Steel Brackets for Post and Beam Construction

Sat Dec 25, 2004 10:04 pm

Does anyone know where I can get steel plates that I can use with lag bolts to connect heavy timbers together?

I'm restoring an old farmhouse and barn. The barn is a 30x40 bank barn, and I had to jack up the (second) floor joists to replace the (non-existant) sills, and level out the floor. The entire floor is supported by 6x6 timbers that run horizontally beneath the floor joists on either side, supported by vertical 6x6 beams standing on top of poured concrete footings. Everything is being held together by the weight above, but I'd like to stabilize the connections. I've seen plates in magazines that look to be 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick steel, with holes for lag bolts to pass through. But I've never seen them in any supply houses. Any leads would be appreciated.



Sun Dec 26, 2004 5:33 am

Go to a scrap yard. Not just an auto one. you will be able to get plate and serious sized angle. Then cut and put the drill press to work. I would use through holes and double plates or at least backup washers. Thehardware they use on piers or the top of electric poles is what you want. Are they all sawn timbers you are working with? Many old barns used timbers with flats at the joints or only on two sides.


Sun Dec 26, 2004 8:38 am

The timbers are oak, and are sawn on all sides - my next door neighbor has a portable sawmill and he cut them all.

Were you thinking finding scrap pieces of 1/4 inch plate and burning out rectangular pieces to make the brackets? I considered that, but since I have 12 posts, I need 24 plates. That's (at least) 100 - 1/2 inch holes! I was hoping for an easier way.

The beams have been sitting as they are for a couple of years since we did the jacking. I suppose it would take an earthquake to knock it all apart, but it seems like I should have the junctions tied together. Obviously, there hasn't been a building inspector involved. . . .

Sun Dec 26, 2004 10:22 am


I built a pole barn for my horses. I found a local steel fabricator that cut the plates and saddles I needed. He was also able to punch all the holes. I had 30 plates and 10 saddles made and the total cost was about $75.00.
I think because he had the equipment that could shear the steel and could stamp the holes rather than drill each one kept the cost down. Might want to try that. You might also try your local steel supplier. I know the supplier by me has what it sounds like you are looking for already made.

Sun Dec 26, 2004 1:55 pm

Thats a good idea but i still think you need through bols or rods not lag screws. May be some more experienced than I am can weigh in on this.
Just remembered that I have seen barn rebuilders and restorers and supplies for same some where on the internet.


Sun Dec 26, 2004 3:26 pm

As my dad always told me! Son the best you can do will be bad enough.

Sun Dec 26, 2004 7:50 pm

Hey Paul,

I will do some checking Monday. I have a bother that is in the home/building construction business and I know he has used items
like I think you need and I will check with him. Also, in the meantime,
if you are not going to double the plates you may want to go to a
lumber salvage yard and most will have some of the backing plates.
I know you have seen them. Many are in the shape of a star or some
other shape and range in many sizes. I think I have seen a show on
the Old Yankee Workshop sereis using this item. You may get a lead
on their website.

Hope this helps some and I will try to get more info.

Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:03 am

For a different approach. Why not pick up some wood dowel and glue and just angle drill some holes, glue up the dowel and drive them in. It should be just as fast as driving lags. It will be alot cheaper and will look primitive, too. That's how they use to do it.

Mon Dec 27, 2004 1:23 pm

When they dowled it was a willow dowl through a tenion in a pocket. Though the angle drill and dowl you suggest would work well if done from 2 oposing angles.


Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:53 pm

I agree with BeaconLight that through bolts connecting two plates sandwiching the wooden post would be much better than lag bolts holding plates independently from each side. But how do you drill a hole that size, through 6 inches of oak, and keep the hole straight enough to hit the exact spot on the other side to be able to meet the opposing plate's hole? And do it corrext each time to be able to make up 4 bolts on each plate!! I've just never been able to do it, even for one hole, and particularly now that the posts are in place.

I'd love to hear any tips or suggestions.


Mon Dec 27, 2004 7:25 pm

Paul. You can use your bracket/plate with the holes in it to pilot & drill thru and then use large washers on the reverse side. This way the holes don't have to match up with holes on the reverse side. Drill, then bolt one hole at at time. OR If you must sandwich between two plates, drill halfway thru on both sides and hammer (small sledge) the bolt thru the hole! Don't know exactly your design or technique, but this should work.........