How to put up a partition wall header...

I am moving some partition walls in my basement. I don't know anything about carpentry, so I will be asking a lot of questions.
I want to put one wall parallel to the joists above, but unfortunately not exactly at one. (there is a drop ceiling with lights in it, so trying to shorten it 1 inch so I can catch a joist would be more work than the rest of the project) Can I put 2x4s across the adjoining joists, and then put the header up to the 2x4s? It looks like it ought to be as sturdy as anything, but since I don't know anything, I could easily be over looking something basic.
Looking around my basement, I see another wall is made without a header; the walls are nailed to the side of the joist. I couldn't quite do that either, unless I cut the top of the 2x4s back an inch; then they would fit fine. Is that acceptable? I can't see that the reduction is width would much matter.
Writing this made me think of a third possibility. If I made my header from a 2x6, I would have enough width to catch the joist and be in the right place for the wall.
So, are any of these acceptable? Are they all acceptable? Or is there another way. (No, I mean beside hiring a carpenter. This is how I learn things!)
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1) yea, that is how i do it and have been a framing carpenter for 16 years 2) i dont completly understand the problem 3) ditto
by header do you mean the 2x4,6,8,10+ piece above a door? or are you talking about the top of the wall, top plate?
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Are you talking about making the studs thinner, so that the top of the wall ends up on an even 2' boundary for the ceiling tiles? Many people would trim the ceiling tiles to fit, but in your case, why not use 2x3s, instead of 2x4s?
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Yeh, the top plate. I need to put the wall so it hits about 1/3rd of a joist. It has to be there or I have to redo the remaining drop ceiling. Does it make more sense now? Thanks.
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yes, you can scab in some 2x4 blocks from joist to joist and fasten your new top plate to them. This would be normal and preferred. I would use a scab about every 2 -3 feet.
(top posted for your convenience) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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I used the wrong word; I meant top plate, not header.
I have posted a picture of the problem at
http://www.frontiernet.net/~toller/ceiling.jpg
I am moving a wall 8' into another room. I taken down two 4' rowes of ceiling tiles. Trying to adjust the existing ceiling would be a truly major project; so I want to build the wall to accomodate the ceiling.
The joist shown in the picture is about half over the ceiling grid, so it is too far to let me attach a 2x4 top plate to it, but not far enough to let me nail the studs to the side.
I can: 1) Use a 2x6 top plate, which will reach the joist, but still give me 3.5" for the studs. 2) Cut an inch off the top of the studs so they can attach to the sides of the joist, but still hit the ceiling grid. (a 2x3 wouldn't help, as it would still be 1" from the ceiling grid) 3) Bridge adjacent joists with 2x4s, and attach the top plate to them.
I appreciate your patience
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ill take door #3 monty with #1 being my second choice

major
is
me
would
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Bridge between the joist in question and the next one with 2x3s, and attach the top plate to the bridging.
I don't understand why trimming the ceiling tiles and the last row of supports is such a "major job", though. You have to take that end row of stuff off anyway, because you're building a new wall, so you're just looking at 10 minutes extra work with a set of tin-snips and a razor-knife, aren't you?
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Toller wrote:

As Dan said. Scab 2x4 between the joists about every 2-3 ft. The wall you are building is not a load bearing so all you need is something to fasten the top plate to.
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if you can tie it into the joist with a 2x6, why waste the time bridging it?

major
it is

let me

3.5"
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would
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