Barn: Part 4

Monitor Barn

When we built the first of our barns (the 3-bay equipment shed that was completed in 2011), I had borrowed a car-hauling trailer from my brother-in-law to transport the timbers from the sawmill to our land. It took three trips (each at 160 miles round trip) following a mid-October snowstorm to get the wood all on site (along with an adventure that I don’t want to repeat).

For this main barn project we decided to pay Heath Lumber to truck the timbers to us – a much better option, however not without its mishaps. When the timbers and sub-flooring planks arrived in October of 2013 (photo above), the driver was hesitant about dumping the load where I’d wanted it. Marion and I stood by nervously as he raised the bed of the truck on a sloping sidehill. I’ve spared the photographic details of what came next (as it pains me to watch it again). Suffice it to say that it didn’t go well. The intent was for the banded packages of timber to slide off and land in a stack, landing on the ground in much the same order as it laid on the bed of the truck. Seconds after the above photo was taken, however, our timbers and sub-flooring planks lay scattered in a giant pile of pick-up sticks. Gravity had prevailed against hope and the load toppled sideways as the truck drove out from under.

Monitor Barn

Before getting started with the timber joinery (January, 2014), I built a timber cart for hauling the heavy green hemlock from the stacked piles into the shop. In the photo above I’ve got a small (4×7) floor joist loaded on the cart to test it out.

Monitor Barn

I really enjoy my winter days in the shop cutting joinery. I’ve developed a routine that includes my favorite NPR segments. Given that the shop (greenhouse) is heated by the winter sun, I have to wait for things to warm a bit before getting started in the morning. I usually walk in at 10 a.m. as Tom Ashbrook is announcing the topics and guests for his daily radio hour, On Point.

In the photo above I’m planing the surface of a floor joist with a timber framing tool known as a slick. The largest of the timber framing chisels, the slick is used to put the finishing touches the surfaces of both mortises and tenons.

Monitor Barn

The photo above shows the setup for the chain mortiser. This invaluable tool is the modern day equivalent to the old Millers Falls boring machine which was a hand-cranked device for accurately plunging an auger bit into the beams to rough out the mortises. Today’s chain mortisers do the same job, albeit requiring electricity rather than human power. Our little 2kw Honda generator powers this shop.

A finished brace mortise (below) is the first of hundreds of mortises to be cut for this building.

Monitor Barn