Pergola Design with Curved Cedar Rafters

The BRACES

The pergola design called also for curved braces. A pattern is also cut for the two brace shapes. Again I use 1/4″ plywood for the two patterns.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Ripping the thin plywood to make brace patterns

The curves will be scored with nails through a yardstick-size piece of plywood with a pivot laid out on my workbench.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Making a compass from a yardstick-like strip

I mark the pivot and two curve radii then drill pilot holes. Then tap in finishing nails.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Marking the 45’s on the brace pattern blank

On the small brace pattern I mark the two 45 degree angles first. Then I nail the blank to the workbench.

Sweeping Curves onto Brace Pattern

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Sweeping the curves on the plywood

Along a pencil line on the bench I tap in the pivot point nail then sweep the yardstick along the blank to scratch the curve on the plywood. Then draw a pencil line along this scratch. I darkened it with a sharpie as well.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Darkening the scratch with a sharpie. (mainly so it shows better on video)

The 45 degree angles were cut on the miter saw.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Miter saw used to cut 45’s

The second, slightly larger brace pattern was made in the same way.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
The large brace needs its own compass

The plywood blank is bigger and the radii that I need to scratch in the wood is also greater.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Setting the compass stick in place

As before I make a compass for striking the arcs from a thin strip of plywood, measure and drill pilot holes, and tap in some finishing nails.

Darken Scratch Marks

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Darkening large brace curves

I mark the points for the 45 degree cuts then secure the blank and the compass pivot to the bench. Then scratch the arcs on the wood. Then darken the curves and take the blank to the miter saw.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
Cutting 45 degree angles on large brace pattern blank

I use a bandsaw to cut the brace pattern curves. A jigsaw would also work just fine.

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
A jigsaw is the best way to cut these curves. I have a small table top model that does the job well

Then I sand these curves smooth on a small belt sander.

Small Tool is a Big Help

Construction of a cedar pergola designed with curved rafters and curved corner braces
A small hobby belt sander is super handy. How do I get by without one?

Both patterns only took a few minutes to finish. This little sander is so handy, I use it a lot.

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