# Cutting rafter angles and wall plate bird's mouth

I'm fitting some 3m rafters on a shallow-sloped, lean-to extension, and I'm trying to figure out an easy/reliable way of getting the geometry right...
What's the best way to measure, mark up and cut the rafter/wall board angle and rafter/wall plate bird's mouth so that the rafter meets the wall board at the correct angle, rests on the outer skin of the cavity wall and conforms to the wall plate accurately?
I've been told that if you rest the uncut rafter on the wall plate at the same angle as the slope of the roof, then mark a line perpendicular to the rafter's lower edge from the point where it touches the wall plate, then mark a right angle to form the bird's mouth, this will give the correct cut out --- but I can't see how you'd get the correct depth (or, practically, how you go about holding a 3m rafter in position while you mark it up).
Is there an easy way to do this with a right angle, tape measure and a bit of dead reckoning? ;-)
Any help appreciated.
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Mick6 wrote:

You need an adjustable angle finder...it's like a set square but is adjustable at the corner, so that you can place the timber onto the wallplate, put one edge of the finder sitting flat on the plate and adjust the other so that it is touching the edge of the joist which is angled. Bring everything down, mark the angle onto the end of the timber and use a pullsaw, set at the correct angle to cut all joist ends the same.
The way you mentioned above is also correct, although you don't try and do it alone, you need someone at the other end to take the weight and hold it where it will be eventually fixed...you then put a spirit level against the outside brickwork so that it is upright and draw a line on the joist end...if you then take it down and draw a line at 90deg from that, it will sit squarely on the wallplate...joists don't sit on exterior brickwork
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Mick6 wrote:

I would do it in stages:
First lay the rafter on the wall plate and offer the end up to the wall board. You can sight along the top edge of the rafter to get the position right with respect to the top of the wall board. You will want to aim a couple of inches high (or whatever depth you plan to make your birds mouth joint) since you have not cut the other end yet, so that will be sitting a bit high. Now set the angle with respect to the wall on an adjustable bevel[1].
Take your rafter down and mark the bevel angle on it and cut to shape.
Offer the rafter back to the wall plate - it should now be a good parallel fit. Position it a little high again to allow for the birds mouth. If working alone, then tack nail a block of scrap to the wall board to rest the rafter on while you go to the other end.
At the wall plate end you can now mark the length to the outside of the birdsmouth joint. Take the rafter down again, and use the bevel (still set to the right angle from last time![2]) to mark the "up" cut of the birds mouth joint from your marked length. Use a square to mark the cross cut perpendicular to the up cut.
Finally cut out the birdsmouth joint with a hand saw or an electric jigsaw. Test fit, and if it looks ok use that rafter as a pattern to mark all the others.

There is with some basic trig, but marking it out will be quicker unless you have a decent protractor handy for marking out the angles.
[1] Like:
http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?id1778&ts \$408
[2] You can also cut the eves end of the rafter to the same angle to get your facias vertical.
--
Cheers,

John.

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Thanks for the replies, guys.
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