Pergola Design with Curved Cedar Rafters

The BEAMS

6×6 beams sit on the posts.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
The beams have a point

On each end they have a 30 degree bevel to form a point. Like the posts, I mark a line around each beam with a square.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Setting circular saw to 30 degrees

I set my circular saw at 30 degrees and make four cuts.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Point of beams can be cut with a miter saw as well

The plans include a cut list for the saw mill. Every part of this build was cut at Doug’s workshop ahead of assembly so we were pretty fussy with tolerances and lumber selection from the mill.
This could also be done with a large miter saw.

Chisel Work

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Saw cut cleaned up with sharp chisel

If the beam is square then you are left with a nice point. I cleaned up the handsaw cuts with a chisel.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Making “bread” on the beam

These beams sit down on the posts an inch. I cut this dado with a series of close saw cuts across the beam.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Knocking off thin wafers to form a dado

Then break off the pieces with a mallet. And finish up the groove with a chisel.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Cleaning up dado with a chisel

Each 6×6 beam has three of these dados. One for each post.

Drill Guide

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Drilling for the large lag bolt that will attach the beams to the top of the posts

The beam is flipped over and a counterbore and hole drilled for the lag bolt that will secure the beam to the top of each post.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Marking the ridge beam end

The ridge beam is 2″ x 9.5″. 30 degree angle cuts are made on each end of this beam. When complete, the beams are also chamfered with a power plane.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Chamfering the beams and posts with a power plane

Temporary Bridge

The beams are lifted onto the posts and the lag bolts run in with a socket wrench.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
The beams in place

A temporary bridge is set in place across the beams to hold the ridge beam in place at the proper height. The assembly was considered in the pergola design.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Pic of the site with my old dodge in the driveway

The rafter locations are marked on the underside of the ridge beam and galvanized strapping is screwed on. This strapping will make setting the rafters easier and will also add strength to the roof of the pergola and prevent sagging.

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