In the '60s and '70s, California tract builders were all gang-cutting their rafters. Since then, trusses have taken over in that market, and production cutting has become a dying art. Yet in many areas, carpenters continue to stick-frame roofs, and it's surprising how many of them cut rafters one piece at a time. Unlike most carpenters who gang-cut rafters, I did not learn this technique on the West Coast. About 20 years ago I got a job working for a builder on Cape Cod and he production-cut all his roofs. I eventually moved back to eastern Pennsylvania and became a framing contractor, where I continue to gang-cut my roofs.

It doesn't matter whether there are 20 or 200 rafters to cut: It's always faster to gang them together and cut them all at once. When I frame a roof, the actual cutting time for the rafters is usually less than 15 minutes. This doesn't include layout or stacking the lumber on racks, but I'd be laying out the cuts and stacking the material on...

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