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The MA thread - AKA Everyday Fan Vault Construction for Beginners.

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Adam W.

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The ribs that spring from the tas de charge are drawn and I've set them out just like a knee brace which goes from beam to post in an English barn or house. I'll be able to peg them into the frame that the vault and imaginary roof is attached to. I've still got to decide about the one which goes along the outside edge and I might make that in one piece.


IMG_4951.JPG


They were quite easy to size using one of the riven pieces of Baltic oak that I have in the shed. I should have enough of those for the whole vault, which will be nice.




IMG_4944.JPG


That's about big enough and I might get two out of that one.

I'll have to turn a longer tas de charge as the spigot needs to go all the way up to the frame and is fixed with a lap dovetail so that it can both take tension whilst I build it and compression once I hang it in place. The ribs just sit in the rebates cut into the spigot and bear on the lip of the tas de charge.

I can also get an idea of how much carving is needed on the tas de charge and capital. Now I've got to think about the connection between the rib and spandrel/edge of the fan.
 
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Adam W.

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Slow progress, but the dissertation called.

I've been making templets for the rib and its tennon which connects the tas de carge and the tie beam of the roof structure. I've decided to make the fan like a wheel with the ribs like spokes coming of the tas de charge or "springer" as the hub.


IMG_4956.JPG


Using the full sized drawing, I can compare the actual rib with the planned one, trying to make it oversized if possible to eliminate any error. There wil be some variability in the ribs and this can be taken up in the carving later, although the moulding needs to be consistent.

I've also been told by those who are going to mark it, "not to make it look Victorian", so small variations are the order of the day.

There are two templets for the rib, one for the whole rib and one for the tennon. I'll have to be precise when I cut the rib out, as the rib is gauged from the top of its horizontal and the end of its vertical tenon, which are 90º to each other.

I now need to work out how to cut the curved rebate along the moulding and make the planes for the rib profile. Next up is rebating for the tenon and cutting the rebates in the spigot of the springer using a jig for cutting accurate spoke holes on a lathe. Then I'll cut the ribs moulded profile once I've got it all in the right place.

I'm using the riven Baltic oak again and its lovely wood to work, with a very straight grain and mild manner, although it's quite hard, as it's been air drying for a couple of years now.
 
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Adam W.

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Here's a couple of nice drawings from Willis. On the Construction of the Vaults of the Middle Ages. (1842)

Upfill-in-the-vaulting-pocket-Left-Retrochoir-Peterborough-Cathedral-extrados-view.jpg



Extrados of a masonry vault from Peterborough Cathedral showing how the conoids are filled with rubble to allow the thrust path to exit the vault and pass to the buttressing system.

And some fancy drawings....

Willis_Vaults_1842_Plate_1.jpg


I've found nothing on timber fan vaults as yet.
 
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toolsntat

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Here's a couple of nice drawings from Willis. On the Construction of the Vaults of the Middle Ages. (1842)

View attachment 124871


Extrados of a masonry vault from Peterborough Cathedral showing how the conoids are filled with rubble to allow the thrust path to exit the vault.

And some fancy drawings....

View attachment 124872

I've found nothing on timber fan vaults as yet.
Thank heavens for Gravity
Wonderfully descriptive drawings and a real eye opener.
Cheers Andy
 

Adam W.

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I've been looking at the rich heritage that we have in England for joinery and carved work and have selected a few photographs to enjoy and gain inspiration from, whilst I figure out the jointing arrangement of the main ribs and tracery for the vault.

These are from Devon and show various forms of vault and decorative carving on chancel or rood screens.

Roodscreen-Medieval-15th-Century-Carving-Wood-Coloured-Vaulting-Uffculme.jpeg-nggid03502-ngg0...jpeg


Rood-Screen-Wood-Carving-Coloured-Gilding-Plant-Spandrel-Poppy-Heads-Pomengranates-Crown-16th...jpeg


Uffculme Roodscreen-15th-Century-Carving-Wood-Coloured-Vaulting-Medieval-Uffculme.jpeg


zp1030770.jpg


Rood-Screen-Wood-Carving-Plain-Cornice-16th-Century-Medieval-Swimbridge.jpeg


Rood-Screen-Wood-Carving-Plain-Wainscoting-Foliage-16th-Century-Medieval-Swimbridge.jpeg


Swimbridge Chancel Screen.jpeg
 

dzj

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Wow, that's very impressive. Imagine the time it took. And the cost!
 

Cooper

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I've been looking at the rich heritage that we have in England for joinery and carved work
What I'm curious about is how did they make the hard and tough steel for the tools? Were blacksmiths able to make steel that kept its edge working all that Oak?
 

