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Re: [medievalsawdust] greetings... and an inquiry

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  • Tim Bray
    ... Standardization isn t the issue. Chris correctly observed that dovetails on surviving furniture from the 16th c. are cut at a much steeper angle than
    Message 1 of 46 , Sep 6, 2003
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      >I wouldn't worry too much about angles. I doubt there's any
      >documentation to prove or disprove standardization of dovetail angles
      >during the SCA time period.

      Standardization isn't the issue. Chris correctly observed that dovetails
      on surviving furniture from the 16th c. are cut at a much steeper angle
      than those from the 18th c. This is a factual observation. The question
      is, why?

      My tentative hypothesis: Steeper dovetails are more intuitive - the
      mechanical properties are obvious. The only drawback to them is that they
      are somewhat more difficult to make that way, because of the short grain at
      the outer tips of the tails. Not impossible, just requires more
      care. With dense, close-grained wood, this is less of a concern. I
      suspect that the drawbacks were known, and the Renaissance artisan
      compensated by selecting tight-grained wood and by exercising great care in
      construction.

      I don't think dovetails became popular because of any superiority in
      construction - frame-and-panel chests were already proven to be stable and
      solid, are easier to make, and can be made with lower-quality
      lumber. Dovetail chests required wide, old-growth boards - which were
      already becoming scarce and expensive in the MA. I think their popularity
      was for two reasons: One, they look cool, and were undoubtedly considered
      more "artisanal" than framed chests (just as they are today) - so the more
      dramatic the dovetails looked, the more valuable they would be. Two, the
      conspicuous use of wide (expensive) boards proclaimed the wealth of the owner.

      So, as long as the artisan was careful and the wood was good enough, acute
      dovetails were feasible. If that's what the market demanded, that's what
      the studios produced.

      Cheers,
      Colin


      Albion Works
      Furniture and Accessories
      For the Medievalist!
      http://www.albionworks.net
      http://www.albionworks.com
    • Beth and Bob Matney
      I am interested in locating some details (including images) as to the construction of the St. Paulinus (died 358AD) Trèves (transferred 395AD) coffin joined
      Message 46 of 46 , Jun 17, 2009
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        I am interested in locating some details
        (including images) as to the construction of the
        St. Paulinus (died 358AD) Trèves (transferred
        395AD) coffin "joined by means of dovetailing".
        As the wood is described as 'cedar', there is
        some question as to where the coffin was made.

        From page 219,
        Battiscombe, C. F. The Relics of Saint Cuthbert; Studies by Various
        Authors. Oxford: Printed for the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral
        at the University Press, 1956. OCLC 4071903
        http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/4071903

        footnotes 10/11 refer to detailed accounts of the
        coffin in Bonner Jahrbücher vol. lxxvii, 1884,
        pp. 238 ff; vol. lxxviii, 1884 pp. 173

        Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn, and Rhine
        Province (Germany). Bonner Jahrbücher. 1842.
        ISSN:0067-9976 OCLC Number: 3459165 or OCLC
        Number: 213803943 microfilm, OCLC Number: 297237884 eJournal

        If anyone has seen the coffin or the journal
        articles referenced above (or preferably a more
        recent analysis in English), please post the
        information. It would be most appreciated,

        Thank you.
        Beth Matney
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