Author Topic: Using steel studs for layout framing?  (Read 2800 times)

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C855B

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Using steel studs for layout framing?
« on: December 28, 2009, 12:04:45 PM »
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There was chat in the recent "weekend update" about steel framing. The old MR article mcjaco mentioned is available online, http://www.trains.com/mrr/default.aspx?c=a&id=298.

I'm seriously considering using steel studs and 2" foam to slay the humidity ogre in my poorly-conditioned space. So I'd like to hear more, especially ideas about improving torsional stiffness without falling back on wood.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

mcjaco

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2009, 12:17:50 PM »
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Actually, that's a different article.  The one I was referrring to was written by David Popp (I believe), and showcased Bill Boyd's Kearney & Black Hills.  I think it was a three or four page spread. 

It's nice to know there's more than one article though!

asciibaron

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2009, 12:31:16 PM »
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http://homepage.mac.com/sraque/

steel framing for a steel line
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DKS

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2009, 01:20:28 PM »
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I've built steel benchwork. Here are the tools required:

Tape measure
Framing square
Level
Tin snips
Locking C-clamp
Drill with driver bit

One of the most important tools in the list is the locking C-clamp. This keeps the steel members firmly connected while steel framing screws are driven. Without it, you either have to drill holes and use nuts/bolts (serious time-sucking procedure), or spend all day cussing at hopelessly spinning screws. Well worth the investment. Second item down on this page:

http://www.blackhawksupply.com/cgi-bin/supply/subcategory_list.html?mv_arg=Vise%20Grips%20%26%20C-Clamps::Locking%20Pliers%20%26%20Clamps

As for torsional strength, I attached the framing members to extra-heavy-duty shelf brackets, which in turn were anchored into wall studs. This not only provided adequate strength, but also eliminated the need for legs. For the parts of the benchwork that were greater than two feet deep, steel members were actually cantilevered off of the brackets, which provided adequate support out past three feet.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 01:27:46 PM by David K. Smith »
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AlkemScaleModels

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2009, 01:44:42 PM »
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I have no experience with steel studs for framing. But if you get my book, you'll know all about how and where they come from! ;)

I got the galley proof this weekend and it looks good with some minor clean up needed. Kalmbach Publishing does a good job.

C855B

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2009, 11:25:00 AM »
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C-clamp vise grips... check. Good idea. Heavy-duty shelf brackets for trussing... OK, duly noted. I did a little metal studs work in the very distant past, and recall what a PITA aircraft snips were if you had a lot of cuts, so I will look into a metals-capable chopsaw.

Question - fastening the foam. Glue? Screws with fender washers from the top? Both?
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

up1950s

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2009, 02:56:48 PM »
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Gloves , wear gloves , I have messed with cutting steel studs , even if the gloves are light weight and thin so you don't feel uncomfortably hot , it's better than slicing your hand . Not a bad idea to de-burr the cut ends with a chucked rotary stone , and if you do , know ahead which way the sparks will fly , or goggle up .

DKS

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2009, 05:43:24 PM »
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C-clamp vise grips... check. Good idea. Heavy-duty shelf brackets for trussing... OK, duly noted. I did a little metal studs work in the very distant past, and recall what a PITA aircraft snips were if you had a lot of cuts, so I will look into a metals-capable chopsaw.

Question - fastening the foam. Glue? Screws with fender washers from the top? Both?

Metal saw may be more trouble. The metal is thin enough that sawing can cause it to twist and deform (not to mention make a racket). I started picking up tricks for cutting the studs with snips fairly easily. One trick is to notch the short sides first, bend the stud, then cut the long side. Takes a bit of getting used to, but you can get good enough to work without gloves after a while. Another trick is to nick all square corners to reduce the chances of gashing yourself or other objects.

To fasten the foam, I did two things. First, I drilled a series of holes in the studs, spaced a foot or so apart, near the open side of the studs along the top. Then, I applied Liquid Nails for Projects (foam-friendly) to the studs. After positioning the foam on the studs, I gently screwed in 2-inch drywall screws into the foam through the holes in the studs from below. This helped settle the foam firmly to the studs, because screws, joints and other features create an uneven surface to which the foam must bond.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 05:45:17 PM by David K. Smith »
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ednadolski

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2009, 06:48:01 PM »
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I'm building a "tabletop" using the steel 2x3's.  I'm using essentially the same technique as open-grid with braced legs, as if I were using dimensional lumber.   So far it has come out quite rigid, and of course it's a lot lighter than wood.   I'll try to post some pics in the next day or so.

