Re: [MedievalSawdust] documenting fretwork
Fretwork (more generally "pierced work") is very commonly found on medieval objects, in wood and in metal. I have a number of photos of objects in European museums that are decorated with various kinds of pierced work. For example, we recently had a good discussion about a pierced and carved French Gothic stool in the V&A storage, tentatively dated to the late 15th/early 16th century. Look in the Photos section of the website for this group, under the folder "An Enigmatic Stool". The piercework on this stool was done by sawing, after drilling pilot holes. The saw marks were left rough, no attempt was made to clean up the cuts, even though the subsequent carving is extremely high quality. (The discussion started with posts titled "Pierced French Stool at V&A" on 2/11/2007.)
I haven't come across any detailed discussions of techniques employed for this kind of work, probably because there isn't a whole lot to say about it. Drill and saw out, repeat. For tools, there is the Compleat Anachronist issue by our very own Ranulf, who discusses the styles of drills and saws available at various times in the MA. I can't remember the issue number, maybe somebody here has it handy. It's about the only publication I know of that specifically addresses medieval woodworking tools.
The wimble, or brace-and-bit as we Murkans call it, apparently developed in the early 15th c. (Maybe it's not a coincidence to see a lot of piercework showing up around the same time.) Prior to that it was T-handled spoon bits. Frame saws go back as far as we can see. I'm not aware of any foot-powered scroll saws before the 19th c.
Hope that helps. I can put up a few more photos of pierced work if you'd like.
I do projects on a scroll saw such as jewelry boxes, private shrines, ect. These are fretwork. I know that fretwork was done in the past by drilling a hole with a hand drill and then using chisels and knives to carve out the designs. I am having problems finding surviving examples of fretwork done before 1600 c.e. I am also having problems finding descriptions of the techniques used to cite in my documentation of such things. Can anyone suggest places to look for these things? Any help would be much appreciated.
Stephanie Smith, Ph.D