How to Install Gussets on a Truss

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Most new homes are built with trusses for roof framing. These trusses are typically prefabricated and delivered to a job site to be erected as a unit. Joints are fastened with metal gussets, which are steel plates that overlap the wood connections secured with spikes driven into the wood. Earlier gussets were made of wood, which served the same purpose. With the right skills and tools, you can install metal or wood gussets on a truss yourself to save money. Be sure to install gussets at every joint on a truss, at the peak where two rafters come together, at the sides where horizontal braces called chords connect with the rafters, and at any diagonal or vertical braces.

Things You'll Need

  • Gussets (wood or metal)
  • Hammer
  • Spiral shank concrete nails
  • Glue or construction adhesive

Test the placement of the gusset to make sure it overlaps the joint of the truss. Also make sure it extends to the edges of the wood on all sides without going past the edges. Pre-drill nailing holes in wood gussets to mark nail spots that go into the frame, making sure you do not hit nails from the other side.

Drive spikes on metal gussets into the wood with a hammer to hold them, then add nails in all holes in the metal plate.

Set wood gussets with glue or construction adhesive, then drive nails that extend through the gusset into the wood framing. Use hardened spiral-shank concrete nails for both metal and wood. Place gussets on both sides of each wood connection. Some specifications say to use nails that extend through wood gussets into the wood gusset on the other side, but not beyond its surface.

Install wooden peak gussets with a horizontal bottom and sides angled to the slope of the rafters. Use rectangular plates to connect bottom chords and braces, making sure they cover the joint with enough overlap on each frame member to fasten it securely. Get metal gussets sized to the slope and shape of the truss. You can buy these at building supply or roofing material stores. Ask the supplier for advice on size and strength for the truss being built.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get a truss pattern from a design or construction book and follow its directions for placement and securing of gussets.

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