With the house painting complete I was able to focus on completing the rest of the exterior renovation/restoration. I started by painting the front steps. I found extra wide, rubber stair treads on Amazon that should help protect the steps from foot traffic wear. Another item I added, but not visible, were gutter guards to help keep debris from clogging up my downspouts. I removed them to allow DJK Painting Co to paint behind them and discovered that one was partially blocked with twigs and leaves. I searched Google for options and found Joylight Gutter Guard also on Amazon.

During the final days of the paint job, I gave Mike Tanner of Tanner Construction a call to have RayRay and Bobby scheduled to install the final two columns that would support the pergola.  Sadly he shared that Ray had lost his battle with cancer.  Just three months ago he had installed the first four.  Rest in peace, Ray.  We decided to touch base on Monday, Sept 14 to check the weather forecast for the week.  I decided to move forward with the wood delivery for the same day.

With the beautiful restoration of the porch bead board ceiling, my original plan to build the pergola out of cedar was changed to a more affordable poplar wood as I will stain it to match the ceiling. What made the project affordable is I purchased “green” wood (not naturally or kiln dried) wood from Wilhelm Lumber located about 30 minutes away in Brookville, IN. My former neighbor told me about them. With delivery all the lumber was under $600.  

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The first task was cutting the design into the ends of the rafters.  My father made that easy by finding a PDF that provided templates for many different design styles.  I chose something simple, but also complimentary to my house. My beams were wider than the templates, so I took them to Fedex and had it blown up to 10″ and 7″ heights.  I cut them out and traced them onto scrape plywood and cut them out with my jigsaw. My plan was to use my router to cut the actual boards. Wilhelm had given me some 1″ thick sample pieces, so I used them as my test. My actual boards are almost 2″ thick. I purchased a router bit with a bearing and went for it. I failed miserably.

First I only clamped my template to the board. It shifted, so I got a notch into the board almost immediately. I ended up screwing the template to the board. I knew my bit would not cut completely through, but it labored cutting through half the thickness. Once I got through the first pass I went through again, this time letting the bearing ride against the cut portion. I got about half way down the board and it bogged down bad, so I pulled the bit out and started cutting from the opposite end. When the excess wood fell away I lost control of the router and it bounced along the edge causing ridges.

I knew I had the wrong size bit, learned to not cut against the grain, but when I lost control I also scared myself, so I called Kendall (the person that was helping me with the headboard and made me the heirloom box) and my neighbor Dusty for advice, sharing the above pics. Both confirmed my thoughts that I was trying to remove too much wood with a router and suggested I cut them out with my jigsaw. Kendall suggested using the router to clean the edges. Dusty said to sand the edges. Saving the cost of another bit I followed Dusty’s suggestion. I don’t know what I was thinking ever considering using my router. I purchased a 5-pack of Bosch High Carbon Steel Extra Clean Cut T-Shank Jig Saw Blades for Cutting Wood ($11 vs a $40 router bit) from Home Depot and that blade cut like butter and left a surface as smooth as a baby’s butt. I only sanded the edges to get rid of the tracing marks.

For the 2×2 top course I took the same design template, but reduced it to a size where at least half of the end would have a curve. Initially I only cut the shape on one end as I was not sure how long I was going to make them. Ultimately I made them 172″ long and had them extend approximately 5″ past each end rafter, so I did end up cutting the shape on both ends.

Bobby and John (they worked together installing my master shower) arrived on Wednesday and the plan was for them to put up the two columns, the two beams horizontal to the house that would support the other pergola rafters plus one of the perpendicular rafters so it would be stable enough for me to finish the rest. Their first step was setting the columns. I ordered two 4x4s from Wilhelm Lumber that would run up the center of the columns so the parallel rafters would have something to anchor to. They were bolted to the cement porch with ABA ZMAX Galvanized Adjustable Standoff Post Base and 1/2 in. x 4 in. Steel Hex-Washer-Head Indoor/Outdoor Concrete Anchors. They used my 2x2s to brace the columns until the 10″ rafters were installed. He also mounted a block of poplar wood I had cut to 9″ x 3.5″ and painted Sea Serpent, so there would be an anchor point to the house. I purchased OZCO 56628 1/4-inch by 5-3/4-inch OWT Timber Screws for this.

I selected Ozco Building Products fastners, specifically their Laredo Sunset series, for all of the visible fasteners of the pergola. Most I purchased through Amazon, but when I discovered I needed more 2″ Rafter Clips, I found them at the Home Depot store in Florence, KY. When it came time to put the parallel rafters up they discovered they did not have a 3/4″ drill bit that could go through both 2″ thick rafters and the 4×4 post for the OZCO 56650 3/4-inch by 6 to 8-inch OWT Timber Bolts I purchased, so they had to the company owner, Mike, to bring one. While we were waiting they set up one of the 7″ rafters that would run perpendicular to the house and discovered the board was too wide. I failed to take into account the 1″ extension of the fascia board attached to the soffit. Fortunately I have a table saw and Bobby and John ripped off the inch. I don’t have a feed table for my table saw (its a job site saw), so it definitely was going to take two people to rip the remaining 10 boards. Bobby worked with me to cut the rest and we got half of them done before Mike arrived with the drill bit.

The first thing he said to me was Venus, I cleared the day for these guys to work on your project. I over-estimated the time for the first four columns, so let us put up all the rafters, I promise it won’t break the bank. I knew I would struggle doing this by myself, so I let them do it. Nothing pains me more than to pay someone to do what I can do for myself given my limited financial resources. While John hung the ones we had ripped, Bobby helped me finish ripping the 1″ off the ones we had not done. They had all 11 up in just a couple hours. They also reinforced the ledger board by hitting the studs with 1/4 in. x 3-3/4 in. Hex Head Self-Tapping OWT Timber Screws capped with OZCO 56621 1-1/2-inch Hex Cap Nut. Theses allowed the screws to match the size of the Timber Bolts. I bought OZCO 56638 Laredo Sunset 2-inch HV (High Velocity) Rafter Clips to attach the 7″ beams (now 6″) to the 10″ support beams and OZCO 56639 Laredo Sunset Joist Hanger Flush 6 to 8-inch to attach to the ledger board that I had attached to the house when the box gutters were restored in 2018. I knew then I was doing this pergola. It was part of my vision from day one.

With the “heavy” lifting done, the only thing left for me was the top course of the 2×2 beams. I had planned on 12, but only had room for 11 with approximately 6″ between each beams. Once I got my calculations down I created a jig by cutting a block of wood 6 3/8″ wide, so that my spacing remains consistent. With two clamps and my impact driver I set out to attach 121, OZCO 56617 Laredo Sunset 2-inch Rafter Clips.

As I stated earlier, I purchased green wood from Wilhelm Lumber. It has to dry out naturally, contain less than 12% moisture, before I can stain it to match the bead board ceiling. I’ll tackle that project next spring and consider that “house maintenance” vs. a continuance of the house restoration. On to the landscape!

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