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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I want to reside this old house with cedar shakes, but price won't allow it. I have a bunch of red oak in my woodlots and a band-mill. My thought is to saw out 1/2" boards from the oak, let the boards dry til fall and then crosscut into lengths of 18" and bump out the bottom course and using stainless screws/nails hang them like shakes. It might look OK to let them weather, but I'm curious if there is an affordable product that I could preserve the color and wood with.
 

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Red oak has issues with rot resistance if it is wet. In my climate it would work just fine. In your climate it probably would be less durable.

Not sure about white pine. It isn't available locally sip I've never worked with or read up on it. The US Forest Service, Forest Products Lab, has a publication, "Wood as an Engineering Material", that gives all the properties of most woods, including weathering and rot resistance. It is available as a free PDF download, and well worth the time it takes to find and down load.

Re making shingles or shakes: The traditional method is splitting with a froe. You cut the log into the length you want the shingles. Determine the length by deciding how much exposure you want, and multiplying by the number of overlays you want plus one. For example if you want a six inch exposure, with three overlays, 6X(3+1)=24.

You then split the logs into quarters, before you split off the shingles with the froe. There are instructions online, and probably videos on YouTube. The froe will cost about $40. The split shingles warp less when installed because the splitting follows the grain of the wood, eliminating most of the stresses. Once you get the hang of it you can crank them out really fast.
 

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Sorry but red oak is probably the worst choice. The wood anatomy is very open porous = rainwater will enter the tops and drip out the bottoms. The water trapped in the wood will help decay to happen very quickly.
OTOH, the pores in white oak become naturally sealed. That's why white oak is used for barrels for whiskey, sherry, wine and so forth.
(The vessel elements are occluded by tyloses).

Pine would a poor choice also. Cedar is used with deliberate reason as biochemicals in the wood naturally resist decay very well.

The very best suggestion above is to try to trade/barter your wod for something more suitable.

Trying to split enough oak shakes for an entire house would flat out kill me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Regarding splitting shakes, I have the tools and have done it small scale and I still split hickory for ramrods that way, but I also would not be able to split enough shakes out for a house. If I did, the first ones I made would probably be rotted out before I was half done. Thanks for all of your suggestions. I think I will check with the mill that buys my logs to see what they have for white oak. Unfortunately white oak is the one specie I have few of.
 

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I have experience both in splitting WO shakes, and using sawn 1/2" White Oak as shingles. Either works fine. In fact, I have sawn 1/2" White Oak shingles on gable ends of my own house with various bottom shapes. Just play with the lay angle, and figure out the starter spacer under the double starter row.

We only hand split when we are getting paid to do it for a structure that has to be historically authentic.

Not only is WO rot resistant, but it's also woodpecker and flying squirrel resistant, which is not the case around here with Cedar or any other softer woods.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Tom, you don't mention using any preservative, so I assume one isn't used. What color do the WO shakes turn from weathering?
 

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They turn silver, then to gray, and if it's been a really wet Summer, they will start to get black on them. That's when they get pressure washed. It's all still as good as it was when I built this house in 1980. It might get pressure washed this coming Summer for the third time.

I built several others before and after that I sold, and they all still look good too. The first two houses I built here on the lake had Cedar siding. Flying squirrels ended up in both attics, and woodpeckers think it's a big dead tree. That's why I went to White Oak.

I thought I could find a picture, but this is the only one close at hand. You can only see one little bit of it on the back corner of the house. If I'm remembering correctly, this had been up about 8 years when this picture was taken. http://www.starbornhavanese.com/images/DSCN7054.JPG
 
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