Hand-Hewn Log Dairy Barn - Part 4

Raising the Sill Plate

It's here!!! The moment we've all been waiting for, and none more eagerly than we!

If you've been following our tree story the last few months, my husband has done a marvelous job of explaining the whys, hows and principles of how we've gotten to this point over the last few years. If you've missed those blog posts you may want to go back and read them, they have some rare jewels in them.

So, in the midst of our concrete pouring the last few weeks we got a call from Kit's Great Uncle Peter. We've been in contact with Uncle Peter over the last few years bouncing barn plans, construction ideas and engineering questions off him. While we've been here, trying to figure out what style and construction method we would use to build this dairy barn, Uncle Peter has spent the last three years of summer months hiking the Appalachian Trail, all 2,181 miles of it. This last fall we called him up and let him know we thought we could put the barn up this summer and would he consider coming out to lend an expert hand. He thought it sounded like fun, but he was considering hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), from Mexico to Canada! We called him in April and told him it was a go for the barn; he told us he was flying out to hike the PCT and he would see us in the fall and help us wrap it up. Well, the first part of July we got another call, and Uncle Peter asked if he could come help build the barn this summer. We told him "By all means, come on out - but what happened to the PCT"? Well he made it 558-plus miles in 32 days!!! Then, as it was getting hotter and hotter in the desert, he got to thinking about us building the barn without him and changed his mind. So he drove all the way out from FLORIDA!! He got here quickly and they've been working on the barn ever since.


Uncle Peter and Kit carry the first sill plate log from its storage place in our shop . . .


Out to its final resting place.


Uncle Peter drills the first hole in the first sill plate log . . .


Then they lift it into place and slide it onto the anchor bolts.


IT FITS!!! Isn't it pretty???


The second one is placed.


And then there were four. These were the EASY ones.


Now for the big ones. These are BIG, 7 inches wide and 16 inches tall by 24 feet long, and they are HEAVY. The wonderful tool positioned on top of the sill plate is called Rail Road Tie Tongs.

Uncle Peter had the foresight to bring them with him. Two people lift, one on each side of the log, either in front of or behind the straight handles, and then they can either pull or push it . . .


Into position for the next step - had to double check and make sure it was long enough!


The first dovetail notch is cut.


The apprentices are on hand to see how it is done.


The big log beam is the lifted into place with the Rail Road Tie Tongs and a whole lot of muscle! Next, the holes were drilled in the right place so the anchor bolts fit through the log and it can be secured in place.


These are the first two opposing notches waiting to be fit together. We had to wait for some tar paper to be brought from town to put under each sill plate, to keep the moisture from seeping into the logs. We put the second big beam in place while we waited.


Somebody got smart and we hooked faithful old King (who's never pulled anything other than calves his entire life) to the second big beam and he pulled it right into place for us.


Again drilling to fit the J bolts.


Tie tongs once again come into play for lifting the log up and onto four bolts at the same time.


And it's finally in place, just working on adjusting the final fit. About this time Uncle Peter informed us a master carpenter is known only by his ability to apply his skill as a "Master of Illusion."


The Master of Illusion has crafted an exemplary example of a dovetail notch, joining the corners of our barn.


Finally, the large sill plate is in place ready for the next level of logs.


And this is the wonderful crew of men responsible for making it all happen!

Stay tuned as our next post will show the walls going up! It's starting to look like a barn!!!