Build your own wooden pergola

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Here is the “little” pergola I built and will share with you the construction!

build your own wooden pergola

With the sun beating down on our house, it was difficult to take full advantage of the south-facing terrace in summer!

Indeed, to install a composite deck or not and not to be able to enjoy it, it’s still the last straw!

This problem should be solved as soon as it is covered, which will happen soon.

As for the cover, at first it will be heather for the quality of the shade it offers.

Eventually, it will be replaced by a climbing plant, most probably a trellis but it is still under study.

I advise you to read the article on the 19 best climbing plants for pergola if you want some ideas!

Well, that’s all well and good, but a plant has to be tough enough to grow in my inhospitable soil…

If any experts are around, I’ll take all the advice.

Step 1: Attach the joists to the wall of the house

First, we have to drill the house to be able to put the joist that will support the crosspieces later.

My buddy the drill under my arm, here I go to attack the facade …

Of course, I didn’t go there with a gun, I first took the measurements to know where to drill, of course.

I don’t know about you, but for me, holding a tape measure horizontally with one hand, perched on a stepladder, and with the other hand, marking the measure, well, I’m having a hard time…

So in order not to tear my hair out, I made a little template like this:

build your own wooden pergola

The small sides correspond to the height between the sub-roof and my holes and on the large side, there are different markings corresponding to the different distance I need between each hole.

After measuring and drilling, all that’s left to do is seal with chemical sealant.

For those who don’t know, it’s a cartridge like a sealant cartridge to put in a gun.

Be careful though, you need a special chemical sealant gun otherwise it breaks.

It is enough to put a mesh sold with the cartridge in the hole (only for the hollow walls, in the full concrete one puts directly the threaded rod in the hole) then one fills with product and one places the threaded rod gently while screwing.

build your own wooden pergola

One lets dry the time indicated on the package and it is soldu….

According to the marks the load will be more or less important.

That can all the same pass from 100 kg to a ton!

So read well before buying.

In parallel, I prepared the joists.

A 6 meters joist and a 4 meters one.

I cut the ends at an angle for the aesthetic side.

Well, this is just showing off, it’s so easy.

Then I make the holes corresponding to the locations of the threaded rods.

This takes a bit longer, because I have to check on each rod that the drilling did not change the initial measurement too much and then transfer the distances to the joist.

It’s still done well, I assure you.

Once everything is ready, the trouble begins. It had to happen one day!

Well, we didn’t have too much difficulty to place the 6 meters joist.

Just two holes to be taken back a hair but it went rather well on the whole.

For that of 4 meters on the other hand we tore off hair…

Well, especially me because my man doesn’t have much hair left!

This damn joist twisted in a helix between the moment I received it and the moment I wanted to slam it against the façade…

I thought: “No problem, if I tighten the bolts it should straighten up nicely”.

Big mistake! Never do that, wood is stronger than anything.

I knew that wood caught in concrete was not good, because the expansion of the wood makes the concrete burst, so I should have known better but I was naive…

Of course, the sealants split in less time than it takes to say it.

As for the joist, it didn’t budge one bit.

Hey crack, let’s do it again.

From there, I came up with a lot of ideas to get out of it without too much damage, all more or less smoky than the others, I’ll skip the details.

I finally decided to go back and get a new and straight joist.

I redid my holes and I put the joist on the facade.

In less than an hour it was done.

Honestly, sometimes we take the head for not much.

build your own wooden pergola

Installation of the plates for the posts

To install the plates which will receive the posts, same fight.

Yes yes, it was a fight!

We had to drill 20 holes with a diameter of 18 mm in solid concrete (terrace) starting by going through the tiles first (sandstone is hard, very hard!).

In short with two, with two perforator, two good hours of drilling and we did not idle.

Small trick to memorize the exact location of the plates on the ground before the drilling, to put big adhesive tape to mark an angle.

Like that, if we remove the plate we put it back easily without taking again measurements.

build your own wooden pergola

Here again I use chemical sealant.

Be careful to place the plate at the same time as the rods before the product sets.

Installation of the pergola posts

First of all I had to shorten the poles because the sawmill didn’t do it for me as it should have been.

Not even afraid!

If I had a chainsaw, I would have had less trouble but I didn’t have one so I put my circular saw to the test.

Problem, the maximum height of the blade is 6cm and the posts have a section of 14,5 cm.

