DIY Yard/Garden/Wedding Pergola

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This pergola was built entirely from 2×4, 2×6, and 4×4 framing lumber. It also only takes a few tools to build, which makes it a very approachable project. I built it for a wedding but I could totally see this living in someone’s back yard, just scrap the bottom runners and embed the posts in concrete or fasten them to some post brackets in the ground.



>>> Get the plans —




Now, I’m not one to name drop, but there was some guy named Stephen Curry who got a great shot of the couple along with the pergola on their wedding day. People seemed to enjoy….


Notable Materials:
> (6) 2×4 8′ long
> (6) 4×4 8′ long
> (2) 2×6 8′ long
> Miscellaneous screws
> Finish

Build Tools:
> Miter saw:
> Tape measure:
> Table saw:
> Block plane:
> Framing square:
> Circular saw:
> Hammer:
> Chisel:
> Drill press:
> Forstner bit:
> Saw horses:
> Random orbital sander:

Assembly Tools:
> Step platform:
> Impact driver (or drill):
> Insty-drive drill bit set:
> Rubber mallet:


Build Details

It all starts by grabbing the lumber from the big box store and transferring it from my lumber hauler (my Element) to my lumber hauler (me) and into my shop.

I printed out my plans so I can follow along the cut list to make the build process super easy. I actually made these available in my store if you want to follow along and build one for yourself!

On the miter saw, all of the pieces are cut down to length. I use the stop block on my miter saw station to make repetitive cuts.

To keep from having to buy another 2×4, I actually planned ahead and figured enough material could be had from the 2×6 cutoff to make the 2 support pieces I needed. So I rip these 2x6s down to 3.5″ to make them into 2x4s.

After cutting on the table saw, the “2×4” now has sharp corners so I knock those down with a block plane, slowly rounding over the corner until it matches the rest.

Now with everything cut down to size, it’s time to start notching so this thing can be assembled! For all like pieces I temporarily hold them together with a bar clamp while I cut. I measure and mark all of the pieces where I want to cut them using the straight edge of my framing square.

Then I just cut the crap out of the end of the posts. It’ important to make the first cut perfectly following the line and then the rest is just to remove material, so it actually goes pretty quick.

I cut about every 1/4″ or so and then use my hammer to knock the scrap material loose to remove it. This works because of the grain orientation and the wood is so thin that it snaps off easily.

The same process is repeated with the top 4×4 pieces and the cuts are all cleaned up with my chisel.

It doesn’t take long before all of the notches look smooth and ready for assembly.

Each side takes turns laying out on my examination bench for a dry run. I temporarily hold all of the 4×4 pieces in place with the short 2×4 brace pieces.

This allows for me to measure to make sure that everything is square and bump it into place if not. I measure out a 3-4-5 triangle where the 3 sides measuring any ratio of that 3-4-5 means that it’s a right triangle and my pieces are square! I believe for my purposes here, I measured 30″ at the top, 40″ on the side, and bumped the end back and forth until it measured 50″ along the hypotenuse.

Once everything is squared into place, I can trace out for the support brace at each corner.

I use these lines as a guide to hog out most of the material on the drill press with a forstner bit. I use the depth stop set on 1.5″ to keep it from cutting any deeper than that so the pocket will fit the 2×4 brace flush with the surface.

With the majority of the material removed, I the use my chisel to bring it to the line and also square off the corner of the pocket. Now it’s ready for assembly!

Before finish I want to make sure that I’m as clever as I think I am, so I go ahead and assemble the whole thing making sure it all goes together smoothly. I start by laying out all of the pieces on the ground to keep things organized. The canopy support piece is fastened in place with a couple of screws into the post on each end.

Down along the bottom, the shoe pieces is mounted in place with a few screws into the bottom of the posts.

The same process is repeated for the 2nd side and then I lift up one side at an angle enough to install the canopy beam by beating it in place in the notch and then screwing it in place.

This corner can now be secured and made more rigid by installing the braces at each corner.

Then with all 10 of my fingers and 10 of my toes, I somehow lift that assembly up into place, while also lifting the 2nd leg assembly straight up and sliding it into place below the canopy beams. Then it’s the same process as the other side, beating the beams in place, screwing, and installing the braces.

Lastly, I put all of the canopy 2×4 pieces in place by just hammering the notches together and the friction holds them in place. Now I think we’re good to call it a night so I disassemble and set it aside for tomorrow.

The next day I start by sanding down all of the pieces to remove the lumber stamps and make sure there aren’t any sharp corners left.

Then for finish I apply wood stain and then wipe it off once it soaks in. For the wedding I simply match a stain color from a photo, but they ended up darkening it a bit before the wedding, I think to get a bit more contrast from the floral arrangement.

Once the stain is all dry, I assemble it one last time to make sure it all goes smoothly and give it the Jackman test.

I swing back and forth on that thing until it gets dark out, so I’d say it passed with flying colors. I disassemble it one last time and pack it away for delivery!