Vermont Timber Works Blog

Scissor Truss Designs

By Sandy Connolly on November 03, 2013

Scissor trusses are a great design! They are unique and add height to a space. A lot of people like their aesthetic appeal.

However, designing a scissor truss goes beyond the aesthetics, we also have to consider the structural engineering. This means the size of the beams based on the woods species, the span, roof pitch, and the job site location.

Scissor Truss Design with Purlins

Scissor Truss Design with Purlins

Many times, as the design process evolves, we provide isometric drawings for the client to review. These drawings show the overall truss design and also show proportion and spacing.  Joinery can be detailed in the isometric drawing as well. The drawings often provide answers to client questions.

Scissor Truss

Scissor Truss

The scissor truss above was designed to be traditionally assembled with pegs that are cut flush. The decorative finials are an elegant touch to the design.

Sometimes, a scissor truss made of timber needs to be reinforced with steel. If that’s the case, and the client doesn’t like the look of steel, we can often hide the steel inside the timber. That way the aesthetics don’t get compromised and the building doesn’t fall down!

Scissor Truss Concept Iso

Scissor Truss Concept Isometric

If you do like steel, another cool idea for scissor trusses are steel bottom chords, which are shown in the isometric drawing above. Their appearance is lighter than timber, so opting for steel chords can make a space feel more open.

Do you agree? It’s good to have options for consideration.  Then you know the choice you make is suited best for you and your project.

Fort Harrison Pavilion

Fort Harrison Pavilion

Above, is a rustic open pavilion frame that has scissor trusses reinforced with steel joinery plates (for people who do like the look of steel).

Below, is a scissor truss engineered for a great room.  The steel plate isn’t needed; it’s only added as a design detail.  

Scissor Truss in Red Oak

Scissor Truss in Red Oak

Thank you for stopping by our Timber Framers’ Blog!

If you like the truss designs above, or have a timber frame question, we encourage you to get in contact, ask an expert, or share your thoughts in the comment section below!

  1. Doug Friant says:

    Excellent job Sandy! I like all the detailed information about scissor truss design.

  2. Emery says:

    The pavilion is wonderful, like the rustic beams and steel.

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Agree, the Fort Harrison pavilion gets quite the attention and is referred to often. We’ve built many versions based on this initial idea!

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