The Type Of Framing Used In Most One-Story Construction Is Cutting Rafters Easily and Efficiently

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Cutting Rafters Easily and Efficiently

One of the most time consuming tasks in homebuilding can be

the cutting of a roof. In some cases it can take as long to

cut and frame the roof as it does to frame the rest of the

house. It can also require a lot of space to get the job

done. It is in ones best interests to plan ahead during the

course of construction to be ready when it comes time to cut

the roof.

Whether the roof be a simple gable roof or a complex roof

with multiple hips and valleys you want to be able to cut

more than one rafter at a time. Sawhorses become a valuable

commodity during the roof cutting phase of construction.

Cutting a half dozen or more rafters is what you want to try

for. To achieve this there are a few options available to

the roof cutter.

If you only have one set of horses, nail an eight foot 2×4

flat to the top of them. This will allow you to mark and

cut six or more rafters depending on their width.

The second option is to use two pair of sawhorses. Just like

the previous option, nail a 2×4 flat over the top of two

horses. In this instance you are not limited to an eight

foot 2×4. You can use an 8, 10, 12, or even a 16′ 2×4

depending on how much room you have to work in.

The third option is to make your own sawhorses out of a

2×10. Put legs on it just like a normal sawhorse. Again,

your only limitation is what you have available for length

of 2×10 and how much room you have to work.

Another time saver is to make a rafter pattern. To do this,

pick the straightest piece if lumber you can find from the

rafter material. Once you have determined the length of your

rafter from the plumb cut to the birdsmouth, the depth of

the birdsmouth, and the length of the rafter tail, transfer

this information to the material. After you have marked all

of this on the 2x, carefully and accurately cut the rafter.

This is going to be your pattern for the rest of the rafters

so you want to be precise with your cuts.

The next move is to nail stops to the top of the pattern.

Cut two pieces of plywood about 6″ long by 2 1/2″ wide. Nail

one to the top of the 2x about 2″ from the plumb cut,

letting it hang over both edges of the 2x one half inch.

Nail the other piece just above the birdsmouth. You now have

a pattern to mark the rest of your rafters without having to

measure each and every one of them.

When you are ready to start cutting the rafters, lay as many

boards on the horse as you can and have enough room for the

saw to fit in between each one. When laying the boards on the

horses, have all the crowns pointing in the same direction

(When looking down a board while flat most boards are bowed

one way or the other. The convex side would be the crown).

Take the pattern and lay it on top of each board with the

plywood stops resting on the crowned edge and mark them.

You are now ready to cut rafters. When making your cuts, cut

the pencil line. Cut the plumb cut first and then move to

the birdsmouth and tail. Depending on how many rafters you

are cutting you may have to slide them back and forth so you

are not reaching over to far to make your cuts with the saw.

When cutting the birdsmouth it is okay to over cut it to

totally remove the material.

Homebuilding and cutting rafters can be a dangerous job.

Always exercise caution and safety when framing or using a

skilsaw.

Mike Merisko (C) 2006

http://www.sawkerfs.com

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