"Hobbit Holes in MyWorld" --by RusticWoodArt #54: What Lights Up An English Barn

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Blog entry by frank posted 08-14-2009 06:32 AM 2033 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 53: Barn Cat in Training and More.... Part 54 of "Hobbit Holes in MyWorld" --by RusticWoodArt series Part 55: Twinings of WoodArt »

What Lights Up An English Barn

Well I believe that it doesn’t take much to get me talking about barns….or might I add English Barns. I was asked to post some pictures of my barn, but how could I ever just show some pictures without also going into some barn terminology?

From the picture above I am standing on the third floor of the barn….or if some-one is counting the cellar also, then I guess one could say the fourth floor. My wife bartered some homemade jams for the chandelier, which is made out of a bone base. I just realized now that one cannot see the bone, so I will get a better picture of that up also soon. Standing on the south side of the barn here one can see across the top to the north side which makes for 4 bays and also means that there are 5 bents.

What one can see in this picture is:
Ridge Beam
Struts or Canted Purlin Posts
Tree Nails

I might as well set some standard point of reference here as I get started, so let me just mention that on the far end (north end) of the barn I will be calling that ‘bent’ #1 and ‘bay’ #1 and yes, this will carry forth in all ongoing stories. So coming from the north there we follow through with bays 1, 2, and 3 and you may notice that the purlins are all oak….and then in number 4 bay,the purlins have been re-placed and are now hemlock. One bit of fascinating information that I might pass along is that when one is looking at an English Barn such as this one, the first place to check for rot or punky wood is up here in the purlins. And since this barn is dated around 1780, we were making sure that there was not much wood rot herin from water leakage in the roof system.

One more bit of barn terminology that I will point out here is that of the ‘tree nails’, which I made out of white oak….whew! The tree nails are all hand driven in and to answer ahead to a question that some might be thinking, there are no-steel nails and no-gang plates used in the structure of this barn. In my estimation that is the reason why these barns are still around, and as you may notice mortise and tenon joints, along with the purlins which are half-lapped into the rafter and are all pegged. This type of wood joinery allows for the joints to move and….also the barn ends up ‘talking’ to you as she adjusts to changes in the weather and seasons. I might also point out that where the light is fixed to the beam above, this one is called a ridge beam. And last of all I will mention that the barn boards on the roof are all out of the orginal weathered barn boards that we managed to save//salvage from when we took this one down.

I do hope that some get enjoyment out of this and there is more to come in time and space! I might mention that if any have questions, please fill free to ask away and I will do my best to get back to you here.

Thank you.

’’ smart, work safe, and live, to work the wood....’‘

-- --frank, NH,

9 comments so far

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3430 days

#1 posted 08-14-2009 11:06 AM

Love the barn! Do not know much about them so I have some questions, If I may, or am allowed to pick your expertise. So why does not one saw the nails flat with the surface of the rafters? And another quetion, was this barn actually built by english people or is it the style. .... Do you have more pictures? I think it would be interesting to see more. What kind of roofing material goes on a barn like this.

Thanks for posting

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4241 days

#2 posted 08-14-2009 01:46 PM

Hi Frank, I’ve just one question. Did they keep the stock in the cellar? Beautiful barn and amazing what you have done to her. Where did you learn about Old English barn construction? I guess that’s two questions. God Bless, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View lew's profile


12055 posts in 3750 days

#3 posted 08-14-2009 07:06 PM


Thanks for the continuing tour. It is extremely interesting and informative.

Around here, we have mostly German barns so this is very educational to me.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4395 days

#4 posted 08-14-2009 07:49 PM

Yhanks Frank for the info. Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4294 days

#5 posted 08-15-2009 02:37 PM

It must be great living amongst all of this history.

Thanks for the tour, & we’re looking forward to more.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4301 days

#6 posted 08-15-2009 05:32 PM

Hello Frank, You may have answered this in an earlier blog…How long have you had the barn? What year did you move it? Thanks for the lessons…

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4201 days

#7 posted 08-16-2009 05:34 AM

Hello to all;
....and I notice there are some questions asked, so lets get started.

—-’‘why does not one saw the nails flat with the surface of the rafters?’’ This really is just a matter of preference and is up to the individual. Back in 1780 I’m assuming that since this is a barn they just left the nails long. Our house which is a connected cape and was first lived in at 1778, so that means the house was built prior to that….is post and beam also and the nails are some cut flush while some are still left hanging long. Now days in new timber framed hoses some homeowners choose to leave the nails long for using to hang flower pots and such. I left the nails long since as you will notice in the picture, I use them to clamp lights onto and etc.

—-’‘was this barn actually built by english people or is it the style.’’ I’m going to say, ‘yes’ to both of your thoughts here. Since the English Barn is modeled after the English Tithe Barn, and that answers to ‘style….while since it was an English Barn, I’m again saying that the ships carpenters and wood workers that built this one were English also.

—-’‘What kind of roofing material goes on a barn like this? The roofing would have been orginally wood shakes and when we got the barn it had asphalt shingles….now it wears a red metal roof.

——’‘Did they keep the stock in the cellar?’’ The Englis Barn had no cellar, so all livestock was kept on the first floor. We added a cellar to this barn since we dug into the side of a bank, so to be 100% correct this barn is a English Bank Barn.

—-’’....Where did you learn about Old English barn construction?’’ By doing Old English Barn construction and spending many hours and hours rooting around in English Barns and taking notes.

—-’‘How long have you had the barn?’’ and ’‘What year did you move it? We got the barn in October of 2000 and then took her down numbering all the timbers and then moved her up to our place in November of that same year. One side point I might mention, since you also know NH is, the barn came from Milford. Then we spent a year getting the permits and such, plus saving money and I started putting her up in the spring of 2002….since then it has been a , never ending story’ but she has taught me greatly about ‘patience’. the good news, been kayaking Friday and today and leaving early for more of the same on Sunday….may even get out on the water come Monday and Tuesday. So if I’m slow around here….just know that I’m not slow on the water. And I also would like to thank all for your comments and questions….and;



-- --frank, NH,

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#8 posted 08-16-2009 05:47 AM

Hey Frank Thanks for the tour. Happy 1000 thousandth day.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4201 days

#9 posted 08-16-2009 05:54 AM

—-thank you Jim….!

-- --frank, NH,

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