Figure 1. For gang-cutting, lay out the rafters on racks and hold them in place with scrap blocks. A and B show two rack styles that work. Where boards are uneven due to extreme crowns or inconsistencies in the milling, raise the low boards and toenail them to hold them flush at the cut lines (inset).
Figure 1. For gang-cutting, lay out the rafters on racks and hold them in place with scrap blocks. A and B show two rack styles that work. Where boards are uneven due to extreme crowns or inconsistencies in the milling, raise the low boards and toenail them to hold them flush at the cut lines (inset).

I started cutting roofs on California tract housing, and while I only work on custom houses now, I still use the production techniques I learned back then because they increase my efficiency on the job site. Here are some of the tricks I have collected for laying out and cutting simple gables, hips, and valleys. All of the examples shown in this article are figured for a roof with a 6/12 pitch. Using the tables that accompany this article you can adapt the system to other roofs.

The first step in roof cutting is to set up racks so the rafters can be gang cut. Two styles of rafter racks are shown in Figure 1. A good set of racks doesn’t need to be perfectly level, but the top edges must be parallel. You can check this by eyeballing across the tops to see if they lie in the same plane. Brace the middle of a long rack and...

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