The first picture here shows shingle battens screwed to 18mm ply covered with Tyvek breathable membrane. The second picture is us shingling the roof. You can see the patterning of shingle laying which is stepped in from the corners at an angle.
This roof is laid at 25°, which is very shallow for a shingle roof and not usually recommended. It was important for Kevin in this instance to keep the building profile low. However shingles will not last as long at this angle and there is more chance of blow off and water ingress. A more suitable angle is around 45°.
Kevin’s shed used 3308 shingles, which were overlapped 3 deep. Once you become experienced you should expect to be able to make about 100-120 high quality hand split shingles a day, depending on the quality of the tree. This is very relaxing and satisfying work. Part of the skill in making shingles is choosing your tree and reading the tree shape to anticipate the quality of wood inside. If you are making un-dressed machine split shakes (not drawknifed to a taper) you might make double that quantity per day. The majority of the shed shingles we hand made back at our yard which took 20/person days.
If you are buying shingles in for a project there are a few options. Hand made oak shingles are the most expensive. They are thick, long, smooth, straight-sided and tapered from the bottom to the top. Machine split oak shingles are a bit cheaper, often smaller (so you need more per square metre) and fitting them will take longer. They are also rougher, thinner and will not last quite as long. Sawn cedar shingles are cheaper still but they only last max 30yrs, compared to max 100yrs for oak, so you’ll replace them more often.
We experimented with making hand split cedar shingles. Our experience is that you’ll produce a lot of waste and low quality shingles using UK grown cedar. The timber is cheaper than oak but the amount of work involved is similar and the final product not as durable. However, if you are on a limited budget and you have cheap or free access to cedar it may be worth considering.
We have attached our shingles with ring shanked stainless steel nails to douglas fir battens. Making and laying shingles is a skill and if you plan to do it yourself you’ll save time by studying it first. Laying shingles up to a contoured edge as I have done here against the swept oak is quite a joy. Each shingle is a bespoke job and here’s how we do it. First, hold the shingle in position and scribe the cut line with a pencil. I then do one of two things, depending on whether the shape follows the grain or crosses it. If following the grain I’ll cut the shape with a carving axe. If there is only a slither to remove I’ll use the drawknife. If the shape runs cross grain, I’ll cut the bulk off with a saw and then drawknife the final profile. It can also be done with a fet saw.
To make shingles you’ll need a froe, heavy wooden mallet, side axe, drawknife and a shave horse. Cutting the tree trunk into disks requires a powerful chainsaw. I use a Stihl 066 and a 3ft bar.