How to build a pergola frame

Jason
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Project Overview

We’ll show you how to put up a sturdy pergola, from digging the holes, to framing the structure and installing the rafters. We’ll show you how to do it safely, so it’s all squared off and built to last.

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This D.I.Y. Advice is part of a series How to build a pergola
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How to make a rafter template

If you need to cut beams and rafters around your gutters, you can get it right every time. Make a rafter template using a piece of plywood and a gutter bracket. Trace the side profile of the gutter bracket onto some plywood and cut it out. You can now use this template to trace onto your beams and rafters, so they fit neatly around your gutters.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Prepare your post holes
2 Cut and install the wailing plate
3 Make a profile cut for your rafters
4 Preparing the upright post
5 Attach external beams and rafters
  • Step 1. Prepare your post holes

    Dig the holes in the ground for your posts, following the approved plans. Then place the post stirrups into the middle of the hole. Now fill up the hole with concrete to the base of the post stirrup, about 50-60mm below the stirrup top. Repeat the process for all of the posts and wait for the concrete to dry.
  • Step 2. Cut and install the wailing plate

    Measure and cut the wailing plate to size, which will be connected to the fascia. Get someone else to help you fix the plate into position on your fascia with nails and screws. Use large bugle screws to screw through the fascia into the house rafters to give you maximum support.   
  • Step 3. Make a profile cut for your rafters

    Create a template of your gutter profile and use this to cut the ends for all of your rafters. This way the rafters will fit neatly against your gutters. Use a jigsaw to make the cut cleanly. Coat the raw timber where you have cut with a primer to protect the wood. Your rafters are now ready to be installed.   
  • Step 4. Preparing the upright post

    To make sure the post supports the rafter weight, measure and make a precise cut out of the size of the rafter within the post. Use your circular saw and hand saw to make the cuts, but don’t overcut them or you could weaken the post. Next measure the distance between the stirrup and the rafter and cut the post to length with your circular saw. Place the post in the stirrup, and use the spirit level to make sure it is straight. Then bolt the post into the stirrup. Temporarily brace the post while you measure, cut and bolt the other posts in. 
  • Step 5. Attach external beams and rafters

    Once you have put all the posts in, you’re ready to put up the external beam. Secure it to the framework with extra screws to hold the rafters in place. Add a length of wood, called a cleat, underneath your outside beams to hold the rafters in place. Attach the ends of the rafters to the beams using large bugle screws. You’ll also need to use a universal bracket on each side of the rafter and the wailing plate, with proprietary nails for added strength. Take the cleat off and your pergola is ready to paint and finish.

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Wheelbarrow

Materials

  • Concrete

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.
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