-48. Carriage bolts

Toggle Bolts. Toggle bolts are used to fasten fixtures to hollow walls. The two types of toggle bolts are the pivot type and the spring-wing type. Both types have heads similar to those of ordinary wood screws. Both come in various sizes.

(1) Pivot-Type. The pivot-type has a bent-steel channel with the nut slightly off-center so that one end of the channel is heavier than the other (Figure 1-49). A hole is drilled into the hollow wall or block. The heavy end of the nut drops down at a right angle to the bolt when it is inserted into the hole. The nut will pull up tight against the drywall or block as the bolt is tightened.

Figure 1-49. Pivot-type toggle bolt

(2) Spring-Wing Type. Spring-wing type toggle bolts are made like the pivot type except that the wing is hinged in the center. It is held open with a small spring and is closed while inserting it into the hole. It snaps open when it enters the hollow cavity of the wall, as seen in Figure 1-50.

Figure 1-50. Spring-wing toggle bolts

1-13. Hinges.

All hinges are used to make a movable joint between two pieces of material. A hinge consists primarily of a pin and two plates. There are three most commonly used hinges: full-mortise, half-surface, and full-surface. Figure 1-51 shows the basic design of a common door hinge.

Figure 1-51. Common door hinge

Full-Mortise. The full-mortise hinge (Figure 1-52) is cut or mortised (gained) into both the doorjamb and the door. The leaves of a full-mortise hinge are completely hidden, leaving only the barrel exposed when the door is closed.

Figure 1-52. Full-mortise hinge

 Full-Surface. The full-surface hinge (Figure 1-53) is fastened directly to the door and jamb, and no mortise is required. Note that the edges of the full-mortise are beveled. The surface of the frame and door must be flush when full-surface hinges are used.

Figure 1-53. Full-surface hinge

Half-Surface. As shown in Figure 1-54, the half-surface butt-type hinge is like the other hinges, except that one leaf is fastened on the surface of the door and the other leaf fits into a grain in the frame.

Figure 1-54. Half-surface hinge

Cabinet Hinges. Hinges come in many styles and finishes for every type of cabinet. Either full-mortise, full-surface, or half-surface hinges are used for cabinet work. A few of the designs of cabinet hinges are shown in Figure 1-55.

Figure 1-55. Cabinet hinges

Special Hinges. Many other types of hinges are available. Several are shown in Figure 1-56.

Figure 1-56. Special hinges

1-14. Hinge Hasps.

Hinge hasps are like hinges, except for the leaves (Figure 1-57). One leaf has screw holes for fastening the hasp in place. The other leaf is longer with a slot cut near the outer end. A metal loop, riveted to a square metal base, is used with the hinge hasp. The base of the loop is fastened in place with four screws. The slot in the long leaf of the hasp fits over the loop. A hinge hasp is used with a padlock as a locking device. The long leaf of the safety hasp covers the heads of all screws when it is in the locked position.

Figure 1-57. Hinge hasps

1-15. Locks and Striker Plates.

The three general types of door locks are: the tubular, the cylindrical, and the mortise lock. Dead-bolt and rim locks can be installed to provide additional security.

Tubular Locks. Tubular locks have all the advantages of mortise locks, but are much easier to install because they only need bored holes. They are used mainly for interior doors for bedrooms, bathrooms, passages, and closets. They are available with a key tumbler lock in the knob on the outside of the door or with a turn button or push button on the inside. Figure 1-58 shows a tubular lock set.

Figure 1-58. Tubular lock

 Cylindrical Locks. Cylindrical locks (Figure 1-59) are basically the same as the tubular type. The cylindrical lock is a sturdy, heavy-duty, and stronger lock, which is used on exterior doors for maximum security.

Figure 1-59. Cylindrical lock

Mortise Locks. Mortise locks (Figure 1-60) are used mainly on front or outside doors for high security. The present trend is away from using mortise locks because of the difficulty and time required to install them.

Figure 1-60. Mortise lock

Dead Bolts. Dead Bolts are used where added security is needed. They are constructed of very hard steel. Figure 1-61 shows a combination dead bolt and combination dead bolt and latch.

Figure 1-61. Dead bolt locks

Rim Locks. Rim locks (Figure 1-62) are easier to install because they are normally installed on the inside surface of exterior doors. One bored hole is usually all that is required. On some types, however, a recess must be cut for the lock.

Figure 1-62. Rim lock

Striker Plate. A striker plate (Figure 1-63) is usually mortised into the frame of the opening for a lock. It prevents the wood from wearing or splitting and cannot be pried loose easily.

Figure 1-63. Striker plate

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015