Building a Shed–Part 3

Ok, so going back to my last post, Building a Shed–Part 2, the foundation was laid and the walls were framed in. Unfortunately, wall skeletons alone just don’t make up a shed. So, now it was time to put up the rafters. I’m going to prepare you by saying this was far and away the most technical and difficult part of the entire shed.

I needed to account for a couple of things. First, the rafters were going to be 16″ on center. Since I wasn’t sure exactly how to calculate the loads on the roof, live load, snow load etc, I built this shed roof to last through the worst with close spacing and 2×8 lumber. Second, I wanted an overhang on the front of the shed so I needed to cut the rafters long.

The hardest part was the birdsmouth cut. DO NOT BE AFRAID!! This is a fancy name for a little cut in the bottom of the rafter that allows it to sit flat on the wall top plate.

My issues were also compounded by the fact that I wasn’t sure how long I really wanted the over hang. There was only one thing for it. Become a beast. So I lifted up one of the rafters (they started at 12′ long) one side at a time and finally got the darn thing on top of the walls. I wouldn’t recommend it as a solo project.

With the rafter in place, I used a speed square (it looks like a plastic triangle and costs virtually nothing) to make a line on the bottom end so that I knew how to cut it flat so it was flat on the wall top plate.

Next, I used the same speed square to mark a vertical line across the entire rafter on the inside edge of the top wall, where I would need to start the vertical portion of the birdmouth.

Finally, I used the 90 degree angle on the speed square to mark a horizontal line where it would be 3 1/2″ long, the width of the 2×4 top plate on the wall. The cuts were made with a hand saw since I wasn’t sure I was ready to get a power tool for this type of work.

Once the rafter was cut, I used this rafter as a template for the rest and got all of them cut. Each was placed in position on the top of the walls and spaced 16″ on center.

To connect the rafters securely to the bottom top plate, I used a Simpson H1Z tie. It kept the rafter from moving from side to side on the top plate as well as secured it from slipping forward.

The top of the rafters were secured with 6″ long screws that went through the wall top plate and into the rafters. I couldn’t use Simpson ties for various construction reasons but I would have rather used them. The screws were secure enough though.

So, the rafters were added and I had a reasonably recognizable skeleton of a shed. Next, would be adding siding and a roof to protect it from the weather.

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