How to Build Rafters


A rafter is a type of beam that structurally supports the roof of a building. Typically rafters are not built, they build together to form a roof pitch. In any case building rafters together to form roofs is not a difficult process. It only requires a few simple guidelines, a hammer and some nails.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood Boards
  • Saw
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Nail Gun

Building Rafters

  • Prepare the rafters by angle cutting the rafters tail ends. Make the bird’s mouth cuts and vertical cuts at the rafter tails.

  • Use the wall plate set at the top of the wall to rest the rafters on. The rafters, tie beams and joists transmit the weight of the roof to the walls of the building.

  • Incline the rafters resting on the wall plate so the top ends connect at the horizontal ridge plate or ridge beam at the top center. Nail the rafters to the ridge beam using nails and a nail gun.

  • Install horizontal purlins to the rafters to support the roof covering. Support longer rafter spans by attaching heavier purlins underneath.

  • Prevent rafters from spreading and forcing walls apart by connecting ceiling joists between the lower ends of opposite rafters.

Tips & Warnings

  • In most cases rafters are made from wood. They extend from the ceiling to the point of the roof. Large pieces of plywood are nailed over the rafters before the shingles are nailed in place. For the most part, rafters are hidden. After construction, they are never seen.
  • Make sure your rafter is cut to size. Measure the span of your roof properly so your rafter is not cut too short or too long. Also make sure to measure your angles on the ends of your rafters correctly. When setting your rafters in place, they must fit together perfectly. This will depend upon how precise your cuts are.

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