Carpentry - joints

Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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Carpentry - joints

Postby brendan on Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:14 am

Quick question:
I am thinking of making one of those Viking/Medieval Boxes/Chests.
I am thinking of joining it with Dovetails or something similar - were these in use at that point in history? I could also do it using dowels

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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby ronanocaoimh on Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:29 am

I've been thinking of making the same , Brendan. I looked at quite a few boxes over in Wolin and I can't recall seeing any dovetail joints, it seemed to be mostly wide finger/ comb joints with ship nails and straps strengthing the joints.
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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby brendan on Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:51 am

The 'finger' joints probably make sense
What about the metal strips? Were they actually used or is that an anachronism? (Wonder how Iron fittings would survive a sea voyage)

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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby ciaranc on Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:46 am

to the best of my knowledge the vikings did not use dovetails and the only forms i have seen have been dowl, this guys seems to know his stuff maybe contact him about it http://www.regia.org/woodwork.htm
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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby Andrea L Redden on Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:28 am

Hello Brendan!

I don’t remember ever seeing finger joints on Viking stuff in the books. Definitely not dovetails. Pretty sure the Romans used them, but not the Vikings. Unfortunately the photocopies & books are at home and I’m at work, but if I have time when I go home for lunch I’ll look it up. Just so we’re using the same terminology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodworking_joints

What I remember is tenons on the ends of the base panel slotting into a mortise in each of the sides, possibly with a dado in the sides as well for support. The sides and front angle in a bit towards the top, the back is perpendicular to the ground. There are cut-outs in the edges of the side panels in which the front and back panels rest. There are rebates in the ends and lower edges of the front and back panels in which the sides and base sit. The lid is usually 40-50mm thick and is rounded front to back, but not side to side. The extensions of the side panels work as legs and keep the body of the thing off the ground. The joints between the base and the front/back, and the sides and the front/back, are reinforced with dowels on most of the chests. One of the Oseberg chests uses iron bands for the same purpose but there may be dowels as well hidden under the bands. Somewhat complex piece of joinery actually, but structurally very strong.

Don’t know if it’s common in Europe as well, but there’s a re-enactorism here that everybody drills holes in the sides of their chests and puts rope handles on. No evidence for it whatsoever on Viking chests. Don’t think there is for early medieval ones either. The first ones that I know of with rope handles were the Mary Rose chests and that was a block attached to the sides with holes, not the chest body. A compromise I came up with for ease of carrying (they are bloody awkward without handles) are 2 scraps of wood slightly longer than the base is wide with the holes and rope handles in them. Slot the planks under the legs so they rest under the base and carry the chest to where you need it, then remove handles. Best of both worlds, ease of carrying but doesn’t deface the lines of the chest.

I could probably scan the plans from the Mastermyr and banded Oseberg chests might have others as well) and post small copies here later, but if you want something clear enough to work from you’ll need to PM me your email address so I can send them full size.

The Medieval ones, also from memory, don’t angle in at the top of the sides & front. Depending on what period you’re interested in they might also be panelled within a framework.

Bye for now,

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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby Andrea L Redden on Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:22 am

Part the first: Oseberg 149

Osb_Chs1a.jpg
Plan of Oseberg chest 149
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Osb_Chs2a.jpg
Plan of the lock on Oseberg chest 149
Osb_Chs2a.jpg (78.8 KiB) Viewed 2867 times


Osb_Chs3a.jpg
Photo of Oseberg chest 149 from Osebergfundet book2
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Osebergfundet book 2 “Chest 149,…..popularly called “The Complete Chest” is of oak and quite detached. ….. The length on top is 1,08 m (think this might be the length of the top of the body, if the drawing is accurate, not the lid – ALW) and 1,13 m on the ground. The width of the side planks is 32 cm at the bottom, and 29 cm at the top. The height is 38 cm. ….. The chest is decorated with iron mountings of about 6 cm wide all of which are studded with the heads of tin-plated nails. ….. The lid turns back on nine hinges which are iron clasps affixed to the lid and to the rear longitudinal board.

Back to work now,

Andrea
Last edited by Andrea L Redden on Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby wiblick on Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:50 am

Andrea, does your knowledge know no bounds???

Brendan, depending what period you settle on this might be useful.
http://www.larsdatter.com/caskets.htm

You may also wish to give some thought as to what wood to use
http://www.livinghistory.co.uk/forums/v ... highlight=

&

http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewt ... highlight=
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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby brendan on Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:40 am

great information - thanks!
I have some Ash I was planning to use for a small chest (left over from making C15 writing desk) but from what I am seeing Oak is more correct.
If only Oak wasnt 10 times the price of crap wood!

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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby Andrea L Redden on Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:42 am

wiblick wrote:Andrea, does your knowledge know no bounds???

:)
Bookaholic & compulsive researcher. I even buy books on subjects & periods I’m NOT interested in (if they’re cheap, anyway; Wanna know about the self bows from Tutankhamun’s tomb? Palace plans for Knossos?) ‘cause someone will want the information someday. If they’re in my bookcase they’re at least accessible in some form. Sometimes they DO suggest possible answers to the blanks for the places & periods I’M interested in too.

I particularly love to make things. That’s what drew me to the hobby in the first place, so I have LOTS of books on things.

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Re: Carpentry - joints

Postby Andrea L Redden on Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:50 am

Part the second: other chest remains from Oseberg

OsbChs156B.jpg
Oseberg chest 156 - back view
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OsbChs156F.jpg
Oseberg chest 156 - front view
OsbChs156F.jpg (18.44 KiB) Viewed 2763 times


Osebergfundet book 2 “Chest 156,…..is a detached oak chest now somewhat incomplete. The bottom, two of the side pieces and the rear longitudinal side, have all been preserved. In all essentials its construction is the same as in the foregoing. Its length at its upper edge it is 1,04 m, its width is 36,5 cm at the foot of the side pieces, and 28 cm at the top. It is 41 cm in height. The chest has been adorned with iron mountings studded with nails having small, round, tin-plated heads. The back has been affixed to the back with hinges which have not been preserved. The hinges were affixed to four clasps.”

OsbChs178.jpg
Oseberg chest 178
OsbChs178.jpg (19.17 KiB) Viewed 2774 times


Osebergfundet book 2 “Chest 178,…..is similarly of oak but without the mountings on the sides. The bottom, all the sides, and the lid are preserved, the latter, however, being somewhat damaged. Its construction is about the same as the two foregoing. The length at the upper edge is 62 cm, at the bottom 66,5 cm. The width of the side pieces is 24 cm at the bottom, and, originally, 21 cm at the top. The height is 31 cm. Two iron hinges have been mounted in the centre of the back longitudinal side. These consist of simple iron clasps made of slender, flat iron rods.”

Osebergfundet book 2 “Fragments of Chests….. There are many contained in the Oseberg Find. The fragments consist of pieces of boards, thin sheet iron, and small iron tacks, some of which have heads of brass which have been soldered on. The boards of these chests are mostly of beech. It is not possible to state to how many different chests these fragments may have belonged.”

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