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Well, when you don’t have any material, at least you have some ideas…

I cut on 6 cm on each side of the post and I finished the small square remaining in the center with the saber saw.

I don’t hide you that it is better to be very precise so that takes time but we arrive there.

You can see on the picture that the precision is not optimal but this part will be at 2,5m high so it’s not really serious.

build your own wooden pergola

Then you have to make the groove to embed the plates in the posts.

When I say I have no patience, I’m exaggerating a bit because it takes some.

It takes a long time to do.

As I’m always so well equipped, I spend a lot of time on it.

I used the same method as for shortening the posts.

Circular saw on two sides and I finish the center with a saber.

But it’s not as easy as it looks because a saber saw is not easy to hold for precision work, and pine is fibrous and difficult to work with, and to top it off, it wasn’t completely dry which adds to the difficulty (well, that’s my fault).

In short, it takes time, but with a little perseverance, you can see the end.

After that, the holes to place the bolts.

Phew, this is only happiness.

A blow of drill, then of router so that the nut and the head of the bolt are well inserted in the post, and it is finished.

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Child’s play!

To finish with the posts, I still need to make the mortises at the top of the posts where the joists will fit.

This time, I take into account my tooling limitations.

The depth of the mortises will be 6 cm since I use a circular saw.

The method is quite simple: several circular saw strokes in the same direction then a few chisel strokes to remove the pieces.

The pictures speak for themselves:

build your own wooden pergola

build your own wooden pergola

build your own wooden pergola

build your own wooden pergola

You can see on the last one that two posts have mortises with a little twisted shape.

These are the two posts that form an angle because the 5 posts are not aligned, the pergola is not rectangular to fit the configuration of the house.

Preparation of the struts

For the struts, screws are too easy 😉 so it will be mortise and tenon.

No, I’m kidding, it’s just that it’s more solid and more aesthetic.

To make the tenons, making a template helps to save time and precision.

Two large cleats to hold the workpiece, attach a cleat at 45 degrees to the top to serve as a cutting guide for the router.

Use the router in successive passes to remove the material on each side of the workpiece and finish the edges with the saw (the one you want).

build your own wooden pergola

build your own wooden pergola

Once all the tenons are done, you have to make the corresponding mortises.

So back to the posts and joists.

These are the two pieces you see on the last picture.

Here the router is still in use.

After adjusting the height of the router, we dive in several passes inside the rectangle previously drawn.

We obtain a kind of ellipse.

On the picture, the little holes at the bottom, it’s the tip of the plunge cutter that made them so you can see how many plunges I made with the router.

build your own wooden pergola

To finish the mortise so that the tenon fits in, it must be made rectangular.

The wood chisel is particularly recommended for this.

It’s very easy to do.

I spent much less time making 14 mortises than making the 5 grooves on the posts.

build your own wooden pergola

Installation of the posts of the pergola

From there, there is only to begin to assemble.

After having firmly fixed the plates we place the posts on it and we bolt them.

Nothing too complicated.

Then you have to place the joists on the posts while maintaining the struts.

This is where it gets a little complicated.

You need at least two people to do it and the cuttings had better be perfect.

Obviously, it was not my case, I had to take some tenons to make everything fit but in the end, we get the expected result.

build your own wooden pergola

To finish, drilling the joists directly in place at the level of the posts to place a wooden dowel.

Diameter 20 with a 30 cm long drill, that also makes the arms, especially when the drill gets stuck in the fibers of the pine …

build your own wooden pergola

Check the verticality regularly because it moves a lot during the assembly.

Installation of the crosspieces of the pergola

As for the crossbeams, in order to not think too much about the measurements and to avoid mistakes, I proceed as follows:

  1. I assemble the crossbar and place it in its final position. It makes the arm muscles because it’s not light… but also the legs because I know how to climb up and down the ladders 😉
  2. I draw the cutting lines directly in place
  3. I lower the crosspiece
  4. I cut the mortises (electric saw and wood chisels are perfect for that).
  5. I put the crosspiece back up to check if it fits. If I’m lucky, it’s ok, I just have to screw it in (one screw at the top of each end) but sometimes, I cut too little and I had to go back down and do it again…

build your own wooden pergola

build your own wooden pergola

All you have to do is cover it… and enjoy it while sipping a good pastaga!

build your own wooden pergola

build your own wooden pergola

Build yourself a wooden pergola in video

Finally, I offer you a video on how to build a wooden pergola.

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