How to Build an Amish Barn

by Rebecca Boardman

Building an Amish barn is no mean feat. It requires skill, help and lots of hard work. To build an authentic Amish barn means no power tools, no electricity, and lots of elbow grease. But if you build a barn in true Amish style, you will have a structure that will weather the years as sturdily as any wooden building can. Some Amish barns standing today were built over 200 years ago and are still in use.

Building an Amish Barn

Find some people to help you. The Amish make barn-building a community effort. Families converge on the site and usually complete the entire project in one day. You may not be able to do this if you are not a member of the Amish community, but it will certainly make your task easier if you can secure some friends, family and other helpers to assist you in building your barn.

Create a foundation. Do this two days before your actual barn raising, as the concrete will need to dry for a full 72 hours. Measure off the area of your barn and stake the four corners. Run a guide-string from corner to corner, and place your concrete barrier 2-by-4s down to help you shape and guide the cement. Pour your cement with a professional concrete service if possible. This is not an area you want to mess up.

Set your corner posts on the day of the raising. The posts need to be set in concrete in holes that are at least 2 feet deep. Depending on the height and size of your barn, you may or may not need a joist to lift the foundation beams into place. Install the foundation beams as the first step in the actual barn-raising process.

Use hand tools to cut, fit and create the foundation beams and roof beams. Foundation beams will be moved by hand and notched and hammered into place. The roof beams will need a joist to lift them into place in order to secure them. It will take many skilled hands to do this, as you will be high up, so make sure you have professional help for this step.

Complete your frame after erecting your foundation beams. Your frame should be a rough outline of your completed barn. It will serve as the skeleton for the rest of your lumber. The frame is created by fitting the lumber to the foundation and roof beams, and attaching them by hand with your hammer, nails, dowels, and pegs.

Fill in the open spots with your 2-by-4s or 1-by-2 slat lumber. These are your walls, and in traditional Amish barns they run up and down, not side to side. If your roof is at an angle, you can hold the board up, mark the angle with a pencil, then cut the board to fit. Hammer these in until you have filled in all the open walls of your frame.

Roof your barn with 2-by-4s and then cover it with shingles. Do a thorough job on your roof, as it must withstand wind and weather.

Hang your barn door. The doors must be prepared beforehand and ready to hang. Use a level to hang the doors straight, so they will hang plumb and swing freely.

Tip

  • Do a lot of planning before you attempt this project. Get as much help as possible, and never attempt to do something like this without getting professional help and advice. Traditional Amish barns use pegs rather than screws to secure their lumber. This takes more time, but it is also arguably a better method, making the structure more secure and durable.

Warning

  • Always use caution when using carpentry equipment.

Items you will need

  • 2-by-4s, minimum 12 feet long
  • 4-by-4 lumber posts
  • Shingles
  • 1-by-2 slat lumber
  • Concrete
  • Wooden dowels and pegs
  • Hand tools (borer, saw, drill, hammer)
  • Nails
  • Barn doors
  • Hardware for doors
  • Ladders

References

Photo Credits

  • Courtesy of http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://amishamerica.typepad.com/amish_america/images/2007/12/03/nebraska_amish_barn_raising.jpg&imgrefurl;=http://amishamerica.typepad.com/amish_america/2007/12/the-amish-barn.html&h;=312&w;=400&sz;=40&tbnid;=xa5frnnIOwHZyM::&tbnh;=97&tbnw;=124&prev;=/images%3Fq%3Damish%2Bbarn%2Braising&hl;=en&usg;=__tbkCLZJespZSsWBJxU_F3A4S71M=&ei;=L-QISoLYJd2rtgfPoYXtCw&sa;=X&oi;=image_result&resnum;=2&ct;=image