Did this one go twice?

Yesterday was the day we’ve been waiting for – frame-raising day. Pret & I laid out & cut joinery a little more than part-time for almost 3 months. So many friends gathered on Saturday here by the river, neighbors came to watch (& got roped into driving pins) – and we had a great time assembling & raising the frame.

Back when I did a lot of research into 17th century woodworking, I read M. Halsey Thomas, editor, The Diary of Samuel Sewall 1674-1729 2 volumes, (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1973). On page 11 I found: “Saturday, May 15. (1675) Brother’s house was raised, at the raising of which I was. Two Pins lower Summer. [footnote: Throughout the Diary, Sewall records driving nails or wooden pins in buildings under construction. This gesture of good will and voluntary association with the enterprise is traced by H. W. Haynes to Roman and Old Testament sources…]

I tried to include as many of the visitors as would be willingly led to the deck to drive pins. When else are they going to get a chance to do that? The first timber-frame raising I took part in was at Drew Langsner’s in the mid-1980s. Daniel O’Hagan was the instructor for that class…back in 1959 Daniel wrote a letter to the Catholic Worker newspaper which included this snippet:

“I went to a neighbor’s barn raising last week, and after the heavy beams had gone up and were pinned together, we stopped for a bite to eat. Most of the men were Mennonites, and most came by horse-drawn vehicles.

What an eye-opener and lesson in cooperation, to see 20 men walk over to an enormous oak timber and, after placing stout sticks under it, how gently, how quietly and easily, the great beam rose off the ground and was carried and laid at its destination! No shouting, no profanity, not rattling engines or gears grinding, not even an order to start heaving!

If only co-operation would be ingrained in us as competition has been!”

Yesterday, Maureen, the kids & I were delighted to be hosts to a large group of friends and neighbors, all working together and sharing a great experience. No nail guns or compressors could hold a candle to it!   

I’ll write more about it this week, here’s a gallery of photos, no particular order:

29 thoughts on “

  1. Congratulations on your frame raising and your happy and special day. I am following your project with great interest.

  2. What a blessing! These days,with post and rung chairs, I only get to make 2 or 4 pins for slats and there is no magical drawboring. Thank you for inviting Samuel Sewall, Daniel O’Hagan and all of us to your shop raising. My daughter Stephanie and I visited a 17th Century house raising at St. Mary’e City. Driving through the Barrens of Southern Maryland we two had a peaceful contact high before we even got there. As Danny Barker would say, “It is a real primitive deal.”

  3. Thanks for the Daniel O’Hagan quote. 1959 could have been Daniel’s first barn raising. He moved into the area in 1958. His nearest farmer neighbor, Ivan, bought the farm in 1956 and greatly enlarged the barn around 1959. I remember he told me he bought hickory for five cents a foot.

    Always a wonderful feeling working with neighbors to get something done. When thirty guys lift up a big gable end frame, you can hardly feel that you are doing anything, if you let go nothing happens, but up it goes. And 30 years later you still get a smile every time you pass by.

    • Thanks for the note Warren. As I mentioned, I met Daniel because he was teaching timber-framing. Changed my life in many ways…as I recall, his house is dated 1958, isn’t it?

  4. Congratulations Peter and Pret! After such long and skilled labor the images of the raising convey the lightness of joy and the gift of community. Well done.

  5. Congratulations Peter! In one of your poast you said you are building based on plans you found in a book ,What book would that be ?I’m looking to start a building myself soon for a forge .

  6. Thanks for sharing….. I have been watching the great videos on instagram but I’ll keep reading the blog for more “in depth” reporting.

    Warmer days ahead…whats next?

  7. A mighty fine frame Peter. Great experience. I only see one tiny little problem with it…..when you get it closed in and set-up, Maureen and the Kids will never get you out of there…..LOL…

  8. So, this was “winter built” ! Or actually from fall to spring, not much of a winter. Great project, congrats.
    Just add a blue tarp over the rafters for a roof and you’ll be in operation, high and dry ! Frame raising is always a big event. Good to hear that no one got hurt. Hefting those beams around can always pinch a hand or finger, or more. So, when are you going to add a wing to the shop ? Ha, ha. Having a shop, a dedicated space for projects is a wonderful feeling. Keep up the great work. Wes.

  9. Hopefully it is not too late to comment/question, but I have always wondered with timber framing if you draw bored the pegs. If so, how does this work when you have a tenon that does not come in square (i.e. an elbow brace, etc.).

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