DIY Wedding Arbor- Portable & Adjustable




Introduction: DIY Wedding Arbor- Portable & Adjustable

This pretty wooden Garden Arbor is portable so you can take it just about anywhere you want to.

The simple fan design gives the Wedding DIYer a dream-scheme of unlimited, imaginative possibilities.

As pictured, the Arbor is draped and woven with fir boughs and wildflowers for a Woodland Garden Wedding.  For a Beach Wedding,  try adding palm fronds and sea shell-laced netting.  Brocade curtain panels combined with sheer fabric swags will give a formal flair to your Wedding "afffair" ;-). 

The height at the peak of the roof is 7'2".  It can be adjusted down (flat-roofed) to 6'6", so you can bring it indoors if rain decides to spoil your outdoor wedding.

After the celebration, take your Arbor home! With just a few extra support beams and a foundation, the arbor can become a beautiful, permanent addition to your yardscape.  

For compact storage: unbolt the roof arches from the sides of the arbor and fold them together. Then unscrew the side supports and fold the sides up. Hint: Number the roof arches for future reference so this Arbor can be quickly re-erected for the next family wedding!

Step 1: Arbor Materials and Tools:

The Arbor Material list:
  • 20 pieces of 2" x 2" x 8' lumber. (2 x 2 lumber really only measures 1 1/2" x 1 1/2". I don't know why.)
  • 2 -  9" x 3/8" round head Stove Bolts with flat washers and nuts
  • 15 -  3 1/2" x 1/4" round head Stove Bolts with flat washers and nuts
  • 1 piece  flat Molding measuring 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 10'- cut into 4 pieces. 2 @ 32" each and 2 @ 18" each.  
  • 12 -  1" sheetrock screws
  • 1-2 Quarts of Exterior Paint- your color choice- and a paint brush.
The Tool list:
  • An Electric Drill
  • 1- Phillips Bit
  • 1- 5/16 and 7/16 Drill bit
  • Skil Saw or hand saw
  • Electric sander or  80-100 grit Sandpaper (I used an Orbital Sander with 80 grit)
  • Phillips 
  • 1/2" Wrench- open end, box end or socket (I used a socket)
  • 7/16" Wrench- (same as above)
  • Tape Measure and a pencil
  • Carpenter's Square
The Base Material List:
  • 4 Large Metal Shelf Brackets that measure 2" at the elbow and arms that measure approx. 11" and 13", respectively.
  • 12 1" sheet rock screws
All of the lumber I used for this project was leftover and repurposed from another construction project.(my house). I was working with 2 x 6 boards that needed to be cut down to size, as the pictures show.

You'll probably be buying the 2 x 2 lumber from your local buildering center. These boards are NOT expensive. Take the time to inspect the boards and select lumber that is straight and check/defect/knot-free as possible for your Arbor. A smidge of warp is common. Wood is not iron. Be a little forgiving.

If you'll be storing this wood for any length of time, be sure it's laying down on a flat, dry surface.  Any other position invites warp. Not good.

Step 2: Arbor Base- a Side Note to Mention:

For added stability, this Arbor needs a base. It stands well on it's own accord, but people can get careless and clumsy so this is a necessary precaution.

Initially, I custom-welded an iron base and that's what you'll see in the finished pictures.  I had the scrap iron pieces at my disposal and I own a welder. (Plus, I enjoy welding!)*

However, most folks (even DIYers) don't weld, and my brain kept nagging me to think of an easier, more cost-effective base to stabilize the Arbor.

Then BINGO....  a light-bulb moment: 

Large, HEAVY-DUTY, METAL SHELF BRACKETS were the answer, and here's why:
  1. They are built to withstand substantial weight and pressure.
  2. Their size and shape serve the intended purpose and they screw perfectly onto the 2 x 2 lumber.
  3. They're suprisingly lightweight.
  4. They're low cost.
*If you'd like to see more pictures and details of the iron-welded base, just ask. I'll post them in the comment section of this instructable.

Step 3: Prep Work:

Begin by sanding the lumber as necessary. It's much easier to do now than after the Arbor is standing.

Hand-sanding is good exercise! (I used an orbital sander. My bad.) 

80- 100 grit sandpaper will do a nice job

After the lumber has been sanded to your satisfaction, paint all of the sides with the exterior paint and let it dry thoroughly. 

Don't use all of the paint. You'll need some to paint the ends of the lumber after it's been trimmed to size.    

Step 4: Pre-construction Overview/ Arbor Dimensions

Following the measurements provided in this instructable, your finished Arbor will measure:

6' 6" tall at all 10 inside corners 
7' 2" height at all 5 center peaks
6' wide between the vertical center base posts.
4' 4" deep x 6' wide Canopy. 

I would like to officially warn you that this Arbor is EASY to build. (It's my written words that may be difficult to follow.)

