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Re: Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?

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  • Gille MacDhnouill
    One other source are the so-called medieval church chests. There s a reprint of a turn-of-the 20th century survey of English chests that illustrates the
    Message 1 of 23 , Jul 2, 2010
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      One other source are the so-called medieval "church chests." There's a reprint of a turn-of-the 20th century survey of English chests that illustrates the various joinery (and carving) used on these chests. (http://home.teleport.com/~tcl/cc.htm) Now mind, these are large coffers designed to protect vestments and alms, but you could reasonably extend the methods to smaller boxes. These chests, btw, were mostly thick and wide legs with panels and the floor of the chest let in to groves on the edge and face of the leg. The ends were re-enforced with decorative wooden cross-pieces, and the hinges for the lids were formed from a lid batten and integrated into the back leg, and then almost universally repaired at a later date.

      Note that some small (and even largish) chests/strongboxes in the 12-14th centuries were made by hollowing out a log segment, and reinforcing the whole thing with iron straps, so there really was no "joinery" per Se.

      Hope this helps,
      -----Gille MacDhnouill
      Working wood in Milton, PA
      Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, AEthelmearc.

      --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Schongar (bschonga)" <bschonga@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi folks,
      >
      > Does anyone have any references or thoughts for what type of joints
      > would have most commonly been used on a small box or coffret from the
      > 13th century (England or France, if geography matters)?
      >
      > I was thinking of using dovetails or a rabbetted butt joint with
      > dowels, but have been unable to find anything in the books I have on
      > what would be appropriate. Since one of the examples I've seen is
      > covered in leather, it unfortunately didn't help identify the joints.
      >
      > Thanks,
      > -Liam
      >
    • AlbionWood
      The few from that era that I ve seen in museums appeared to have been joined by treenails. Most are also covered with leather and/or gessoed, covering
      Message 2 of 23 , Jul 2, 2010
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        The few from that era that I've seen in museums appeared to have been
        joined by treenails. Most are also covered with leather and/or gessoed,
        covering whatever joinery is present... so no reason for fancy woodwork.
        Rabbeting is probably OK, I know I've seen it on some coffers but
        not sure of the 13th century. (Really need to get my photos databased.)

        No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been known
        in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing documentary
        references, these seem to have fallen completely out of use in Northern
        Europe from the early MA until the 15th century.

        Cheers,
        Tim


        Bill Schongar (bschonga) wrote:
        > Hi folks,
        >
        > Does anyone have any references or thoughts for what type of joints
        > would have most commonly been used on a small box or coffret from the
        > 13th century (England or France, if geography matters)?
        >
        > I was thinking of using dovetails or a rabbetted butt joint with
        > dowels, but have been unable to find anything in the books I have on
        > what would be appropriate. Since one of the examples I've seen is
        > covered in leather, it unfortunately didn't help identify the joints.
        >
        > Thanks,
        > -Liam
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
        Early Chests in Wood and Iron and? I think I missed the other title.... Baron Conal O hAirt / Jim Hart Aude Aliquid Dignum Dare Something Worthy
        Message 3 of 23 , Jul 3, 2010
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          Early Chests in Wood and Iron

          and?

          I think I missed the other title....
           
          Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

          Aude Aliquid Dignum
          ' Dare Something Worthy '



          From: Bill Schongar (bschonga) <bschonga@...>
          To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Fri, July 2, 2010 11:20:01 AM
          Subject: Thanks! RE: [MedievalSawdust] Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?

           

           

          This is a huge help, thanks! And many thanks to everyone else who has provided input as well – I now have two more books to go find and add to the library.

           

          -Liam

           

           

          From: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:medievalsaw dust@yahoogroups .com] On Behalf Of conradh@efn. org
          Sent: Friday, July 02, 2010 3:58 AM
          To: medievalsawdust@ yahoogroups. com
          Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?

