|Barrett Farm Restoration, Concord MA|
|The historic Barrett farmhouse has been restored using exactly the same materials and methods with which it was built centuries ago.|
My daily walk on January 22, 2007, took me past the Barrett farmhouse.
On the west side of the house were several huge long logs. Atop one of the logs was a man with an axe, chopping away.
I returned two days later. The white oak log had become a beam about eight inches square and 15 feet long. It was now joined by mortise, tenon and peg (no nails) to another eight-inch, 15-foot white oak beam, and the men were preparing to hew several other huge bark-clad white oak logs into trim eight-inch beams.
All of the work was being done by hand with traditional tools: axes, adzes, augurs, chisels and knives. No chain saws, no power drills, no routers.
to right: Joseph
Roy, Chad Mathrani
As I watched, the men of Traditional Framers measured and pondered the problem: the next white oak log was not entirely straight. They had to figure how to cut a straight beam out of a crooked tree trunk.
"We get the logs locally, and we try to match the species of white oak to the wood used in the original structure," Daniel said. "We'll use local pine as well."
"Measure twice, cut once," goes the old carpenter's wisdom. Here, they measured time after time, snapping powdered chalk line against the log to mark the cuts they hoped would yield the straightest beam.
We chatted about all the wonderful old historic farmhouses and barns in New England. We compared the frame buildings of British New England to the stone houses and stone-end barns of the Pennsylvania Dutch. We marveled at the beauty and efficiency of the great Shaker round barns at Hancock Shaker Village near Pittsfield MA and the Heritage Museums in Sandwich MA.
Inside the old house, Cary Eggerling carried out rotted window frames that would be replaced.
The air was chill but the temperature was above freezing (at the moment). The sun played cat-and-mouse with the clouds, but all in all it was a pleasant January afternoon. The men worked on their huge log puzzle, and the Barrett Farm got a day closer to full restoration.