I didn’t realize there was such a controversy over hammer versus air gun for putting shingles on your roof. In fact, the only one I’ve heard who thinks that old school is superior is Greg, but then again, Greg has never seen me swing a hammer. I figured it up – each bundle of shingles has 22 shingles and I have 150 bundles of shingles (plus 9 boxes of ridge cap shingles) to lay. Putting 5 nails in each shingle would mean, if I was able to drive each nail with one swing – which I can’t – I would swing the hammer more than 17,000 times (and that’s not even taking into account the misses, which would be many, where I put a divot into the face of the shingle or bend a nail sideways). So far with an air gun, in one day, I’ve put up about 500 sq. ft. of shingles and haven’t noticed a badly driven nail yet. I do carry a hammer for the occasional double tap (two nails at once), and drive the second one in, but other than that, I’ve only seen a remarkable consistency from the air nailer that I couldn’t begin to accomplish by hammer.
The real story was Saturday morning, when Brent and his two sons, Nick and Jessie showed up to help me get the shingles on the roof. Brent, who is a member at our church, is a general contractor here in the valley, and one of the most sought-after in Aspen (which is saying a lot!). He heard that I was going to roof my own house and knew I was in over my head. He offered to come over and help, and despite my polite refusal, he insisted it was no problem. So he, Nick and Jessie (both also in the construction business) showed up on their day off. Brent brought his skid loader (a fork lift on steroids) and lifted the pallets of shingles up above the porch where we carried them up to the different areas of the roof. After about an hour, I knew I was in trouble – I definitely wasn’t up to the task physically. The bundles weigh 80 lbs. and hoisting them on your shoulder and carrying them up a steep pitched roof to the top and stacking them is more than my sedentary lifestyle had prepared me for (who was I kidding thinking I could do it myself carrying each bundle up a ladder to the top of the roof?) These guys were like machines – they weren’t even breathing hard! I told Brent I swore I would never be out-worked by a 20 year old, and he said, “Don’t feel bad – these aren’t just any 20 year olds – these are my sons. They have been doing this since 4th grade.”
When we had finished getting the shingles on the roof, Brent started nailing the shingles – we have a skylight above the entryway and he also knew it was going to be more complicated than I realized. So he not only nailed about 20 rows of shingles, but cut, bent and put the flashing around the skylight. Watching him work was like watching an artist. He did everything so skillfully and precisely – he never had to stop and think how to do something – it was all second nature. I watched in awe… and more than a little humbled – not because I didn’t know as much as Brent, but because before that moment, I didn’t even know that I didn’t know – the worst kind of ignorance. That I thought I could do this by myself was the height of arrogance – and what a mess I would have made if I had. But Brent and his sons not only got me well on the way, and instructed me on the details I would need to handle, but literally saved my life (even helping carry the shingles, I was probably on the verge of a physical meltdown). I am indebted to three guys who were angels from God.