I can’t improve on my boss Clayton DeKorne’s intro paragraph to his review of roof-framing legend Will Holladay’s book From the Top Plates Up: A production roof framer’s journey so I won’t even try.

Will Holladay has produced a new book that falls squarely into the “must-read” pile for every carpenter. JLC readers may know Will as an early contributor to the magazine and author of A Roof Cutter’s Secrets to Framing the Custom House or perhaps as a presenter at the earliest JLC Live shows.

Will spent time in the Los Angeles housing tracts, working as a roof cutter and stacker in the mid- to late-1970s, catching the tail-end of a special era before roof trusses became the norm.

While Clay goes on to write more gems below, I encourage you to read the whole piece. It’s short, good, and enlightening.

Roof cutters—and lots of us—do things to this day because Will Holladay walked the earth.

Efficiency frequently won out over safety; it was a brutal process carried out with jigged-up tools. But this era spun out a body of forward thinking on jobsite efficiency and tool invention, much of which Will has captured in this latest book. He does so specifically as history in the chapter “Roof Cutters - a flash in time” (which is so readable, it’s hard to put down).

The knowledge in this book is not for framers alone. Every carpenter, every building professional can benefit from Will’s experience and insights. Chapters like “The Making of a Framing Crew,” “Smiles and Frowns - successes and failures (jobs),” and “A Man and His Truck” (one of my personal favorites) are based on personal stories, but Will has very little ego in telling them.

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