Saturday 25 August 2012

Lead Work

Parts of certain trades fall out of favour or get past on to others.
This is what has started to happen with lead work, as plumbers become more and more expensive it falls to carpenters and roofers to do the lead work required on old buildings. It's something I've been doing since I was trained up as we used to do a lot of roofs.

Roll mops and lead on a roof in 2005
 Cutting and folding the lead, beating it into shape and knowing how it moves with different temperatures is key to making sure that the lead makes the roof watertight and it will last for many years.
Andy, Del and me working on a flat roof 7 years ago
 Sometimes you come up against a problem where cutting or folding won't be good enough - here you have to weld it. It was on the roof on a steel frame that the box gutter against the existing wall would require some lead welding. Luckily the guy I'm working for got an old school plumber in, he was trained in the traditional way to do lead work. The guy was 67, so we carried up the lead for him and I ground out all the masonry so it could be fitted (dusty job), but he knew his stuff.
My first attempt at lead welding (It was raining during this photo!)
I showed a real interest in what he was doing (and fixed his mallet for him), in return he showed me a little bit of lead welding, how to set up the blow torch to get the flame right and how to join two pieces together. I practised on some offcuts and then let him carry on with the real job of fitting the lead to the gutters we made.
welding on the roof - a water proof joint
I hope I get the opportunity to work with him again so I can learn more about lead work and how to weld it together. It seems fewer and fewer people can do this, instead turning to fibreglass, so it would be good to be able to do it myself when I need to. Bit more practise needed yet though!


  1. Every day is a schoolday ,I love seeing good work and the people who do it. You can always pick up a trick or two, cheers Kev :)

  2. By all means, learn it if you can!

  3. I have never seen or heard of it done around Virginia. People still use copper now and then but it is mostly man made stuff. I can see that lead has got to be a good long term solution and one way or another it has to fit.

  4. Cheers guys,
    I always love learning something new, especially when the work is going to be around for a long while yet!


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