MasterBuild Africa

How to Build Support Beams

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A beam is a structural element that is capable of withstanding load primarily by resisting bending timber, metal, stone, or combinations of wood and metals. The loads carried by a beam are transferred to columns, walls, or girders, which then transfer the force to adjacent structural compression members. Although there are certain criteria that need to be met for support beams in relation to the load that is being supported, building support beams is one of the easiest aspects of building.

Things needed: set of sawhorses, circular saw, extension cord, tape measure, pencil, speed square, hammer, penny nails,¬†¬Ĺ inch thick plywood, (2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, 2×12)dimensional lumbers.


  • Measure the length where the support beam is needed.
  • Set up the sawhorses and place the sheet of plywood on them. Cut the plywood in 8-foot strips; 1/4 inch narrower than the width of the appropriate lumber for the beams.
  • Place the appropriate dimensional lumber for the beams on the sawhorses. For each beam, measure the dimensional lumber to the required length. Mark the length with a V pointing to the position of the saw line. Draw a straight line across the width of the lumber and cut the lumber for the beams.
  • Cut the 8-foot plywood strips 1/4 inch shorter than the two boards for the support beam. Place one of the boards for the beam flat on the saw horse. Place the plywood strip on the board and lay the other board for the beam on top of the plywood.
  • The plywood should not protrude from within the center of the boards for the beam. Begin at one end of the beam and nail the boards together using the penny nails and hammer. The nails should be driven into the wood in an alternating V pattern. Flip the beam over. Nail the boards from the other side using the same V shaped pattern.

The beam is complete and ready for installation.

culled from eHow

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