Raising Loft Beams & Roof

We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: 

first, the doing their practical duty well: 

then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.

– John Ruskin, draughtsman and watercolorist, 1819 – 1900

There are many ways to build a roof, but when you want to create usable, beautiful space underneath that roof in a small building, you don’t have a whole lot to think about. Steeply pitched rafters are the traditional way to frame a cabin roof, and that’s what our design uses here. Both sides are sloped 45º from horizontal, making this is what’s called a “12/12 pitch” in carpenter talk. This means there’s 12” of vertical rise of the roof surface for every 12” of horizontal run, creating a 90º angle at the peak. The geometry is simple, yet the shape looks great and there’s usable space underneath for the loft. Climbing and working on a roof this steep is more challenging than shallow designs, but the hassles of the angle is well-worth the beauty, the longer shingle life and the additional floor area.

The parts of your cabin that form the slope of your roof are called rafters, and cutting them accurately will be the most precise part of building your cabin. That said, you can relax. If you tackle the job the way I explain, checking and verifying your results as you go, you’ll easily succeed – even if you’ve never cut rafters before.


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