Monday, October 10, 2011

Barn Raising in Haddam Neck

I went to my first barn raising Saturday. A house is being erected upon the old footprint of a house and marina that burned several years ago. Our small volunteer fire department proudly boasts that we have yet to lose a foundation! You can see the result of our work below (twisted metal beams and all). 

I had planned to go to the barn raising for 3 one hour segments throughout the day. I knew that I would be staying for the entire thing about 5 minutes into it. I really had a great time.

The company that built the frame is The Barn Raisers. Brendan Matthews has been making post and beam houses on his own for 15 years. This was his 62nd structure. His first was across the street from this venue. Many of the people here on this day were there 15 years ago, including my wife and her brothers.

There were 40-50 people from the Haddam Neck community actively helping at any given time with many more watching from the sidelines. 

Before (the metal structure in the foreground will be a shop for the marina, the post and beam house will be on the foundation behind.)

Staging area

Here we go...

The first wall is up. Everything was flawless.

I am in the center

With the sweatshirt off, I am now leading the charge

I didn't know what to expect. I assumed that we would just help move beams when needed. By the end of the day there were groups of previously inexperienced barn raisers working autonomously. I loved this picture above because it shows just how fast we were moving. One professional (Brendan is in the tye die) directing 20 that aren't.

We started at 8am and finished before 4.

Scarf joint on the left, dovetails on the right

Brendan showing the plans off while Sheldon, my oldest son, gets a lesson on mortising.

The party began immediately after the raising was complete.

And officially ended 24 hours later with a tractor race. (Brendan's first structure is the barn in the background on the right.) And they're off...

...Most of them

If you are here for moulding planes and want to know where to begin with this blog I will recommend that you start at the beginning, Dec 2010.


  1. Matt,
    Volunteering with your family in your community, plus woodworking, what a great lesson to pass onto your kids. Congratulations.
    Just heard about your upcoming book, I am really looking forward to getting a copy.
    I am enjoying your planes even though I haven't made anything yet. Sometimes I just go out and practise, other times I just admire them.
    Thanks again for your fine craftsmanship.
    Pat D. in SD

  2. What a great day. I love something like this. We've raised steel barns on my fathers farm and although its not the same, it's still great to have a group of you all working on the same thing to a common goal.
    Great that your kids were with you and could get involved as well - over here health and safety always raises its head!

  3. Pat,
    Thank you for your note. It was a great day. I was very pleased that I didn't have to do it the next, however.

  4. Alviti,
    I was shocked to learn that Brendan has not had a serious accident on site in his 15 years. 8 people walking a beam down floor joists could have bad results. Everybody was very cautious.

  5. Hope there are a lot more raisings in your future! You guys did a great job helping out, looking forward to Mark's barn in the spring.
    Mike (from Barnraisers)

  6. Wow! What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing this Matt.

    Ron Brese