           

           

          On Thu, July 1, 2010 12:59 pm, Bill Schongar (bschonga) wrote:

          > Hi folks,
          >
          >
          > Does anyone have any references or thoughts for what type of joints
          > would have most commonly been used on a small box or coffret from the 13th
          > century (England or France, if geography matters)?
          >
          > I was thinking of using dovetails or a rabbetted butt joint with
          > dowels, but have been unable to find anything in the books I have on what
          > would be appropriate. Since one of the examples I've seen is covered in
          > leather, it unfortunately didn't help identify the joints.
          >
          I'm looking at several of them in a book a friend picked up for me in
          England years ago. There are a couple of 6-board chests with no obvious
          joinery (without even the usual iron bindings). The photos show the front
          and top of each--the fastenings don't show but the text says they are
          pegged. No mention of corner joinery. Both are from 1360 or so, by
          tree-ring dating of the oak.

          The "Trial of the Pyx" coffer is much larger, made of quarter-sawn (or
          riven?_ oak in a sort of foreshadowing of the paneled construction that
          would become popular a little later. Four heavy vertical planks frame the
          chest, two at front and two in back. The ends, and the lighter horizontal
          boards forming the middles of the front and back, are doweled into these
          big stiles. The end boards are slightly recessed, the three front boards
          are flush with the stiles. The stiles extend slightly at the bottom,
          serving as feet. It has an internal till. Two plain iron strap hinges
          extend clear across the 3-board lid, and hasps are hinged from them that
          engage a pair of internal locks. (There was originally a third hinge,
          strap, hasp and lock, but they have gone missing.) The hardware is
          obviously clinch-nailed, but the text says the rest of the fastenings are
          dowels. Made around 1300.

          The only others I see from your period are one that is nearly and one
          completely iron-bound. They are made of pine and willow, probably to cut
          the weight which will be bothersome with all that metal. No mention of
          joinery, which is probably irrelevant because the iron holds it together.
          (In one, the _wood_ is irrelevant, since the chest is entirely covered
          with sheet metal and bound with iron straps over that!)

          So what I found here, at least, is either doweled or held together by its
          hardware. I know other examples from this era were nailed. If dovetails
          were known (and they go back to ancient Egypt!), they don't seem to be
          common yet; they became so by a couple centuries later. The _Standebuch_
          of Jost Amman (Frankfurt am Main, 1568) shows a number of clearly
          dovetailed chests.

          The book is _Early Chests in Wood and Iron_, a pamphlet from the museum of
          the Public Records Office. (These chests were there because at at least
          one point in their history, they were used to store documents.) Photos
          and text by Celia Jenning. HMSO, London, 1974.

          FWIW, Ulfhedinn


        • i_odlin@hotmail.com
          ... Aaaaaaaaaaaand we re off! The betting windows are now closed, ladies and gentlemen as the horses are reaching the first quarter-mile post... -Iain
          Message 4 of 23 , Jul 3, 2010
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            --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, AlbionWood <albionwood@...> wrote:
            > No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been
            > known in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing
            > documentary references, these seem to have fallen completely out
            > of use in Northern Europe from the early MA until the 15th
            > century.

            Aaaaaaaaaaaand we're off! The betting windows are now closed, ladies and gentlemen as the horses are reaching the first quarter-mile post...

            -Iain
          • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
            Rule 1 - never say never Rule 2 - never say always The best you can say is you do not know of any examples of dovetails in England and France in the 13th
            Message 5 of 23 , Jul 5, 2010
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              Rule 1 - never say never
              Rule 2 - never say always

              The best you can say is you do not know of any examples of 
              dovetails in England and France in the 13th century
               
              Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

              Aude Aliquid Dignum
              ' Dare Something Worthy '



              From: "i_odlin@..." <i_odlin@...>
              To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Sat, July 3, 2010 10:27:54 PM
              Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?

               

              --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, AlbionWood <albionwood@...> wrote:
              > No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been
              > known in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing
              > documentary references, these seem to have fallen completely out
              > of use in Northern Europe from the early MA until the 15th
              > century.

