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Gauging sticks
1 The slaterís first job, after the slates have been holed, is to measure their lengths. The effective length of a top fixed slate is the distance from the peg/nail hole to the bottom edge (the tail). The stick is therefore set against each slate in turn with the pin against the tail of the slate, the name (length) is measured to the peg hole and the slate placed in the appropriate pile. A set of one length is a parting.

The picture shows a Fourteen slate in the Collyweston system.

Slate lengths transfered to rod
2 When all the slates are sorted the total width of each length is measured or estimated. This figure is then divided by the width of the roof to determine how many courses can be laid in each length. For a gable to gable roof this is simple. For a hipped roof or one with a more complicated plan, adjustments to the calculation have to be made for each course or few courses. A note is made of how many courses there will be of each length often by making pencil marks on the side of the stick.

The slater can now set out the roof for the calculated number of courses.

The first step is to make a mark for each slate course on a rod or batten as long as the rafter but making allowance for the head lap. In some regions several head laps are marked on the stick - typically 1, 2 and 3 inches with half inches shown as dots -  and the approrpiate haed lap is set against the mark for the next but one slate below.

This is repeted for each course. The rod can now be used to mark the lath or batten position for each course on the rafters.

The picture shows the marks for the under-eaves, first, second and third courses.

Rod marks transfered to rafters
3 Next the slater decides on the amount the tail of the first course of slates overhangs the wall of the building. All the slates courses are set out relative to this.

Each mark is then transfered from the rod to a rafter at each side of the roof slope and a string line used to strike the mark across the whole roof.

Finally the battens or laths are nailed below the line.