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Anchor Beam

These massive beams are unique to the Dutch barns of New York and New Jersey, forming the cross timber in the center “H” and supported on both ends by two arcade posts. The most unique feature of anchor beams is the through tenons on each end. The extending tenon ends were cut into a variety of shapes including rounded, squared and oblong.


Arcade Posts

The upright posts that support each end of an anchor beam with the high purlin plates capping them off and tying them to the other arcade posts.



A long-handled tool used to shape logs into square beams.

Bank Barn

Simply a barn built into a hillside or bank that makes use of the difference in elevation on the front and back of the barn. The uphill side can access the second floor. The downhill side accesses the ground floor. Typically, cows were kept in the ground floor and hay stored above could be easily pitchforked down to the cow mangers.

Basement Barn

A barn with a basement that is not a bank barn with a walk-out on a hillside .


Barns are made up of bents and bays. The bay is the space between two bents. A four bent barn forms three bays.



Also called a “commander,” these heavy wooden mallets have the mass to move large beams and tighten or loosen mortise and tenon joints.



This is the unit of barn timbers running from front to back. If a barn has four bents, it has three bays. Barns were easily enlarged by adding more bents on either end to lengthen the barn.



Also called a “wind brace,” these are often about 4” by 5” in girth and about 36” to 42” long that connect between post and beams to give them support against wind and keep the building square. Braces were mortised in place, nearly always at a 45 degree angle. In earlier barns they are also trunneled at each end. In later barns they are not; therefore they only help in compression, not expansion of a joint. Being the smallest members of a barn frame, they were also the first to be sawn. Hand-hewn braces are often a sign of an early barn.



A barn with a brick wall at each end.



Overhanging. Bank barns typically cantilever their second floors five to six feet on the downhill side.


This is the indigenous material used to fill the horizontal gaps between logs in a log cabin or log barn. The material is typically clay mixed with rock, straw, or wood chunks.



Collar Beam

Also known as a collar tie or stress beam.


Collar Tie

Also called a collar beam or stress beam; joins two posts together near their tops. In an English barn they join the queen posts supporting the purlin plates. The invention of the hay track very often led farmers to cut the collar ties out of their barns because they interfered with the travel of the hay hook. This is ultimately disastrous to a barn frame, allowing the purlin plates to start slipping in under the roof. This situation led to the invention of the canted queen post which did not need collar ties to spread the queen posts.


Connecting Tie

The horizontal beams that connect from post to post, across each bay from front to back in a barn. Often about 10 by 12 inches in diameter, and in wide barns, supported by a post in the middle.


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