              Aaaaaaaaaaaand we're off! The betting windows are now closed, ladies and gentlemen as the horses are reaching the first quarter-mile post...

              -Iain


            • Eric
              I agree with both Conal and Tim. While one should be careful to not deal in absolutes (as Conal said), according to every thing I know about extant examples,
              Message 6 of 23 , Jul 5, 2010
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                I agree with both Conal and Tim. While one should be careful to not deal in absolutes (as Conal said), according to every thing I know about extant examples, dovetails were not a common method of joinery in Northern Europe or Britain during the early portions of the SCA period (as Tim said). Tim also alluded to the fact that rare examples will occasionally crop up that would disprove that statement.

                Let me give an example based on our own period. Are flying cars period for late 20th century? Basically not, but during my whole life (since 1960) there have been different people and companies that have produced single or a small number of working flying cars available for sale. I even saw one operate as a small child at an airshow and owned a small, working, plastic model of that design. So, if someone asked five hundred years from now, if flying cars are period for the late 20th century, what would your answer be?

                In Service to the Dream,
                Eirikr Mjoksiglandi
                Ashgrove, Barony of Altavia, Caid


                --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@...> wrote:
                >
                > Rule 1 - never say never
                > Rule 2 - never say always
                >
                > The best you can say is you do not know of any examples of
                > dovetails in England and France in the 13th century
                > Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
                >
                > Aude Aliquid Dignum
                > ' Dare Something Worthy '
                >
                > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, AlbionWood <albionwood@> wrote:
                > > No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been
                > > known in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing
                > > documentary references, these seem to have fallen completely out
                > > of use in Northern Europe from the early MA until the 15th
                > > century.
                >
              • Bill McNutt
                That it s an outlier, and a reproduction or a piece of utility gear - but not that it s a common practice. Will From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                Message 7 of 23 , Jul 5, 2010
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                  That it’s an outlier, and a reproduction or a piece of utility gear – but not that it’s a common practice.

                   

                  Will

                   

                  From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto:medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Eric
                  Sent: Monday, July 05, 2010 11:36 AM
                  To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?

                   

                   

                  I agree with both Conal and Tim. While one should be careful to not deal in absolutes (as Conal said), according to every thing I know about extant examples, dovetails were not a common method of joinery in Northern Europe or Britain during the early portions of the SCA period (as Tim said). Tim also alluded to the fact that rare examples will occasionally crop up that would disprove that statement.

                  Let me give an example based on our own period. Are flying cars period for late 20th century? Basically not, but during my whole life (since 1960) there have been different people and companies that have produced single or a small number of working flying cars available for sale. I even saw one operate as a small child at an airshow and owned a small, working, plastic model of that design. So, if someone asked five hundred years from now, if flying cars are period for the late 20th century, what would your answer be?

                  In Service to the Dream,
                  Eirikr Mjoksiglandi
                  Ashgrove, Barony of Altavia, Caid

                  --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@...> wrote:

                  >
                  > Rule 1 - never say never
                  > Rule 2 - never say always
                  >
                  > The best you can say is you do not know of any examples of
                  > dovetails in England and France in the 13th century
                  > Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
                  >
                  > Aude Aliquid Dignum
                  > ' Dare Something Worthy '
                  >
                  > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com,
                  AlbionWood <albionwood@> wrote:
                  > > No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been
                  > > known in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing
                  > > documentary references, these seem to have fallen completely out
                  > > of use in Northern Europe from the early MA until the 15th
                  > > century.
                  >

                • Mike from NH
                  Ok, here is something I did a little looking at, if you can say your mentor traveled, or learned from a traveler, you might want to think about China,
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jul 5, 2010
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                    Ok, here is something I did a little looking at, if you can say your mentor traveled, or learned from a traveler, you might want to think about China, according to one reference I found, they've have joints like dovetail joints sence before 1100, here is the link.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Chinese_wooden_architecture

