DIY 10×10 (3m x3m) free standing pergola  by Les Kenny

solid 10 x 10 pergola

Note: This project DOES NOT contain any plan drawings. Plan drawings are only in the PREMIUM PLANS at version. To find out why click here.


This 10×10 (3m x3m) solid pergola is a great looker. The beams and rafters are 2×6 (150mm x50mm) dressed treated wood and the posts and braces are 4×4 (100mm x100mm).

It is a very solid free standing structure* which means you don’t need any footings and it can be moved around (if you are tough enough and have a few tough mates).

The notches in the rafters fit into the notches in the top beams so they pretty much self align, and likewise with the top battens. Simply cut the notches according to the plans.

* It’s a very solid free standing structure, in the sense that it can be placed on a flat surface without the need of footings. That is because the braces and the bolt placement hold the whole structure rigid. However, if the ground is uneven the post lengths will have to be made to suit or the ground made even where the posts sit. Likewise, if an in ground footing is preferred then the posts will need to be longer with the additional length being subject to the depth of the footing hole.

Understanding the measurements

All the measurements throughout this documentation are given in both USA standard (inches) and metric (millimetres).

The standard inch measurements are given first followed by the metric equivalent in brackets ().

FOR EXAMPLE: 2×4 (100mm x 50mm) means a piece of wood 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide, and the metric equivalent – 100 millimetres wide by 50 millimetres thick.

AND: 13-1/8″ (335mm) means wood that is 13 and 1/8 inches long, with the metric equivalent being 335 millimetres long.

So the inches are given first followed by the metric equivalent in brackets.

About the wood sizes

The sizes of the wood (width and thickness) given in this documentation is the nominal size. That is the size of the wood before it has been dressed, planed, or dimensioned.

Therefore, the real (actual) size of the wood will be less.

FOR EXAMPLE: 4×4 (100mm x100mm) wood, nominal size, may really be 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 (90mm x 90mm) which is the actual size. That will also vary in different countries.

That’s just the way it is.

Materials you will need

WOOD. treated pine or other suitable exterior wood.

4×4 (100mm x100mm)   4 @ 8ft (2400mm)
2×4 (100mm x50mm)   17 @ 10ft (3000mm)
2×2 (50mm x50mm)   12 @ 10ft (3000mm)


2-1/4 lb (1 kg) of 3-1//2″ (90mm) Flat head galvanized nails.
24 only 1/2″ (12mm) galvanized bolts 9″ (220mm) long with nuts and washers.

Cutting detail

Note: The list in the ‘Materials you will need’ above, lists standard lengths (or increments of) that can be purchased at some yards.
The list below is the exact lengths you will need to cut from that listed above.

4×4 (100mm x100mm) posts – 4 @ 89-3/4″ (2280mm)
2×4 (100mm x50mm) rafters/beams – 8 @ 118″ (3000mm) and 7 @ 110-1/4″ (2800mm). Measure 1-3/4″ (45mm) down the ends of each piece and angle in 45 degrees.
4×4 (100mm x100mm) braces – 4 @ 30″ (760mm), 4 @ 22-1/2″ (570mm), angle the ends in 45 degrees.
2×2 (50mm x50mm) battens – 12 @ 110-1/4″ (2800mm)


Cut the pieces

Cut all the pieces according to the Cutting detail.

Then follow the step-by-step pictures and instructions that follow

The notches

The 4 top beams and the 7 rafters will need to have a series of notches cut in them. This is not only for appearances but they also help keep the structure in alignment.
The best way to do this is to lay the 4 top beams together and hold them in place with clamps. Do the same with the 7 rafters.
Then by following the plans below, mark the cut-out (notch) area across the beams/rafters.
The plan drawings below give the measurement to the first notch. That will be the same at both ends. All the intermediate notches will be spread evenly apart.

Set the blade on a circular saw to the required depth and make multiple cuts along the cut-out (notch area).
Then simply clean out with a chisel as shown in the picture below.

building a pergola - the rafter notches

The notches – A couple of pictures

building a pergola - the rafter notches

building a pergola - the beam notches

Let’s start assembling

Fix a brace to each post as shown in the picture below.

building a pergola - post and brace photo

Fix the posts and braces to the lower beams as shown on the plan drawing and picture below.

building a pergola - post and brace on a beam

Add the second lower beam to the opposite side of the posts as shown in the picture below. Use 3-1/2″ (90mm) galvanized nails but be careful not to put any where the bolts are to go.

building a pergola - second beam on post and brace

Stand the two sides up. Clamp a length of wood to the bottom on each post to keep the balance as shown in the picture below.

building a pergola - post and beam stood up

Add the upper beams as shown on the plan drawing and picture below.

building a pergola - the front upper beam fixed in place

building a pergola - top beam added

Add the remaining braces and drill and bolt the beams to the post, two bolts at each join and one bolt through the beams at the top of each brace.

building a pergola - bracing added

Add the rafters and the top battens. The rafters will fit into the notches in the beams and the battens will fit into the notches on top of the rafters.

building a pergola - top battens added

Nail the top battens in place with 3-1/2″ (90mm) flat head galvanized nails. All done!

building a pergola - top battens nailed in place

Have a great day!

Note: You can purchase this DIY article in downloadable file including plan drawings with dimensions for a small cost from the Premium Plans at section.