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Project Information

My wife has been asking for a pergola for quite some time. After taking it easy for the summer, I finally had the ambition to take it on. The verticals and supports are 5×5 tamarack. The top is made up of 3"x 6"x 16' hemlock and is topped of with 1.5" square hemlock.

All of the wood was custom cut for this project and took about three weeks to build over the nights and weekends. I was able to put the whole thing together alone after careful planning on how to lift the lumber and level the whole thing out.

I've got enough wood left over to build a couple of small lattice that will be used to get some vines and hops up to the top to provide additional cover.

The strength was already tested this past week with the hurricane, so I can finally stop worrying about the stability of it!

Gallery

Comments

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Dang,dude…that thing is really nice. You did a fine job. I've had on in the bucket list for at least 2 years. Maybe I should just hire you!!!
 

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Very nice ! How rot resistant are your tamarack and hemlock ?
 

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If you fall off your ladder when making this and die, I think you'll be sent to pergola-tory. I'll be here all week folks.
 

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My wife and I both want such a pergola in our back yard, but I'm no carpenter - just a carver. That's a really nice one you build. I don't think I've ever seen one built so strong before. Really NICE! Also, WELCOME to the LJ - we're all slightly goofey and high on saw dust!
 

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Sweet project - very very nicely done!
 

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Thanks for the comments everyone.

Dwight, everything is treated with a waterproofing stain, so I think it should last quite a while with a little upkeep. Tamarack is a rot resistant wood, but to be safe, it is in the ground with 3/8" crushed stone to help with the drainage. It also means if it ever rots out, I can 'simply' pull it out and put a new one in.
 

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That's a nice build! We have a back patio that would really benefit from one of those and building your own is definitely a good idea considering the cost. We have an area of 16'x20' to cover and so far all bids are in excess of $2,000!

I like the idea of the thin strips to increase the shade area.

Where did you get that tamarack and other woods? Are they perhaps local to your area?

Surviving a hurricane is a testament to the quality of you planning and work, in addition to the wisdom of the original designer of pergolas. Most shade systems would be ripped up and blown away by any such storm. A pergola by design doesn't give storm winds much to get ahold of. Not news to most of you I am sure. But, that aspect of it, based on your reference to hurricane, just made it occur to me.
 

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Jim, the tamarack is all native cut by a local sawyer. I was able to barter some website work for the lumber, and traded my neighbor some home brewed beer for the pea stone. I only had to pay about $100 out of pocket for the bolts and screws. With that said, the tamarack goes for about $1 bd ft and the hemlock is $.80 a bd ft. It would have come out to about $350 if I were to buy it outright for a 16'x13' patio.
 

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that's really nice! I have a few questions :)

1 - how is it joined together?

2 - you mentioned the posts buried in gravel - is that it then? No poured concrete and massive lag screws?

3 - did you have help assembling it? how did you make sure this massive frame was square?
 

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Aaron:

1. Currently the top support rails are attached to the verticals with 8" lag bolts through the top. I'm also cutting custom 1/8" steel mending plates to attach the top rail to the verticals, but they are not complete yet. The rafters have a 3/4" notch cut out and are toe nailed in. The top 1.5" square pieces (purlin I believe) have a 3.5" deck screw each place it makes contact with the rafter. I wanted to make sure the rafters would not bow as they dried out.

2. That's it. Each one has roughly a 4" gravel base for drainage, then the post sits 3' in the ground. I used a mini sledge hammer and a 2×4 to pack in the gravel. The posts are not going anywhere!

3. I did it all by myself. I first assembled the right side verticals and support and made sure it was perfectly square and level. When I assembled the left side, I purposely sat the verticals lower in the ground. Once I put the first rafter up, I put a 4' level on the rafter and was able to level it by lifting up one of the verticals as needed. When I lifted it, the gravel would fall under it, which couldn't have worked out better. Once that side was level, it was easy to finish leveling and squaring the left side verticals and support rail. Hope that makes sense!
 

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cool, thanks. I thought i saw small notches to fit the rafters, but couldn't quite tell. how did you cut those out? hand? router? they look a little big for a table saw :)
 

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I lifted each rafter into place and marked the cuts with a pencil. I wasn't confident enough with the tape, and wanted each one to fit perfectly. Once marked, I took them back down and made the notches with the circular saw, finishing them off with a chisel. Doing it this way added a lot of work since I had to lift them by myself, but the cuts are near exact with maybe a 1/16" mistake here and there.
 

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nice. that sounds like the most efficient way to do it for this kind of project.
 

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Definately a winner! Thanks for sharing and Welcome to your new addiction ;)
 

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We have plans to put one of these one our deck this coming spring. Thank you for sharing it is certainly becoming a favorite.

Welcome to LumberJocks.

CtL
 
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