How to fasten wood to a steel beam

metal house construction image by Aaron Kohr from

Steel beams are a sturdy and durable way to frame a building; however, wood is often needed for trim, door frames and attaching drywall. Two commonly used processes exist for securing wood to steel, and both are fairly simple. Learning how to attach wood to a steel frame makes your project move much faster.

Add the thickness of the steel beam and the thickness of the wood you want to apply. Add 1/4 inch to that total to determine the length of the nails or steel pins you will need to fasten the wood.

Load the powder-actuated gun with charges. A powder-actuated nail gun uses gun powder to drive the nails or steel pins.

Insert the nails or steel pins in the gun. Some guns are single-shot tools and must be loaded one pin at a time. Others use a clip of nails or pins and can shoot many fasteners without reloading.

Cock the powder-actuated tool. Pull out on the front of the tool, extending the barrel, and release it to ready the tool.

Line the wood up with the steel beam. Hold the powder-actuated tool against the wood board. Make sure the spring in the tool is compressed. Pull the trigger.

Repeat this process until the wood is secured in place.

Determine the length of the bolts needed to go through the thickness of the wood and the thickness of the steel beam, with enough left to attach a nut. Use fully threaded bolts if the wood will be flush with the steel.

Measure the steel beam and locate where the wood will be attached. Mark this location with a black marker. Use the same measurements to locate the corresponding spot on the wooden board. Mark the spot with the marker.

Drill a hole through the steel at the mark you made. Drill a hole through the wood at the mark you made. Use a drill bit that will make holes 1/4 inch smaller than the width of the bolts being used.

Line the wood up with the steel beam, making sure the guide holes are aligned.

Place the bolt into the guide hole and screw it in place with a wrench. When the bolt is completely screwed through both pieces, attach the nut on the threaded end of the bolt. Tighten the bolt as much as possible.