5 Specialist Tools for Roofers

By Jamie Sly

Although there is a lot that can be done by a layman in terms of roof maintenance and repair, there are, quite naturally, specialist tools for roofers which deal better with the more complex or specific jobs which can be needed. If one requires a particular piece of equipment, using traditional (or general) tools can be detrimental to your cause, and leave you with a situation which is, at best, unfinished. This article will explore and explain the properties and advantages of 5 specialist roofing tools, in the hope that you will be able to use the information for the betterment of your own roof maintenance.


More commonly known as shears, snips are a form of hand tool used mainly for the cutting, cropping or manipulating of sheet metal.

spring tin snips

The snips made for roofers are typically made of lightweight yet powerful tin, and are extremely powerful. Many of the top-of-the-range tinsnips are made using a spring-loaded system which manages to increase the strength of the snips—given that snips work based on a simple leverage system, the long handled versions (especially when spring loaded) work particularly efficiently. Though capable of making slight curves if used properly and professionally, tinsnips are designed predominantly for cutting straight lines through sheet metal, a substance which has very little resistance to such an effective tool.

Tile Nibbler

Although the noun “nibbler" may sound adorable, tile nibblers are powerful and versatile tools. Many people, quite incorrectly, overlook the importance of such instruments, but a tile nibbler has a plethora of uses, and is far stronger than the name might suggest.

tile nibbler

It is true that they can be used to effectively gnaw away gradually at the edges of tiles in order to create aesthetically pleasing curves, the long handles and carbide blades allow for feats of extreme strength. The torque provided by lengthy handles is quite formidable, providing an effective tool for the gripping, pulling, or pinching materials on the roof—you can use them for everything from removing nails, to cutting away inconvenient debris. Long handles are also useful for reaching difficult or obscured objects which may otherwise appear to be inaccessible.

Slate Ripper

Slate is a famously sturdy and often unyielding material, which can make roofing a difficult task when it needs to be removed. This particular job is the perfect example of a venture which should only be attempted with the correct equipment: this equipment being the slate ripper.

Using a slate ripper

Designed with two blades at the end of a long, flat metal extension, the handle is specifically made with finger-grooves for maximum comfort. In order to withstand the considerable strain of removing slate, the handle is expertly welded onto the tool for the greatest durability possible. The double-blade system allows for accurate and precise removal of slate: the blades hook onto the nails which hold the tiles in place and break them as required. Especially useful during renovations, slate rippers are seemingly rudimentary and yet positively vital contraptions.

Slater’s Hammer

As with the slate ripper, the slater’s hammer may sound (and appear) to be quite a crude instrument, but it cannot be stressed enough that a regular hammer, or indeed a hammer and chisel, are simply inadequate utensils for the tasks attributed to a professional slater’s hammer.

Steel Shafted Slaters Hammer

The head of the hammer is made from a single piece of crucible cast steel, a manufacturing process which ensures both integrity and efficiency. Constituting the head are two ends: the first is a wide, flat hammer head for the installation of roofing nails or the general beating of materials; the second is a sharper point for punching holes in the tough slate. The sharper end is often equipped with a claw for the removal of nails, making the slater’s hammer a rather versatile gadget. Modern examples are made with a long, lightweight, wooden handle to enable long-term use, maximum comfort and optimised strength—the slater’s hammer truly is a specialised tool.

Lead Dressers

The final contrivance on the list is the lead dresser. Lead, despite its reputation for being particularly dense and heavy, is quite a malleable metal, and is therefore easily manipulated without the complex and awkward application of heat. Simple hand tools can be used to mould the metal into the necessary shapes, and these devices are known as lead dressers.

Lead dressing tools

Made from various metals (often zinc or aluminium) or high-density plastics, each lead dresser is shaped slightly differently to cater for a specific job (whether this be bending, flattening or folding) but are usually designed in such a way that they are ambidextrously accessible (i.e. you can use them with either hand). A simple idea, lead dressers are an essential part of any roofer’s toolkit, and a good set will last you for a whole career, so long as you make sure to maintain your equipment as well as your roofs!!


Leave a Reply

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.