Installing gable-end studs

Gable-end studs come built into gable trusses, but they have to be cut and fitted on the job site when building a conventional roof so that exterior wall coverings can be nailed on. Often, a 14-in.-wide vent is placed in the gable ends. To accommodate this vent (or other opening), measure over half the distance of the rough opening from the center of the ridge board and mark this distance on a gable-end rafter. Measuring down from this point to the plate gives you the length of the longest gable-end stud.

Notches cut to receive 2x lookout





Ridge board





2×4 lookouts 32 in. o. c.


The 2×4 lookouts that support the barge boards are fitted into notches cut in the gable-end rafters. Make sure the gable-end rafters are straight. Then, using two 16d nails, fasten the lookouts into the notches. These notches can be cut into the end rafters before they are installed.





Top plates


Installing gable-end studs

Rather than measuring the length of each individual gable-end stud, I use a little math to calculate the common difference in length of each successive stud. Divide the rise (4 in this case) by 3 and add the result and the rise together (44-3 = 1.33 + 4 = 5.33, or 53/s in.). So, for example, if the first gable-end stud is 47 in. long, the next one will be 415/s in. (47 – 53/s = 415/s). The next will be 36Va in. long and so on. The tops of these gable-end studs are cut at an 18° angle, the pitch of the roof (consult rafter tables for this angle).

Nail the gable-end studs in plumb, trust­ing your eye or using a level (see the photo on the facing page). Be careful to
nail down through the rafter into the gable-end studs to keep from pushing the end rafter up. Don’t inadvertently put a crown in this straight rafter.

Finishing the overhang

There are many ways to finish an over­hang, from simple to ornate. Houses in the Southwest may have a stucco soffit. A Victorian beauty may be trimmed out with fancy gingerbread. But the trend in most areas of our country today is toward simplicity and economy.

The next step in finishing the overhang part of this big puzzle is to install the barge rafters. Lay the 2×4 lookouts into the notches cut in the gable-end rafters.

Nail them with two 16d nails into the first inboard rafter (see the drawing on p. 149). Sight down the end rafter to make sure it is straight, then nail the lookouts into the notches with two more 16d nails.

The gable-end rafter forms the upper part of the exterior wall and needs to be plumb and straight. I once got a callback on a house that had a badly bowed gable-end rafter that no one noticed until the shingles were on. While we were able to cut the nails that held the rafter to the roof sheathing with a reciprocating saw and correct the mis­take, it took time and money. Like most building mistakes, it was correctable, but it would have been far cheaper to make sure the rafter was straight in the first place.

Next, check the plans to determine the length of the overhang. If it’s 20 in. at the gable end, for example, subtract 1 Vi in. for the barge rafter and snap a chalkline at 18Vi in. across the lookouts and across the ridge board if it extends into the overhang. This will ensure a straight barge rafter. Cut the lookouts and ridge board with a circular saw.

Nail through the barge rafters into the ends of the lookouts with galvanized 16d nails. Because this framing will be exposed, make sure that the plumb cut at the ridge board fits tight and looks good.

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