I searched and searched on the internet for some other guy who made his own shingles. I was amazed that I couldn’t find a single post. So maybe this will help somebody else out who is in a similar situation as me. What I was interested in was the pattern.
I’ve never installed any kind of shingles before. So I searched for pictures and looked at a bunch of them. I also looked at the available sizes on the James Hardie website. For individual shingles, it seems to boil down to 12, 8, and 6 inch widths. This just did not seem like enough variation to me. There are more than three widths when you get the 4-ft panels. But since I was going to make my own, I needed to keep it somewhat simple.
My local Home Depot only stocked primed siding in an 8.25 inch width. But Lowes just happened to stock the 12 inch width too. I came up with a pattern on graph paper that involved 12, 8, 6, and 4-inch widths. All I had to do was rip a 12 and an 8 to get the other widths I needed. This pattern took me awhile to figure out (see pic). But it works perfectly. Yes my 8 is actually 8.25 inches but it doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent. Also note that each row is offset 16 inches, similar to what is stated in the installation instructions from the website. In case the picture is not clear, the pattern is 12, 8, 4, 6, 8, 4, 6 and 8.
If you have arches or some other shape that is going to give you some difficulty during installation, I highly suggest you draw your shingles out on graph paper. If you are a professional installer, you can probably wing it. But having this on paper kept me from getting seriously messed up. I actually got out of order on my first two rows between my arches and I thought I’d never get back on track. I ended up 2 inches off and all of the sudden every seam started coming out on top of another seam. This brings up an important tip: start on one end and move across.
The reason I got messed up is because I wasn’t sure how to come down from the top of an arch. Your shingles must overlap and it is easiest to start at the bottom and work up your arch. But to get to the other side, you have to go down. I tried to measure over and then work up. This is where I found myself 2 inches off near the top so I had to start ripping off a few shingles and make a few custom sizes. But after doing the first arch, I figured out how to do it. However, I still relied heavily on my graph paper drawing to see what shingle went under what.