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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Wood types used in old barns

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JGE20601

05-26-2013 20:13:36
68.49.9.168



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My Uncle built several large barns for tobacco. My grandfather planted oaks to cut for the outside boards.

The inside posts and tier poles - what type of wood was used for those? 60 to 90 years later, the posts and tier poles are almost as good as new. Eventually I would like to have a small barn built - but would also like to know so I can pass the knowledge on.

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wisbaker

05-27-2013 18:45:03
173.30.119.136



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Local timber, whatever was on the farm stead. Where I grew up in Michigan A lot of Oak beams on the newer barns, Tamarack on the older ones and the newer ones for ground contact and floor supports. Friend's farmstead the house and buildings were all walnut. In Wisconsin where I lived for a while the old stuff was all white pine, our barns at the fairgrounds all native sawn oak results of a WPA project

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GeneMO

05-27-2013 12:22:39
71.1.102.32



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Central MO. Oak, Black locust, and quite a bit of it was walnut. For interior and nailers sycamore and cottonwood.

Gene



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MarkWV

05-27-2013 11:06:22
75.109.81.237



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
lots of Chestnut around here, southern wv, when they started dying off they were used for rail fences, barns, etc



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Oliverguy

05-27-2013 09:18:21
75.149.65.181



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
I tore down an old barn that had a little bit of everything, including sycamore.



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37Chief

05-27-2013 07:14:28
70.181.169.77



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
The old barn on our place has siding made of redwood. Some boards as wide as 22 inches, with very few knots. The wood is well weathered now. The framing is probably pine, or fir. Stan



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Fordfarmer

05-27-2013 06:33:24
69.179.14.40



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
The oldest part of my barn was built with whatever was on the land my great-great grandfather owned. That was mostly elm, maple and oak. The part of the barn from the '50's has a lot of pine in it.



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s.crum

05-27-2013 06:14:55
67.142.181.24



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Here in northern central Pa. hemlock was highly favored. Hemlock was in abundance and the lumber was practically a byproduct of the tanning industry. Hemlock was favored over pine for pest resistance but pine was still popular. Locust was always favored for fence posts with while oak as the 2nd choice. Elm is practically non-existant in this area after the dutch elm blight swept thru here in the 1960s.

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showcrop

05-27-2013 04:37:36
75.67.231.80



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Here in New England many of the old barns were built in the 1700s. They were not able to saw wide boards because all of the big pines were reserved for the royal navy for masts, and it was a serious crime to cut them down or to be in possession of boards more than so many inches wide.



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IH2444

05-27-2013 04:34:22
98.65.247.86



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Black locust makes excellent posts for a post and beam barn.



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Ultradog MN

05-27-2013 04:21:29
174.20.245.150



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Back in the late 80s a big wind blew down a relatively modern barn near me. I'm guessing from the 50s as the lower portion was made of concrete block with wood upper structure. The hay mow doors had been open for years and the wind blew in and exploded it like a big baloon. I bought it for salvage. The structural members were made of local elm - joists, rafters, beams, all rough cut. Hay mow floor was various oak, pine and elm ship lap.
Roof sheathing was random width pine boards S3S.
Siding was S3S 1X10 pine with galvanized battons.
I built a cabin out of it. Used the best and burned the rest.

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36 coupe

05-27-2013 03:22:08
66.186.169.139



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
My house dates to 1806.The barn has hemlock timbers.The boards are a mix.The boards show marks from an up and down saw mill.Roman numerals are scribed into the boards to denote board feet in each board.The book Fields of Home by Ralph Moody has a good description of cutting the lumber for a barn.Find a copy of this book for the best reading about life on the farm around 1900.It has been in reprint.I sold many copies of Ralph Moodys books before the computer killed the book business.The original copies had nice color end plates showing life on the farm.

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JGE20601

05-27-2013 16:36:30
68.49.9.168



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to 36 coupe, 05-27-2013 03:22:08  
Here I have seen Roman numerals in barns for assembly instructions, was told it was easier, with only 3 characters - especially if others did not read English or spoke another European language.

l, ll, lll, llll, V, VI VII VIII VIIII

Next set X, XI, XII, XIII, XIIII

Then XV set, XX, XXV



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showcrop

05-27-2013 16:37:15
75.67.231.80



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-27-2013 16:36:30  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

My Barn here in NH has the Roman numerals



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Bruce from Can.

05-27-2013 02:52:33
70.31.80.45



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  

Most all barns here are built of pine, with some hemlock and basswood used for girts and brces. Pine boards to side with, they last along time.The barn I have tried to post a pic of, was on our old century farm when my great great granather bought the farm. Built in 1855 of original old growth pine off the farm. Still stands strait and ture to this day. Bruce

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Diydave

05-27-2013 02:28:10
96.244.158.150



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
Take a plane, and plane out a few of the beams, and see what you have. Once the oxidized layer is removed, and you can see the color and texture of the grain pattern, you can figure out the species of wood. A good local woodworker should be able to help you.



