Barn: Part 6

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The pieces lay waiting, in neat, covered stacks. It was mid-October, three years after we’d broken ground for our barn. We put out the word, rallying friends and family for a “raising” on Sunday, October 26th. It was finally time to begin joining timbers for the frame.

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I was nervous about the stop splayed scarf joints. I’d never attempted one before and the barn deck includes seven of them. On the day before our “crew” was to arrive, I test fit the joints and made the white ash tapered square pegs that lock the joint in place. I’m test-fitting the pegs in the photo above. The joint came together precisely as planned.

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Meghann arrived a day before the others and helped with the test fitting and final adjustment of the joinery (above).

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My anxiety about the raising was compounded by the weather. After a beautiful, warm Saturday, the next day dawned gray and wet. I wondered who, if anyone, would show. My worries were for naught, however, as the sound of vehicles announced the arrival of many close friends.

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In the photo above, Jayson, Andy, Robbie, and Rob help fit a post and its braces into one of the forebay sills. We discuss the necessary adjustment, take it apart, pare a bit of wood from the brace mortise, and all fits well.

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We continued to test fit the pieces for the forebay deck assembly before transporting them to the barn site. In the photo above, Andy, Robbie, Rob, Jayson, Sam, Meghann, and Jane listen to my plans for bringing it all together.

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The weather cleared as the day progressed. By the time we’d raised the forebay posts and sill, there were patches of blue overhead. In the photo above, I’m fitting the scarf joint after ten of us had hefted the assembly into place atop the cement piers. The combination of those pieces I’m leaning on in the photo above (sill beam, posts and braces) weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 lbs.

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Marion’s brother, Toad, watches as I drill for the pegs to secure a scarf joint. The tapered ash pegs keep the two pieces firmly locked before the joint becomes complete when the 1-inch oak pegs are driven home. The joist pockets and housed mortises can be seen at 2-ft intervals along the 30-ft beam.

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Meghann and Jayson, two of the Northwoods Stewardship Center gang who’d come to help out, steady the ladder as I prepare to peg a joint.

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The next step was to build a temporary support to hold the 14-foot 4×9 floor joists that connect the sills. The assembly plan required that the five tenons on the joists for the middle bay slide into their corresponding mortises on the sill beam at the same time. Many hands were required to make it work.

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Meghann, Jayson, and Sam (above) had journeyed two hours from the north for the event. They brought a great deal in the way of skills, muscle, and enthusiasm to the raising.

In the photo below, Robbie captured a shot of many of us before breaking for lunch. From the left, Ed, Jane, Rob, me, Marion, Jayson, Sam, Meghann, and Andy pose for the picture. Not shown are Robbie (behind the camera), Anika, Gordon, Toad, and Cat. We couldn’t have done it without them.

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