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A freestanding wooden structure is probably the most common type of pergola. It is a simple construction of posts supporting beams and rafters. As with arches, many pergola kits are available today for the do-it-yourself market. Assembly of these is much simplified; members are pre-notched, edges are planed, and corner braces may even be glued into place for you. These instructions are for a kit with 8 feet (2.4 m) posts set 4 feet (1.2 m) apart left to right, and 22 inches (55 cm) deep.
To guarantee a long life for a wooden pergola, always use sawn lumber that has been pretreated to last, and avoid rustic pole constructions. Be sure to also space rafters close together to cast more shade. For a light and airy structure, make the spacings between the rafters wider. Achieve a traditional look by choosing beams with shaped ends; a contemporary style is accomplished with beams that have square ends.
hammer or mallet
4 spiked post supports
4 treated, sawn lumber posts, as supplied
2 lengths of treated, sawn lumber for beams, as supplied
4 lengths of treated, sawn lumber for rafters, as supplied
4 lengths of treated, sawn lumber for braces, as supplied
rustproof nails and galvanized screws
Measure the position of the posts by following steps 1 through 3 in this wooden arch kit tutorial. Hammer in the metal post supports.
Continue using a level and checking that the post supports remain vertical. Ensure they face exactly square on.
Insert the posts into the supports, making sure the notches at the top all run in the direction that the beams will lie. Check the posts are vertical, then screw to the supports.
Knock both ends of one the crossbeams into the notches cut into the top of the two front posts, making sure the overhang is the same on both sides. Repeat with the back beam.
Make sure the beams are positioned correctly (standing above the post tops and with overhangs even on both sides) then nail them to the posts.
Once mounted on each corner post, the two parallel crossbeams are ready to receive the four overhead rafters. Keep in mind: It is better not to assemble large, heavy posts on the ground first.
Place another over the right posts. Measure and mark the position of the two central rafters so that they will be evenly spaced and parallel.
Tap them down onto the beams at the marked even spacings. Secure each rafter to the front and back beams using nails or screws.
Nail a wooden brace into each top corner between post and beam.
Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited