Sunday, May 8, 2011

Communication Questions ?

In the mid 80's I worked in industry. Colman Motor Products made sub-fractional DC electric motors and gear heads. From armature winding to hobbing helical gears, we went from raw stock to finished product.  The head engineer taught me the #1 problem in manufacturing was, "Communications!" and we made it our mission to communicate with everyone involved in the process. 5W2H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, How Much) was the creed and we lived it.

So let me communicate a story to you about the two pieces of wood below.

The South Wayne bridge committee communicated to me that they wanted to change the roofing material from steel to Cedar.  No problem just apply 5W2H, right? I started asking a lot of questions.  A Google search opened my eyes to the complexities of Cedar Roofing and related technical vocabulary.

I learned about, shingles vs shakes. Premium vs #1. Heavy vs medium. Sawn vs hand-split-sawn. Kiln dried vs CCA. 24" vs 18" length. 6d Stainless steel box nails vs hot dipped galvanized.  Under layment vs inter layment. Spaced sheathing vs solid sheathing. On and on it went. I decided I would need some samples of Cedar roofing material to better communicate with the committee. I communicated with a supplier online that offered free samples.
On 4-17-11,  I communicated my order for - 1 Hand-split Cedar Shakes / #1 Heavy 24"x 3/4" / Kiln Dried sample.

They sent me the sample on the right in the picture above. The sample had an ID tag right on it communicating it was just what I ordered.  To me it looked like a sawn Cedar shingle / #1  18"x 1/2" Kiln Dried sample. Along with the sample was a cover letter from the supplier that said, "I know that sometimes seeing a sample raises more questions than it answers." It sure did. These people are the experts, they are in the business. Could I have it wrong?
I communicated to the supplier my confusion and that I thought there was some mistake. For sure the sample was not 24" long or 3/4" thick but then a 2 x4 from the lumber yard is not 2" by 4" either. The shadow of a doubt crept into me mind. I communicated my doubt to the supplier and they said they would send out another sample.

On 4-28-11 UPS brought the second sample, shown on the left. Looked like just what I ordered. However, when I looked at the invoice it called for Hand-Split Cedar Shakes / #1  Heavy  18" x 3/4" / Kiln Dried. This sample was 24" long! At the bottom of the invoice, high lighted in orange, to communicate some special instructions was written, "Please ensure right material is shipped to client."
The supplier was very nice when I communicated back to them my concerns. They said sometimes things get mixed up at the "sample warehouse" but a "real order" comes from the actual manufacturer and would be correct.  I communicated that I would like to try a third time get a free sample. This time a 24"  Sawn Cedar Ridge Cap (they come in 18" and 24"). They communicated that they would send it out.

Their cover letter communicated, "I know that sometimes seeing a sample raises more questions that it answers." and it did just that !

Making the 3/8 scale model  Roof Truss will take a lot of communications. Seeing the sample rafter and going through the process of making one will hopefully raise more questions. Questions are a great thing and the more Alex and Bruce ask the more they will learn.

Now we'll give it a try.

Tech Vocab - Run, Rise, Pitch, Center line, Blade Clips, Plumb Cut, Seat Cut, Birds Mouth, Primary Rafter , Secondary Rafter, Collar Tie, Cross Brace, Lateral Braces


  1. Well, there's nothing wrong in asking more questions to the suppliers about construction materials so that they can help you determine what best suits your structure. That would help make certain that the structural integrity of your building would stay strong.

    Santo Caridine

  2. Do you have friendly neighbors near your place? Asking them which materials would be good to use is a good tip. That’s what I’ve been doing since we moved in, and it helped us a lot. We were able to find some very good stores with cheap items. Well, it seems you chose some pretty good materials for your project. Good luck!

    Ronald Miller