Step 3--Topping It Off
We inserted a 6 x 6 pressure-treated post into each bracket on top of the column and secured it with heavy-duty screws. After measuring to make sure that everything was plumb and square, we attached a pair of 8-foot-long 2 x 8 rafters. Next, we spaced seven 2 x 2 crosspieces atop the rafters and attached them with galvanized screws.
Step 4--Details, Details
Ninety-eight percent of the time spent on a project such as this is grunt work--digging, hauling, nailing, and mortaring. But it's that final 2%--the details--that make the difference. We fitted wooden trim around the boxes of the U-brackets to hide them and used a chamfer bit to bevel the edges of the posts and a jigsaw to notch the ends of the rafters. We hid the galvanized screws used to attach the rafters to the posts by countersinking them and then gluing pieces of dowel over them. Finally, we topped the posts with decorative copper caps.
The Final Tally
How much did the arbor cost? The stone columns (labor plus materials) ran about $700. The other materials cost less than $100. I admit that my colleagues did a lot of the work. But, hey, I painted the arbor myself!
This article is from the February 2005 issue of Southern Living.