Questions about Steel Stud framing
This past weekend, I began framing the enclosure around my dome. It was a pain in the neck. Steel studs are awfully wiggly, flexible and difficult to work with.
I can chop them easily enough; I put a metal abrasive disc on my cheap brick saw (my best investment by far). Lots of sparks, noise and a burnt smell, but it's effortless.
But cutting the ends with tin snips. to create the tabs for attaching the to each other, is a pain in the A__. If you don't have the snips exactly 90 degress to the metal, the jaws of the snips just scratch the metal. Then there's the little slivers that are created with each cut.
Anyway, here are my questions. I would appreciate any answers or comments you can provide:
1) How do you do fine cutting on the studs, i.e. how do you create the "birdsmouth" notch for the rafters? I believe ColCorn did a fantastic job with his; the cuts look so clean. If I tried to do that with tin snips, it would look like it went through a meat grinder. I have two pairs of Wiss tin snips; one straight pair, like scissors, and the other, right-handed offest pair that is supposed to be more convenient.
2) can you cut studs with an angle grinder? If not, what do you use an angle grinder for when framing the oven?
3) How rigid must the frame be? I've had to add reinforcing braces, etc, but the frame is still a bit flexible and wiggly. Will Cement board compensate for this?
4) How do you account for the prodtruding screw heads when screwing cement board onto the studs? They protrude about 3/16" from the surface of the studs. I'm wondering how perfectly monolithic the framed sides have to be before tacking on the cement board. Due to the squishy, flexy nature of the steel studs, there are bends, minor dents, and slight warps created when the metal is "grabbed" together. In other words, there's a bit of "slop" in the construction.
I'm hoping that a nice, rigid, flat, heavy cement board covering will overcome and neutralize all the cosmetic flaws and sloppy connections in my framing.
Is this a realistic hope?
Thanks in advance.
Isn't it fun?
I am hoping that other builders will respond as well. My two-cents on some of your questions are:
1. I used snips to get my flanges and right angles. I have seen that when you are cutting a lot of metal studs that you can use a chop saw with a metal blade, but for the projects I have done, I only used the snip.
2. There are two types of screws. One set for the metal studs themselves, and a second, flathead screw for attaching the concrete board. The screw for the studs does stick out, but it's hidden by the concrete board.
3. The concrete board does give the structure integrity -- along the lines of drywall. If you've done any drywall, it's pretty similar. Including how the finish product (are you using stucco?), covers the imperfections of the board. I have a whole house of drywall that is covered with a finish coat of hand trowelled gypsum mud, and you would never know how the board underneath looks.
4. I definitely remember the nicks and cuts from the studs. It's a real pain.
On the brighter side, how is it going to look? Do you like the shape?
The cosmetic decorative aspects are the most difficult for me because I don't have a clear idea of what I want. For this reason, I'm looking around a bit.
One thing is for sure: I want gargoyles.
You'll just have to practice with the snips until you get it right. Wiss snips are fine, but I'd buy a brand new pair, the offset ones with the yellow handles, because they really don't stay sharp all that long.
For my flat steel stud frame for the fire retardant "ceiling" of the oven (not the roof), I slid one steel stud into another to make a box. I did this because the cement board would be bearing directly on it, and I didn't want any flex.
You'll find that your enclosure will become quite rigid once the board is one. Don't worry about what you wont see, such as screw heads. If you're using stucco, you'll have lots of leeway to hide imperfections. Just be sure to add lots of fasteners in the cement board. Stainless steel would be best if you'll be using stucco.
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