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Hanging the barge rafters

Boxduh's picture

After cutting my buddy's roof last week, I got talked into hanging around for a few days and helping frame it.  We did not have an easy time with the barge rafters.  Will some of you pros give us some tips as to how it should be done?  We used 2x10s for the barges, and framed our gable wall so its top plates were on the right pitch and elevation to pick up 2x10 lookouts, which we placed at 36" centers.  Our overhang is 2 feet.  What are the good ways to ensure the gable plates are where they belong?  Without building the Eiffel Tower, what are the easy ways to stage or scaffold for the work?


(post #91739, reply #1 of 7)

We would not ordinarily scaffold for barge rafters unless we had to sheet the underside of them in the air.

I typically make sure the lookouts are secure enough to work off of and then just nail a few 2x4 blocks on the top side of the rafter in such a way as to catch some of the lookouts .

Then I just have one guy up tight and one guy at the bottom .  We start to nail it from the top down using the lookouts as ladders and have the fella on the bottom lift the end up or push down as needed.

As far as the best way to ensure that the gable is the right height I cut a set of rafters and tack them on the floor and then simply build the rake wall under them.

When you are ready just remove the rafters and raise your wall.

(post #91739, reply #2 of 7)

depending on the run, and the size af your soffit, Ive built 2x6 barges with a 2' overhang on the ground and dropped them in place, with a few hands of course.  We framed our roof with 2x12 rafters.  the Outside of framing/ gable rafter was a straight 2x8, and then the first one in from there is a 2x12, very important these are straight. Your overhang dimension is 2' from framing to outside of subfascia.  Your 1st 2x12 rafter is 15 1/4" or whatever measurement in from framing/gable end.  Basically, the inside of your 2x12 rafter to the outside of your subfascia is your overall measurement.  Using a 2x4 nailer on the inside, and a 2x6 subfascia, you can use 2x6 Cats on a 2' or 16" center, and mill out a notch to rest over the 2x8 gable rafter.   this notch runs the length of the inside portion to the 2x4 nailerand is the difference between a 2x12 and a 2x8, roughly 4" - 4 1/4", so this is the amount of left over meat you have out of a 2x6 to bear on the 2x8 gable rafter, plus any more you give yourself for shim ability.  The remaining 5 1/2" of cat, nailer for the plancher, is the exact dimension of outside of framing to the inside of subfascia.  In the case of a 2' overhang, 22 1/2" from framing.  this locates your notch, and depth is dependent upon material, but with a little bit of set up, many cats can be cut up quickly, the barge assembled on the ground with plumb cuts on peak, cats on a convenient layout for plancher boards, and a couple of kick blocks on top of 1st 2x12 rafter, cause this is where the whole assembly attatches to.  Get it in place set under kick blocks, lift up tight to blocks, and up tight with opposite barge system so plumb cuts meet tight, clamp it in place to the 1st 2x12 keeping it flush along the top edge of rafter.  If you allow 1/4 -1/2" of depth in your notch for any material imperfections, you can project your rafter plane out, and shim your cats up to this point, keeping it straight in line with the rafter plane.  If your 1st 2x12 rafter is strung and straight, a set 15 1/4 from framing, and your 2x8 gable rafter is in place, this barge can be built like a wall and set in place ultimately providing you with a means to straighten and secure your gable walls, but also give you the ladders to walk  up and down your roof when your done.  This system worked out really well for us, 2' overhang, 26' runs.  We did about 10 of them this size.. As long as your cats are accurate and you string and secure your refernece rafters you should be all set.

(post #91739, reply #3 of 7)

I just set 4 barge rafters on Friday. I never stage for them who has that kind of time. One guy at hte bottom of the rake and one guy at the top, nail a scrap 2x4 on the bottom of your first lookout so you can rest your barge on it and nail it home. Then the top guy moves it up or down as the bottom guy moves up the rake nailing. As far as getting your rake wall right someone already mentioned cutting two rafters and laying them on your deck, a foolproof method unless your barges are different than your rafters. In that case remember to allow for the difference.

(post #91739, reply #4 of 7)

For one that big - which i don't do very often - I have a method that I've even used working alone.

I ran the ridge board out the right length.

I hung a subfascia at the eaves.

I cut four extra rafters for barges

I made a slip stick to hang the top of the barge rafter over the ridge and nailed it in at the eave and then at the ridge.

I checked that the great weight of the thing wasn't bowing the subfascia down and corrected it it was with a temp brace

I filled in with lookouts, all precut to length.

That one was twenty foot long 2x12's and I earned my pay that day! Whew!


Excellence is its own reward!



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

(post #91739, reply #5 of 7)

We frame the gable walls complete. Lower wall and the upper part of the gable. Square the wall and side it. Then we install the barge rafter, fascia, soffit, all trim and up she goes. No need to work off ladders or staging. After you get all the exterior walls up, all you have to do is tie in the corners and your ready to hang rafters. Why do you guys still stick frame gables? I dont mean for that to come off condecending, I just dont understand why you wouldnt do everything you can while the wall is laying flat on the deck.


(post #91739, reply #6 of 7)

I think he was cantilevering his look-outs from a few feet in the building across the top of the gable and cantilevering out to support a 2x10 flyrafter 2' out kind of tough to do that while the wall is horizontal. Though I have lifted the wall part way and installed elements similair to this.

Otherwise you are right a typical 12" overhang that will be covered with trim material should be completed on the ground. The only time I wouldn't would be if that was subbed out to a siding contractor and I was just concerned with the rough framing end of it.

ADDED...I just looked at your profile and see you are in missouri. I have relatives in the K.C area and have seen how the guys out there build .

Most of the houses I saw the framing contactor does the siding and exterior trim as well. A lot of t-111 type siding especially on the upper floor. With wood corners.

Looks like the ideal materials to be using if you are doing it on the ground and it seems that the added trim materials might keep the walls a little straighter when it is time to sight off the walls. How long does it take to build your exterior walls this way? What size crew to lift them?

Edited 2/23/2003 9:54:24 AM ET by benny

(post #91739, reply #7 of 7)

Thanks to all for the input.  The next one we are doing is my spec house, and the roof is trussed, but with decorative 2x8 rafter tails and 2x8 barge rafters at close to a 2-foot overhang.  Based on what I have read here, we might do it this way.  First build and erect the under-gable end walls, with flat double-plated tops, atop which will sit the gable frames.  Then snap lines on the deck, to the gable pattern, cut and lay the barges on the lines just to proof things out, then build the gable wall frames on the deck.  Since we will have a crane on site for truss erection, we will bolt some hanger cleats to the top plates of the gable frames, and pick them up and place them with the crane.  We'll want to brace the gables, but in such a way that we can erect the first inboard trusses.  We may use some vertical strongbacks on the sheathing sides.  The two attached pics show the gable at the chimney end and the one at the opposite end.  The chimney end has no bracket at the peak, and the barges will be cut close to the topmost lookouts when the mason brings the blockwork up through.  Our gable patterns will be laid out to a plate line that permits the 2x6 lookouts to bear on gable frame plates.  I have got the framing subbed out, and I'm glad I won't be hanging in space spiking on those barges.