Pergola Design with Curved Cedar Rafters

Build your own Curved Rafter Cedar Pergola. This pergola design incorporates curved sawn rafters made of Western Red Cedar.  Plans available for download in PDF Format.

Build a Curved Rafter Cedar Pergola - Sawn Arches
Watch this video on YouTube.

See the How to Video.

For this blog post I’d like to go back and revisit a curved pergola I built with my friend Doug a few years ago. As far as pergola designs go I think this one is unique.


the Pergola Design

The Sketchup Model

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Pergola sits on lid of cistern
Concrete Cistern lid

The pergola is made from rough sawn Western Red Cedar and sits on the lid of an underground 2800 gallon concrete cistern. The homeowners collect rainwater in the cistern for use on their gardens in the summer months.

Overall Pergola Dimensions

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Overall size of pergola

The six posts are spaced 8′ apart across the front, and about 6’6″ on the sides.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Overall height of pergola

The overall height of the curved pergola is 9’5″ with a head clearance of 7’3″.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Max head clearance

The posts are 6x6 and, in this particular installation, simply are held in place by weight and galvanized alignment rods that are set in shallow holes in the concrete lid and up into the bottom of each post.

Post attachments

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Pergola sits on lid with alignment pins

Alternatively the posts could be attached to concrete footings with galvanized saddles.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Alternative footings for pergola

Two 6x6 beams are bolted to the posts and run North to South.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Curved pergola beams

Fourteen curved rafters are attached to a 6x6 beam and a 2 by 9-1/2″ ridge beam.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Curved pergola rafters

Along the sides of the pergola are 8 curved corner braces.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Curved side braces

There are 6 slightly larger curved braces that stiffen the structure side to side and add support to the rafters.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Slightly larger curved braces for from view

Topping the structure are three 2x4 louvers.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Simple cedar louvers add shade

The number and spacing of the louvers can be changed to increase the shade under the pergola.

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