Pergola Design with Curved Cedar Rafters

make the BRACES

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Setting the brace patterns in place on a board

The pattern was copied to the cedar brace blank referencing one straight edge on the board.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Tracing the patterns

The 45 degree edge of the speed square is used to align the pattern before tracing. This is repeated for the second larger brace. To save material I nest the braces into each other on the board. Alternating them if possible depending on any rough sections or large knots in the red cedar.
And just like the patterns, the braces are cut on the miter saw then the bandsaw.

Cutting 45 degree Miters

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Cutting 45’s on the miter saw

This could also be done with a speed square, circular saw, then jigsaw.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
And cutting the brace curves on the bandsaw

Cedar Curved Pergola Outdoor Structure

After sanding the curves smooth on a hobby belt sander I bevel the edges with a sanding disc on my angle grinder.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Braces at chamfered with the angle grinder

The last step in prepping the braces is to drill holes for the lag bolts.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
The lag bolt hole locations are laid out on the patterns

I mark a point half way along the flat section of the brace where it mates to a post, beam, or rafter. I draw a line 90 degrees to that point, then another 20 degrees off that.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
And marked on the braces

This way the lag bolts will pull the brace into the corner.
Now I copy this mark to the brace. Then mark the center of that location.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Setting the table of my drill press at a 20 degree tilt

I tilt the table of my drill press to 20 degrees.

Drill Press for Lag Bolt Pilot Holes

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Counterbore using a forstner bit

And clamps some stops to the table to help hold the brace. With a forstner bit in the chuck I counterbore a hole on each end of the brace.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
And a drill bit swapped in to finish the lag bolt hole

Swap the bit, then drill through for the shank of the lag bolt and washer.

Stack of Curved Braces

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Stack of small braces ready for installation

These larger braces had one additional cut that was done on site. The brace was laid in place against the rafter and scribed. This piece was then removed so the brace would fit tightly to the shape of the rafter.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
A similar brace being installed on my woodshed

To attach the small braces I hold them in place and drill into a post then beam. Then with an impact driver I run in the galvanized lag bolt. This is a clip from my woodshed build where I used a similar curved brace.

BRACES on the CAD Model

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Side view of the pergola with bracing flying in

Eight of these braces are required for the sides of the pergola and attach to the posts and 6×6 beams.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Front view with the larger braces flying in

This process was repeated for the larger braces that are secured to the posts and rafters.
Now all the temporary bracing is removed.

The LOUVERS

The three louvers, or more if needed, are made from 2×4 stock. The pergola design called for them to be simply cut to length then chamfered. They are positioned over the rafters and screwed in place.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Louvers beside the main beams and ridge beam

And that is it. The curved pergola is done. Let me know what you think by dropping a note in the comment section. I try to reply to as many questions as I can.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Louvers being dropped in

Thank you so much for reading!

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Cedar Curved Pergola Outdoor Structure is done!

And thanks to everyone who has supported our channel through Patreon. It’s very much appreciated.
I have a full set of plans available for download.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading

See also:  Shed Style Garden Pavilion

Pictures after 5 Years

Here’s some pictures taken last November to show how the pergola design has aged. I think it’s holding up very well. It’s the worse time of year for any flattering photos but maybe that’s okay.

Aged Western Red Cedar Pergola with Sawn Curved Rafters
Aged Western Red Cedar Pergola with Sawn Curved Rafters
Aged Western Red Cedar Pergola with Sawn Curved Rafters

There’s a long crack in one beam but that’s all I could find of any significance.

Aged Western Red Cedar Pergola with Sawn Curved Rafters
Aged Western Red Cedar Pergola with Sawn Curved Rafters
Aged Western Red Cedar Pergola with Sawn Curved Rafters

And that’s all. Thanks!


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