Barn Raising: Day One

June 18th. Raising day!

Meghann and Sam arrived the day before and set up camp on the lawn. The rest of the crew arrived on Saturday morning. The weather was perfect. It was time to begin putting this barn up.

Our rented telehandler had arrived the day before and by the morning of raising day it had already been named. Henry. (Marion has a name for everything!) It stuck and Henry quickly became a dear friend and partner on the job. The machine was brand new. It even had that smell of just-off-the-lot newness. I marveled at the engineering and the slick controls. Henry was perfect for the job. With slings and shackles tying the bents to Henry’s forks, the only human muscle needed was the effort to guide the post bases into the sill mortises.

Coffee mugs line the foundation as the morning’s work begins.

Sam (left), along with my nephew Evan and my niece’s boyfriend, Tyler, help me get the posts standing straight and true.

Another bent drops in. (Timber framers use the term “flying in” when referring to the process of bringing the timber assemblies into place using a crane.)

Each of the assembled bents weighs about half of a ton. Henry made it all easy.

For a few of the posts we had to shave a bit off the tenons before they fit precisely. I can’t imagine having to lift them out by hand in order to pare them down. With Henry, we were able to easily lift a few inches, take a lick or two with a plane, then lower the bent back into place.

The view from the driver’s seat (above).

Once the four main bents were up, we had to temporarily release the braces and lean the frame back to make room for inserting the ties that connect the bents. For that, we used 2×4’s as pike poles (a traditional device which included a steel spike mounted to the end of a wooden pole, used for pushing up timber frames). My sister, Melanie, had joined the crew by that point, fitting right in with extremely capable team.

Evan (above) guides a tie beam into its housed mortise.

Meghann, the ever-capable member of the A-Team, spent much of her time high up on the frame bringing it all together.

I oversee the process of flying in the top plates (above).

Rather than assembling the 3-piece, scarf-joined top plates on the deck, we flew each piece in separately and joined them in place.

By the end of day one we had the main bents standing, tie beams pegged in, and one of the top plates in place. I’d been working since 5 am when we finally quit for the day at 8 pm. Very intense, yet oh, so rewarding.