Source: TOOLS OF THE TRADE Magazine
Publication date: August 13, 2012

By Greg DiBernardo

Steel Framing

Some deck builders are switching from pressure-treated lumber to light-gauge steel framing because steel is free of defects, does not shrink or warp, and makes for long-lasting, perfectly flat decks. We frame new decks with steel and use wood only for repairs. Working with steel is not difficult; it's just different from working with wood.

The connections are screwed instead of nailed, so installing screws quickly is the name of the game.

Image

9-Quick Drive screws

Quik Drive. We do most of our fastening with loose screws and cordless impact drivers. Lately, though, we have been using two Simpson Quik Drive attachments (QDPROHX516G2 and QDPROPP150G2) to drive self-drilling collated fasteners (9). The attachments allow us to perform repetitive tasks — like building up beams and fastening through hardware — in about a third of the time it used to take. The QDPROHX516G2 has a flat nosepiece and is used for general fastening. The QDPROPP150G2 has a precision-placement nosepiece that allows us to put screws through the holes in framing hardware.

We can't use Quik Drive for every connection, because the tool and attachment are too long to fit sideways in joist bays — which is how half the structural fasteners in a metal deck frame must be driven. This is true of nearly all collated fastening tools, the reason being that they were designed for driving fasteners straight into deck boards, metal roofing, and the like. For those applications, a longer tool may be an advantage. We are able to use a Quik Drive tool for the hardware along the ledger side of the deck because the hanger is L-shaped and we have unrestricted access from the open side of the joist.

The Quik Drive normally connects to a corded screwdriver (10), but Simpson makes an adapter that allows you to use it on a cordless impact driver (11). The impact-driver adapter is not a gimmick, as I thought it might be when I first saw it. It works just as well as a corded drill motor but frees you from dragging a cord. Price for QDPROHX516G2: $115. www.strongtie.com.

Image

10-Quik drive QD PROHX516G2

Image

11-Quik drive QDPROPP150G2

Steel-cutting blade. Most of the framing we use is cut to order at the mill, but we still cut some joists and track in the field. Although no special tools are required, we put a ferrous metal–cutting blade on our circular saw. It's better than using an abrasive blade, which wears down quickly and creates a lot of sparks. We use a Diablo Steel Demon D0748F 48-tooth blade for cutting steel (12). The blade cuts effortlessly, but it's quite loud and the filings it produces are less forgiving than sawdust; you'll need hearing and eye protection and should protect your forearms with long sleeves. Price: $40. www.diablotools.com.

Image

12- Diablo Steel Demon blade