Will's books

Will's books


Friday, June 19, 2020


Will Holladay giving a roof framing demo at the 1996 JLC Live

(NOTE: click on orange for links)

Will began his career in construction as a job-site laborer with a shovel in his hands.  Blessed with the knack to drive nails he found a good fit in rough carpentry.  While working in the Los Angeles housing tracts during the mid 1970s Will had the opportunity to learn production roof cutting and stacking.  Ever since those early days, roofs have been his forte.  Lacking the technical side of his profession he made time to attend the Construction program at Orange Coast College graduating with an AA degree.  When roof trusses gained prominence in the late-1970s he left the Los Angeles area and moved north into the custom home market along the California central coast. There with his crew he spent the next 14 yrs specializing in framing custom homes with complicated roofs.   During that time he wrote his first book entitled A Roof Cutter’s Secrets to Framing the Custom Home (1989) and earned a BA thru night school.

In 1992 after some 20 years in the industry, Will began working as a freelance framing consultant and “traveling roof cutter”.  He did this primarily so he could divide his time between his other interests of bush flying (he is a commercial pilot and aircraft mechanic), whitewater river guiding and humanitarian aid projects.  In his new capacity he participated in the building of many interesting projects up and down the West Coast.  From 1992 – 2002 he had the unique experience to be able to teach roof framing seminars/workshops at “JLC Live” and other building conferences.  The video of his 1997 roof framing presentation at the JLC Live East conference was edited into a commercial video and made available thru JLC to the public as a resource.

In 1996 Will developed “The HeadCutter” and was granted patent #6038775 for it in 2000.  He invented this devise to replace the venerable sidewinder blade that he used for many decades when cutting roofs.  “The HeadCutter” is an adjustable saw foot that clamps to the bar of a chainsaw converting it into a vertical milling machine.  It is terrific to gang cut the head-cuts and tail-cuts on common rafters packages, square-cut TJI packages and quite popular with manufacturers and installers of insulated roof panels. BigFoot Saw manufactures and sells “The HeadCutter”.  Will used this tool along with other custom saws to help set up a production roof cutting division at National Lumber (Boston) in 2001.  Watch the video Gang cutting rafters to see the "HeadCutter" in action.

In 2002 after four years in the works, Will in conjunction with Hanley Wood republished an updated modern version of A Roof Cutter's Secrets. 

In 2009, Will completed The Complicated Roof - a cut and stack workbook, as a companion guide to his mainstay.  In this workbook, encompassing the calculating, cutting, and stacking of two real life complicated roofs, he shares how he approaches difficult projects and applies the methods shown in A Roof Cutter's Secrets.
In 2012 while teaching tradesmen in Central America rough framing, Will developed the "Seat-Cut Guide Tool" and was granted patent #9120241 B2 for it in 2015 (see the roof cutting tool blog farther along).  It was designed to aid carpenters who were either forced by lack of specialty roof-cutting tools ($) or simply due to personal choice, hand-cut their rafters with a regular Skil 77.  The "Seat-Cut Guide Tool" knocked off about 30% of the time normally required to accomplish this task.  Unfortunately Will could not find a production partner so it has yet to make it the market as the "HeadCutter" did. 

In 2013 Roof Framing for the Professional was produced as a two part video series. It was gleamed from a two week long roof framing clinic Will presented in 2012 and condensed down to some 11 hrs. on (6) DVDs.  Viewers have said it is by far the most comprehensive study of roof framing available on film.  For more than 20 yrs. Will had desired to make available his teaching in a visual format.
After four years in the writing, From the Top Plates Up - A Production Roof Framer's Journey along with The Carpenter Patriot - How Leftism Seeks to Kill the Workingman and Erase Common Sense were published in 2018.  From the Top Plates Up harbors a kaleidoscope of fun and informative topics along with the practical lessons Will had learned over his 40+ year career as a roof framer. 

Most recently in 2020 we saw Will's Handy Formulas for Stick Framing Roofs hit the market.  This book was designed as a job-site carry mini-book, the size of your smart phone.  It contains the most commonly used figures from his classic roof framing manual A Roof Cutter’s Secrets.

Over the years, Will has written a variety of articles detailing roof and stair building topics that were published in The Journal of Light Construction, Tools of the Trade and This is Carpentry magazines (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Alongside both his availability as a roof design/framing consultant and his availability as a production roof cutter, Will has recently branched out to include the design and building of tree houses/tree platforms in his repertoire of skills.

