Cedar Roof

The wheelhouse is based on a very old design that was in evidence in many parts of Europe in pre-Roman times. The common form of roofing that was used at that time was thatch. Because good thatch is a material difficult to get in New England, I chose to use cedar shingles instead. Since cedar shingles can be easily tapered with knife or bock plane, they are a good choice for a conical roof. They also have a primitive organic look, and indeed, have been in use as roofing for nearly as long as thatch. However, in 1990, when I completed the wheelhouse, getting decent cedar shingles proved to be almost as difficult as trying to find a source for thatch.
              After doing a lot of research, I ended up using a white cedar shingle that was of a lower quality than I would have liked because it was all I could afford, and it was all I could get. The finished roof was beautiful, however, and complimented the design of the building well, but the cedar has aged poorly and now it is time for the shingles to be replaced.

The old shingles need to be replaced

The old shingles need to be replaced

              The roof of the tool shed is in even worse shape because it has been overshadowed by a huge hemlock and does not get as much air or sun.

close up of tool shed roof

close up of tool shed roof

tool shed roof

tool shed roof

              A lot has changed since 1990. One thing that has changed is that the average person can access a global market though the internet. It came as a surprise to me that I could now buy a much higher quality shingle directly from a mill in British Columbia for less money than I spent on the roof in 1990. Even given the outrageous cost of shipping, there was simply no comparison. I could buy a much better product, directly from the manufacturer, skip the middleman, and pay less. That is the good news.
              The bad news is that since 1990 the construction world appears to have become obsessed with  power tools. When I went to buy the nails for the actual shingling, they proved to be hard to find. Several big-box-home centers have moved to town since the 90’s. Some of their sales people seemed to have some difficulty grasping the concept of a nail that is not driven by a pneumatic tool. One salesman, when I explained that I did not have a pneumatic nail gun, or compressor, assured me that was no problem, he could sell me one. When I explained that I had no desire to buy a nail gun and compressor because I already own several hammers, he clearly had difficulty understanding what I was saying. When I further explained that there is road going into the building that I am working on, and that there is no electricity, he went away and had a nervous breakdown.
              Fortunately, there is a small building supply company, not too far away, which has been run by the same family for several generations. I walked in:
              “Hey Mark, any chance you have 5d hot-dip nails?”
              “Sure Ted, 5lb, 25lb, or 50lb box?”
              “No problem. Middle building out back.”
              Of course, they also sell hammers at this place, so clearly they knew about nails.

New shingles, stacked and ready for dry weather

New shingles, stacked and ready for dry weather


              The next step will be to find a window of five or six days when the weather forecast is not for rain…we have not had that since May…but perhaps in September.


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