                    Yours in Service
                    Michael De La Coteau
                    (Michael of the Hill)

                    --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Rule 1 - never say never
                    > Rule 2 - never say always
                    >
                    > The best you can say is you do not know of any examples of
                    > dovetails in England and France in the 13th century
                    > Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
                    >
                    > Aude Aliquid Dignum
                    > ' Dare Something Worthy '
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ________________________________
                    > From: "i_odlin@..." <i_odlin@...>
                    > To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                    > Sent: Sat, July 3, 2010 10:27:54 PM
                    > Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, AlbionWood <albionwood@> wrote:
                    > > No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been
                    > > known in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing
                    > > documentary references, these seem to have fallen completely out
                    > > of use in Northern Europe from the early MA until the 15th
                    > > century.
                    >
                    > Aaaaaaaaaaaand we're off! The betting windows are now closed, ladies and gentlemen as the horses are reaching the first quarter-mile post...
                    >
                    > -Iain
                    >
                  • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
                    There are also Egyptian dovetails in BC time. ( cannot recall any more specific details off the cuff ) Use them or don t... I don t care, but don t invent
                    Message 9 of 23 , Jul 5, 2010
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                      There are also Egyptian dovetails in BC time.
                      ( cannot recall any more specific details off the cuff )



                      Use them or don't... I don't care, but don't invent 
                      'kidnapped by gypsies and sold to Asian pirates'
                      type stories to try to justify them...

                      The apprenticed to a master that learned in Japan is
                      kinda cheesy and 'bad form' in my opinion.


                       
                      Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

                      Aude Aliquid Dignum
                      ' Dare Something Worthy '



                      From: Mike from NH <fantasydesigns2002@...>
                      To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Mon, July 5, 2010 2:58:43 PM
                      Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?

                       

                      Ok, here is something I did a little looking at, if you can say your mentor traveled, or learned from a traveler, you might want to think about China, according to one reference I found, they've have joints like dovetail joints sence before 1100, here is the link.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Chinese_wooden_architecture

                      Yours in Service
                      Michael De La Coteau
                      (Michael of the Hill)

                      --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart <baronconal@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Rule 1 - never say never
                      > Rule 2 - never say always
                      >
                      > The best you can say is you do not know of any examples of
                      > dovetails in England and France in the 13th century
                      > Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
                      >
                      > Aude Aliquid Dignum
                      > ' Dare Something Worthy '
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > ________________________________
                      > From: "i_odlin@..." <i_odlin@...>
                      > To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                      > Sent: Sat, July 3, 2010 10:27:54 PM
                      > Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Type of joinery in 13th C coffret?
                      >
                      >
                      > --- In medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, AlbionWood <albionwood@> wrote:
                      > > No dovetails for 13th c. England or France. Despite having been
                      > > known in the Roman period, and despite a few tantalizing
                      > > documentary references, these seem to have fallen completely out
                      > > of use in Northern Europe from the early MA until the 15th
                      > > century.
                      >
                      > Aaaaaaaaaaaand we're off! The betting windows are now closed, ladies and gentlemen as the horses are reaching the first quarter-mile post...
                      >
                      > -Iain
                      >


                    • conradh@efn.org
                      ... Beautifully said! It s very much an issue for the history of tools, too. In 1505 a Nuremberg engineer named Loffelholz designed and drew in his notebook a
                      Message 10 of 23 , Jul 5, 2010
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                        On Mon, July 5, 2010 8:35 am, Eric wrote:
                        > I agree with both Conal and Tim. While one should be careful to not deal
                        > in absolutes (as Conal said), according to every thing I know about
                        > extant examples, dovetails were not a common method of joinery in
                        > Northern Europe or Britain during the early portions of the SCA period
                        > (as Tim said). Tim also alluded to the fact that rare examples will
                        > occasionally crop up that would disprove that statement.
                        >
                        > Let me give an example based on our own period. Are flying cars period
                        > for late 20th century? Basically not, but during my whole life (since
                        > 1960) there have been different people and companies that have produced
                        > single or a small number of working flying cars available for sale. I
                        > even saw one operate as a small child at an airshow and owned a small,
                        > working, plastic model of that design. So, if someone asked five hundred
                        > years from now, if flying cars are period for the late 20th century, what
                        > would your answer be?
                        >
                        Beautifully said!

