Introduction: Build a Gazebo: From Google Sketchup to Real World

The purpose of this instructable is to build a very resistant open source gazebo. The plans used are freely downloadable trough the instructable.

If you are interested, you can view the list of my not-yet-realized ideas on my blog

Step 1: Material

For the design:

For the construction:
  • wood (how much depend on the size of the building and on who cut it for you)
  • metal bars (squared,'T' shaped and 'L' shaped)
  • very big screws (they must be long double the size of the wood)
  • a ladder
  • concrete
  • silicone + tar

Step 2: Design the Gazebo With Sketchup

The first thing to do is to design your gazebo. My design took me an evening with my father (an architect) to learn using sketchup (very easy) and start building something with the needed sizes and proportions.
Because we live in an alpine environment the structure must support a lot of snow. To be safe we used very thick wood. Shown in images below there are sketches and quotes of the various pieces (in centimeters). If you need the dimensions measured in inches, just download the SKP file (sketchup source file) and change with your metric preferences. If you want to save time, you can start with my project and transform it based on your preferences or simply use it as it is :)

Step 3: Make Wood and Metal Pieces

Since I don't have the right tools, I printed some images of the gazebo design with quotes and gave to someone that cut wood for work. It cost a little bit more than DIY, but is cheaper than buying the tools and more precise than doing whit cheap tools.

Metal pieces used for the structure were recovered from trash and adapted (welded and cutted) to fit the wood structure

The total cost of material was 1000 euro (about 1200 $)

Step 4: Start Building From the Base

The first thing you have to do is a flat floor surface made of concrete matching the desired size. This will be the floor of the gazebo and the anchor of the entire structure. To add strength to the concrete you can add some metal bars into the concrete floor.

Put the wood support inside the metal support taking care that support forms a 90 degree angle with the floor

To avoid water drop inside gaps between metal and wood I filled the gaps with silicone and tar (usually used for insulate RV windows). I also do a hole on the bottom of the metal supports to avoid water condense to stay in contact with wood for too much time. Metal supports are covered and protected from rain by the gazebo roof so the bottom holes should not be a problem.

Repeat this step for the 4 wood supports.

Step 5: Fix the Wood Traverse

Put the wood traverse on the supports. Be sure that the traverse is centered measuring on both sides the traverse.

Once the traverse is right in place, fix it to the supports with long screws. I used screw long twice the width of the traverse.

To avoid the screw to interfere with other pieces of the gazebo, before putting the screw, drill a big hole of 1 or 2 inches deep (see image). Because the screws are very thick, you should drill a thin hole to help the screw to penetrate into the wood.

Step 6: Fix the Side Traverse

Now you have to fix to the wood traverse a side traverse (tagged in the photo).
As explained in the previous step, fix to the wood traverse with the same big screws.
Do this step on both sides.

Step 7: Add the Triangular Structure That Will Hold the Roof

The triangular shape is a very special structure of the roof of the gazebo. It must be flexible and sustain all the weight of the roof (especially when covered with snow).
The purpose of the 2 diagonal wood pieces is to distribute the weight on the sides instead of on the center of the wood traverse (a weak structural point). Actually the center piece and the traverse do not touch! (in the photo you can see a little gap)

When the roof will be covered with show, the pressure of the weight will push on the sides (so you have to strongly fix the diagonal pieces to the traverse) and on the center (in this case the center will get closer to the traverse without putting pressure on it).

To strongly fix the diagonal pieces I used a metal bar that pass trough the two wood pieces (you can see how in photos)

Step 8: Add the Top Traverse

The top side traverse is where the roof will be fixed.
Since it's a very weight piece I used some ropes to keep the piece in place while my dad was slowly pushing the piece in position

Step 9: Fix the Roof Supports

 The roof are needed to distribute the weight on the roof to the structure of the gazebo. I put a support every 55cm (21 inches). The width of the wood used is 4 inches. Every support is fixed to the structure with screws. In the photo you can see what I use in pair with a stair to reach the top of the gazebo and fix the supports.

Step 10: Add the Roof, Layer by Layer

The first layer for the roof is made of thin wood. Its purpose is to support the watherproof layer. After installing it, I walked on to test its capability: if it can support my weight it 'should' support a lot of snow..

Next layer will storm-proof the roof and will acts also as anti-slippery layer. I will use a very light roofing tile named "tegola canadese". I don't know if exists outside italy but I can't find a translation.

The weather is not good in this period so I can't add the other layers of the roof until is a bit sunny. As soon as the weather is good I'll update this step

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