The garden arbor posts secured in the ground with concrete (see Page 2), we now move on to the next steps involved in the process of building a wood arbor for your patio, deck or garden:
- An Optional Design for Added Flair: Cutting a design into the ends of your crosspieces is simple with a jigsaw. First trace out the design on the lumber with a pencil. Getting a rounded edge can be as simple for beginners as tracing around a saucer.
- Once you have one end-design cut out, use it as a template for the other three.
- Next Architectural Layer -- the Rafters: Five rafters will sit atop the crosspieces, and they'll be 4' long. So cut up your 2x4s now with a handsaw or circular saw to make these rafters.
Notching the Rafters
- Now we'll notch the rafters, for a tighter fit atop the crosspieces. Note also that, by adjusting the depth of the individual notches, you can correct discrepancies in levelness. This can be important when working with discount lumber. For instance, if one of the crosspieces is "bowed" (higher in the center than on the ends), your only chance to make the proper adjustments may well lie in your notching.
- Lay each rafter down on the ground the long way, so that one of the 2" dimensions is on the ground, the other facing up. On the part facing up, find the center point lengthwise. From this center point, measure out 1 3/4" to the left (mark with pencil) and 1 3/4" to the right (mark with pencil).
- Now simply repeat the last step, except you'll be going over another 1" on both the left and the right.
- It is from these two 1" areas, on either side of the 3.5" center area, that the notches will be cut (for a picture, see photo above). The notches will fit over the two 1" wide crosspieces.
- On each side of the 4" dimension, measure down 1". Make several 1" cuts down into this notch area, using whatever saw you're most comfortable with.
- Now go back with a hammer and wood chisel and strike into these cuts; chips of wood will start coming out, and you'll have a notch in no time. After chiseling, take a wood file and file away some of the roughness on the chiseled surface. Repeat for each (you'll have ten notches in all).
- Now that the cuts have been made, the focus switches to attaching the boards together to assemble the garden arbor.
The first step in assembling the garden arbor is to line up the crosspieces and the 4x4 posts. Once lined up properly, you'll be boring a hole that will stretch through all three pieces of wood, allowing you to insert a bolt that will unite the three pieces. You'll begin at one post, and then repeat the process on the other post.
Assembling the Garden Arbor:
- If you're not confident enough with your measuring skills to pre-bore all the holes and then fit everything together after, then it's time to bring the crosspieces over to the 4x4 posts, so that they can be lined up properly.
- First measure down 6" from the top of each post, on either the outer or inner side (doesn't matter which), and mark it with a pencil. For each post, take a small piece of scrap lumber, and screw it into the post with a couple of screws, so that the top of the scrap lumber runs along the line you just drew. Pick scrap lumber that is long enough so that it will protrude a couple of inches or so beyond each side of the post. These little "shelves" will function as temporary supports for your crosspieces.
- Now take one of the crosspieces and lay it across one of the temporary shelves (either front or back). The crosspiece should now be positioned in just the way that it will eventually lie, when the project is done.
- With this crosspiece lined up properly with respect to the posts, attach each end with a couple of screws, one near the top, one near the bottom. Repeat with the other crosspiece. Now you can remove the two temporary shelves that the crosspieces are resting on.
On Page 4 we move on to the boring of the holes. Page 4 also contains a free garden arbor plan that beginners may find useful as a visual reference....