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Westerly in Detail: Applied Rafter Tails

How do you apply rafter tails to the exterior of a structure after the walls have been sheathed? Home builder Jeff Sweenor developed a simple solution that's efficient to execute

During a recent trip to our Westerly project, Kevin O’Connor caught up with builder Jeff Sweenor to discuss the rafter tail detail and how Sweenor ultimately decided to approach the build. The drawings for this Dutch Colonial call for a series of applied tails on several areas of the exterior, including along the sidewalls where the gambrel roof sits. This section of the house called for 62 rafter tails, which are spec’d to be installed along the exterior to create an eave detail.

The drawings specify a continuous 2x6 cleat to hold 62 rafter tails that are 14” wide and include a soft slope. Note in the drawing (at min. 1:02) that the tails were milled so that when installed onto the 2x6 cleat, the bottom edge of the cleat aligns with the bottom of the rafter tails. This provides continuous nailing surface at the back of the soffit. Also worth noting is the beveled 2x6 ledger at the top which provides continuous nailing for the double layers of 3/8” plywood. Finally, a beveled 2x sub fascia provides nailing for the fascia and ties the front of the rafter tails together.

Sweenor says that to have these built on-site would have taken one of his carpenters two full days using a jigsaw and circular saw because so many needed to be made (approximately 150 tails total, including some for other parts of the house not shown here). Given the consistent results a CNC-milled product offers, and the labor savings (two days spent moving the job forward in other ways), for Sweenor this method outweighs site-built options for quality and cost. Check out the video to learn more.