While Will enjoys the physical aspect of building things he also desires to share what he has learned over his lifetime with others and to that end participates in various humanitarian aid projects overseas.   

Thursday, June 18, 2020

BOOKS & VIDEOS by Will Holladay

CLICK on the orange titles for book/video details and to order your copies.

Readers comments:

RCS is definitely the best book I have come across for roof framing.

If it weren’t for your book, DVD and your personal help, I would not have been able to do it. I am not a carpenter so this is my first roof, but I have read and watched a lot of your materials. I have a stack of roof framing books and courses. Yours is the only useful information. Thanks for a good product!

I’ve read tons and tons of books on framing and construction, and A Roof Cutters Secrets was definitely one of the most helpful.


 A Roof Cutter's Secrets to framing the custom home 
(2014)    Review


 From the Top Plates Up - A Production Roof Framer's Journey (2018)    Review   Review   Review


The Complicated Roof - A Cut and Stack Workbook (2009)

 The Carpenter Patriot (2018)

  Videos by Will Holladay:

A Roof Cutter's Secrets DVD (JLC Live)

Additional info on the Roof Framing for the Professional DVD sets including links to sample material, can also be found in a follow-up blog. 

Roof Framing for the Professional - Part 1: The Essentials (3 disk series)    Review

Roof Framing for the Professional- Part 2: Advanced Topics (3 disk series)    Review

Rafting the "BIG DROPS" of the Grand Canyon

Contact Will Holladay at whframingconsultant@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

New pocket sized book incorporating all the formulas a carpenter needs to build normal roofs

Have you always wanted a pocket-sized book illustrating all the roof framing formulas that you use on a daily basis? Well, wait no longer – Handy formulas for Stick Framing Roofs is exactly that. Will Holladay pulled the most commonly used figures from his classic roof framing manual A Roof Cutter’s Secrets and placed them in a mini-book about the size of your smart phone (4 inch x 6 inch). Absolutely perfect for the job-site. Now you can leave the 350 page version of A Roof Cutter’s Secrets at home or in your pickup. The figures are laid out horizontally over two pages so they can be read easily. Each figure is an exact duplicate from what is found in A Roof Cutter’s Secrets. Therefore, in addition to the graphic and caption it contains the “method” and “example” segments if a math solution is required. If relevant, the methodology for applying the Construction Master® Pro calculator can be found on an adjoining page. Stick Framing Roofs also includes the eight mainstay charts found in A Roof Cutter’s Secrets including: RR and LL ratios; Hip/Valley backing angles; Side- and Bevel-Cuts on the Hip/Valley rafter tail with square-hung fascia; and, Regular California Valley sleeper head/tail cuts. Everything you need for standard roof framing situations. Slip Stick Framing Roofs in your pocket and together with your calculator or smart phone and you are good to go.
PLEASE NOTE: This book is for experienced rough carpenters only – specifically those who are familiar with and possess a copy of A Roof Cutter’s Secrets since in this mini-book there are no textual explanations other than the figure caption and method blurb.
Reader's comments 
Will, I absolutely love the book. Just placed an order so all our journeyman carpenters will have a copy.  
Hi Will.  I just picked up a copy of  "Handy Formulas..." and am enjoying flipping through it. What a great idea to make a pocket reference for carpenters, 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Available NOW at bookstores and Amazon (CLICK on title)

 by: Will Holladay

Four years to write - A lifetime to gain the experience

A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us.” - J Steinback
In From the Top Plates Up, production roof cutter Will Holladay, author of the classic roof framing manual A Roof Cutter's Secrets (1988, 2002, 2014) and the challenging workbook The Complicated Roof (2009) shares a bucket load of stories as he reflects back over his 42-year career as a hard swinging roof framer. The book goes back to the early 1970s when the author was a jobsite laborer working for a custom builder and carries all the way through to 2014 when injuries finally got the best of him. It is the love story of a man and a job. The story of a relentless roof-framing junkie who was never happy unless he was up in the air. Interwoven in the book are intriguing stories of lessons learned – many the hard way – aimed specifically at helping the reader avoid the same pitfalls that tripped him up. The book harbors a kaleidoscope of fun and informative topics including: his favorite tools; swinging a hammer; avoiding jobsite injuries; dealing with simple or crippling medical events; forging a top-notch framing crew; setting up your work truck; the history and tools of production roof cutting; applying the cool new rafter cutting inventions; the development of modern day roof framing lingo; and, staying in physical shape for maximum jobsite performance. In one stirring chapter Will tells of his conversion to Christianity while stacking roofs in the Los Angeles housing tracts and how that decision eventually lead him to a part-time ministry in Central America where he helps out as a relief pilot and teaches locals rough carpentry skills. The book is truly a collection of the best pearls of wisdom from one of the industry’s most beloved roof framers. It is written in a manner that will cause the reader to stop and think, all the while challenging him/her to reach for the stars.

