There are many ways to cut rafters. In more than 25 years of framing houses, I have learned a variety of techniques, from cutting rafters one at a time to production gang-cutting methods. But regardless how you produce all the rafters that go into a house, the basic principles remain the same for every method. Rather than get too involved in different cutting techniques, in this article I’ll concentrate on what is required to lay out hip and common rafters, and describe only a few shortcuts for cutting and stacking the roof. This article follows “Simplified Roof Calculations” (3/99), in which I described how to calculate rafter lengths using the Construction Master calculator. The examples in this article use the same rafter lengths described in that earlier piece — those required for a standard 8/12 hip roof on a 22x57-foot building. Once again, the Construction Master serves as an indispensable tool for figuring each rafter cut.

Let’s start with some fundamentals. A common rafter has three essential parts.

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