Little Lumber Is Our Business
Scale Lumber, Building Kits and related Products for Garden Railroading.
Our Kits can make the Novice Modeler look like a Pro!

Online Secure Credit Card Payments Via Paypal or Propay

Visit Our Store
Shake Use Tips & Photos

Shake Facts,
       Our Shakes are real split shakes.  Split from hand selected western red cedar.  Unlike sawn shakes, they have a very realistic appearance.  Scale sized like real Premium roof shakes, 24" long, and widths 6" to 12", and 3/4" to 1" thick.  Looking at them through a magnifying glass, looks like a real roofing product.  The natural irregularities, of the product because of the real splitting process on real cedar makes for an extremely realistic appearance. Don't settle for a sawn shake when you can have the real thing!

     We sell them by the ounce.  One ounce is approximately 350 shakes in assorted widths, and covers from 40 to 50 square inches (real inches).  Each ounce will include some, what we call clinkers, or bad shakes.  These clinkers, can be used for ridge cap, or if it is just one corner that is bad and the other end has a good exposure area use with the good end showing.  During your use of them, it is easier at that time to pick out the bad ones rather than us doing it initially and charging more.  We have adjusted the price to compensate for this.  We have been extremely pleased with the end results.  We know you will be too. 

Glue Tips,

     Laying a bead of glue along an area and spreading it with your finger tip or a brush (a soldering flux brush works good) .  Use a waterproof wood glue.  As with all glues, excess is best cleaned up before it sets.  If you will be doing a clear finish, we have found that small glue mistakes don't show if this glue is used, and Thompson's clear water seal is used.  Still it is best to clean up, especially areas where a hardened glob interferes with further construction.  (Easier to remove a soft lump than a hard bump)

Cutting Tips,

     For cutting shakes a sharp knife or even side cutter can be used.  Remember, they work like real shakes, and can be split for width changes or even broken by bending with the grain.  With all tools, caution and safety is important.
(Click on photo's for a larger image)
    We like to work with them face up.  Select shakes to make a starter row.  Line them up against something straight.  Here we are using a layout sheet that is made of two same size pieces of single strength glass with a piece of graph paper between.  The edges are held together and sealed with clear packing tape.  The 1/4" square grid is great for keeping things straight and square.  Also the glue doesn't stick well to the glass.

   Holding the shakes down with a piece of 1x10 lumber.  This holds them in place, and keeps you from putting glue on the area that will be seen.  Real shakes of this size are usually applied to roofs with a 10" exposure.

    Spreading the glue.

   Laying down the next row.  Using the 10" board as a spacer.  Don't worry if you have a hard time keeping them straight.  Get them in place and adjust before the glue sets up.

   Second row laid.  With the spacer board out of the way, notice the shingles are staggered so that the joints between from row to row don't line up.  In the real world this is done to keep them from leaking.  The shake at the end of the row, can then be trimmed for width, or pick through your shake pile for one that fits.  Remember, you are after the overall appearance of a real roof, so don't get to picky.

   Close-up of the 3 rows.  The appearance is very real.  You can see the ridges created by the grain, just like it's bigger cousins.  Rows can be added to make the section as large as you want.  Using this method, you can create the shakes as a sheet to fit any roof size you want.  Then attach it as one large section to whatever framework you want.  Stick built, or foam core etc.

   Applied to one of our track side shanty kits using the above sheet method.  We used 1x4 boards as a ridge cap on this installation, but if you were really ambitious you could use small splits of shake and make a shake style ridge cap!

Another method of using shakes

Another method of creating the sheet as used on our prairie farmhouse including doing a shake ridge cap. We now ship a 10" shake spacer sheet with shake orders. Place wax paper over it to keep glue from sticking.

Measure your frame and add 1/4"-1/2" for overhang front, back and over rafter ends. Using the spacing guide sheet, start by just lining up a row of shakes face up. Don't get to perfect, just make sure overall line is straight. Small differences from shake to shake will give it character, and it will look more like a real roof. The guide has a vertical line on the right to help you keep your sheet square. Marking a line proper width for your panel on the left, will keep you straight on that side. As a few photo's below, shakes can be snapped to trim them for width, or cut with sharp scissors or a knife. Choosing ones with the straightest grain to cut is best.

Glue applied to the top while holding the row down with a wood block. Keep the glue to the top 1/4" as it will get covered by the next row.

Spread the glue smooth to hold the row together. Don't leave any bumps or lumps that will interfere with the next row, and keep the glue strip narrow so it will be covered by the next row.

Next row started, you can put a small dab of glue on the bottom of the backside and add like here, or as in the next photo a bead of glue across the entire sheet. Line up the beginning row with a line. The next row line up its top with the next line, and this will give you a 10" scale exposure. This is the proper exposure for a premium roof shake installation.

As you add shakes, alternate widths and color. Let some stray a little from straight. Make sure starting with the second row, that the covering row also covers the gap (stagger the gaps) between the lower shakes.

The completed sheet. One more needed, and then one for the porch roof. Remember, that the last row gets trimmed, so the shakes end up being about 9/16"-5/8" long. Then once the ridge cap is added, correct exposure of 10" happens at the peak. Look at the ridge cap photo's below, and it will become clearer.

Place your finger nail at the width you want, and bend towards you and it will snap.

Making 1/4" wide shakes for the ridge row.

Detail shot of the ridge row, if you get sloppy with the glue as we did here, clean up with a damp cloth or a camp stiff paint brush, as it gets in the crevices real good. Work from each end towards the middle. At the middle, end by covering with a shake on each side covering the tail of the last shakes at the meeting point.

Side shot of ridge cap, showing center meeting point. Again glue clean up is easy, I use a 1 1/2" wide natural bristle paint brush.

     One important tip.  If you aren't going to apply the sheet for a few hours, weight it down on a flat surface, as it will try to curl.  You also might want to apply a thin brushed on layer of glue to the entire backside to firmly lock all the shakes together.  Finish with exterior paints or stains.  We always recommend taking buildings in during the winter months.


Good Luck and Happy Railroading!

Let us know if you have any suggestions or inputs for this tips page!


Mark & Sue Smith
Smith Pond Junctions Railroad Products

Little Lumber is Our Business

All Rights Reserved