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Barn siding

Started by trimguy, November 19, 2023, 06:01:15 PM

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I'm am doing a 26' x 29' x 12' tall man cave for a customer. He bought some siding off of a barn that was built in 1911 in Ohio.



Some of the boards have a lot of wear from the weather.

The backs of the boards look like they have been ran thru a planer.

Was this a common practice back then ? I would think so for barn siding. Any ideas ?


No idea but it looks awesome!
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Don't know for sure, but the barn may have been re-sided with boards that were rough one side, and the other side surfaced. Common practice in the 50's, but not sure before that time. 
But do suspect that 1911 barn siding wouldn't look as good as what you are showing that your customer bought. 
south central Wisconsin
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I'm with beenthere on the possibility- or likelihood of being re-sided. 
2023 minus 1911 = 110+ years. 

Just an observation of your last photo:
The consistent lines could be planer marks. I'm not really accustomed to seeing that. They sure do remind me of my blade tracks ...on a good day...with a sharp blade. 


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In my area, the boards inside a house would not be planed. Sure not for a barn. Not a money area around here. Planing would of cost extra money.
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Back then folks used what they had for the barn.  I have re-worked old barn siding for folks when the reclaimed craze was hot and have seen Walnut and Cherry barn siding from that era.  
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Don P

That looks very consistent and I see no saw marks on either side? It looks like weathered dimensioned boards.



This is a picture of the saw marks on the edge.


First pic looks like band saw marks.  Second pic are circ saw, could be an edger.  If they were band sawn, then probably a later residing.  Make sure he's putting a flat clear coat on to cover any loose lead based paint?
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That was my first thought - looks like band sawn and edges ripped on circular.
If if is that old, there were the big vertical reciprocating saws back in the day...
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I will get some more pictures when I go back to this job. It will probably be a couple of weeks before they get the flooring.

OH logger

We tore an old barn down 10 years ago and I rebuilt it into a sugar shack. Also in Ohio.  The slate roof said 1883. The siding looks absolutely identical. The siding  boards from the south side were at least 1/8" thinner than the north siding boards from the weather. The marks in the boards are the same too. Our siding is pine and we have NO pine here at all 

Tom K

There were several sources for "mail order" lumber & trim back in the day.

Our house was built in 1846 in north central Ohio. It has a lot of poplar trims and siding that were ordered and shipped in. I'm talking tongue & groove siding, half round fascia, fancy frieze boards & trim. The timber frame is all native timber, along with the stud work. Most if not all the trim & siding was shipped from the east coast.

If that barn was built in the early 1900 and the siding is original I'm going to guess that the siding came from a somewhat local lumber yard in a larger local city and not rough sawn locally.


Looks like continuous band-saw -or- mechanized/reciprocating saw marks on the interior side. It's perpendicularity and consistency screams mechanization / automation.

IMO I would definitely lean towards continuous band-saw. That heavy line could be the blade's welded or forged joint or some other blade-feature or imperfection. A mech/reciprocating pit-saw or sash-saw would be consistent/repetitive/identical kerf marks, so can be ruled out. Circular would have a noticeable radius.

My North American sawmill timeline notes:
- Sash-saw / pit-saw 1630+
- Hand-hewn beams mid-1700's to mid 1800's
- Circular saws 1830+
- Bandsaw 1887+

- Hand-hewn beams can be found throughout many periods into early 1900's because it depended on sawmill proximity / availability to the jobsite, cost, etc.
- Also a lot of old structural materials were often recycled in newer structures.

T+G siding and flooring started in the late 1880's as well. Prior method was butt-joint or clapboard.


This is a picture of one of the better  battens that they sent that was on the out side of the barn.
 Here's another picture, I still think it's been planed. The board on the inside

 is smooth, but it could have been wore that way.

Don P

I've seen those battens on another barn, the boards were planed like yours are.

Edit, this is a pic of a 3 sided planer of around the turn of the century. I'm standing at the infeed end. There is a 2 knife top planer head. You can see the row of bolts for one of the knives. Then the vertical side cutters on this machine following the top head.



I wasn't around back then, but it seems to me that rough sawn would have been readily Available for a barn. Is this a money/ prestige thing, especially with moulded battens or was it just cheaper to order in than buy local ?? I don't remember any of the old barns I ran around in when I was young having a battens, but that was a long time ago, regional maybe ?


That planer is interesting, thanks Don.


Not a mystery that one side of the barn siding boards could have been planed. Or is it to some? 
south central Wisconsin
It may be that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others


Very interesting thread. 
I thought it surely had to be resawn. Not questioning Trimguy because you were there. Just never occurred to me that it was a practice. 

My neighbor blacksmith has an old planer he acquired from an older blacksmith but I've never seen it operated. Not sure if it's possible but I might get a photo and compare. 

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Don P

One of the first shops I worked in was a startup running very used equipment. The planer was a 1904, the 4 side molder was a Berlin... they became American around 1917. I ended up owning the 1914 boring machine. Just saying the capability was there back in the day.


The fancy battens suggest to me that appearance was a consideration in how the boards were milled. If they were truly "rough cut", it might have been desirable to one side plane them to both flatten them and get a uniform thickness so the battens would also sit flat and tight.
The several barns and outbuildings I have noticed around here with moulded battens all seem to be associated with houses from the late 1800's through the early 1900's.
I like the appearance of minimal battens. Seems like 3/4" thick and 2-1/4 to 2-1/2" wide works well with a single nail at each girt.
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I'm doing the same thing in my house 

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