by William Bolton As a deck builder in California, I often get asked to build a pergola in conjunction with a deck project (1). Most customers want the pergola to hang right off the existing fascia, rather than have posts next to the house. But there's usually a gutter in the way, so I had to devise a technique that would allow me to secure the pergola ledger without disturbing the existing gutter.

I use a Simpson ABU66 post base as a bracket, inserted between the fascia board and the gutter (2). The post base's U-shape is wide enough for the gutter to sit between its legs without interference.

There are two holes on each vertical leg of the post base that allow for fasteners. I slip a bracket between the gutter and the fascia at a rafter-tail location, then attach the gutter and bracket to the framing with long TimberLok lag screws.

I use a length of Schedule 40 1/2-inch PVC pipe as a ferrule (3), which keeps the vertical legs of the bracket in fixed position while allowing me to firmly attach both the bracket and the back of the gutter to the framing.

Before attaching the ledger to the brackets, I clamp it in place and mark the locations of the lag-screw heads. After countersinking these points, I fasten the ledger to the outer leg of the bracket with galvanized bolts.

Finishing the framing is a simple matter of attaching joist hangers and setting the pergola rafters.

William Bolton owns DeckCreations in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Quick Barrel Ceiling

The carpenters on this remodeling job in Berkeley, Calif., could have used 2x4s to frame the barrel-vaulted ceiling of a stairway. But rather than fuss with the many compound cuts wood framing would have required, they saved time by using light-gauge steel studs. The steel is plenty strong for the plaster finish, and all the crew had to do was snip the studs to length, bend "nailing" flanges at each end, and screw them in place.

This method seems particularly appropriate for a barrel vault — the studs butt edge-to-edge, just like the staves in a barrel.

— David Frane

Storage for Rent

Full-size semitrailers work great for job-site storage — as long as you can get a tractor trailer onto the site. Recently, smaller storage units — like the one shown here — have become more common, especially on tight sites or in suburban areas. They come in different sizes; this 8-foot-by-8-foot-by-16-foot unit, in use on a Baltimore job site, rents for about $170 per month (plus delivery costs) from Pods (, 888/776-7637).

Loading and unloading is a lot easier than with a full-size storage trailer because the doors are at ground level instead of up on wheels. The contractor in this case used inexpensive plastic shelving to provide rack space for lengths of 16-foot-long trim, leaving room for tools and other materials. — Andrew Wormer