Make any climbing plant happy with this 6-ft. tall, freestanding
trellis.We used dadoes,glue and screws to fasten the
slats because trellises take a beating each year when you tear
off the old vines.We built our trellis from cypress,one of
the longest-lasting outdoor woods.Ours was recycled
from old water tanks and cost about $175 (see Sources, below). White oak, at $60, would also be a good
Marking the legs for the dadoes can be confusing, but
if you follow our marking procedures (Photos 1 through
4), you can’t mess up. Even with our easy-to make
jigs, routing 68 dadoes is noisy,dusty and tedious
(Fig.B and Photo 5).But once they’re done, the dadoes
make assembly foolproof.There’s only one angle to
remember: Everything slopes 6 degrees.
You’ll need an angled template,made with the
miter gauge on your tablesaw, to make the
dadoing jigs. You’ll also need a router with a
straight bit to cut the dadoes, and a drill with
a slotted tip for all the screws.We used a jointer
and planer to mill our parts to thickness, but they
could also be ripped to size on a tablesaw.The slats are thin, so
be sure to use a push stick.
How to build it
1.Mill the legs (A) to thickness and cut them to length.
2. Mark the leg dadoes (Photos 1 through 4).The sides of the
trellis are tapered, so the dadoes are angled.
3. Cut an 84-degree angled template, about 10-in. long and
at least 4-in.wide.Use it to set the fence angle on the dadoing
jigs (Fig. B).
4. Dado the legs (Photo 5). One jig will slope the right
direction for the 3/16-in. deep dadoes on one side of each
leg.The mirror-image jig will be correct for the other side.
5. Mill slat material to thickness and rip it into lengths,
slightly oversize in width.Then plane (or rip) the slats to
fit the leg dadoes.
6. Cut the bottom and top slats (B through E) for all four
sides to length, with a 6-degree bevel on both ends.
You can cut the slats to length in pairs because opposite
sides of the trellis are the same.
7. Frame the front and back faces of the trellis (Photo
6). Align the beveled ends of the slats with the edges of
the legs and drill pilot holes. Then drill out the holes
in the slats so the screws slip through. Apply glue
8. Cut the internal slats (F) to fit, and fasten them,
following the procedures in Steps 6 and 7.
9. Stand the assembled front and back faces
back-to-back in an “A,” and assemble the
sides, following Steps 7 and 8.
10. With a handsaw, square off the legs at
the top of the trellis.
11. Bandsaw the spire (Part G, Fig. C). Lay
out the pattern on two adjacent faces of a
glued-up blank.Make the blank a foot long
to keep your fingers a safe distance from the
blade. After cutting the first two sides of
the pyramid,tape the offcuts back onto the
blank.Rotate the blank 90 degrees and cut
the other two sides of the pyramid.Cut the
second set of tapers the same way. After
sanding,cut the spire from the blank.
12. Glue and screw retaining blocks (H)
to the bottom of the spire, then soak it in
13. Screw the optional anchor spikes (Fig.
A, Detail 1) onto the legs.
(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)
Duluth Timber Company, duluthtimber.com, 218-727-2145,
Recycled cypress, water tank
stock; $11 per bd. ft.
- 35 lin. ft. (five 7-ft. lengths) of 1-1/2
x 1-1/2 stock
- 8 bd. ft. of 4/4 stock
- 68 #10 x 1-1/4-in. RH brass screws
(for the slats)
- 4 #8 x 1-3/4-in. FH stainless steel
screws (for the spire)
- 16 #10 x 1-in. FH stainless steel
screws (for the optional aluminum
- Weatherproof glue
- 8 lin. ft. of 1-in. aluminum L-angle
Fig. A: Exploded View
Detail 1: Optional Anchor Spikes
Fig. B: Jigs for Routing Angles Dadoes
Fig. C: Tapered Pyramidal Spire
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2002, issue #94.
June 2002, issue #94
Purchase this back issue.
Click any image to view a larger version.
1. Mark the bottoms of the legs.
Bundle the legs together and mark the front
and back faces as one pair and the two side
faces as the other.
2. Mark the first pair of faces.The
dadoes on the front and back faces match,
so they can be marked at the same time.
Arrange the legs with the triangles at the
top.After aligning the ends, draw reference
lines every 8 in. to mark the dadoes.Then go
back and mark the slope,which runs
outward from the center of each pair.
3. Mark the second pair of faces.
Rearrange the legs with the circles at the
top, and align the ends.Then mark the
dadoes, using the same 8-in. spacing.This
time, however, start 4 in. from the bottom.
As you can see from the mark on the right,
these dadoes are offset from the other pair
4. Your bundle should look like this. Check to see that each leg has its two
outside faces marked, that the marks are
staggered, and that the slope of the dadoes
is clearly indicated.
5. Cut angled dadoes in the legs. Slide the leg in,
top end first, making sure
that its slope indicators run
the same direction as the jig.
Align the dado reference line
on the leg with the top inside
shoulder of the jig’s dado,
clamp and rout. Remember:
The reference line always
marks the top of the dado
and the slope indicator
should always be in the
6. Assemble one face at a time. Frame each face by
fastening the top and bottom
slats to a pair of legs.Then
mark, cut and install the