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Deere Scotty

05-27-2013 00:26:46
68.46.221.22



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
My relatives used Beech, Oak, & Walnut. Nothing else. Except the roof is now Galvanized sheet metal. It was oak shingle.



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RodInNS

05-26-2013 22:44:53
216.118.158.123



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
I would think in most places... in that era... they used what they had close at hand. Around here the old barns mostly use white or red spruce for the beams or black spruce if they had it. Hay lofts were done with poles cut from balsam fir or whatever other small crap was handy. Given that the beams were hand hewed I would think white spruce was probably the most common 'here' as the other two are pretty nasty to work with.

Rod

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redtom

05-26-2013 21:42:56
71.90.155.125



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
The barn on my place was built with native lumber. Anything on hand nearby. Which is why I tore it down in 93. It looked good sort of from the outside and I pricedd having a new roof put on. But the timbers were elm, oak and even poplar. Many had been rotted hollow because soft wood was used. the diagonal braces about 4x4 were very sound and I have most around for blocking.



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Mike in Mn.

05-26-2013 21:08:18
65.73.80.23



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
The barn I use is timber frame construction, the kind with the wood pegs holding the pieces together. It was built by my Grandfather in the 1890's. Its framed with white and red oak,cut on the place. The outside boards are pine and were bought from a mill in the Twin Cities. It started out as a hay shed and set in the pasture on just rocks for a foundation. Was moved over a basement in the 30's and used as a dairy barn. When I was a kid it would rock and creek in the wind when empty. My dad reinforced it with X bracing and silo rods. New tin roof on it about 25 years ago. My son ownes it now and it's still in nice shape, we fill it with baled hay every year, still use the track and forks too.

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Paul

05-26-2013 21:04:56
66.44.139.20



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
They hauled yellow pine up to make our barn, back around 1909 or so.... That's a long haul, but it is good wood. Holes and pegs and notches, no bolts.

Paul



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JD Seller

05-26-2013 20:59:45
208.126.196.144



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
A lot of tobacco barns in southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky have hemlock side. I think it is supposed to be more weather proof. The frames where usually oak, hickory or ash.



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T in NE

05-28-2013 21:22:11
75.239.83.242



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JD Seller, 05-26-2013 20:59:45  
Once Hemlock ages a bit, you have to drill pilot holes to drive a nail into it.

Something like beech.

Our barns (back in nw Pennsylvania) were all framed with beech, some of the beams still had some bark on them.



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Janicholson

05-26-2013 20:54:03
74.60.94.18



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to JGE20601, 05-26-2013 20:13:36  
It depends on two factors. The first is the age, and the second is available local forests.
Most very old barns (and houses for that matter) were constructed from material within 1/2 mile of the site, owned and fell by the land owner and made into lumber by a local mill. In most places in the US the material was selected for size and availability. Big first growth trunks were selected based on the width of board able to be cut out of the log. Many 20 inch wide boards were produced as the material covered more when wide, and required less fasteners and less battens to weather proof the structure. Many tobacco drying barns were made from Oak and it was milled to 1X6 rough dimension, and spaced at as much as 1/2" between boards. This allowed the tobacco to dry readily and prevented birds from getting inside as readily. Interior timbers and posts were commonly hardwood and often Oak. Oak being tough and strong (but not radically resistant to rot). Post and Beam methods were common as were mortice and tenon pegged joinery. All things change and commodity lumber became the rule at the early 1900s. I owned (in Ft Collins Colorado)a 1914 Iowa pattern barn made from commodity lumber. All framing but the loft floor was yellow (ponderosa) pine. The loft floor was maple tongue and groove, square nailed to pine rafters on oak beams and posts.
My uncles home in northern Indiana was made from black walnut and oak. Not commodity. I hope this makes sense. Jim

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Skaning

05-26-2013 21:11:51
184.21.242.202



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to Janicholson, 05-26-2013 20:54:03  
Like has been said likely whatever was within a 1/2 mile or so and when. You said tobacco barn which I'm guessing puts you in NC, VA. TN, KY. If the barn was built prior to 1932 it's highly likely that chestnut was used somewhere particularly if it was near the mountains. Before the blight hit, Chestnut was the dominant tree in the Mountains and adjacent counties. It was easier to work than oak and was naturally rot resistant, and way more abundant and faster growing. Today, with the chestnut gone the high country forests are generally oak dominated.

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Janicholson

05-27-2013 18:17:26
74.60.94.18



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to Skaning, 05-26-2013 21:11:51  
Interesting topic. I was living in Greenville Ohio Cigar Tobacco was being raised. The oak in the barns was local. I now live in St.Cloud MN, on land that was tobacco land from about 1880 to 1920 or so. Jim



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TomH in PA

05-27-2013 04:49:03
67.234.8.188



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to Skaning, 05-26-2013 21:11:51  
Around here (PA) chestnut was the wood of choice for the main structural members. Siding was often hemlock or pine.



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Trkr

05-27-2013 08:46:14
71.97.133.252



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 Re: Wood types used in old barns in reply to TomH in PA, 05-27-2013 04:49:03  
Here in Md.our old barn beams are chestnut also.



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