Barnboard - The Brandegee Blog

Ramblings on Crafting Useable Art (and other things that I find interesting)


Posted on December 11, 2012

One of the special pleasures of our loft apartment on Pittsburgh’s South Side is, of all things, barnboard.  When we built out the place, we used weatherworn barn siding as shutters for the 6′ x 10′ windows–three on the long side of our main room and two more that we opened by punching through the brick end wall.

Appropriately, the shutters slide open and closed on barn door runners.  When closed, they provide insulation that’s noticeably effective when temperatures soar or plunge.  Before our penthouse bedroom above was finished, we slept downstairs with the shutters closed; every morning were treated to traceries of light slashing between the boards for an effect much like what you’d see in an old barn.  Ten years later, it’s still a delight.

The shutters are fitted with repurposed wrought iron heart-shaped handles originally used on 18th century Bedford County roofs as snow eagles that kept sliding snowdrifts off surprised heads.  Just recently, we acquired another such piece, an iron piece that a blacksmith had forged into a sinuous snake form, complete with eyes and mouth, that served as a catch for the gate of an 18th Century Conestoga wagon.  To me, these things exemplify man’s consistent urge to create something beyond the ordinary out of mundane objects.

Barnboards have also become important ingredients in my furniture designs.  My cabinet maker, Donald Dicken, is working on a sideboard made primarily of barnboard with log cabin joists as legs.  And a good Bedford friend, Bill Defibaugh, sometime antique purveyor, last Christmas gifted me with a booze box filled with what I now call snowhearts.  Thanks again, Bill.  A row of them runs along the back of the sideboard.

This sideboard design uses barnboard as the case section with hard trimmed joists from an early log cabin as logs.

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