Monday, 30 October 2017

A 15th century oak chest panel

Two 15th century from a recent auction and another one bought several years ago at ebay.
The two panels are 45.5 cm high and 20 cm wide and around 1 cm thick.

It is interesting to look at medieval internet auctions and see whether they have some interesting pieces for sale. Mostly, they are above my budget, but this time they had some affordable pieces at Le Prunier Auction: several 15th century French oak panels were for sale. I did a bid for a pair of panels that originated from a chest and won it! Some weeks ago they arrived at home. One of them was in a bad shape - which I knew from the auction photo - with some woodworm holes. As I did not know whether the panel was treated or not, they went for a cure for some weeks into the freezer to kill the bugs.

Wrapped in plastic the panels just fitted into the freezer. 
A few weeks at -20 degrees Celcius is enough to kill any woodworm inside.

The best panel of the two.

A few details of the panels: the roses of the the top.

The gothic windows and the rose in the circle at the bottom.

Compare this with the rose details of my other 15th century panel.

Woodworm vandalism on the other panel.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Medieval furniture at Chateau Langeais: dressoirs and armoires

There is more to see at Chateau Langeais than tables, benches and chairs. For instance, cupboards, buffets, dressoirs and armoires (see medieval furniture dictionary). Below is the photographic tour of the castle concerning these furniture types.

This beautiful 6-sided early 16th century livery cupboard was luckily a bit damaged. That is, for me, because it allowed some views of the construction that would otherwise not be possible. The dressoir only stands on four legs.

The sides of the dressoir. The wooden nails in the frame are clearly visible. The top of the dressoir consists of three wooden boards.

The dressoir has only one door, with openwork hinges and lock. Above and under the lock are two faces of men with hats and ruffs, typically worn in the early 16th century.

 Left: The front of the drawer. The two front 'legs' end here in an ornamented knob. Right: The underside of the drawer. At the end a wooden block is placed as a stopper.

Left: Another view of the underside of the drawer. It rests upon two rails. Right: One of the lower side panel was broken, allowing a view inside. You can see the rail on which the drawer rests and the stopper block at the end. Also the groove of the side panel can be seen and the bottom of the cupboard above.
The top has a simple ornamented rim attached to it.

 A small but high six-sided  stepped buffet with a canopy and shelves that can be used to display silverware. 
The buffet is made in the late 15th century.

The canopy has a barrel-shaped roof  and the vertical stiles end in woman's faces

The stepped buffet consists of two loose parts: the display shelf with the canopy and the cupboard with the under shelf.  The backside has two heraldic shields which also appear on the cupboard below.

 The door of the cupboard with two heraldic shields.
 Also at the end of the drawer the vertical rails end in woman's heads.

The bottom shelf has six feet.

A four-sided livery cupboard with two doors and no drawers.

The side panels of the dressoir are carved in linenfold pattern.

 A small armoire with double doors. All panels are carved in linenfold pattern.
The top of the armoire consists of two boards.

A large armoire with two large doors and two smaller ones on top. The armoire only has linenfold panels at the front.

The armoire in a bedroom in the castle.

 A low livery cupboard / table with two small doors.

Likely not medieval, existing in medieval times: a baby walker and a cradle.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Scapradekijn for the Muiderslot, part 6: adding the crown to the work

This post finalizes the story of the hanging cupboard for Castle Muiderslot. Previous parts considered the carving of the panels, the metal parts and the construction (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). This last part will show the making of the carved crown.

Carving the top crown

We planned to make the top crown like the original hanging cupboard in Cologne. This crown consists of two rilled bottom lines, and a top part with alternating open quatrefoils and closed X-like parts.

The front top crown of the Hangeschrankchen from the Museum fur angewandte Kunst in Colgne, Germany. You can see behind the crown, the parts of the cupboard that connect to it; most is left open. 

First, the rilled lines were made in oak using an adjustable scratch stock, a scraper-like tool that can be set at a specific distance. While the scratch stock did not work for the eagles feathers on the sella curulis, it worked perfect for the scapradekijn. After this, the parts for the open quatrefoils were deepened by hand using a chisel. Next, the quatrefoils were drilled open and widened with a carving knife and file. Then, the interspaced closed X-like parts were carved. Finally, the hole in the middle of the X was drilled with a brace holding a spoon bit at a depth of approximately a third of the thickness of the wood. Using a spoon bit ensured that the hole had a nicely rounded bottom.

 First one line was scratched, then the scratch-stock was adjusted and the second line was carved.

Deepening of the spaces for the open quatrefoils (at castle Hernen). 

Bram at work on the cupboard crown at castle Hernen.

Bram carving the quatrefoils of the crown at the courtyard of castle Muiderslot.
Marijn drilling the holes in the closed X with a brace at castle Muiderslot 
(image from the book Wonen in de Mideeleeuwen).

The two side pieces, carved and oiled. 

Connecting the three parts

Also the three top rim parts were connected to each other with secret dovetails. For this, first an end-grain rebate had to be made. I used the table-saw set at a specific height to produce exact rebates. Then the secret dovetails were sawn and cut with a chisel. A nice guide to produce secret dovetails can be found at the Fine Woodworking magazine blog.

The end grain rebate sawn by the table-saw. A small slate was kept at the end of the roller table  to avoid splintering of the rim by the saw blade. 

The layout of the secret dove tails drawn on the end of the rim.

The finished secret dovetail.

The secret dovetail joined together.

Preparing the hanging cupboard

The crown will be fixed to the parts of the cupboard that protrude above the top shelf. However, these parts will partially close the openwork quatrefoils. This problem was solved in the original piece, by cutting out some parts of the protruding panels. This solution was also used for our scapradekijn; made the protruding panels 'crenelated', thus allowing space for the openwork quatrefoils. The middle panel - the door of the scapradekijn - has no protruding parts, as it needs to be opened. Instead a smaller piece of (crenelated) oak was added to fill the gap here.

The top of the Hangeschrankchen at the MAK in Cologne. You can see that specific parts of the top are cut out (green arrows) to allow the quatrefoils to be open. For the door of the cupboard the space is even larger (red arrow).

The crown fitted to the cupboard. You can see that the openwork quatrefoils are partially covered by the protruding parts of the cupboard panels. There the wood needs to be removed to allow a fully open quatrefoil.

The middle panel (the door) has a small piece of wood added (unoiled) 
in order to close the gap that would appear when the door is opened.

 Bram sawing the 'crenels' with a fretsaw and cleaning them with a file.

 A test fitting of the crown in the workshop.

Adding the pins 

With everything ready, the crown was fitted with wooden dowels to scapradekijn at a special session at Castle Muiderslot. As drilling holes for the pins was done with an electric tool, this had to be done before the visitors arrived at the castle. Hammering the pins, however, in was done with the public. Clamps held a wooden strip behind the crown to avoid splintering during the drilling process, if the drill bit went too deep. (Luckily this did not happen). Pins were placed between the rilled lines and in the closed X parts. When all pins were hammered in (with help of the visitors), they were cleaned and finished with some linseed oil. 

Marijn drills the holes for the crown  early in the morning at castle Muiderslot.

The crown is clamped to the cupboard. On the left you can see the 'safety' piece of wood. 

The first few pins were hammered in, before the modern clamps were removed. They were then replaced by wooden screw clamps for the remainder of the pins.

On display in the red chamber

The redecorated red chamber in Castle Muiderslot, with the wall and chimney paintings, two tapestries and the scapradekijn.

The beautiful side of the red chamber; the other side of the room still has a modern shelf packed with 'medieval clothes' that can be tried out by children, including the ubiquitous wooden swords and shields.

The finished scapradekijn.