Place a framing square on the up hill side of the roof with the body level and the tongue facing up. Place a carpenters level in the plumb position against the roof and the tongue of the square. Keeping the level tight to the roof surface, the tongue of the framing square, and the body of the square tight to the roof move the square and level around until the level reads plumb. Make a pencil mark where the heel of the framing square meets the level and measure this distance. On a ladder and under the soffit make a level mark from the soffit towards the center of the gable. Align a speed square along this plumb mark and read the pitch along the common rafter scale. To help mark your rafters like mtndon is explaining you can pull a string from your high wall top plate to your low wall top plate (following the same plane as the bottom edge of the rafter in his picture)From that string you can measure up to the top of the plate and transfer those measurements to your rafter. Yes, the idea is to build the walls and roof to have the weight act in a downward vertical manner. I don't think bevelling the upper top plate will affect the forces placed on the walls or cause them to bow outwards.
I would agree that at a steeper angle there could be an increased risk of heavy loading on the roof causing problems with downward loading on the walls, plus as the angle increased there may be a danger from high winds pushing against the roof and causing trouble as well. Quoting: bldginsp Not a good idea to use an engineered design out of the context of its original engineering, unless you know exactly what you are doing. I agree- the only advantage to a low pitch is ease of construction and less building materials, but in all other respects it causes problems. You can look at the construction process used by this websites moderator which is listed by headers on the left of the main page for how to build the roof. You'd have to do that with a table saw, but this would require the least amount of calculating and cutting in the long run since all the studs would be cut at a regular 90 degree angle, and you could then just lay the rafters on top of the beveled upper top plate before fastening them down with hurricane ties.


If the top plates are slanted there is a sideways moment that is being promoted and only restrained by the mechanical fasteners. The rafter being nailed to the opposing walls (plus hurricane straps) will tie it all together sufficiently and be more than strong enough. I also think that in a remote build situation trying to bevel a 2x4 along its width would be harder than a birds mouth to accomplish, but maybe it's 50-50. And, with a gable, you can have a loft, which though small, may be large enough to sleep someone or give you storage. We simply doubled or tripled up some cripple studs in the outside walls and set the beam on them.
Moderate to steep gable would stand a chance of shedding the snow load rather than providing a place for snow to accumulate.
You cut two bird's mouths in the rafter, one for the upper end and one for the lower end. You also wouldn't need to cut any birds mouths in every rafter, just lay them on top of the walls and toenail nail them down. It is very easy to cut all the birds mouths in the rafters all at once by ganging them together and cross cutting notches with a circ saw. But if someone out in the middle of nowhere tried a beveled top plate on a steeper pitch and didn't know what they were doing, they could make some serious problems for themselves. Problem is if you do heat it in winter there is a very good chance that will cause melting and then icing. Ice dams can be a problem if you do have snow melting occur from either heat escaping through the roof, or you have a very warm patch of weather in between two cold periods. Since a beveled top plate is not level, in extreme circumstances downward force on the plate from the roof will force the wall outward. If the weight of the snow stays on for a long time, even if the rafters are rated for it, they gradually suffer from the weight and can sag.


This made us feel more comfortable with the potential snow load and the cost was minimal for the piece of mind given. Use H1 hurricane ties on each to make it easier to do and stronger.Build the two walls and set them plumb.
Best to keep all forces going straight down to keep all your forces geometry simple and plumb. If Josh8880 is out in the middle of nowhere or doesn't have a lot of building experience, the least amount of calculating, measuring and cutting possible is probably his best and easiest choice.
There are good reasons to stick with the program with conventional framing, it is the culmination of over a century of trial and error, and wisdom from others much smarter than me and the few of us. But ice dam issues are more likely with any roofing on low pitch, so more and better underlayment is wise. After you sheath the roof put 4 inch strips of peel and stick membrane about 16 inches apart across the roof (like vertical stripes running from the high side down to the low side). Mark the locations of the peel and stick pieces on the eave boards and then cover the entire roof with a layer of heavy building paper. If the sun shines and then the snow forms a frozen crust it won't even blow off in a good wind. As I suggested before, peel and stick underlayment over the whole roof may protect the roof plywood from occasional water climbing under the roofing.
I actually did a trigonometry refresher and then did the math old school on paper with a pencil.



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