Table of Contents 

1. One Swing, One Nail – the art of the hammer
2. My Two Best Friends – a Skil 77 and a Homelite chainsaw
3. The Minimalist – “simple” and “speed” both start with an “S” (the tools I use)
4. A Man and his Truck
5. The Making of a Framing Crew
6. Roof Cutters – a flash in time (the history of production roof cutting)
7. Smiles and Frowns – successes and failures (jobs)
8. Where was Adam when we needed him – names matter (roof framing terms)
9. Filling Needs – the Headcutter and the Seat-cut guide stories (inventions)
10. Framing Is a Street Fight – treating and avoiding jobsite injuries
11. The Domino Principle and the Downhill Slide (a story of injuries)
12. Teaming up with the Perfect Carpenter
13. Train to Survive the Battle (physical training ideas for a framer)

Reader's comments

Hi Will. Your new book provides a magnificent picture of production framing at a truly professional level.

Will, I just wanted to let you know I finished “From the top plates up” last week and it was a joy to read. As someone who has become very interested in the days of tract homes and the production framing techniques that were developed during the time period, your book had great insight. Again loved the book and it has a new spot on my bookshelf, top shelf right beside my dog eared, underlined ,highlighted and well worn copy of RCS!

This book managed to capture a look into the world of framing through an amazingly talented carpenter. The journey reveals tricks and tips that will add knowledge to anyone who has a desire for advanced skills in framing. Along with the hard work of framing comes wear and tear on your body. I was pleased to read that maintaining fitness to perform this hard trade was addressed. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about a dedicated tradesmen and a wonderful life story.

I have purchased and really enjoyed and benefited from two of your books: A Roof Cutter’s Secrets to Framing the Custom Home, and From the Top Plates Up.  I am a carpenter (of course), and found a lot of times where what you wrote expressed how I’ve felt but never even realized.  It was great to have it put into words; I even got a good laugh because of it a few times.

Hi Will,
"From the Top Plates up" took me back in time. I became a rough carpenter in 1969 at 18. Did layout, stood walls, P&L, joist. Unlike you, I never gravitated to stacking or fascia. I was a little afraid of heights. I admire your expertise in that area. One of my first jobs as an apprentice was working with a roof cutter in the San Fernando Valley. I moved to San Diego in ’73 and continued my rough framer career until 1984. I made the jump into residential supervision, then VP of Operations, you know…corporate bullshit. I am now retired but my fondest memories are being a young framer. Thanks for getting me back in touch with some great memories.

Monday, June 15, 2020

History behind the Headcutter and Seat-cut Guide

The following short blurbs are condescended from the chapter
 “Filling Needs – the Headcutter and Seat-cut guide stories” in
 From the Top Plate Up – A Production Roof Framer’s Journey

Get your copy of FTPU  HERE.

The Headcutter

Best gang-cutting tool available

By doing roof framing demonstrations in the mid-1990s incorporating the production gang-cutting methodology at JLC Live conferences, I became acutely aware of the problems everyday carpenters faced in applying these techniques on the job-site. Few possessed or could even purchase the trick roof cutting tools that I had from the track framing days of the 1970s (dado saws, sidewinder blades, etc). While the swing-table saw base was readily available to help make the seat-cuts, making the head-cuts even with the Linear Link or Prazi Saws was extremely inefficient due to their lack of power. To remedy this, I decided to undertake a project to mount a regular gas-powered chainsaw with some real horsepower on an adjustable saw-table.

