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How to Make Decorative Roof Brackets

Decorative cedar brackets are often found under an overhang like a balcony or a roof. Some brackets may be structural, but in this case, these ornamental brackets are simply decorative and are part of the home’s original features. Watch as This Old House Host Kevin O’Connor meets with Builder Charlie Silva in his shop while he makes brackets himself.

When the homeowners added a second story and a new garage to their historic home, they needed to fabricate new wood brackets that matched the existing exterior ornamental brackets. Builder Charlie Silva worked with This Old House host Kevin O’Connor to fashion 56 brackets by hand—matching the home’s original details perfectly.

Rather than use a CNC machine—a milling machine that automates the milling process and would cost almost three times as much—Silva opts for a budget-friendly alternative using carpentry tools in his workshop.

Another cost-cutting move? Instead of using a solid piece of wood that is inherently more expensive, Silva chose 2x12 Western Red Cedar—a durable and lightweight wood that, when glued together, is the same width as the original brackets. The edges were then sanded and squared.

Steps for Making Decorative Roof Brackets

Step 1: Prepare the Wood Boards

  • Glue 2x12 Western Red Cedar together to match the thickness of the original brackets.
  • Sand and clean up the edges, making sure one side is square.
  • Mark 15” on the length of the board and cut at each mark for more manageable pieces of wood.

Step 2: Template the Brackets

  • Square up the edges of the sample bracket with the newly cut piece of wood.
  • With a pencil, trace around the bracket onto the wood. Make sure the pencil line is dark enough to be seen.
  • On the opposite side of the same piece of wood, flip the bracket over, line up the edges, and trace it. Expect to get two finished brackets for every 15” piece of cut wood.

Step 3: Cut the Template

  • Using a jigsaw, cut between the templated brackets to separate them.
  • Now that the templates are separated, square up two of the cuts on the chop saw (easier to do than using the jigsaw).
  • Use the jigsaw to finish making the intricate cuts on the wood, following along just outside the pencil lines.
  • Use a drum sander to reduce the excess, smooth, and finish the edges.

Tools: