Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tha Barn Raising

Well we did it. The barn raising was a fantastic success. I couldn't have had a better group of people to make this happen. I had to add this old picture to see the similarities. I think we were all too tired for some to climb up top for the group photo and some had to leave before we took the group shot but we all had fun and a day to remember.
Thanks again for all the wonderful volunteers. Also to Kenny, Carl, and most of all Bill Nelson who's dedication to this project has kept me going. These guys know what hard work is all about. Bill, I hope the sore muscles heal soon.
I can't leave out the hard work that Shawn Lance has put into video editing and a time lapse of the raising that I will post as soon as it is ready.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Uplifting Moment

I managed this week to lose both of my tents that have sheltered me from the sun during this whole process of timberframing. One of the tents was secured with concrete blocks at each corner and I was holding on to a leg when the wind ripped it from my grasp and sent it rolling through the field. Looks like lots of sunscreen til the raising day next Saturday.

Here is my 9 (almost 10) year old son Logan using his favorite tool the "commander". It is also called a beatle or mallot. It can get the job done of knocking the beams together. He has taken a lot of interest in this project and says he too wants to be a chairmaker someday, will see.

For all of you coming to help raise the shop don't forget it will start around noon next Saturday, August 29th. Please bring sunscreen, gloves, camera( for the big group photo), and swim suit for those who want to swim. We will have a celebration with dinner and snacks Saturday night. I hope to see you there. It should be great fun!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Bigger the Joint the Bigger the Tools

Time is drawing near to the barn raising. I have really enjoyed my time working with these oversized tools. They have become somewhat comfortable in my hands over the last several months and it seems almost sad to know soon they will be put away, but not for good. I know better than to sell these tools for another timber frame addition or building is always possible.

After months of planning and cutting timber and now putting the bents together the excitement of the raising is starting to build and at times a sense of panic sets in. The frame is of red oak which is extremely heavy. Hundreds of years ago a bunch of farmers would get together who were use to daily hard lifting and work and raise a barn by hand as a necessity. Now days we have cranes which can take the place of many people. Can a hand raising of red oak still be possible today? What fun would watching a crane do all the work be anyway? As these thoughts pass through my mind I can't help but think a community of people from many different backgrounds can come together and make the impossible possible. I think a lot of us would like to go back to see what it was like hundreds of years before 9-5 jobs and fast food chains. Maybe those who come to this barn raising can get a taste of what it may have been like back in "the good ole days". Maybe we can prove our "good ole days" are now.

Friday, August 7, 2009

White Oak Gold

I just returned with the last load of timber for the new shop including braces and misc. framing material. I also cut a nice White Oak for windsor chairmaking. I shot a short video while Bill cut it down. It was very straight and clear which should split and rive into a lot of nice chair parts. This tree was 18'' inside the bark at 5' off the ground. It was 34' to the first branch but the clearest part was only 16'. Plenty of wood to last awhile. I always look forward to splitting a fresh new log. It's hard work ( especially when it's 95 degrees) but makes good sleep at the end of the day. Stay tuned for pictures of inside this beauty.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting Organized

Many things must take place before cutting the first mortise and tenon on this new shop. I have read many books including Jack Sobon's book. Peter Galbert from New York has been very helpful in planning. Check out Peter's blog. I decided to go with an 18' x 36' footprint with 4 bents and 3 bays. Using a 12/12 pitch roof. I even built a small model to work out all the details. No I am not building it like the model now.

Gathering certain tools such as a chain mortiser, 16'' beam saw, slicks, mortise chisels, mallets, commanders, and other measuring tools has been fun and expensive but so far worth it. My biggest obstacle has been time. If I only had more time. I think I am organized enough at this point to start using the tools.

Most of the wood has been cut and ready to work. We have had a lot of rain this summer and as you can see in the background I have tried to keep water off of the subfloor the best I can. Stay tuned for the next post which should show some progress.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


One of the more difficult aspects of timber framing is moving the logs. A tractor is helpful but sometimes just getting the beams on the trailor can be a challenge. Hydraulics are very cool but when not available you have to depend on ropes, pulleys, and very strong backs. Red oak will make a very strong frame but sometimes I wish I had access to white pine which weighs half as much. I respect gravity and what it can do. Logs can weigh between 800-1000 pounds when green. I have had close to 7000 pounds on my trailor , scary!

I leave next week for Indiana for another load which should be the last trip for the timber frame shop.