Roofs, retrospective, 1, Oct.25, 2015

Every so often, I wander past some “old” project of mine from days of yore when I was a carpenter and not a teacher of carpentry.

These days, with a camera in the cell phone and a place to share some photos (this blog), it is easy to see how I can show these projects as something an aspiring carpentry student can look forward to.

In this case, I was wandering around the village near where I live and spotted a couple of contracts I was quite proud of when I worked on them.

The roof I will show is a retrospective in the sense that it was worked on a few years ago (about 15 or so), and also in the sense that is an old-fashioned technique of roof covering.  Although the style is making a comeback on more high-end projects, it is not something that you will work on everyday.

A little history: the area where I live was settled by Irish and English immigrants after 1820. As you can imagine, there was not a lot of available roofing materials for the original settlers. In fact, most new buildings at the time were covered with cedar shingles. This was done for 2 reasons: firstly because there was a lot of Eastern White Cedar trees growing in south western Quebec, and secondly because cedar shingles are fairly easy to make, transport and install.

The only downside is that cedar shingles do not last very long in a humid, wet climate like ours, so there was lots of repair and replacement necessary (I have seen a cedar shingle roof on a local restoration that was only waterproof for 5 years before it was being repaired and was completely replaced within 10 years – with asphalt shingles.)

As soon as finances and material availability allowed, these original roofs were being replaced with metal. There was no sheet material of any great length or size, so a strategy was developed to bend and fold smaller pieces into a waterproof whole. The technique was called “standing-lock” seam. Without a lot of tools, a carpenter or tinsmith could create a roof that was attractive, watertight and long lasting.

OK, enough of the rambling history lesson. In this post I will show you a few photos of two standing-lock roofs I installed. In the next post I will show you some tools and procedures the old carpenters used to do this work.

Photo 1 is of a little entryway:


A close up:

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 7.38.38 PM

In these two shots you can see the original roof and the entryway roof in the same view and the fact that they are in similar styles. I had been hired to try and imitate the main roof so that the entrance blended in to the whole.

The project was so successful that the client also hired me to do the shed roof on a back addition:


Again, the idea was to imitate the original style.

As an aside, I also created the eavestroughs on both little buildings from black steel flat stock.

Next post I will show you the tools and attempt to describe the process. Lots of work, but satisfying – even after 15 years!


About jhcarpentry

I am a teacher in the Construction Carpentry Program at the Chateauguay Valley Career Education Centre (CVCEC) for the New Frontiers School board. This blog is a way for me to connect with my students.
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