my Old Workshop

Understanding cantilevers

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe used them famously in buildings they designed. You can, too.

The cantilever principle has numerous uses around your house, from simple storage solutions to dramatic architectural features.

Here’s a primer.

A normal beam is a member that carries the load above it to two supporting points. A cantilever is a member, such as a beam, which is supported at one end or carries its load past one of its supports. Sometimes it’s additionally supported by an angled beam anchored to the main support.

Cantilevers allow one end of the beam to be unsupported — free of structural members — which opens up a whole bunch of possibilities when it comes to designing and building.

Here are a few visual examples to give you a sense of how it works.

Next time, we’ll show you some practical ways to use cantilevers at your house.