Step 5: Building the Arbor Sides

(The material list calls for 20 eight foot 2 x 2s. You're going to use 10 of them to build both sides of the Arbor. Set the other 10 aside.)

Each side of the Arbor is constructed from 5 (five) 8 foot 2 x 2s that fan out from an axis created 22" above ground level.

Measure each board (from the bottom) up 25 inches and mark a pencil line. Then measure across the width of the board (halfway) to 7/8" and pencil another mark across the last one. (see picture) 

This is the "X"-marks-the-spot that determines where you'll drill ALL of the axis holes on all of the 10 side boards.

Using the 7/16 bit, drill at this 25 inch "spot" on all 10 of the boards.

After the drilling, you'll have two sets of boards (5 in each set), with  7/16" holes identically (almost;-) drilled 25" up from the base.

Stack one set of 5 boards on top of each other and run the 9"  Stove bolt through the drilled holes, connecting them. Next, slide on the washer and then the nut. Tighten the nut until it's fairly snug but still moveable.

Repeat this process with the second set of 5 boards and set it aside for now.

Step 6: Fanning the Arbor Sides

You now have 2 sets of boards, each bolted together.

You're ready to form the axis and fan the boards out, one set at a time.

Please look at all of the pictures carefully.  (Building this Arbor is MUCH easier DONE than SAID.)

The first picture identifies the boards, numbered 1 thru 5.

Keep in mind that the 3rd board (in the center) is to always be kept at a 90 degree angle to ground level.

Begin by pushing THE BOTTOM of board #1 (closest to you) to the left of the center board, then push the bottom of board #2 to the right of center board. 

Next, reach behind the center board and push board #4 out to the right a bit farther than board #2. Then push board #5 out to the left a bit past board #1. 

(See pictures for more help.)  

The side of the Arbor will begin to resemble a fan... YAY! ;-D

Now it's time to fine-tune the side boards and fan them out to achieve the 4' 4" canopy depth pictured.

(I'll be primarily using linear measurements ... however, there will be a couple of unavoidable angle-references.)

From the BASE, measure straight up the middle board to 78" (6' 6") and pencil an X there.

Then space/fan out boards #1 and #2 12" away from the center board at the 78" pencil mark, horizontally to ground level

Next, space/fan boards #4 and #5 out 12" past boards #1 and #2, also horizontally.

Now tighten the Axis Bolt and use the pre-cut molding to secure the Fan angles:

On the CENTER Board, measure up 32" up from the axis.  Slide the pre cut 17" piece of molding between boards 1 and 2, resting against the Center board.  Use the drill and sheetrock screws to attach the support molding. Then flip the entire Fan/Side over and screw the support molding to boards 1 and 2. 

There will be about 1/2" of overhanging wood on each side of  board 1 and 2. Trim it off.

Repeat the instructions above with the pre-cut 31" piece of molding, sliding up between boards 4 and 5, resting against the Center board. Screw it on then flip the fan over again and screw the support molding to boards 4 and 5.

Again, there will be about 1/2" of overhang that should be trimmed off.

You've made ONE SIDE of your Arbor. To make the opposite site, simply stagger boards #1, #2, #4 & #5 in the OPPOSITE direction. For example: Board #1 and board # 4 will be pushed RIGHT of center instead of left. Boards #2 and #5 will be pushed left instead of right.

This will make it so easy to measure the Arbor roof properly.

Step 7: Leveling

To level the bottom sides of the Arbor, measure 22" down the center board from the axis to the ground. Draw a horizontal line and saw off the excess board. 

To level the top sides of the Arbor, measure  56" UP the center board from the axis. Draw another horizontal line and saw off the excess.  

Step 8: The Arbor Rooftop

You still have 10 pieces of 2" x 2" x 8' lumber left to make a proper roof for your Arbor.

The roof is designed with the ability to peak, but you must attach the roof in the FLAT (horizontal) position first, in order to adjust/attach the extending boards on a parallel line.

Cut each of the 8 foot boards down to 56". Attach them in pairs with a 12" overlay in the center using the 3 1/2' Stove Bolts. The combined overall length of each roof beam will be 88", with the option of the peak you see pictured.

Using the center boards as a guide, measure the distance and determine the center point of the arbor. Attach the first roof beam accordingly. A little math (addition and subtraction) will help to determine the drilling measurements when attaching the rest ceiling beams to the staggered side boards.

And before we both forget, take another look at Step 2!

Now have fun decorating your new Wedding Arbor!!! 

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    7 Discussions


    3 months ago

    I'm a novice woodworker but need a portable arbor to use in our community garden. I think this one would be easy to remove at the end of the season each year and could stabilize by attaching it to t-posts or inserting into grounded pvc pipe and attaching with screws. Not as beautiful as your more temporary plans, but based on your expertise, do you think this would work?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I woulds love to have this sitting in my back yard! How about loading it up and coming for a visit! I will make your favorite meal! Not nachos I promice.