Gimme a Brake

No, that’s not a bad homonym (somewhere, my fifth-grade English teacher sheds a tear of pride) after this weekend I really do want a brake. Not a break, although one of those wouldn’t hurt either.


Up until Thursday of last week, I didn’t even know what a brake was… being more inclined to work in wood, glass, or ceramic when I get the chance. Metal is always far, far, down my list.

And like everything else we’ve attempted with the house, at second glance the task of installing all of the trim and siding was seriously more complicated that I first anticipated. I know, right? Shocking.

Turns out I have my body weight’s worth of flashing to install around the foundation, over the windows, behind the corner trim, and almost every other place you can think of on the house. It’s unreal. And daunting. Luckily we have a friend savior who worked with our framing crew (and I’m certain is to thank for the windows that were installed correctly) and who often will come over and tell us how to do what we’re supposed to be doing.

I’m not going to lie, when he told us we’d have to bend all 250 lf of the metal for the flashing I had flashbacks to the bloody mess that was installing the wire mesh on our fence…

… and I gave an involuntary shudder. But Doug-the-savior was all, don’t worry, I’m going to bring my brake over and you are going to love it.

And I was like blah, blah, blah, someone get me a box of band-aids and… ohmigodlookwhatIdid!


Without. Bleeding.

So, for the uninitiated, a brake is a tool used to bend sheet metal very easily. It works just how you supposed it would, holding a ten-foot strip of metal in place while another lever bends it to whatever degree you wish. It’s totally manually operated, which means very little chance of losing a finger. If you’re going to attempt to install your own siding… read up on flashing, and then rent a brake for the weekend and bend all your metal.

In all honesty, I didn’t get to use the break that much this weekend (even though I wanted to), and I’m not going to buy one because I still prefer working with wood.

Back to the weekend… technically not one piece of siding went up, but figuring out how to get it started was half the battle… and that part is done.


Our thing-I-keep-calling-a-sill-but-is-actually-called-something-else is a 2×4, cut with a 15-degree bevel on the back (and the front-not shown here), a piece of flashing that runs behind and underneath the not-a-sill, a furring strip on the first piece, and the first piece cut at a reverse 20-degree angle to sit nicely on the ledge.

The weekend all of the bevels were cut in all the not-a-sill pieces, flashing is all bent, and the necessary blocking is in place for our box-end soffits.

Also all of the soffit wood got primed, thanks to my mom.


She wanted to be incognito for this pic.

Seriously… even though we didn’t get a lot of siding up, we did get a lot of help this weekend from friends and family. Thanks to everyone who lent a hand or some tools to us to help us get this done before winter.

3 Responses

  1. Figuring out how to start something like the siding is frequently more than half the battle. The current Habitat homes we’re working on having this funky metal corner trim that took the staff and Americorps members some doing to figure out for the first time.

    And while you successfully avoided homonym abuse in the title, when talking about the brake, there’s “It works just how you supposed it wood…”. D’oh! 🙂

    1. Oh my god Gene I’m *dying*… that’s hilarious. I really need to stop writing these things after midnight. lol.

  2. That “thing-I-keep-calling-a-sill-but-is-actually-called-something-else” is called a “water table”. I guess it’s like a table to keep the water off your foundation. I managed to find “water table” pre-cut at my local lumber store. Guess what I’m going to use it for? Window sills!

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.