Some tools are intimidating looking. Take a linoleum knife, for example. It has a prominently hooked blade (a hawksbill design, for you blade fanatics) and looks decidedly sinister. However, it’s typically used for making cuts to linoleum tiles and to carpeting.
Other tools have somewhat intimidating names. Take the slate ripper, a tool that has a somewhat off-putting name but is definitely not particularly intimidating to behold. A little bit of context will go a long way here.
Roofs are made and finished with a number of materials. Some roofs are made and finished with sheet metal. Other roofs make use of wood (such as oak or cedar) shakes or shingles. Some are tiled with synthetic materials or even with stone. In this latter camp you’ll find slate roofs, which are made with shingles of slate.
Slate roofs are incredibly durable and resistant to the elements, despite the fact that they are very heavy. In the face of ice, rain, snow, sun and wind, a slate roof can last for up to two centuries, and even lower grades of slate can last anywhere from fifty to a hundred years.
A slate ripper, despite its attention-arresting name, is simply a tool that slate roofers use as a part of their trade. Even though slate roofs will last for a very long time, at some point or other, even slate shingles need to be ripped up and replaced. This is, in part, where the slate ripper comes into the picture.
A slate ripper is a roofing tool that is used to remove the nails that secure slate tiles so that the tiles can be removed and replaced. Often they feature single-piece, forged steel construction and are tempered spring-steel to resist impact.
The reason for this latter attribute has to do with the manner in which the tool itself it used. Slate rippers have a face with a curved end and slots at the sides; this end is slid under broken pieces of slate to engage the nail that secures the tiles. Then, by hitting the handle with a hammer, the nail can be disengaged so that the slate tile can be worked free.
This unique design enables rippers to hook the nail so that the nail is pulled out without damaging or breaking the adjoining tiles on the roof. This makes these tools highly useful not only for repairing entire roofs, but also for removing slate tiles that are broken so that they can be replaced.
Also, due to the unique nature of the tool, they are equally useful for removing slate tile shingles and cedar shakes (or other wooden shakes or shingles) for roof repair or restoration. Interestingly enough, cedar and oak shakes last an impressively long time – and slate rippers are just as useful for repairing and restoring these types of roofs as well.
Therefore, in spite of the fact that slate rippers come with pretty macabre sounding names, they’re actually pretty basic and highly useful tools. The high-quality, single-piece rippers available at John Stortz & Sons are even compatible with replaceable blades and handles so that when these parts wear they can easily be fixed.
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