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Old 06-19-2012, 07:55 AM   #1
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


The gazebo needed an update and the roof was the worst. I could have kept the rafter framing and just replaced the plywood and the asphalt shingles but I always wanted a nice ceiling to look up to when sitting in the gazebo.

I had some grooved plywood paneling left over from another project and decided that would be perfect for the look I wanted. I also wanted a cupola so I decided to rebuild the entire roof using Cedartone lumber.

The roof framing is done and the plywood sheathing is on and the underside is stained to match the Cedartone.


Yesterday it was hot and humid so I took advantage of the cool, dry basement and started on the cupola. I took a piece of cedar 4x4, ripped it to an octagon and turned it on the lathe for a down-facing finial that would be the center piece of the cupola ceiling.

Since each side of the octagon was now only 1-3/8", I had to plane down the 2x4 rafters to 1-3/8". And since the wood was so rough, I ripped the edges and cleaned it up.

After the rafters were cut to size and the bird's mouths cut, I drilled the finial and rafters for 1/2" dowels and drilled pocket holes on the top of the rafters.

Installing the first two rafters to the finial was easy. After than each step required a bit more improvisation to allow for a solid backing when snugging up the rafters into the dowels. One final pocket screw secured it tight.

This was the only way I could figure securing the piece on the last two legs of the install.



In the photo below, the octagon on the bottom will fit on top of the opening in the roof. I need to figure out how tall I want the walls of the cupola and exactly how I'm going to secure it. I'm also undecided on what trim I'll use on the walls (louvers? open? I don't know.)


When I make the top plate, I'll shave the point off the corners of the octagon so there will be a flat vertical surface where the outside of the bird's mouth will sit. Just an FYI: the rafters and the octagon frame in the pic above are both Cedartone lumber. When I planed and ripped the rafters, they lost that gold color.

Today is supposed to be another scorcher. That cool and dry workshop in the basement is looking pretty good!

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Old 06-21-2012, 05:57 AM   #2
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


  • Wow! Very impressive work
  • Great Pics!
  • Good to see Kreg Jigs & Type III Titebond
Keep it coming

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Old 06-21-2012, 06:13 AM   #3
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


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I I'm also undecided on what trim I'll use on the walls (louvers? open? I don't know.)
I'd leave the sides open and fairly high to maximize the view of the trees. Or if your concerned with blowing rain, then maybe glass?
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #4
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


Thanks Bob!

On the cupola wall finish, I was looking at a sheet of plexiglass I have in my shop and thinking of putting that as the finish. But then there would be no air flow out the top. I'm trying to get maximum air AND light and that's causing brain strain.

Anyway, here's where I am now with it:

There is a 12" opening height but I didn't like how the 2x4s intruded into the interior. So I shaped them on the bandsaw. I REALLY hate working with wet pressure treated lumber! It's not very receptive to router bits and sanders. It quickly clogged the sanding sleeve on the spindle sander.





As far as seeing out the top, with the overhang, I'm not sure there would be much of a view. I'm now leaning towards louvers but I really don't want to block out all that light. Maybe vertical louvers? Or maybe make some 1x1 spindles? I have a fairly clear piece of 4x4 cedar I could resaw to size. I'd just have to make sure I don't leave any bird perching space between them. Maybe bird spikes?

Once I have all the verticals in place, I'm going to finish the outside with cedar. I had some old cedar sitting in the shop and I resawed and planed it to 1/4" x 4". Do you think I should glue that to the PT or use a construction adhesive? I'm concerned about the cedar bowing and splitting once the elements get to it. I will finish it but the question is will I keep it up over the years? BTW, the roof will be cedar shakes and I WILL start by applying a finish (Defy Extreme Deck Stain) to everything cedar, including the shakes. I just don't know if I will keep it up. Aging has a way of killing one's enthusiasm.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:25 PM   #5
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


Thanks for keeping up on the pics and very nice joinery. Will keeping all eight of the spaces open under the eves provide enough venting?
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:42 PM   #6
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


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Will keeping all eight of the spaces open under the eves provide enough venting?
Maybe. I didn't think about that. I will be putting a fascia on the perimeter and that would block some of the breeze but there would still be heat dissipation out the top when the sun is beating down on the roof.

Something to think about.
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:10 AM   #7
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


Well, after looking at several options for the wall finish on the cupola, I decided on this:

I saw a video on the Western Red Cedar Association website and they used this design for a privacy wall. It has sort of an Asian design to it and, once you set everything up, it's pretty easy to make.

I started out with a 4x4 and planed one edge to take the round over off the edge. Then I went to the bandsaw and cut the perimeter pieces to 1-1/8" square and the lattice pieces to 3/4" square. I then set the dado blade for a 3/4" wide by 1/4" deep dado with the spacing between the cuts at 2".


I had a piece of 4x4 cedar that has been sitting in my basement for years and I used that to make the first run. After seeing how it looked, I ran out this morning to buy some more cedar 4x4s. I have always wanted to do something like this but lack of patience has hampered me. This time I stuck with it to set the dado blade thickness exact. It took me over 30 minutes to get it right!

We're getting the heat wave today so I may spend the day in the basement making these instead of working on the cedar shakes on the gazebo roof. I need an apprentice!
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:29 AM   #8
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


Wow! Great Design, are you using Sketch Up?
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


I use AutoCAD. I learned it when I was doing electrical design the last few years of my career and I know it pretty well now but it's not the easiest program for 3D designs that look real.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:57 AM   #10
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Adding a cupola to the gazebo


Looks good.
Amazing how much work can go into those details.

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