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Decking a Roof (3): Measuring Hip Panels

The nuances of measuring are what separates the kids from the carpenters
March 07, 2024

Last time we went beyond the first course of sheathing to lay decking on the roof and nail it. In this episode, we’ll look at the tricky part: the hips.

To make tricky parts less tricky, measure right, and communicate clearly.

  • The bottom number should break on a rafter, a full sheet in this case.
  • Next, measure up the rafter to the center of the hip rafter.
  • The final number is along the top, also to the center of the hip rafter
  • Call the numbers to the cut person telling them if you are measuring from the left or right.

With any luck, the sheet will fit. Fill in the little holes and move on.

Measuring tips for carpenters

Measuring the bottom of a panel is straightforward. Run your tape along the subfascia or the top of the sheet directly below. Measuring up the rafter is pretty easy, too; run your tape up the rafter to the center of the hip rafter.

Write it down.

Measuring the top is trickier because you are measuring through the air, trying to intersect angles correctly.

  • On the first course, you can measure along the chalk line that indicates the top of the first course.
  • On short runs, you can just use the previous sheet as a straightedge and extend your tape to the center of the hip rafter.
  • For longer runs, you can measure up 48 inches on two rafters to establish the points needed for a straight line, and use your tape as the straight line.
  • The very top course is not as simple as it looks. You cannot just measure along the ridge because the last rip is almost always short of the ridge, either for ventilation or just for smooth roofing. Julio measures up the width of the last rip and marks it on the hip rafter. Now, he can butt the previous sheet and measure to the rip line to perfectly split the hip rafter. And he writes the number on the rafter.

For triangle holes, Julio centers the roof framing and runs the sheets out. He measures over along the bottom and then up 48 inches, marking the intersection on the hip rafter.

Marking the sheets to indicate where the rafters are is another pro-tip that reduces misses with the nail gun and keeps the roof nailed to the rafters when hurricanes hit places like New Orleans.

Next time, we’ll cover taping the seams to make sure the roof keeps the inside dry, even if the shingles are blown off.

Shot on a jobsite of Mac Construction, we'd like to thank Julio Ortiz, the framing contractor, and Steven McCready, the builder, for helping us with this series of videos in New Orleans, LA

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