How to build a cupola

In the past, cupolas were used for ventilating grain stores and attic spaces. Now, with the development of ventilation systems, cupolas have only a decorative purpose.

Tools and materials

  • hardwood
  • marine plywood
  • mites saw
  • nails
  • hammer
  • wood stain


The best and easiest way to build a cupola is to make a cube-shaped frame with slats fitted at angles.


For the vents, you will need to take four cedar posts. These will represent the edges of the cupola. On one corner you will need to cut slots at predefined length apart from one another, and at 45 degrees. So the slots need to have eight slots that intersect to make four upside down V shapes. Insert the slats into the slots. If the angle is correct, use nails to secure them.


Now cut four scalene triangles using a square. These will go back to back to form the rafters. Then make a tongue and groove roof for this part. It doesn’t need to be perfect as the details won’t be visible from the ground.

Securing the triangle slopes

Making the triangle slopes at the exact angle of the pitch is the secret to fixing the cupola to the roof. To do this, lay two batons of wood on either side of the roof ridge, and nail them at the meeting point on the top. Using the batons as a guide, cut a pair of base pieces for the cupola to stand on.

Fixing the cupola

After you have attached all the component parts of the cupola together, stain the wood. Then attach the cupola to the roof ridge using screws. Use silicone sealant to ensure that the cupola and the roof are waterproof.

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