About Ready for a Barn Raising

Yesterday, in the midst of working on the sawmill and coming down with the flu by the end of the day, I realized how close we are to putting up this frame. Like, it’s just one post, and thirty rafters away from the raising. So let this be your unofficial invitation to help me raise a timber frame in the next couple months. Most likely, there will be a crane on site and the extra hands will be used for bracing things, guiding tenons into mortises, moral support, etc.

Faith had a chance to come and take some legitimate pictures of the progress so far. (Much better than what I can capture with my flip phone.)

Yesterday, Pa and I cut only red and chestnut oak. As I’ve mentioned before, the frame will be a mixture of poplar and oak. I would prefer the entire thing to be done in poplar. In terms of weight, the poplar is about half as light. And the poplar cuts much much easier on the sawmill than the oak does. However, the oak tends to resist splitting more than the poplar does. Faith also got some close up shots of the timbers that have already been finished.

The piece on the bottom with lots of mortises and the long tenon is one of the crossbeams. The rough members directly above are rafters that were cut just a week ago and still need to be worked.

I’ve also spent a little bit of time working on the home site, landscaping, back-filling, and doing a bit of stone work. Our basement needed a basement door, so I made one out of pressure treated lumber, which was awful to work with. But now that it’s done, I’m very satisfied with the end product.

The door was made out of pressure treated 2×6’s that were attached to a breadboard end of sorts with tongue and groove joinery. Those were then pegged with oak pegs.

The drystone work will be pointed up later so that we don’t create a prime habitat for some slithery friends. Gravel and stone were back-filled up until a foot or so from ground level.

Pa dug the ditch for my water supply line with a backhoe and we managed to punch a hole in our two foot thick concrete wall to accommodate the line. We picked a weak spot where three blocks met together and had minimal resistance.

My subfloor has remained dry thanks to the multiple layers of 6 mil plastic that I put on it. Faith mentioned that it looked like a layered cake… That’s my girl.


7 thoughts on “About Ready for a Barn Raising

  1. Jeremy September 25, 2016 / 5:20 am

    I have enjoyed reading through your blogs following your timber frame, it seems to be complete and I must say well done, sir. Seeing that this is one of the few posts where you mention milling your timbers and/or show photos of the milling rig I must ask if you would be willing to share more information about this process. What mill do you use and how to you handle the logs/cants? Did you mill all your timbers at once or mill them as needed for doing joint work? How long did your timbers sit air-drying before your barn raising and did you notice any significant warping or dimensional change in them? Perhaps you could do a post dedicated to milling?

    • jlough8788 September 25, 2016 / 12:29 pm

      Great questions!! The bandsaw mill that I used was a Hudson H360 sawmill. We would get the logs in a general position with the forks on the tractor, and then roll them on the sawmill lift with cant hooks. Our particular sawmill has a hydraulic log lift that puts the log on the frame of the mill. Once the log is on the mill, there is another hydraulic log turner that looks like a chainsaw with large dull teeth to roll the log around to where you want it.

      I milled all of the subfloor timbers at once (in about 2 weeks), and then milled the rest of the timbers as I had them available over the winter when the weather allowed. It took me about two weeks worth of working days to cut all of the timbers on the sawmill. But this was stretched over a few months. On days that it was too cold to run the sawmill (below freezing) I would work on the timbers, cutting the joints out little by little.

      The timbers sat for about 2 months total before the raising. The quicker you can get the timbers into position, the better. Once the timbers start to check, it’s difficult to get things to match up correctly. If the joinery is done correctly, it will keep the whole structure from moving around too much, even when the timbers start to dry. I haven’t noticed any significant sounds or movements in my frame, and it’s a combination of different woods. Hope all this answers your questions! If you have any more, feel free to ask!

  2. Michael Gates December 27, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    Can you comment more on your foundation? It looked like you were going with native stone but it looks like you ended up using concrete block?

      • Michael Gates December 28, 2016 / 7:41 pm


        Are those Redi-Rock blocks? What did they cost? I’m looking at paying $19,000 for a foundation and, while I’m sure this isn’t their intended use, they are more than up to the task? Right? How are they holding up?


        Sent from my iPad


  3. jlough8788 December 30, 2016 / 6:42 pm

    I’m not sure if they’re called Redi-rocks or not, but around here they go by the title of “pre-cast blocks”. The 6′ long blocks were 75 dollars a piece, the 5′ corners were 80 a piece, and the 3′ half blocks were 55 a piece.

    These suckers have most certainly held up to the task of a foundation, but if I had to do it over, I would not use them again. They’re a cheap alternative if you have the equipment to put them in with, but from the company I sourced them from, the dimensions were not very accurate. Some blocks were up to 4 inches different in thickness. Plus it is most nearly impossible to add utility lines through the 2′ thick concrete.

    But they are holding up and the thermal mass is pretty good.

    • Michael Gates December 30, 2016 / 6:53 pm

      > Jlough8787

      That’s waaaaay less than $19K for poured cement. I think I get your lament about the sewer line and the 2′ thick blocks. You’re going to laugh, I have my own backhoe, and a health department permitted outhouse….

      It’s tough to see the outhouse, it’s right behind the John Deere….


      Sent from my iPad


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