For decades, John Ebersole built big, sturdy barns in the Amish tradition throughout central Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. You might think that at 81, his barn-raising days would be behind him, but they’re not. They’ve just taken on a different form.
Now, instead of working with full-scale Eastern White Pine lumber, Ebersole has simply shrunken the proportions of his work. He still uses the same kinds of wood and joinery to craft miniature barns, showing off the beauty of the naked framework. They may be much smaller, but these barns are created piece-by-piece in a very similar way to the real thing.
In a feature at Lancaster Online, Ebersole says he lays out all the posts, mark where the holes need to be, drills and then starts assembling. In some cases, where very thin pieces of wood are required for the joints, he uses toothpicks cut in half. Matchsticks stand in for rungs on ladders.
“When I first started building, my uncle, he was a retired carpenter … he taught me a lot of things,” Ebersole says, “and I appreciated that. He said, ‘Now, you keep a diary of all this work,’ and I did not do that. Now, sometimes, I wish I did.”
The construction process doesn’t completely change when building a model, Ebersole says. “If you’re off by a sixteenth of an inch up or down” when building a model, he says, “that really shows in a small scale like this.”
Check out the rest of the piece, including lots more photos, at Lancaster Online.
Photos by Suzette Wenger