Ed

Walkercolt

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2009, 02:07:12 AM »
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You can use sheet metal strips for "stringers" to prevent metal studs from twisting. Or you can use 4mm birch plywood very effectively (think airplane wings). You can also use "pop-rivets" to assemble things where screws would be difficult. A miter-saw with a metal cutting blade (not an abrasive disc) makes short work of cutting metal studs. DeWalt sells a good blade for the money. Self-drilling screws (don't buy these from a "big-box" or local hardware store, go to a fastener wholesaler or try www.McFeelys.com...save $$$$$$) make very short work of assembly with a cordless drill with a limiting clutch. Metal studs weak point is they aren't strong without bracing in horizontal runs (I'm speaking relatively here, compared to a 2x4 dry douglas fir), but if you "engineer" them correctly, they are light, relatively cheap and strong.

chuck geiger

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2009, 02:02:17 PM »
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A lot of hassle, most folks that have done this, have gotten the materials pre-cut and
manufactured to fit their plans.
Chuck Geiger
Page, AZ
provencountrypd@gmail.com

C855B

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2009, 02:37:08 PM »
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A lot of hassle...

A-yup. Sorta knew that. Which is part of why I asked for the thinking out loud. Wood is, after all, easy.

I need to look for that DeWalt metals blade Walkercolt suggested, although it would be for another project. I was seriously looking at cut-off saws with abrasive wheels, cringing at the thoughts of multiple cuts. Like you said, a lot of hassle. I was able to find a stud shear for $200, which would likely be my solution if I went this way.

In the greater analysis, even though I knew from the get-go that gloves were de rigeur with metal studs, I'm starting to ponder "hmmm... bad idea". Think about it... a model railroad is never done. How much time do you spend underneath the benchwork adding or fixing wiring, making modifications, trying something new, fixing that troublesome turnout linkage, etc., etc., etc. In my experience, lots. Open metal-stud framework is "hidden hazard" in spades. I'm looking at the scar on my hand from an episode adjusting a clutch on one of the cars, where the wrench slipped sending my hand full force into a support bracket with a sharp edge... tendon damage. 20 stitches and 3 months of physical therapy.

So... with that unpleasant memory to the fore, nix the metal studs at the moment. I certainly appreciate everyone's suggestions and assist with think-through. Next move is exploring, of all things, PVC pipe. I've used it on other semi-structural projects, and with the right mix of sizes it can be fine as support for foam or other light benchtops. Certainly is easy enough to work with.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

unclepete20

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2009, 11:32:23 PM »
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I would say leave the metal work to the guys that have welders and abrasive saws.... I am currently in the process of building a module for n trak out of metal studs. So far its strong for weight from above but the side to side motion is complete crap. I am about ready to scrap it all save for the fact that it is completely cut and tacked in place... I am using a small 115 volt arc welder, which works fine for what i need it to do but still it is kind of a royal pain in the butt. I dont have an abrasive saw and to be honest, tin snips are a huge pain in the rear. I am going to screw 1/8 luan on top and then glue my foam to that. the bottom I haven't worked out yet though. I would like access to working on any potential wiring problems (hopefully none but you never know) and adjust my cross over switches that I am using tortise switch macines on. I know that once they are adjusted they dont need much attention but you never know when you need to make that minute adjustment when a module takes a fall while loading.


Updates will come on how i am coming- FYI pipe seems like a great idea, but you really are going to spend alot of time cutting and fitting pieces. If I was to do this project over again, I would stick with a good ol 4x8 sheet of plywood and rip it to my liking.

Two Truck Shay

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2010, 12:38:37 AM »
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I think metal would be good for situations where the benchwork must bear a lot of weight. It also contributes to the overall weight. I used wood to lighten things as much as possible, but that's just me!

C855B

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Re: Using steel studs for layout framing?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2010, 01:44:38 AM »
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You're probably envisioning steel beams and "project" metal bar shapes. The metal we are talking about are sheet-metal 2-bys, which are significantly lighter than the wood equivalents. Great for weight reduction and dimensional stability in varying humidity, but a pain to work with, and relatively dangerous (sharp edges) when used in open framing.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross