Kevin McCloud’s Shed, Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home, Shingle notes for the self builder

one man and his shed - battening and shingles
shingle battens screwed to 18mm ply

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.

one man and his shed - shingling
patterning of shingle laying

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.

one man and his shed - oak shingles
oak shingles

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.

Kevin McCloud’s Manmade Home - shingle cutting
Each shingle is a bespoke job

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.

Where to buy tools:
http://www.ashleyiles.co.uk
Bristol design – 0117 929 1740
http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk
http://www.oldtoolstore.com
http://www.woodsmithstore.co.uk/shop/About/

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5 thoughts on “Kevin McCloud’s Shed, Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home, Shingle notes for the self builder

  1. Hi guys any news on planning re all this ? The net is on fire with the planning issues re Kevin’s shed build !
    So that’s what we all want to know how’s he getting away with this ?
    We hear what he said re movable but it’s not that simple is it so tell all or is there going to be planning war later on the show ?

  2. Sorry to focus on a negative point when there’s lots of good things to be said about the build, but….

    For years I’ve seen leading ‘greens’ using “Tyvek breathable membrane”.
    It hurts me that this subsidiary of DuPont keep being used/funded by well intended greenies, and frequently promoted at same time.
    There’s plenty of similar products made by less evil companies; why not use them instead, if such product can’t be avoided?

    For reference: DuPont scored as among top 10 worst environmental polluting companies in US for 10 years in a row on the annual list published by Mother Jones Magazine…

    1. Great post thanks PermaMax.
      I’m sure readers would be interested if you wanted to post your prefered eco breathable membrane products.
      Cheers Adrian

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