Original prototype

Working on it in my spare time, I had a prototype ready within a few weeks, but it would take a year or more before I could get it out to the public. What was of great importance to me was that the saw-foot be able to mount quickly on the chainsaw’s chainbar without the need to drill mounting holes. A chainsaw accessory more or less. I also wanted the saw-table to be able to bevel well past 45°, so it could not only be used to gang-cut ridge-cuts, but also be used to gang-cut seat-cuts. Yep, a genuine “one tool does it all” solution to the age-old problem of gang-cutting rafters. I originally began by using a pair of large set screws for the chainbar fastening method, but later this was upgraded to a more beefy clamping mechanism when it went into production at Big Foot Tools, and a legitimate machine shop was fabricating the saw-table, not some guy on the tailgate of his pickup truck. My design utilized the top edge of the chainsaw bar to make the cut so wood chips were thrown away from the operator and the cut-line area stayed clean. While I had employed the “top edge of chainbar” cutting technique in other framing situations all my life, using it for the vertical milling of raked rafters was nothing short of a perfect fit.  After much deliberation I settled on the name “Headcutter” for the saw-foot. Looking back now I probably should have named it the “RafterCutter” or “Gangcutter” so the name would better incorporate all its cutting capacity, but hindsight is always 20/20.

 Headcutter can be used to make seat-cuts as well as head-cuts 

Everyone liked the “Headcutter.” Not only did it get used to gang-cut rafter ridge-cuts and seat-cuts, but it found a home precision cutting bundled TJIs and structural insulated panels (SIPs) as well. I was jazzed that carpenters finally had an adequate tool solution to the age-old problem of gang-cutting rafters.

Sunday, June 14, 2020



ROOF  FRAMING for the PROFESSIONAL video series


Part 1 – The Essentials  (3 disk DVD set) 6 hrs.  $50

This set covers those roof situations where a framer can expect to spend over 90% of his career.  Click  HERE to view "The Essentials" video trailer.  Purchase it NOW (click on NOW)


Part 2 – Advanced Topics  (3 disc DVD set) 4.6 hrs.  $50

This set covers those tough roof situations that require a good amount of practice and patience to master.  Click HERE  to view the "Advanced Topics" video trailer.  Purchase it NOW (click on NOW)


If you are looking for slick, high quality, professionally produced roof framing videos, these DVDs are not for you.  If you are a "dyed in the wool" steel square guy, these DVDs are not for you.  If you are looking for some magical method that will convert you into an expert roof framer overnight without any hard work or concentration, these DVDs are not for you.  But, if you ever wanted to sit down and learn from one of the industries most respected roof framing specialists, here is your chance. 

   In 2012, while Will Holladay taught a 2 week long roof framing clinic, we used a small video camera to record his classroom sessions and the “hands on” mockup demonstrations.  Afterwards, his presentations were condensed down to 11 hrs. of instruction and fitted into two separate DVD sets so that anyone interested could benefit from the same material.  The sound may not be the best and some may not like the fish eye lens but the material is terrific.  If you overlook these two small items you will be more than pleased.

   If any college ever wanted to offer a semester long professional roof framing course, Will’s presentation would make a great curriculum.  It is an in-depth training program of theory, application, and assembly that sequentially progresses in difficulty.   Each DVD builds on the previous.   The first DVD starts out gentle so you will have a chance to get used to his terminology and methodology but after 15 minutes he really starts pressing on the accelerator and it never slows down.  Click on the following links to see various samples from "The Essentials"

Why don't my rafters fit?  Common roof framing errors
Stacking a Gable roof 

Should rafters always line up across a ridge, hip, or valley  
Stacking a Regular Hip roof

Why don't my Hip rafters fit?  What did I do wrong?
Stacking a Dutch Hip roof

   Will does use the Construction Master Pro calculator throughout (click name for link), so it is highly recommended that you have one of these handy to be able to follow the calculations.  The videos are fast paced so keep your computer mouse or DVD player control in hand to rewind as required.

   European/other viewers:  These videos are formatted in NTSC which is standard for USA DVD players.  This format will work on PAL (non-USA) formatted DVD players as well.  These videos can also be viewed on any computer.

   Special thanks to Dave Eister, Ron McKee, Chuck Cline and Calculated Industries for their help in production. 

Customer comments:

Hey Will, I just received both Part 1 and Part 2 of your  Roof Framing for the Professional DVD series.  I had them forwarded to me overseas in Norway.  I  wanted to say that while I haven't been able to watch all of them yet,  I am more that satisfied.  I think you did a excellent job on everything.  They are much better than how you described them.  I would give them a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

Anyway, thanks again for making them. 
Ray Scholz

Just a quick note to say I’m working my way through Part 1 and am getting a lot out of it.  Thanks again for taking the time to put the videos together—great seeing "A Roof Cutter's Secrets" in action.

Rob Petito 
Greenwright Inc.
Philadelphia, PA