Oronoque Saltbox Historic Home Survey
The hall chamber offered a pristine example of 18th century regional timber framing, having two exposed bents (Bents I and II) (photos HC2 and HC13), a system of wide joists spanning the tie-beams, and a central joist tying the bents (HC1 and HC3). Compared to the singed timbers of the first floor, these members were remarkably clear, with the exception of a rear post and wall girt darkened by smoke and soot from that past kitchen fire (HC19).
These timbers also revealed many traces of the earlier plaster ceiling that once concealed them. The joists were shaped from irregular scants, and their bottom faces had been hand planed smooth to support plaster lath. Many plaster marks were still plainly visible (HC10). Plaster lines running the lengths of each tie-beam, just below the joist pockets, and also along the rear wall girt at the same level, were readily discernible (HC4).
The joists were of irregular widths, but their pockets were cut to uniform dimensions, and the joist ends had been reduced to fit them (HC11). Small wedges had been inserted in some pockets to fill spaces between the pocket walls or bottoms and the joist ends (HC22, HC23). Whether these wedges were inserted earlier, because of poorly fitted joints, or added much later (i.e., after removal of the plaster ceiling), to compensate for shrinkage due to drying, is hard to say.
Finally, the hall chamber offered two excellent examples of what I’ve termed the D-style tying joint, both of which were plainly visible at the forward end of each bent (HC14, HC15, HC17, and HC21). The tying joint of Bent II, in particular, and its connection to the front plate, was closely inspected and measured (HC16).