Cutting Roof Rafters

What You'll Need
Pencil and ruler
Framing square
Angle square
Saw or sawhorses

Cutting roof rafters may seem to be a relatively difficult job, but if one uses adequate tools and some basic guidelines it should not prove to be an overly hard task. The most important thing is not to rely on guesswork and make sure to take accurate measurements.

Step 1 - Take All The Necessary Measurements

Before starting to cut it is crucial to take all the necessary measurements accurately and record them. You will need basic dimensions such as the width of the building over which the rafters will span, and the pitch or slope of the roof where the rafters will be. You will also need to calculate the angles of the rafters. To take these measurements you will need to know some basics on how to use a framing square and a rafter angle square. You should not feel overwhelmed or confused by the several numbers you find on these tools. Keep in mind that when they are understood and used correctly their aim is to make your task easier and your result more accurate.

Step 2 - Draw a Plan

It should prove helpful to draw out a simple design or diagram layout. Write down the measurements previously taken on this plan. This will help you to be more accurate and to become aware of any possible errors.

Step 3 - Make a Rafter Pattern

Follow the plan you drew to produce a rafter pattern. This will greatly facilitate the cutting of rafters. Use a piece of lumber and apply the relevant dimensions onto it in order to cut it as the actual rafters. Make sure to be as precise as possible as this will then be used as the foundation on which you will cut the rest of the rafters.

Step 4 - Nail Stops Onto Your Rafter Pattern

Nail stops on the top part of your rafter pattern by fixing two pieces of plywood in the two main positions, onto which the boards from the rafters will be placed.

Step 5 - Place the Boards On the Horse and Make Use of the Rafter Pattern to Cut

The next step is to place the boards onto the saw horse, with the rafter pattern as a guide to start cutting them out as rafters. A saw horse is best for this job as it enables you to cut more than one rafter at a time, thus reducing the time required to cut all the rafters required for the roof. Make sure they are all properly spaced and that they all point in the same direction, and then you can start cutting. Cut along the marking lines to ensure that the rafters will be of the correct dimensions.

Since some tools may be dangerous, make sure to exercise caution and care while carrying out this job. Also, keep in mind that accuracy is crucial in such a task.