There has been lots of challenges making the shakes for the pooper. One of them is the froe mallet. We have not been able to find a piece of hardwood that is appropriate and the mallet that we got is rubberized and starting to break.
Never used that one, but never had a bad thing from Lee Valley.
Best one I have made was from Osage Orange from the firewood pile. A full round branch (3-4 inch diameter) with a handle whittled down. Second best was locust.
You could go get a baseball bat from Goodwill to get through.
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Shag Bark Hickory is Canada's densest wood. It grows in wet areas near Kingston. They don't get very big and are considered firewood. I cleared hundreds for that purpose in 1984. Average diameter was about 7 inches, a nice safe size for a 20 year old swinging his first saw and a good size for craftsmen to muck with. Anyone in the firewood business should be aware of local supplies of this wood. If you ever get into making your own handles, spoons etc. it's a good choice.
When my husband split shakes for our cabin he used hickory/persimmon/whatever hardwood was available on our land for the froe mallet (he calls it a maul). He just made another when they wore out...out of a quarter split log...it is a tool that doesnt last long if you are splitting a lot of shakes...I imagine R Scotts bodark or locust would be much longer lasting.
the shingles were red oak...beautiful roof until it burned one year.
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According to Caleb Larson from Rugged Traditions in Missoula, it is best to only use the lower portion of the tree because it has the least knots. He also recommended selecting the straightest grained wood and quartering it before making the shakes.
A split will generally get thinner as it progresses along the wood. If many splits were started from the same end, that end of the block becomes thinner. The block would run out of thickness at that end, producing a wedge of wasted material roughly the shape of a door stop.
There are some good YouTube videos that concern the making of hazel hurdles in England. The guy uses a bill hook knife to split hazel coppice and he demonstrates how to manipulate the wood to keep the split running true.
Don't use exceptionally green wood. As the shakes dry, they shrink away from the nails and can split themselves.
If splitting somewhat green wood, dry them in the shade so they don't cup too badly. Turn them over once a day. In a dry climate, a couple days dry time might do it .
Cupped shakes look better and catch less wind when the cup faces down.
Do you know about dulling nails if they tend to split as they are nailed ?
Often the sapwood is less durable. With most wood, the inner wood is darker. Trim off sapwood if there is no shortage of material.
Icicles and any build up of debris affects the bottom coarse the most. Use your highest grade material for the bottom few rows.
If inexperienced installers are employed, be sure that they don't kneel on shakes and split them. Also be sure that they use a variety of widths of shakes from the beginning. Some guys will tend to select only nice wide ones. This results in having to piece together the upper rows with too many narrow shakes.
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