Sunday 15 January 2017

The scapradekijn for Castle Muiderslot, part 2 : more panel carving

Part 1 of this series of posts showed the start of the making of a scapradekijn for Castle Muiderslot. This second part will continue with the carving of the middle and lower panels of the hanging cupboard.

We are busy working on the scapradekijn at Castle Hernen. Bram is working on with one of the front boards on the workbench, while my board is clamped on a sitting bench.

The middle panel 

The basis of the middle panel. During construction some adjustments were made in the top and bottom lancet windows.

The carving of the middle panel also started by testing each part on a pine panel in order to get a feel for the technique and to decide whether it good good enough for the real panel. The routing of the basic parts was followed by drilling holes and carving. We initially had planned a carved rose in the centre of this panel, but then the people who had ordered the scapradekijn announced that they wanted a heraldic shield somewhere on the cupboard. The only reasonable place for the heraldic shield was the rose, as this did not disturb the design. Just after we had made the routing jig for the shield, the project leader of the Muiderslot project changed her view and wanted a more neutral cupboard without  heraldic shields. The rose was back in our design. Luckily we had not started yet with routing and carving, which would have made this last minute change impossible. Even more lucky, the heraldic shield of the jig was slightly larger than the rose, so we still could use the jig. 

The same router jig as for the top panel was used for the upper lancet windows of the middle panel with an insert added to adjust the routing area. The jig rests against a wooden rule (clamped separately with two clamps), allowing the jig to slide to the next position. This way only one dimension needed adjustment. the lines on the jig allow for correct placement on the panel.

Left: the result after routing the upper lancet windows of the middle panel. Right: the heraldic shield jig against the wooden rule. The heraldic shield is attached to the sides; the jig had to be turned over to allow this attachment 'line' to be routed away.   

The lower lancet windows of the middle panel were routed similarly as those of the top panel, but using a different insert. This produced a different window type. Also, for the central board one of the windows was lowered to allow for the lock plate.

The sequence of of carving the top part of the lancet window. The panel was clamped upside down in a double screw vise as this worked easiest. (1) The window just after routing, bevelling of the edges has been done. (2) Rounding of the curve was done with a half-round file. (3) Then a hole was drilled with a Forstner bit. (4) The hole was enlarged with round files. (5) The opening was sawn very slowly (carefully) with a small back saw.

The four crosses - looking like shooting slits in a castle wall - were made by drilling four holes, enlarging them to an oval form with a fretsaw and small needle files. Finally, the central hole was drilled. 

Two stages of a 6 mm thick oak test piece.

The setup for drilling the holes. The oak panel was clamped to a pine board in order to produce clean drill holes. 

For filing I clamped the oak board overhanging horizontally on the workbench; I found this the most stable filing position. You can also see the heraldic shields, that have to be turned into a rose. 

Left: The central hole is ready to be drilled. Right: the finalised cross.

The upper lancet windows were fully open in the original design, but we decided to fill it in to make it more attractive. Several designs were tested on the pine test board. Construction of these windows was done by drilling and enlarging the holes with needle files.

Left: The test panel with different options for the upper lancet windows. The first option on the left was used for the actual panels. Also written on the test panel is the drill guide, showing the size of the Forstner bit and the number of holes necessary. Right: the pine test panel was not very satisfactory, so we also drew the carving with a pencil on the oak panel.

The finalised small lancet windows.

The most difficult part was the creation of the rose. Testing a rose on pine was dramatic: everything broke of. A test on oak gave a better result, yet carving had to be done very carefully taking the grain into account. First, the heraldic shield was made round with a gouge. Then the rose was drawn with pencil and carved using small gouges and a carving knife. The petals were also partially cut free from the board. After the rose was carved the openings on the sides were drilled and enlarged with the carving knife and half-round files.

Left: the oak test rose, with the holes drilled for the side openings. Right: the panel with the heraldic shield - to be the rose.

Those who look carefully will see that the petals of the two central roses are arranged differently. When you look at original medieval panels, you will notice that such differences are commonly found. When panels look too similar, they are likely neo-gothic (19th century).

The lower panel

The routine for the lower panel was the same as for the previous ones. Only for the middle 'crosses' a new jig was needed. The upper and lower lancet windows made use of the old jig with an inserts to make it smaller. The upper lancet window and the 'cross' window were the easiest to carve: just drilling five (or three) and enlarging them with a round and triangular file. For the half-cross windows a carving knife was used to reach the sharp corners.

The basis of the lower panel. During construction some adjustments were made in the lancet windows.

The pine test panel, showing the different options for the carving.

The mdf board containing the jig for the rose also has a smaller version (left top corner) 
that was used for the 'cross' windows of the lower panel.

The upper lancet window and the 'cross' window were drilled with Forstner bits, 
while the oak board was clamped onto a pine underground. 
The upper part of the lower panel, before drilling the lower lancet windows. 
The V-form of the lower lancet window was filed to a point using a half-round file.

For the lower lancet windows fist the holes were drilled, after which the oval and the 'fish' bladders  were sawn with a fretsaw.

 The lower lancet windows finished.

One of the lower panels finished, but unoiled.

Bram working on the middle and lower panels of the front board at Castle Hernen.

All carved boards in a row in the workshop: two side panels (still under construction), 
three front panels and two pine test panels.


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