Dating barn beams


15-Nov-2019 11:46

Then a proper house could be built, and the cabin torn down and the logs reused.

It’s not uncommon to find cabin logs reused as floor beams in haymows still today. One way to estimate a barn’s age is to think about the way barns were built.

Early barn builders framed the purlin timbers two different ways.

They either were supported by vertical posts or by canted posts that leaned out square to the rafters.

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The only choice the earliest barn builder had was to convert all the logs to timbers with an ax.

When you observe this, you know the barn came before the hay track.

The canted purlin roof didn’t need modified since it had no connecting timbers.

If you can understand the tools, methods and patterns used by the early barn builders, you can search out evidence they left behind. For example, a gambrel roof is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of the American barn forms.

Interestingly, very few barns with gambrel roofs in Ohio were built that way to begin with. Truth is, a good guess is probably the best you’re going to get. The idea that we needed to record the date that they were built wasn’t as important as making sure we had a place to keep our grain, hay or animals safe from the elements and the predators.