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Barnology - Glossary of Barn Terminology

  • BANK BARN-Two level barn whose upper level is entered from a bank or hillside or by a ramp constructed against the barn.
  • BATTEN-A narrow board used to cover gaps between siding boards or sheathing; also used to brace and stiffen boards joined edge-to-edge as in a batten door.
  • BAY-Area of a building, physically defined and used for specific functions.
  • BENT-Heavy timber framework section of barn's superstructure, which is connected to similar sections to complete the barn frame.
  • BENT CONFIGURATION-Pattern produced by posts, tie beams, and braces of an assembled bent.
  • BOX STALL-A walled enclosure in which an animal can move about untethered.
  • CANTILEVERED-Supported by beams that extend from the supported feature (e.g., a forebay) back beneath the superstructure of a building.
  • COLLAR-(Collar tie)-A horizontal member connecting and stabilizing rafter pairs. It may be in compression to prevent rafters from sagging or in tension to prevent rafters from spreading.
  • COLLAR BEAM-The horizontal member that connects and stiffens opposing principal rafters, thus stabilizing the roof truss.
  • COMMON RAFTERS-Light, inclined timbers, which are supported by purlins and which support the roof cover.
  • CUPOLA-Small, tower-like structure on roof providing additional light and ventilation.
  • EAVE-Lower overhanging edge of a sloping roof.
  • FOREBAY-Eave side over-hang of upper level of the barn. (Forebay comes from the terms Vorbau or Vorschuss in low German.)
  • GABLE-Triangular upper wall space extending from the eaves to the roof ridge.
  • GABLE ROOF-A ridged roof terminating at ends in a gable.
  • GAMBREL ROOF-A ridged roof each side of which has two slopes.
  • GIRT-Horizontal framing member connecting end posts below roof plate.
  • HAY HOOD-An extension of the ridge of a barn roof which protects or supports pulley attachments used to load hay into the loft.
  • HAY TRACK AND FORK-Pulley and fork mounted on track below roof ridge, used to carry hay or straw into mow.
  • HEWN BENTS-Bent made of framing members that have been cut and shaped using hand tools.
  • JOINERY-The craft of connecting timber-frame members by forming joints.
  • JOISTS-Any of the parallel timbers that hold up the planks of a floor or the laths of a ceiling.
  • KING POST-A vertical supporting post between the apex of a triangular truss and the base, or tie beam, as at the ridge of a roof.
  • LINTEL-A beam with its ends resting on two posts, often over a wall opening such as a window or door.
  • LOFT-Hay and straw storage area above stable; upper level storage area of a barn.
  • MORTISE-In a mortise-and-tenon joint, the slot or hole cut into one member, into which is inserted the tenon from another member.
  • MOW-Space in barn reserved for hay and straw storage.
  • PLATE-A beam capping the exterior posts or studs to support the rafters.
  • POST-TO-PURLIN-Barn bent in which interior posts reach to purlin, eliminating the need for queen posts.
  • PURLIN-Timber placed under and horizontal to rafters to provide their support.
  • QUEEN POST-Vertical or canted roof framework member supporting purlin and resting on the tie beam.
  • QUOINS-Interlocking, alternating stone blocks laid at wall corners to add strength to the corner.
  • RAFTER-Any of the boards that slope from the ridge of a roof to the eaves and serve to support the roof.
  • RIDGE BOARD (Ridge Pole) Board connecting rafter ends at peak of gable roof.
  • ROOF FRAMEWORK-Arrangement of queen posts, struts, and braces which supports the purlins and roof rafters.
  • SILL-Heavy frame member resting on foundation and supporting posts and braces of outer wall frame.
  • STRAINING BEAM-Heavy member placed horizontally at the head of queen posts to prevent inward collapse of the truss.
  • SUMMER BEAM-Heavy main horizontal beam, anchored in gable foundation walls, that supports barn frame above or forebay beams.
  • TENON-In mortise and tenon joints, the short shaft projecting from one member which is fitted into mortise in other joint member
  • THRESHING FLOOR-Floor space between mows, on which grains were hand-threshed by flailing.
  • THRESHING WALL-A wall, usually about three feet tall, between the threshing floor and an adjacent bay. (Sometimes called "waste wall".)
  • TIE BEAM-Uppermost cross beam which connects end posts of bent.
  • TIMBER FRAME-Frame construction used in vernacular buildings before 1900 in Europe and America consisting of heavy, frequently hand hewn, hand fitted members which are connected by mortise and tenon joints.
  • TONGUE AND GROOVE-A joint in which a tongue or tenon in one board fits exactly into a groove in another.
  • TROLLEY-A wheeled apparatus that rolls on an overhead rail or track and from which is suspended a grappling fork. This was used to unload loose hay from a wagon. The fork, filled with the hay would then be drawn up by rope to the trolley and moved to the desired place in the hay mow. A trip rope would then drop the hay.
  • TRUSS-Triangular arrangement of beams, braces, and ties to form a rigid framework.

This glossary is from a larger one compiled by Kyle Peterson, Beloit, KS. Kyle serves on the Advisory Committee of the Kansas Barn Alliance.


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