                        It's very much an issue for the history of tools, too. In 1505 a
                        Nuremberg engineer named Loffelholz designed and drew in his notebook a
                        startlingly advanced workbench for his day--it's about two-thirds of the
                        way to the sort of cabinetmaker's bench that became common in the Germanic
                        world by 1700 or so. It had a twin-screw face vise and a fully enclosed,
                        moving-dog tail vise, with multiple recesses for a planing stop that seem
                        to have also served as stops for the tail vise.

                        The trouble comes in figuring out whether anything came of this. Was Herr
                        Loffelholz a secretive dreamer like Leonardo, filling notebooks with
                        clever ideas that made no difference because he kept them so secret?

                        Half a century later, bench vises show up in half a dozen shops in the
                        _Standebuch_, also from Nuremberg. _Not one_ of those vises look like the
                        1505 examples, and not one is in any sort of woodworker's shop! They're
                        metal, and all used by high-end specialty metalworkers. They look like
                        the ancestors of a blacksmith's leg vise, not any sort of Loffelholz
                        derivative.

                        Context: The 1500's were a time in which the south German cities led the
                        world in metal technology, and in particular seemed to be systematically
                        exploring uses of screw threads. The first bench vises, the first rifled
                        guns, the first use of a screw press for printing, and the first use of
                        threaded fasteners, both wood screws and nuts and bolts--all show up first
                        in the south German cities, in or just before the first half of the
                        Sixteenth Century.

                        So it's like the flying cars, or like asking if internal-combustion motor
                        vehicles are period for the 19th Century. Of course they are--the first
                        IC driven car (which the Swiss inventor even called a "char") actually ran
                        down Swiss roads in 1803! All through that century, various inventors
                        built things that a) could run, and b) were such a pain in the ass to run
                        that they never really caught on.



                        Old-school craftsmen could be awfully conservative. My guess would be
                        that Loffelholz made a bench like his drawing, for his own use, and tried
                        to interest woodworkers in it. He himself was a user and contributor to
                        the exciting new screw technology, the one that led to the metalworking
                        vises we see illustrated sixty years later. But the woodworkers were used
                        to their old ways of holding the work, and held back for a while.
                        _Eventually_ they got the idea too, but unfortunately we have this gap in
                        the record between 1505 and around 1700. By 1700 the traditional
                        cabinetmakers bench with all the trimmings was widely used across Germany
                        and had spread to Scandinavia. Obviously, it developed in Germany
                        sometime during those two centuries, but on the evidence of the Standebuch
                        it had not caught on as early as 1565.

                        This sort of conservatism persisted--in the late 1700's Roubo could
                        illustrate a cabinetmakers bench, but said the only workers in France who
                        used them were German emigres! Nuremberg and Paris are not that far
                        apart--during the 1700's they were connected by regular stagecoach
                        service. Those benches were still not widely used in England for much
                        later, and many English cabinetmakers to this day still have no use for
                        tail vises.

                        So yeah, you can drive an 1801 Trevethick or an 1803 Rivaz to your Regency
                        event, and document it. But to be fair and honest, along with it consider
                        developing the persona of a cutting-edge engineer or mad scientist. Much
                        the same sorts who were demonstrating the flying car you saw. To
                        (finally!) get back to dovetails, how about a cover story to go with them,
                        about travel and training in Germany or the like? And perhaps put in some
                        other distinctively German features in the woodwork?

                        Ulfhedinn
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