Design A Pergola For Yourself Design A Pergola For Yourself

What You'll Need
Treated lumber
Construction tools (including jigsaw)
Steel post-base anchors (if placed on concrete)
Galvanized nails
Construction adhesive or comparable wood glue
Finish/sealant (optional, depending on wood)

A pergola is a free-standing structure, offering little in the way of shade or protection from the elements, but is a wonderful cosmetic piece to your landscape and can turn a nondescript area in your yard into a real focal point. Here, we look at the general steps in pergola construction to designing one of your own.

1. Set Up Your Posts

Done one of two ways; if your pergola plans have you placing it on concrete, you’ll need to use post-base anchors to screw into your concrete. Be sure to carefully measure and mark out the locations for all the anchors and their screws before actually installing them.

If placed over the ground, dig down below the frost line to place your posts and allow for the extra length when cutting the posts. Fill the bottom of the post hole with gravel to promote water run-off and keep wood posts from rotting underground.

2. Support Beams

For your first pair of posts, screw two 2 x 6 support beams across both sides of the top, connecting the posts. Leave roughly 4 inches of space from the top of the post down to the support beam. If desired, use a curve template and jigsaw to cut out a notch on the ends of the support beams. Repeat cut and placement of supports for the next pair of posts; you’ll have four support beams all running parallel.

3. Crossbeams

If you notched the support beams with a curve template, do an identical cut on your crossbeams. Use a table saw or jigsaw to cut two more notches that will rest around your support beams. When the crossbeams are placed, the tops should be flush with the top of the posts, with the crossbeams resting in its notches on the support beams. Again, do two on either side of the post, giving you four crossbeams parallel to each other and perpendicular to the support beams.

4. Post Trim and Braces

Cut post trim to length and width of the posts, cutting notches as necessary for the support beams. Use wood glue or adhesive and galvanized nails to attach to the posts.

For diagonal braces, cut the ends at 45 degrees, placing the bottom onto the post and allowing the top to fit between the two support/crossbeams. Screw into place. If desired, before attaching, use a curve template to cut a soft curve into the underside of each brace.

5. Fitting The Top Slates

For the 2 x 4 top slates, use the same curved template on the ends as was used on the support and crossbeams. Measure and mark out where to cut the notches to lay it evenly across the crossbeams. Place all top slates, screwing them into the crossbeams from above.

6. Post Caps

With the crossbeams and all supports in place, cut square blanks to act as caps on each post, using a table saw set at 15 degrees (or desired angle) for cutting bevels. Secure to the top of each post with adhesive and galvanized nails.

Designing a custom pergola will add a magnificent touch to your yard. It will take some time and sweat equity, but the end result will be worth it.

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