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January 2011 Newsletter

Howling Wolf Shingle Art Project

Howling Wolf Shingle Art Close-up

When it was time to build a garage/shop on my own property, I quickly realized that because of the lay of the land, it would necessarily be the first structure that visitors would see when calling on us. I therefore wanted it to be welcoming, as well as representative of some of my values, the same ones that my business, Fine Line Joinery, is built upon.

The structure is well insulated, including the custom built, roll up, carriage-house style door. It has energy efficient lighting and heating. It is clad in locally harvested and milled Cedar siding. And, of course, I wanted to feature a high level of craftsmanship and creativity. The “cake-topper”, if you will, for me, was the shingle art mural on the gable above the garage door.

Howling Wolf Shingle Art Layout

The shingle art design evolved with some artistic input from my brother-in-law, Erik. Once we had the design nailed down, fabrication began by laying it out full scale on a sheet of plywood on my workbench. Over that, I drew horizontal lines corresponding to the shingle courses, or rows. From there we worked from bottom to top, cutting out the shapes and lightly tacking them onto the layout, being sure to lap the shingles properly to ensure weather tightness. If you’re interested in the real nitty and gritty of how to do this, check out the Journal of Light Construction, January 2007 and November 2007 issues.

After the “image” shingles were all cut and laid out, again working from the bottom, I pulled them loose from the layout board, a couple of rows at a time, carefully numbering the back of each shingle. Then they were hand-dipped in a transparent exterior wood finish and hung to dry. I pre-finished the shingles in this way to assure that they would be well sealed, both front and back. This prevents the wood from absorbing or losing moisture too quickly from one side and cupping.

Howling Wolf Shingle Art, Installation

While the first couple of courses were drying, I papered the gable and transferred the design layout and course lines to the wall. Finally, the shingles began to go up on the wall. It was great fun to see the wolf begin to appear and then start to howl at the full moon rising over the horizon!

Howling Wolf Shingle Art, Carriage Doors