How to Cut Pergola Ends
Using Easy School Geometry

How to cut pergola ends

Unique among all pergola rafter designs.

If you're short on time try our free printable pergola end templates.

Otherwise enjoy copying this easy formula below. And draw your own hand crafted pergola end cuts.

When complete - copy the template onto thin plywood. Cut it out. And trace it on the ends of all your rafters.

Stage 1  Prepare How to Cut Pergola Ends Using a Width of 6"

This formula I'm about to show you works for any size you are likely to meet.

Why use 6"?

Six inch is one of the more popular rafter widths so I am choosing six inch width to guide you.

You will need:

  •        Three sheets of A4 paper,
  •        Two longish pencils – one light ( 4H ) and one darker ( HB ).
  •        Ruler, Compasses, set square, eraser.
  •        Plenty of room to spread your work out.
  • Use three A4 sheets of paper. Overlap them half an inch. Tape/glue along their lengths.

    If you have used tape don't forget to turn the paper over for a better surface. You could also use lining paper if you have any spare.

    Stage 2 

    How to cut pergola ends

    Next draw the pergola rafter tails design shape. Which is made from straight lines only.

    Below I will show you how to draw this. I call it the Outline Template.

    Copy the lines in the same order as below. That way you wont run out of paper.

    You don't need to copy words, letters or numbers. They are just there to help you.

    Draw the last line CD faintly. You may want to erase it later.

    Mark the middle of the line at 0 with a dot.

    Stage 3  Three methods to make your curves. Decide which one you like and click on it.

    Circle - Easiest

    Compasses - Less Easy

     Compass/Set Square Method

     M1 and M2 are midway points between DO and CO.

    Use the set square and a light 4H pencil. Draw a long perpendicular line - to the edge of the paper - from M1. Next adjust your compasses to 6" (W=6"). Place the point on D and make a small arc to cut the perpendicular line you have just constructed.

    Keep the compasses setting 6" ( W=6") but now using the darker HB pencil place the point at the new intersection point. And draw an arc between D and O. Do the same for the point M2 using 4H pencil to begin with and HB pencil for the arc.

    [If the compasses can't stretch to 6" release the pencil and slide it up so the compasses are holding it at the very top. ]

    [For a 7" width adjust the compasses to 7"  (W=7") ]

    Erase all your construction lines (4H pencil) and there you have it. A beautiful pergola rafter tails template.

    For a simpler way to construct curves try the Circle Method using 6" as your radius.

    Up next. How to cut pergola ends using the Circle Method.

    Circle Method

    Draw a Radius 6" circle on card. Cut the circle out. And move the card into Position 1. So it passes through D and O. Using an HB pencil draw the arc from D to O. Change to position 2 and do the same with the arc CO.

    How to cut pergola ends using The Compasses Method - If you like a challenge!

    Compasses Method

    First - construct the perpendicular bisector of the lines CO and DO.

    You may remember some of this from high school.

    Make your construction lines faint if you want to erase them later.

    1) Open your compasses to about 3/4 of the length CO [ say 4"].

    2) Place the point of your compasses at C and make an arc.

    3) Without adjusting the compasses place the point at O and make another arc as shown.

    4) Where the arcs cross draw a line.

    5) Repeat for the line DO.

    You're now going to draw the two curves. Which will give the characteristic classical effect we're looking for.


    6) Open your compasses to 6" - the rafter width measurement. This is "w" in our top drawing.

    7) Place the point of the compasses at C. And scribe a small arc to cut the perpendicular bisector.

    Constructing a 6" width pergola rafter tail template

    8) Keep the same compasses setting, place the point at this intersection. And carefully scribe an arc from C to O.

    9) Using the same compasses setting place the point at D. scribe a small arc to cut the perpendicular as shown.

    10) Once again place the point at this intersection. And carefully scribe an arc from O to D.

    All 30 sizes can be found at Pergola Rafter Tails Sizes. Where we use the Circle Method.

    Stage 4

    Carefully cut out the  design.   

    And trace it onto thin plywood or hardboard.

    Use a jigsaw cut out your classical  pergola end cuts design. template. And transfer this shape onto each of your rafters.

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