Monday, August 11, 2008


Its been forever since I updated this particular blog- but now that we have moved someplace we will stay for a while, I will try to be a little better at keeping things current, though I'm not sure if I will ever find the time to go back and post about everything that happened last summer while I was at Heartwood. On to the present!

I've been working with a small company called the Barnraisers over the last few weeks. I joined them a little more than halfway through cutting the joints for a four stall, 28'x36' horse barn in East Haddam. Yesterday was raising day and there were probably a good fifty or sixty folks that showed up to help, including the four apprentices from this year's Heartwood class.
The video above shows the last of the four bents being raised into place. Its amazing how easily even a small group of people can lift such a massive (in this case, we calculated each bent to be about a ton) amount of weight when the load is distributed.

The other amazing thing about this group is how flawlessly the joinery goes together on raising day. Brendan (the foreman and owner of the company) is the most precise, yet easy-going guy I have ever met. We take great care while all the material is on the ground in the yard- to layout perfectly, triple check everything and then get super fussy about the exactitude of actually cutting the joints. With the exception of circular saws for some rough cuts, everything is cut by hand with chisel and mallet, hand cranked boring machine, or an adze. I have learned a ton in the last three weeks, mostly thanks to Brendan, Bobby, and Splint's generosity in sharing what they know about every aspect of timberframing. It all comes together on raising day; the crowd was amazed that this whole complicated structure went up and even had a roof on in about 9 hours.

This is Brendan's 'shop', its the cleared space in his yard where there will eventually be a big barn and workshop; for now its a flat space to lay out timbers.

A pile of braces with a boring machine on top; this is what we drill out mortises with, its amazingly fast and effective- and very quiet with no sawdust!

The first bent put together and laid out on the ground beforehand- every piece of the barn was organized and laid out around the site in the exact order and orientation in which it would end up in the building.

The second bent raised and connected on the sides by girts and in the middle with dovetailed joists.

Scarf joint in the plate, the longest stick in the barn.

Dovetailed joist ends.

Brendan and Splint installing the hay hook-


Elizabeth said...

WOW!! That was amazing. Thanks for the post.

When did you do the dancing? Don't all barnraising's have people dancing in colorful shirts?

Dogwood Girl said...

Mike, it's beautiful! So impressed.

Dorothy Gould said...

Mike, Really a sight to see, thanks for the video, that really puts it into perspective.

SLP said...

I see so many bad scarf joints when inspecting roofing systems. Cut with dull saws or just not tight. But hey that's what 15 or so nails are for! Awesome barn. Good luck.

Gabel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabel said...


Great blog! You guys seem to be doing some great things up there. I love the video. Keep it coming.
We just started our blog this week