I recently had to side a house by myself. I wanted the courses of lap siding to line up neatly with the windows, requiring slightly different exposures for boards below, between, and above the windows. The courses were easy enough to lay out on a story pole, but without a helper, I needed some way of holding the pieces of siding in place while I lined them up and nailed them off. None of the siding gadgets I could find locally was adjustable for different exposures, and I couldn’t wait for mail order. The drawings illustrate my solution.
I cut a piece of thin multipurpose metal strap in two and bent a hook in the end of each piece. Then I drilled 1/4-in.-dia. holes in a pair of 2-in. wooden drawer knobs, as offset from center as the back of the knob would allow. I then drilled a 1/4-in. hole in each piece of strap at the approximate height to get the exposure I wanted. With a couple of sawcuts in each strap, the holes became horizontal slots. I attached the knobs to the straps with machine bolts and wing nuts, and was ready to go to work.
To use the gadgets, I hung them from the top of a nailed-off course of siding, far enough apart to support the next piece of siding. I then rotated the knob (now an eccentric cam) back and forth until the bottom of the board lined up with the appropriate mark on my story stick. I drove a few nails to hold the board in place, loosened the wing nuts so that I could slide the knobs sideways and off the straps, and pushed up the straps to release the hooks. Because there were only a few nails in the top board, I could flex it enough to pull the straps free. I then reattached the knobs, hooked the gadgets over the board I’d just attached, and nailed off that board. Then I was ready for the next course.
Installing fiber-cement lap siding with a clean top edge, I found that this method worked perfectly. And because the offset holes in the knobs allow for about a 3/4-in. range of adjustment, these gadgets also should work for wood lap siding, even when the top edge isn’t as precise. Total time to make the device was less than a half hour, and total cost was less than $5.
David Drake, Moscow, ID
Edited and Illustrated by Charles Miller
From Fine Homebuilding #186