Part 4 ~ Irregular Proceedings According to Plan

After I got the turn buckles in and the barn was fairly pulled back together again, I started modifying the actual timber framing inside, the mortise and tenon joints. That was interesting. I had to lower the beams that are now the walkway’s balcony railing–they were originally up at about chin-height on me. It’s held together with wooden pegs, so I had to take the sledge hammer and beat the pegs out. A bunch of local guys I’ve known forever–Tim Kinney, Dan Johnson, Oz–were here helping. Theoretically you would pick up the whole beam off the tenon, but that’s not what I did. I wanted to make a connecting catwalk between the two sides, and so you needed a door frame made, because originally that beam went the whole width of the barn. So you mark a plumb line and take the chainsaw and cut it off. And those guys were standing around sayin’ to me: “What, are you out of your fuckin’ mind? You can’t just start cuttin’ this timber framing apart.” Meaning that it’s integral to the barn. Well…I had to. If I was gonna proceed at all.

Railing Pt. 4

So I chainsawed it off for the door frame. But then I had to cut down the vertical beam to change the height of the handrail, and then fashion a new tenon and fit it into the old mortise, drop the old handrail back down to the lower vertical, and finally drill holes and pound the pegs back through. I even used the same pegs, for the most part. I did that on both sides (of the railing) and then out of the salvaged timber from the barn additions, built the door frame. So that was a major undertaking, because I wasn’t quite sure what was gonna happen when I started cutting up the actual structural timbers of this barn.

door frame

But it worked. Next I had to frame up for sheetrock and insulation. The exterior hemlock barn boards were still on the barn, so I started filling in between all the timber framing with regular 2 X 4 framing. Only I forgot that this wasn’t “regular.” On a regular stick-built house, wherever there’ll be windows and doors, you put in headers to bear the weight. On this building I didn’t have to do that extra stuff. It took me a while to get used to that fact. The original timber framing has been holding up this barn since the day it was built.

So I just pushed the 2 X 4 fill-in framing against the inside surface of the exterior barn board. Once that was done I could start peeling off those exterior barn boards. Next I put OSB board all over the whole thing, then took the barn siding, flipped the boards over, wire-brushed them, and screwed them back onto the OSB board that was now forming the skin of the barn.

Hemlock is very high in tannin, and what I can tell you is: I’ve never had splinters that got so infected so fast. Within two hours the little place where they went in was all red and puffy. And the boards are very splintery. I surely dug hundreds and hundreds of slivers of hemlock out of my hands.

I think whatever it is that makes them hurt like crazy is also what makes it last forever.

Part 5


About neilsbarn

I live in a barn.
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2 Responses to Part 4 ~ Irregular Proceedings According to Plan

  1. You did not get an infection from hemlock. You were poisoned by it. This is the stuff that killed Socrates.

    The alkaloids have two major toxic effects:
    they cause acute degradation on the nervous system, and they can cause birth defects. The symptoms of poisoning are nervousness, trembling, loss of motor skills, pupil dilation, weakened heart function,coldness in the extremities, coma, and death through respiratory failure.

    Be careful when you saw this stuff. Breathing the dust can burn your lungs. This (sort of) happened to me. I was doing some special woodworking, used a wood called cocabola (Brazilian) for an inlay.
    I was sanding the work down, (no mask) and all of a sudden I could not breathe. Scarred the crap out of me….

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