Manually Calculating Standard Truss Heels

Manually Calculating Standard Truss Heels

The ability to manually calculate a truss heel height is a seemingly lost art! Almost as lost as the art of using a scale. Nearly everything today is electronic. However, without knowing how to “do the math” yourself, how do you really know if the computer-generated information is correct?

Manual calculations are an important skill for anyone working within the component manufacturing industry. Although there are electronic methods of calculating and matching heels, it is vital that designers know and understand the process of calculating this significant detail.


Calculating the heel height on a standard truss can be done by using the formula:

Total Heel Height = H+Butt Cutt”

To work out H we need to use the following formula where H = y.

y = z/cosx 

For example:


‘z’ is at 90° to the rafter’s pitch of 3/12 and in this example is the rafter’s section size. The angle ‘x’ is the pitch of 3/12 in degrees which = 14.04°.


y =  3.5/0.970126=3.607

Total Heel Height = 3.607+0.25=3.857

Although it is important to understand this process, many designs are required swiftly and an electronic solution is always of great use. This is where a tool comes in handy. Here is a sample of GDI’s “Matching Heels” tool:


This tool (as pictured) will calculate heel heights based on:

  • Cladding
  • Overhang
  • Wall Width
  • Pitch

The match point as shown becomes the fixed point. When there are multiple pitches, this can become a time-consuming process. This is especially true when there are overall height restrictions and window heights to consider. How many design professionals are now drawing this in some sort of CAD program at present? Are you spending more than 90 seconds doing so? If the answer is yes, then you are costing your company valuable productivity.

As a company, Gould Design, Inc. has seen just about every scenario out there. Our goal is to provide tools for our team members to use, to enhance efficiency. This particular tool has 3 separate features (only one is shown in this blog post). Our team members work in all regions of North America, so it is a worthy investment to develop tools such as this.

Now we turn our sights to you. We would like to make these tools available to your team.

GDI can offer an electronic solution to help cut time and errors which has been tried and tested. What type of tool is it that you seek? What is you could shave 15 minutes of every single job your company designed. How many more could you get done in a week? In a month? In a year?

If there is some task you do constantly, consider purchasing a design tool from GDI to help you and your team increase efficiency. With numerous tools at our disposal, we could save you thousands per year. Contact Christopher today for further information.


Gould Design, Inc.

5 thoughts on “Manually Calculating Standard Truss Heels

  1. Hi. thanks for this very helpful post. I am a civil engineering student and your article is a big help for me to understand the calculation of truss. I always use a truss calculator tool which I got from skyciv but I always wanted to learn how to manually do it on my own.

  2. A very cool tool indeed…so long as the technician/designer understands the contract documents well enough to know where the ‘Match Point’ is located. It could be out at the edge of the drip edge, the top of the crown moulding or someplace else way beyond the truss/rafter overhang or sub-fascia.