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I am making a freestanding 13' x 13' covered patio. the posts in the 4 corners will be 6" x 6" x 8 to 9 feet tall. I am looking for connection ideas on the beams that connect on top of the 6" x 6" posts. I will be using either 6" x 10" or 4" x 10" beams. I know Simpson strong ties has a ECCLQ-SDS bracket that will connect two beams at the top of each post, but I am just looking for other ideas that might be nicer, as strong as, cheaper and different than Simpson Strong tie.

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I would use the strong ties, and if aesthetics are a concern I would cover them with moldings. Let's say each strong tie costs $30, so that's $120 total... is that an expensive insurance policy against a weak post/beam joint? – Matthew Jan 4 '13 at 19:39

If you want to avoid the steel braces and have an attractive, complete wood look that is also strong, there are a few ways. A combination of strongbacks on the outside faces of the posts and cornice braces from the post to under the beams would look great and stabilize the beams.

The strongbacks are short 2X4 pieces, perhaps champhered, top and bottom, that would screw into the post and also the beam on the outside parameter. Two are required for each post. The beams should be cut at 45 degree miter angles or notched to fit together and lay on top of the posts. The cornice braces typically are triangles or 45 degree braces that mount to the sides of the posts and the bottom of the beams. Again, two per post are required. You can then screw some timber ties or long lags down through the beams from the top into the posts.

you can fancy up the cuts on the strongbacks and braces to enhance the style. The combination of beams sitting on top of the posts with side and bottom support is extremely strong.

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maybe one of my grafic/computer guru friends can help me out with a good illustration. – shirlock homes Jan 4 '13 at 21:03

A couple more ideas, maybe they'll inspire even more ideas. You could make a giant mortise and tenon joint. Retain the tenon with a large dowel, or a through bolt or two. You could countersink the bolts and plug the holes with wood to get the dowel look. Old skool barn tech!

If you can't or don't want to cut big chunks of wood out for a mortise and tenon due to structural or aesthetic reasons, you could use a flitch plate to make the joint. It's just a big flat steel plate placed into narrow notches cut into the members. Then it's through bolted to hold everything together. It's often possible for the plate to be completely hidden, and again the bolt heads can be disguised with wood plugs if desired.

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