Making Shingles/Shakes

If you think you can survive long term, then give shingle (shake) making a shot. They are really fun to make and anyone can become good at it. This is what you will need:

  • The know how
  • Fro
  • Mallet
  • Saw, ax, and/or chainsaw (whichever you want to use)
  • Logs
  • Shaving horse
  • Draw knife

This is a great project for people new to ancient ways of wood working. The Fro (I made my own) is the main working tool that helps you split the wood. It’s built so that it can be pounded into the wood and the handle can be pushed or pulled to split the wood down the grain. This is easier than sawing but also makes a stronger shingle.

The ideal mallet is made from wood. A pine mallet works well but I like an oak mallet it’s heavier and takes less effort to swing. Having a few on hand is a good idea because depending on the situation one might be better than another.

A saw of some sort will be needed to cut the logs to length. This can be done with a hand saw or chain saw. Each log should be the same length and cut square. If it’s not cut square, you may have trouble with the log rocking as you work.

The logs should be made of hardwood or cedar. I have access to oak, so that’s what I choose to use. The diameter of the log should be about twenty inches but can be whatever you have access to. Having uniform shakes make building a roof easier, works better, and looks better.

A shaving horse is a necessity for the do it yourselfer. I would not want to wood work without one. It’s your third arm when you just can’t do it with two. This is a great project to make or you can find one used at an antique shop.

A draw knife is used to shave off high spots on the shakes. It’s generally pulled against a piece of wood to shave off a small amount of wood. It smooths the wood and gets it to size. These can be bought new but can also be found in antique shops for a few dollars. New ones are fairly expensive.

  1. Debark your wood with the fro making sure to remove the outer rings which rot quickly
  2. Split your wood as the video shows (like cutting a cake)
  3. These pieces can be left as is or they will work better if you use a shaving horse and draw knife to smooth them out.

That’s about it, and the more you make the better you will get. Consider making your own wood working tools it’s a lot of fun but you can also buy them used with some history attached.