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How to Make Cedar Shakes by Hand

A photo of Victoria GazeleyThere’s something about rustic shakes or more refined shingles that just screams ‘country charm’.  

From old New England cottages to sprawling West Coast estates and tiny rural cabins and outbuildings in the Rockies, wood shakes and shingles have a look and feel that simply can’t be beat by man-made materials.  But buying them pre-made can be expensive.

So what do you do if you’re on a budget and want that classic look for your home or other buildings?  Or just want the satisfaction of doing it yourself?

I’m here to tell you that splitting your own cedar shakes could not be easier.  Shingles are little more complicated, as they are generally sawn and not split, so I’ll focus on shakes for the purposes of this demonstration.

Here’s a how-to video we filmed to show you the process.  Trust me, if I can do it, you can too.


All you need are some rounds of wood that can be turned into shakes (cedar is ideal, but shakes can be split from other woods as well, such as pine [common in Europe]), a froe and a mallet.

Need a froe and mallet? Lehman’s carries both!

Bottom line?  You can split your own shakes – it’s easy, and actually pretty fast.  Why pay someone else for hand split shakes when it’s so easy to do it yourself?

Have you ever split your own shakes?  Do you have tips to share? Please do in the comments below!