• Clever daily tip in your inbox
    Clever daily tip in your inbox
  • Design Inspiration
    Design Inspiration
  • Energy-Smart Details
    Energy-Smart Details
  • Magazine Departments
    Magazine Departments
  • All about Roofing
    All about Roofing
  • Deck Design & Construction
    Deck Design & Construction
  • 9 Concrete Countertop Ideas
    9 Concrete Countertop Ideas
  • Read FHB on Your iPad
    Read FHB on Your iPad
  • Video Series: Tile a Bathroom
    Video Series: Tile a Bathroom
  • Remodeling Articles
    Remodeling Articles
  • Basement Remodeling Tips
    Basement Remodeling Tips
  • Install a Vinyl Privacy Fence
    Install a Vinyl Privacy Fence
  • Tips & Techniques for Painting
    Tips & Techniques for Painting
  • 7 Small Bathroom Layouts
    7 Small Bathroom Layouts
  • 7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
    7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
  • Master Carpenter Videos
    Master Carpenter Videos
  • 7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
    7 Trim Carpentry Secrets

Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad

Patrick's Barn: Roof Framing

comments (7) August 2nd, 2011 in Blogs
patrick_mccombe Patrick McCombe, Associate editor

This is how the barn looked about 7:00 pm Sunday. When a passing neighbor saw me dragging the tarp onto the roof by myself, I overheard him saying, This has almost no chance of success. Its amazing how well you can hear when youre 25 ft. up in the air.
Last Saturday was the first time I did any framing on the shed lean-to. Its a great, wide-open space (12 ft. by 24 ft.). Click here to see what it will look like.
Seeing my little boy running toward me with his tool belt brought me such joy that I suspect Ill remember it the rest of my life. When I gave him some scraps to practice his nailing, he found it frustrating and said, This is hard, Daddy. I replied, I know, Son, Im still practicing too.
Framing the shed roof last weekend with Steve Scott was a good warm-up for the main roof. It gave me a chance to relearn all the things I had forgotten about roof framing, which made the main roof easier.
With my wife and son away visiting family, I got a chance to put in long hours without feeling guilty. I took a vacation day Friday to build the scaffold and set half the ridge. Im sure the neighbors thought I was completely insane when they saw my homemade work platform.
The missing rafters are a result of a last-minute change of plans. The building is drawn with almost no overhang, and I originally thought Id build it that way too. But Saturday morning I decided a 10-in. overhang would help the building and its paint job last longer, so I used the 16-ft. stock I originally bought for framing the gable walls. Unfortunately, I didnt have enough.  
This is how the barn looked about 7:00 pm Sunday. When a passing neighbor saw me dragging the tarp onto the roof by myself, I overheard him saying, This has almost no chance of success. Its amazing how well you can hear when youre 25 ft. up in the air.Click To Enlarge

This is how the barn looked about 7:00 pm Sunday. When a passing neighbor saw me dragging the tarp onto the roof by myself, I overheard him saying, "This has almost no chance of success." It's amazing how well you can hear when you're 25 ft. up in the air.

My body was hurting when I woke up yesterday. My cushy magazine job hasn't prepared me for the rigors of framing a pair of roofs on my new barn. Without the help of Fine Woodworking's Steve Scott and Matt Kenney, I don't think I could have done it.

Despite the hard labor, I can't imagine anything more satisfying than framing a roof. Last week, we framed and sheathed the shed roof, thinking it would make it easier to access the main roof, which it did. I started the main roof on Friday by building a scaffold to help me reach the ridge board. Combined with some other preparations and the cutting of a template rafter, this work took me all day. I would have kept cutting rafters, but a steady rain forced me to quit around 5:00.

When Matt showed up on Saturday, we started cutting rafters in earnest and began nailing them in place. It was very satisfying to have all the rafters fit without tweaking. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to sheath the main roof. I haven't decided if it's easier to muscle the sheets through the rafters or use the shed roof to drag the sheets over the ridge and lower them down the other side. Anybody have suggestions?


