What Are Some Alternatives To Birdsmouth Cut In Rafter Framing?

What is a Birdsmouth Cut?

Focused on the construction of roofs, rafter framing is an integral part of the roofing. The term “birdsmouth” refers to a type of cut that is made in the rafters at their connection point with the wall plate or ridge board. This allows for ventilation and reduces moisture buildup within the attic space. A birdsmouth cut can also refer to a small notch near a window frame where it meets a vertical wall surface such as brick or stucco. In this case, it provides insulation from heat loss and noise transfer from outside traffic.

A birdsmouth cut, also known as a throat notch or collar tie, is an opening in the bottom of a rafter that fits over the upper edge of another rafter. This creates a joint that locks together two pieces to form one continuous beam and prevents movement. The name comes from its appearance: it resembles the shape of a bird’s beak with an open mouth. Birdsmouth cuts are typically made at each end of the span between two adjacent support posts for long spans such as those found in barns and warehouses.

As it is, the so-called birdsmouth cut is a common alternative to cutting rafters. It is often less expensive and faster than setting out and cutting individual rafters. Even though popular and easy, there are alternative cuts that will simplify the framing of gable roofs.

One of these alternative cuts involves using a circular saw or an electric miter saw to cut each rafter from the plate up to the birdsmouth then ripping them apart at the birdsmouth. The advantage of this alternative is time saved because not one but two cuts per rafter need to be made only at the top plates instead of at both ends.

Alternative To Birdsmouth Cut In Rafter Framing

Alternative to birdsmouth cut in rafter framing: A lot of people don’t know what this is, but it’s a great alternative for those who want more coverage on the roof. These are some alternatives to using birdsmouth cuts when framing your home with wood.  

1. The Simpson VPA is a piece of hardware that helps to install rafters without birdsmouths. It’s used on the top plate of the wall before installing the rafter. It eliminates the need for a birdsmouth. When you use engineered joists like TJI’s or BCI’s, you can use this piece of hardware to attach them to the wall.

2. Gable Roofs: This type of roof has two sloping sides that meet at one point called the gable peak. It can be used as an alternative if you want something different than just a flat or hipped roof.  

3. Hip Roofs: One hip covers three walls and creates a triangular shape which means that there will always be either side without any overhang which might not work well for everyone looking for an alternative to a birdsmouth cut.

4. Gambrel Roof: This roof has two different slopes and it’s commonly used on barns and sheds.

5. Hurricane clips can be used to help a roof. They can be used instead of birdsmouth or with them.

6. Use wedges instead of birdsmouth cuts because sometimes the roof is not very steep.

7. There are premade galvanized metal rafter tie pieces from Simpson’s. These make a strong connection to the joints.

8. To avoid this the rafter sole has to sit on both sides of the wall. The rafter sole sits on the outer wall plate and overshoots the inner plate. Trusses are constructed in a way that it’s possible for them to have a rafter sole that is not connected to anything so it can go all around a space.

9. Use a scissor jack to lift the rafter

10. Place 2x4s at the base of the rafter and use them as support for your saw

11. Use a nail gun to secure the cut pieces in place

12. Cut an L-shaped notch into one side of each piece that needs to be removed, then remove it with a pry bar

13. Install blocking between joists before cutting through them so they don’t sag or break after being cut 

14. Make sure you have enough room on either side of the opening where you are cutting out part of a beam before starting a project.


There are a number of different ways you can accomplish the same goal. But it’s important to know what your client wants and their budget before making any decisions about how best to get them there. In this article, we’ve explored some alternative methods for framing roofs that may be more cost-effective or easier on certain types of property than birdsmouth cut rafter framing. It is up to you as the contractor, builder, designer, or architect to decide which method will work best in each situation based on what’s needed by the client and within budgetary constraints. When deciding on an option for roofing projects, consider all these potential alternatives so that everyone involved gets exactly what they want from their project!

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