Lets start with a simple wall, with no door or window openings. We can get to the more difficult panels later.
The standard height for a panel is 2.453 metres. This is a standard ceiling height for most homes. It also easily accommodates plasterboard and plywood/OSB.
A wall comprises of timbers with dimensions of 38mm deep and 140mm in width and come in an assortment of lengths, ranging from 2.1 and then rising in 300mm increments up to 5.4 m long. For the sake of this example we will use lengths of 4.8m cls C16 grade timbers.
The wall we wish to make is on the gable of the house, hence no windows or doors. The gable wall is actually 9.5m but we need to break that down into a more manageable size. We take the 9.5 m wall and divide by two to end up with two walls of 4.75 m long. This is much easier to deal with.
Divide 4.75 by 0.4 (the vertical stud centres) to get 11.87. Round the number down to 11 and then add 2 to bring the number of studs up to 13. Now you know how many vertical uprights are in the panel.
You may recall that the standard height for a wall panel is 2.453. This is made up of the vertical studs plus a double sole plate and a double-header plate.
All that means is that on the ground you place two lengths of 4.75 m long timber to which you fix the bottom of the studs and then you fit two lengths of 4.75 m long timber to the top of the wall panel. You can use two 90mm paslode nails fired from a nail gun or two 100mm galvanised wire nails using a hammer.
Now you need to work out what size to cut them.
So if we have two number timbers of dimension 38 x 140 mm to top and bottom of the wall then all we need to do is subtract 152mm from the overall height of the wall to get our vertical stud size which is 2.301 m.
Cut 13 studs at 2.301 me long ensuring that your cuts are plumb. Very important to get the length and the plumb cut right to ensure a good tight fit.
Clear a space on the ground and place two lengths of timber lengthways on the ground. These will be used to make your panel on. Keeping the ends of the panel off the ground makes it easier to fix the top and bottom plates to the vertical studs.
Now you can start nailing the panel together keeping the edge of the vertical studs flush with the top of the sole plate and header plate. Fix the top and bottom of each stud with two number nails either 90mm paslode nails fired from a nail gun or 100mm galvanised wire nails if you are using a hammer. Make sure that the studs are not twisted in the frame and are plumb from top of the wall to the bottom.
Work your way along the panel fixing the studs at 400mm centres. This just means leaving a distance of 400mm from the centre of one stud to the next.
You can also use the edge of the stud and simply go from edge to edge. Keep going until you have nailed up all the vertical studs to the top and bottom plates.
Now you can add plywood or OSB sheets to tighten up the frame. This is better done at this stage prior to standing the panel up, as the work will go quicker by fixing the sheets to the frame when it is lying on the ground.
Fix the plywood or OSB to each vertical stud at 150mm centres and around the perimeter of each sheet at 75mm centres. (An engineer will help you in this area by performing mathematical calculations to give you a precise figure that you can follow. )
Just be aware the panel can be very heavy so make sure you have some extra pairs of hands or mechanical lifting gear to help you.
But if you are short of helping hands you can leave this until the panel is fully fixed and braced.
Voila you have made your first timber frame wall panel. Congratulations.
Ed Gordon is a Timber Frame specialist with a keen interest in Energy Efficiency and reducing the construction Carbon Footprint. Ed does not manufacture timber framed kits but he does help his clients by preparing planning permissions on a NO Win No Fee basis and ensuring that they make an informed decision between timber frame and masonry construction and helping clients to find the best value manufacturer or contractor to perform any work. For more information go to http://www.gts-timber-frame.com