Read more about my barn here.

posted in: Blogs, framing, roofs, patrick's barn, workshop
Back to List

Comments (7)

oscar_mann oscar_mann writes: I have a lot of experience in steep pitch roofs and I suggest you NEVER rip sheets except when necessary. Especially OSB.. I would build a rack on the side of the house to get sheets about 1 foot up over the eaves and then, after the first row is up, I would build a bed off to the side of the rack so I could pull up sheets and lay them flat.. The bed is made of 2 triangular (roof pitch) pieces of OSB about 4 feet long with 3 pieces of 2x for the rim. Nail that to the roof, brace it with a couple short kickers to the roof deck or 2 diagonal furring strips across the front .. Then I stock a few sheets taken off the rack as well as cut sheets on this bed.. Saves a hell of a lot of climbing.. Be sure to nail a toe cleat along the eave to save you if you slip while pulling sheets up and blow your saw dust off the roof deck after every cut.. Lawn blower works great..
Posted: 2:55 pm on August 8th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Thanks for your thoughts Dreamcatcher. I too thought about your concerns with 2x8 sheets, especially with the 7 /16 OSB I'm using. It seems flimsy in 4x8!

I was felting the shed roof last night and I put up some roof jacks on the main roof. I only have four, so I may have to get a few more.

I think it will be relatively easy once I have the first course down (I already have most of the first row on both sides). I plan to nail some cleats to the rafter tails to help me place the remaining first row sheets.

Posted: 8:18 am on August 4th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: Nothing against Andy but in my experience, narrow sheathing like that seems very 'spongy' compared to full sheets. You might want to contact the APA to see what they think about sheathing a roof using 2x8 sheets. Just a heads up.

Posted: 6:51 am on August 4th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: As someone who usually works alone - and has solo framed & sheathed many a roof like the one shown - I recommend making a plywood rack to get the wood up there. I have a 15' ply rack that I have been using for years (made out of PT lumber). I can load it with 10+ sheets of ply at a time then scurry to the roof and "swing" them up.

Trying to work from the inside is more difficult than it's worth and because of the twisting and cumbersome wrestling with the sheets, you may put unnecessary strain on your back. Also, it can be hard to hold sheets from the top like that while getting them into their clips and the sheets have a tendency to get away from you... look out below.

Going up and over the shed is an even worse idea. First, you are wasting your energy taking the long way. Second, you'd have a hard time walking the rafters down that slope carrying a heavy sheet of ply without picking up momentum that would send you skidding off the roof.

Nope, better to just approach it like you'd approach any other roof. Make a plywood rack tall enough to allow about 3 foot of the sheets stick above the eave. If the rack is too tall to load from the ground, try loading from the back of a pickup truck; if the truck is still too low then load from a ladder. Not that I would say it's easy but it's a lot easier than it may seem.

Better yet, find someone with a front end loader or all-terrain forklift (see SkyTrak or Lull) to lift the sheets up to the roof. Or just rent one. Two guys on that roof could sheath it in less than two hours easily so all you'd need is a 3 hr rental... probably cost you about $200.

BTW: Don't forget your roof jacks on that slope. Get more roof jacks than you think you will need - you will appreciate the feeling of safety and work much faster.

Posted: 6:46 am on August 4th

RonNH RonNH writes: The lower shed roof looks like a low enough pitch to walk on safely. I would nail a couple of 2x4 cleats (stacked) on the edge of that roof and stock enough plywood for that side. Get your first course of plywood on, nail on 2x4 cleats to stand on and up you go.

The other side is more of a challenge as you are working on staging. It might be easier to hand these sheets up through the rafters but this gets harder as you reach the peak. Work steady and safe, it's no picnic wrestling plywood on what looks like a 12/12 pitch.
Posted: 6:55 am on August 3rd

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: What a great idea, Andy! You may have saved my life.
Posted: 1:25 pm on August 2nd

Andy_Engel Andy_Engel writes: When sheathing a steep roof, I rip the sheets in half lengthwise. That way, I can lean out from inside the rafters to nail the sheathing home. I'm pretty sure I got that idea from Tips and Techniques, btw.
Posted: 9:56 am on August 2nd

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.