Metal Stud Framing
At work we are getting ready to start framing some office space for a commercial project with metal studs. I thought it might be useful to discuss some of the must have tools required for metal stud framing.
Metal stud framing has gained significant popularity in the building trade and is used almost exclusively now in the commercial industry. The nice thing is the basic framing concepts are similar to wood framed construction. With a few specific tools for metal stud framing you can frame with metal just as easy as you can with wood. If you’re new to the metal framing industry then you might want to read the Steel Framing Guide produced by the Steel Framing Alliance.
Metal Stud Framing Tools
Metal Chop Saw
The metal chop saw or cutoff saw is essential if you’re going to frame with metal studs. Metal studs are purchased in lengths from 8 ft up to 24 ft or more in increments of 2 ft. So just like wood framing you’ll be cutting studs to length and you won’t want to be using your good sliding compound miter saw to do it! I recommend the Milwaukee 6190-20 15 amp 14-inch Metal Cutoff Machine. This saw has lots of power and it’s built to last! We have our metal chop saw set up with a 72 Tooth Steel Cutting Saw Blade instead of an ordinary abrasive blade. I like this set up because there are very little sparks and the studs get cut with almost no burs on them.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a really good quality, heavy duty screw gun for fastening the studs and attaching drywall. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you guy a really powerful drill that can stand up to the rigors of metal stud framing. That’s why I recommend the Milwaukee 6740-20 6.5 Amp Screwdriver. This screw gun has more than enough power and it’s built to last. Be sure to get some good quality bits to go along with it as well.
Electric Metal Shears
Electric shears make quick work of cutting steel and really improves productivity. If you try to make all your small cuts using hand snips then you’ll never finish the job. Having a good quality metal shear allows you to work faster, work safer and also do a nicer quality job. I recommend the Milwaukee 6850 18 Gauge Shear. This metal shear has a swivel head that allows you to cut every shape from circular to any irregular shape you need.
Having a laser line tool is very helpful especially if you’re framing really tall walls. The laser line tool can project a laser line in both the vertical and horizontal planes and act like an electronic chaulk line of sorts. I recommend the Pacific Laser Systems PLS-60521 PLS180 Tool, 180-degree Fan Angle, Plumb and Level Line Tool. Once you start using one of these lasers you’ll be hooked! They are easy to use and improve both your productivity and your quality.