Henniep

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What I'm curious about is how did they make the hard and tough steel for the tools? Were blacksmiths able to make steel that kept its edge working all that Oak?
They made swords, spears and such. Ironmongery goes back a long way. I'm sure they had mastered hardening of steel by the time the joinery in the pics was done?
 

Adam W.

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Wow, that's very impressive. Imagine the time it took. And the cost!
At that time in the 15th. century it was a choice between working for the church or going to war, so they probably got a good discount on the labour.

What I'm curious about is how did they make the hard and tough steel for the tools? Were blacksmiths able to make steel that kept its edge working all that Oak?
I think most of this stuff was carved semi air dried, like the chest I made, so it was fairly mild to work with. Riven timber was the timber of choice for the church joiner and this can be seen in churches all over England. Miserichords are prime examples of the use of large section riven oak which was carved green and their shape is a good clue to the conversion and type of timber for this work.

And as Henniep said above, metalwork was very advanced at that time and a good edge tool was readily available at the local blacksmith.
 
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Inspector

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Adam I was wondering if the preference for riven timber might have been because it was easiest to process a tree where it was felled rather than set up for a pit saw if they were even in common use then? The gluts, wedges, axe, sledge etc being easiest and cheaper to obtain than a large pit saw blade.

Pete
 

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Riven timber was generally used by nearly everyone. Most furniture would only be worked on the show sides. This was due to the exorbitant cost of saw blades.
 

paulrbarnard

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Riven timber was generally used by nearly everyone. Most furniture would only be worked on the show sides. This was due to the exorbitant cost of saw blades.
I remember pulling up floor boards in a house built in the 1600 to put some pipes in and the boards were only flattened where they sat on the joists.
 

Adam W.

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Was that in Shepton Paul?

Good riven timber is superior quality and very strong, although you do need good trees if you want larger pieces and flat panels.

There's lots of imported oak in the churches on the east cost of England, but I would imagine that in the west country local timber was used. Oliver Rackham talks a lot about the sourcing of timber for the church in the medieval period in his book Woodlands and he reckons that there was trade in imported German and Baltic oak going back to 1170.

To answer your question Pete, I'm not sure. Other than that the timber is better to work with, but I think it's a subject which is worth looking at.
 
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paulrbarnard

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Was that in Shepton Paul?

Good riven timber is superior quality and very strong, although you do need good trees if you want larger pieces and flat panels.

There's lots of imported oak in the churches on the east cost of England, but I would imagine that in the west country local timber was used. Oliver Rackham talks a lot about the sourcing of timber for the church in the medieval period in his book Woodlands and he reckons that there was trade in imported German and Baltic oak going back to 1170.

To answer your question Pete, I'm not sure. Other than that the timber is better to work with, but I think it's a subject which is worth looking at.
It was in a village near Corsham in Wiltshire. For sure it would have been locally harvested. The roof timbers were still largely in the round as well. From the very old maps it looked like the house was built as a farm house originally. There wasn’t much of the original building left as it had been extended several times over the years. For me it was great to find the evidence of ‘real’ old time wood workers. Those working to time, cost and good enough rather than the more usual pursuit of perfection seen in the higher end furniture etc that has survived to today.

it would be interesting to know if the ecclesiastical work you see is more of the get it done vs. Perfecting the bits you can’t see because God can still see it.
 
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PhilipL

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I remember pulling up floor boards in a house built in the 1600 to put some pipes in and the boards were only flattened where they sat on the joists.
I recently moved to an Edinburgh new town flat (1820 or so). Same up in the roof space - black timbers with only the necessary faces processed. Choosing timber must have been a bit more difficult than today.
 

toolsntat

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Not sure how much it relates to your work here Adam but there's a little bit on vaulted work in
The Carpenter's Assistant: TheComplete Practical Course in Carpentry and Joinery
Book by James Newlands
Cheers Andy
 

Sgian Dubh

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Riven timber was generally used by nearly everyone. Most furniture would only be worked on the show sides. This was due to the exorbitant cost of saw blades.
Related to your comment, it’s suggested that in northern Europe sawing boards out of a log didn't occur before the twelfth century. One source with that suggestion, or perhaps contention, is WB Logan, pp 136-137 in his 2005 book Oak, The Frame of Civilization. Certainly planking was used prior to the 1100s, e.g., in Viking long boats, so it's highly likely most such planks were oak, relatively easily cleaved or riven, as already discussed in this thread. Slainte.
 
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