Interesting Construction Technique

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    Topic
  • #555301
    Steve Giles
    Participant

    Hi,

    I bought a house with a barn last year and there’s an old door in the barn that has been constructed using a method I have never seen before. Wooden pegs with a square head have been used in lieu of nails to hold the door together. The other end of each peg is split and a tiny wedge has been driven into it in order to lock the peg in place.

    Is anyone familiar with this construction method? Does it have a name?

    Cheers,

    Steve

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  • #555304
    sanford
    Participant

    @sanford

    Very interesting. So is this a sort of wedged square dowel rammed into a square through mortise? I do not know anything about barn construction, but I bet this sort of thing was common back when nails were hand made and expensive. Any idea when the barn was built?

    #555305
    Steve Giles
    Participant

    @gilessteve

    Hi Sanford,

    Yes, the split peg has a small wedge driven in that opens it up and holds it in place in the hole. It’s a sort of wooden rivet I guess.

    I have no idea how old the door is. I’m in Bulgaria so it’s hard to put a date to it. It looks ancient though! lol Strangely the door also has wire nails in its construction, so who knows.

    I would love to try using this method to build something new. Maybe if I bought a lathe I could make some pegs quickly. I don’t think they’d have to be square, although the square heads do look nice.

    Steve

    #555309
    YrHenSaer
    Participant

    @howardinwales

    As a solution to expensive hand-wrought nails it’s in keeping with its vernacular style.
    On a practical level, pegs and wedges like that anchoring boards to a solid rail at the back will prevent unwanted warping of those boards over the seasons.

    Some vernacular dovetailed furniture was made with wedges as an alternative to fixing with nails or glues.

    Tails and pins were cut in the normal way, but deliberately loose – not the usual tight fit; a saw cut was made in the tail and a wedge driven in when the joint was assembled. This tightened the tail into the pins each side and was trimmed off later.

    #555314
    Selva
    Participant

    @selva

    I recall reading about extensive use of treenails or trunnels like this in boat construction in the colonial era (though the practice could be much older). Some variations describe additional square pegs driven into the exterior side and rectangular wedges in the interior. I guess the wooden nails themselves are probably circular (or nearly so). Another variation is wedged circular treenails with a square head (and no peg) wedged on one or both sides which may be similar to your barn door.

    There are some obvious advantages of using wooden nails in water (ships and boats). Including the fact that wood expands when wet and thus tightens into the hole. But never saw this applied to doors as in these pictures.

    selva

    #555317
    Jeremy Langer
    Participant

    @derhooligan

    Peg barns, as they are referred to in the states are not as common as they once were. They’ve mostly been torn down or rotted away. It sounds similar to what you describe, as far as construction. The pictures are fairly representative of what one would see, sometimes just on doors and partitions, others on all of the siding. Kind of neat when you do find one here in the states, as they usually have massive hand hewn timbers and amazing old growth woods.

    #555318
    Steve Giles
    Participant

    @gilessteve

    Thank you for the replies.

    Using ‘treenail’ as a search term, I found these:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treenail
    https://rainfordrestorations.com/2014/01/04/treenails-trunnels-pins-and-pegs/

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