Make Your Own Cedar Shingles

Making your own cedar shingles is not as hard as it might sound. The most difficult part of the project is finding the right wood and finding the right tools.

You Will Need These Items

  • Chain saw
  • Cross-cut saw
  • 2 to 3 wedges
  • Small sledge hammer
  • Axe
  • Fore
  • Wooden mallet

Step 1 - Find the Right  Wood

One of the most important considerations when making your own shingles is to find the right material. Shingles are cut from trunks of cedar, but it is important to find the right tree trunk. A tree that looks straight from the outside might reveal itself be crooked when it is opened up. You can test various tree trunks by sawing off a chunk of each tree and choosing the straightest one. You might  want to limit your search to trees that have already fallen down, which would save you a lot of time and energy. It is often a good idea to go to areas that have just been logged. You can ask whether you can help clean up the mess that has been left. Usually, you will be permitted to pick up any wood that is lying around. You can also try to get  a permit to cut wood in a national forest. This would provide you with all the bolts you might need.

Step 2 - Cut the Timber

After you have chosen the timber that you would like to use, cut off a 24 to 36 inch-length of it. Stand it on its end. With a wedge and hammer, tap a straight line across the diameter. Now, split the chunk in half. Split off a fairly narrow  triangular section from one of the halves. Remove the center of the section. The piece that remains should match the width that you want for your shingles. If the wood is not suitable, find another log. But, if your are lucky, you will be using a log with a straight grain, and it will split into smooth shingles that are a 1/4 to 5/8-inch thick.

Step 3 - Split Shingles from the Bolt

Now it is time to split off your shingles. You will need a fore. a metal wedge that is 8 to 12 inches long with an “eye” in one end that is used as a handle. You will also need a wooden mallet. The mallet should be made of hardwood, with an knot for strength. You might be able to find a fore in a secondhand store. Older farmers also tend to have these lying around. Unfortunately, these tools are fairly outmoded so they might be somewhat difficult to get at regular hardware stores. You can also make a fore out of a leaf-type automobile spring. First, cut the metal and heat it. Now curl 1 end of the the spring in a circle 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Finish off your new tool by sharpening its edge.