Usually, the only time I use the word ‘bracket’ is during March Madness, when millions of people try to guess the ultimate outcome of 64 college basketball teams working their way to one winner. I do dumb things with those brackets, like pick the teams I hope will win, instead of those that are likely to win. Then again, this isn’t a post about NCAA Basketball. This is a post, no pun intended, about supporting brackets.
I wanted to write about this project, but I wanted to keep it light. So, I decided to do it as part of Linda G. Hill’s SoCS prompt. Of course, Linda didn’t make my job very easy. I want to write about making wooden brackets and she gave us:
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “your/you’re/yore.” Use one, use them all, but whatever you do, enjoy!
She didn’t mention bonus points. I think there should be bonus points when there are three words. And, ‘yore’ – seriously, Linda, yore?
Anyway, back to those brackets. They’re part of a small home-improvement project, currently underway in our back yard. We’ve decided to add an overhanging roof to the gable-end of our screen-porch. One of the reasons we built the porch was to shade the living room from the afternoon sun and shield it from the rain and snow. Now, we’re adding an overhang to shade the porch.
I was going to wait and write a post after the roof was complete. Kind of a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation post. You’re lucky I didn’t go that route. I’m guessing that would take about 9,000 words and 800 photos. So, I’m breaking it up for your reading pleasure.
The roof will hang over a wide set of “steps.” I put that in quotes because the steps are really stacked mini-decks. I won’t get into the steps today because they’re going to be replaced later. I only mention them because we didn’t want any posts at the edge of the steps. Snow shovels bump into posts. My wife and I bump into posts and the dog likes to wrap her leash around posts. We have to say something like “my side” to get her to walk on the same side of a post/tree/telephone pole as us.
Remember when we said: “bread and butter?” If two friends had to split up to walk around an object, you said “bread and butter” in order to avoid any bad luck. But, you both had to say it. Otherwise, you would fight later on – according to – superstition.
I don’t want to spend the rest of my life saying bread and butter, so brackets. I’m making the brackets from Western Red Cedar 4x4s. For those of you unfamiliar with US measurements and the concept of dimensional lumber, here’s a quick lesson:
‘4×4’ (pronounced 4-by-4) refers to the nominal width and depth of the board, 4 inches by 4 inches, or 4” x 4”. The measurement is nominal because it’s the dimensions of the rough board, before it’s machined to a nice, square, smooth surface. Typically, a 4×4 is 3 ½” x 3 ½”. For some reason, a cedar 4×4 is about 3 3/8” x 3 3/8”.
For those of you who wonder why the U.S. is still using feet and inches, a system of measurement dating back to days or yore, I can’t answer you. Ask Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. They tried to switch us to the metric system, but that didn’t go so well. We get less wine in a bottle, but that’s about it. Still, I’d rather say four-by-four than 10.16-by-10.16.
These brackets have to support a pretty heavy load, so I’m joining them with a combination of mortise and tenon and dado joints. I’ve borrowed the illustration from a previous Thursday Doors post. This joint has a mechanical connection with lots of surface area for glue, and none of the boards lose much strength from the material being cut away.
Each bracket has one 90 degree joint and two 45 degree joints. The 90 degree joint was easy to cut. The tenon was cut on my table saw, with the aid of a couple of jigs. The mortise was cut with a mortising machine and the dado was cut with a router, also with the aid of a jig.
The 45 degree joints were another story. The various settings required on stationary power tools would have taken a long time to set up, and making the cuts would have been awkward. I decided to cut them by hand. I cut the first one with a hand saw and then switched to a small circular saw.
These brackets are the kind of project that, once complete, don’t look like they were hard to build. That’s because all the complicated work is concealed. The photos in the galleries will lead you through the process. If yours is a cursory interest, the first gallery is for you. As a friend of mine used to say, it goes 1,2..6.
If you’re interested in the gory details, the second gallery should work nicely.