M&T Shop Building: Sheathing the Roof and Packing Up


Friday morning was the first day of fall and, boy, did it feel like it. The characteristic crisp nip in the air, the breeze, and even geese migrating overhead: All of it was right on cue. John had to head back to Vermont and Mike went to the Common Ground Fair with his family so Luke, Isaac, Matt, and I attached the roof sheathing to the rafters. We spent all day nailing these gorgeous 200-year-old hemlock boards in place. Because they had already cut, fit, and labeled the boards before bringing them up, the process went smoothly.

The patina in these boards is sacred to this crew. Because they’ve worked so hard to de-nail, power wash, repair, straighten edges, and lay these boards out they are very careful not to scratch the beautiful interior show surfaces. They explained that their process involves standing all the boards in a circle to organize them by color and select them for optimal placement on the roof system. They do their very best to hide all shadow lines from their original rafters. For this project, the crew was pleased to find they were able to hide all but a few of the faintest shadows on a few boards. (In case you haven’t noticed yet, this is not regular carpentry, this is more akin to art.) Just before dark last night, the last bit of tar paper was laid over the sheathing and the crew left for dinner.

They’re coming back this morning to tidy the site and load their trailers for the drive home. Although I am so happy that the frame is now up, I’m sad to see this week end. We’ve gotten so close with everyone on this crew and will miss their company. I’m usually such an independent person that hiring someone else to do something I think I might be able to pull off on my own has felt strange. On this side of the raising, though, I know that there is no way on earth I could have done anything close to what these guys have done. I’ve learned so much this week working alongside them and in our discussions about the next steps of the project.

Thank you, Luke, Matt, Isaac, and John for your hard work this week as well as during the weeks leading up to this raising. This frame is not a play house. It’s not a silly “man cave” or pool house that we feel indifferent about. This building is the future of our business, the new home of Mortise & Tenon Magazine. All our articles will be written and edited here, our videos will be filmed here, and our workshops will happen here. Many years of hand tool woodworking will take place within these walls, guys. Thank you for the care you’ve taken with this restoration. Your conscientious workmanship honors the craftsmen who built it over 200 years ago. We hope M&T’s use of it will continue to honor the work of their and your hands.

- Joshua