I got my start in roof framing because I was personally interested in it, and it seemed that there was a lack of local knowledge on the subject. I live in Norway, and almost everything here is trussed. I tried to find some kind of course to take but, as far as I know, there is no course on the subject in Northern Norway, and there are no Norwegian books or DVDs. I had a little experience from my work in the states—on occasion I have helped a friend with roof framing projects, but I was basically just the cut man and far from an expert.
I turned to the Internet and ordered a vast amount of books and DVDs. In fact, I probably have every book and DVD available on the subject (in English, of course).
I was happy with most of the DVDs and books, but Will Holladay’s DVD program, “Roof Framing for the Professional,” was the best on the subject, and he goes a little more in-depth than the others I purchased.
It seems that most of the others used a rafter length book, or some sort of book reference, to get the length of rafters, jack rafters, etc., instead of taking the time to go into the math involved to determine how to get rafter lengths, presetting your ridge beam, heel stand height, the theory of the hip roof, gang cutting rafters, etc. On the other hand, and in my opinion, Will explains all of these very well. He uses a Construction Master Pro Calculator, and I thought he did a better job of explaining how to use the calculator than any other DVD.
He covers every roof, from a regular gable to bay roofs, dormers, and complicated hip roofs, to conical and octagon towers. I wasn’t able to try all but I managed to try a few.
|I had never built a hip roof before, but I was able to after watching Will’s DVDs.|
Of course, I couldn’t watch it and expect to become an expert. There was still a certain amount of trial and error. But the important thing, to me, was that I was able to learn. I didn’t get the hip rafters correct because of the heel stand, but I went back and watched the DVD again, and I was able to figure out what I had done wrong.
|I did a few small models of the hip roof, switching the measurements up—going from inches to metric, but the formulas are the same.|
Math is math, whichever way you look at it.
I was also able to build a porch roof tying into a house roof (California Valley).
The rafters fit perfectly. I didn’t precut the overhangs because the customer wasn’t sure how long he wanted them, but I could’ve actually cut the entire rafter and rafter overhang on the ground (using Will’s techniques) if I had known what he wanted.
|I also tried beveling the sleepers, which was pretty different.|
I didn’t need to do this—it’s more work, especially if it’s not required, and I wouldn’t recommend it (Sim Ayers’ roofing blog has a great explanation on how to do that.).
|I had to cut another sleeper so the rafters had good bearing. I managed to frame this roof in three hours!|
I shocked a few people on how quick it went!
I think Will’s DVDs are great for someone like me who doesn’t have access to a course and can’t find anyone who knows the art of roof-cutting. Most people in Norway who can do it use the caveman method, at least from what I’ve seen.
I was also able to use the math shown in Will’s DVD for an off-angle California Valley.
|I had a project where I did a porch roof coming out of a valley and tying into another roof.|
It only took one day to do the rough framing. I doubt I would’ve been able to do this without Will’s techniques. I would’ve probably used up all the material at the lumberyard!
Will also explains how to cut an octagon tower in his DVDs, which was the last thing I jumped into. I was kind of ahead of myself on this one (I had never seen one on a house in Norway before), but I had a lot of fun with the math and I enjoyed precutting everything first. The best thing about Will’s DVDs is his instruction to calculate everything before you start building—you really save a lot of time.
|The octagon turned out pretty well. Again, I had some small trial and error problems, but I rechecked my math and I ended up framing it all except the jack rafters (I ran out of scrap material to use).|
Will covers everything in the roof framing DVDs, and he goes in-depth on every subject—he doesn’t just fly through it. Once I manage to try more and more of Will’s techniques, I truly believe I will be able to learn everything about the subject of roof framing and I’ll be comfortable doing any job (again, accepting trial and error). I think roof framing is an addiction (laugh if you want to)—it becomes more and more fun after you build a few roofs (or model roofs). I like to challenge myself and these DVDs definitely do that!
My only “complaint” has nothing to do with the content: I would like to see the DVDs as a digital file that you can view online or on a USB memory stick. DVDs have a tendency to get scratched up and I value these quite a bit!
I would recommend the first DVD in the series, “The Essentials,” for someone starting out in roof framing. I believe this program does an excellent job explaining all the basics, though I could definitely see how an expert could use these as well.
Remember, Will recommends that you have a Construction Master Pro Calculator to help follow along in the DVDs, especially those on the metric system as you can convert to metric on the Construction Master Pro.
On the whole, Will’s DVDs (and the book) are all well worth the money, but beware: they involve a lot of math (which I think is fun, but I know that not everyone does!).
I hope to see more of Will’s DVDs in the future (I’d love to learn about chandelier domes, barrel vaults, or circular stairs, all of which sure look like a lot of fun!), and I hope this review helps those of you who are thinking about purchasing the programs. Lastly, I’d like to thank Will for actually taking the time and energy to share his vast knowledge on the subject.
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Will’s DVDs and books are available for purchase on his website, theroofcutter.com. “Roof Framing for Professionals: The Essentials” is 3-disc set, which Will sells for $50.00 before shipping. A Roof Cutters Secrets has also recently been released in e-book format; it’s available for the Amazon Kindle for $28.00.
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Ray Scholz is originally from the town of Elkton, Maryland. He moved to Narvik, Norway after meeting his wife in the summer of 2004. He made the transition from roofer to carpenter in 2005, and after working for six years as a carpenter, he took the Journeyman’s Exam and Practical Test in 2011 to become a Certified Carpenter in Norway. Today, he continues to work as a roofer/carpenter. When he’s not building models of small roofs, he enjoys hiking or hunting in the mountains, and spending time with his kids.