Pergola Design with Curved Cedar Rafters

Make the RAFTERS

The pattern is traced on the rafter blank.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Laying the pattern over the rafter blank

We cut the 12 degree angle in the upper and lower ends of the rafter with a circular saw.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Tracing the pattern on the cedar rafter blank

We cut the curved sections of all our rafters on a large bandsaw.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Cutting each end of the rafter

But, if working alone a jigsaw cuts almost as well. I use a heavy, stiff blade on my jigsaw for this 2″ thick Western Red cedar.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
A powerful jigsaw with a heavy blade works well at cutting the rafters

My friend Doug is a very artistic and skilled carpenter. We worked on quite a few design ideas for the curved rafters. We wanted the most elegant curve with the minimal waste of material. We decided on the idea of pairs of rafters that were supported with a ridge beam. And that each rafter tapered down from the center top to the sides. This was done by using two different radius curves. The homeowners approved the design and we all thought it looked a bit like an upside down wooden boat hull.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Bosch jigsaw burns through the cut. Nice!!

Each rafter was then chamfered with a sanding attachment on an angle grinder.

Sanding Curved Rafters

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Belt sanding the edge smooth
Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Angle grinder with flexible sanding disc attachment for chamfering the rafter edges
Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Rafters finished and ready to be hung

These rafters were set in place and toe screwed to the beams. And also screwed to the galvanized strapping attached to the ridge beam.

Attaching Rafters

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Dropped in place on the beams

Then the temporary supports for the ridge beam can be removed. Or left there until all the braces are added.

Animation of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
All rafters in place. A sight to be seen
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