Step 3: Make a swing stick

Making a swing stick illustration
Photo: David Carmack
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To ensure that the courses are evenly spaced, make a "swing stick" from a straight 1x3 at least 6 feet long. Starting at either end, make a series of marks along one edge, each equal to the clapboard's exposure to the weather. For 6-inch siding, that's 4 1/2 inches. Mark an arrow on the end of the stick where you began measuring.

On the wall, snap a chalk line even with the windowsill's bottom edge.

Stand the swing stick upright on its arrow-marked end between the window and corner board. The end should be even with the bottom edge of the starter course.

If any mark on the stick aligns with the chalk line, simply transfer all the marks from the stick to the wall. If none align, tilt the stick toward the marks until one lines up with the chalk line. Transfer the stick's marks to the wall.

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    Tools List

    • speed square
      Speed Square,
      for marking story pole and swing stick
    • chalk line
      Chalk line.
      for premarking courses and for finding and marking plumb lines at stud locations
    • utility knife
      Utility knife,
      for notching clapboard and cutting felt, flashing, and waterproofing membrane
    • tacker hammer
      Hammer tacker and staples,
      for attaching builder's felt to sheathing alternative: staple gun
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun with paintable, synthetic-rubber sealant,
      for sealing ends of clapboard at casings, frieze, and corner boards
    • ladder
      Ladder or scaffolding,
      for reaching high spots
    • miter saw
      Miter saw,
      for cutting clapboards to length
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • table saw
      Table saw,
      for ripping down the starter strip

    Shopping List

    1. PRIMED RED-CEDAR CLAPBOARD

    2. BUILDER'S FELT: 15-POUND, 12-INCH-WIDE ROLL

    for protecting sheathing at water table, corner boards, and around window and door casings



    3. BUILDER'S FELT: 2-INCH-WIDE ROLL

    for covering the wall at stud locations



    4. METAL FLASHING

    for covering the top edge of the water table and window casings



    5. WATERPROOF MEMBRANE

    for protecting the tops of windows and doors



    6. 4D AND 7D STAINLESS STEEL RING-SHANK NAILS

    for attaching clapboard and flashing