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What is a Scissor Truss?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated: May 17, 2024

A scissor truss is a type of truss in which the lateral beams form a kind of symmetrical shape, like the two shears of a pair of scissors. In general, the term "truss" refers to a structure that holds a roof in place. Residential roof trusses are commonly made of wood with steel accessories, where some truss types are made of steel. Trusses provide the framework for a roof.

The original design of a roof truss was a triangle, allowing for the traditional peaked shape of a roof, with the lower part of the roof truss helping to form a ceiling for an interior space. Today, most trusses are thoroughly engineered using computer tools, including in depth simulations. This means trusses are being built in an increasing variety of shapes.

Some builders are touting the scissor truss as a way to provide a different look for a building. A scissor truss can elevate part of the bottom of a truss structure, as two inside beams rise to meet one another in the middle of the truss. This adds space for a peaked or "vaulted" interior ceiling. Builders who talk about the need for efficient space handling in a building project may see a scissor truss structure as a partial solution. Some engineers also like the properties of the scissor truss for providing structural support for specialized projects, as the two beams forming the scissor shape can rest against one another for a greater potential load limit.

With the ever growing options for designing residential and commercial spaces, the best way to look at what a scissor truss can do for a building is with a neat print out from a computer aided model. Engineers can send these informal blueprints to builders to help provide conceptual design guidance while the project is still being planned. Builders can also evaluate how adding a scissor truss to a specific part of a roof could facilitate custom spaces for a sunroof or other feature on a building. Those who are looking for a little help in understanding what a scissor truss project might look like can take advantage of the wide variety of information on the subject available in print and on the web.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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