Shingles Nails and the Preacher

The heavy carpentry is done and the raising crew has gone home. Now comes work that overlaps the trades of the carpenter and the joiner. The wavy line between carpentry and joinery is traditionally defined by the use of planed stock. "Joiners work more curiously, and observe the Rules more exactly than Carpenters need do," says an old manual. But there is plenty of hammer and nail work in this boundary as well. Roofing and siding doesn't require the most advanced skills of carpentry or joinery. Still, it's not the worst work in the world, and, like anything, can be done well or poorly.

At any given point, a shingle roof is three layers deep. Each shingle shows less than one-third of its length to the weather, with the remaining two-thirds covered by the shingles above. With shingles 25 inches long, for example, 8 inches would be exposed to the weather, and the nailers would be spaced at 8-inch intervals.

Shingles swell and shrink as they are alternately soaked and parched by the weather. If you are nailing up freshly split shingles, fit them right up against each other, for they are as fat as they are going to get. Dry, seasoned shingles need to be spaced about a quarter of an inch apart. Any closer and when they get wet and swell, they will push against each other, buckle, and pull loose.

Some rain always gets in, but if the shingles are nailed to narrow one-by-three shingle laths, or "nailers," they can quickly dry with no harm done. One nail in each shingle will do, placed off center where it will be covered by the next course. This results in at least two nails through each shingle, as the nailing for the next course passes through the top ends of the shingles beneath.

With the roof on, the siding boards come next. If you are trimming the ends of plank siding flush to vertical corner boards, you have to get the fit just right. Too tight and they begin to spring out the corner board. Too loose and you have a gap for rain. The U-shaped preacher can help you get it exactly right. Scribe the line on the plank with the preacher pressed against the corner board.

Thin shingles and siding are easily split by the wedge effect of a large nail. Cut nails are square on their points and tend to punch through the wood, rather than wedge it apart as the tapered points of wire nails do. Properly oriented, cut nails are less likely to cause splits than a wire nail of the same size. Cut nails have two parallel sides and two converging sides, so orient them with the converging sides facing the ends of the board. Cut nails prevent splitting by directing the wedge effect perpendicular to the weakness in the wood — the same as when you chop a mortise with a chisel. Even the humble nail knows the strength of the grain.

Nailed to the narrow laths, the shingles are well ventilated underneath.
The U-shaped preacher helps you fit weatherboards tight between the cornerboards.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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