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Welcome to the woodworking shop at Ealdercote! J.T. is the woodworker in the family, but doesn't do too many projects. Most of what he's done has been relatively simple--in the vein of simple "breakdown" or portable furniture that we take to SCA events, but there have been a couple or three projects that he's kind of proud of. No, they'll never make the pages of Fine Woodworking, but they were fun to do.
The Pennsic XXXIII Gatehouse
Gatehouse Roadside
Gatehouse Campside

This "gatehouse" was designed by Griffith Jenner with a little input from me. We spent the spring and summer of 2004 constructing it to pack flat on a heavy equipment trailer. Sometime in early July, Griffith with the help of Caelen Hood finished off the construction while I built the gates, doors, and shutters from seasoned 3/4" thick planks of red oak. The gates were each 9' tall by x 5' wide.

Unfortunately, it was assembled only once (for the entrance to the Kingdom of Atlantia's encampment at Pennsic 34), but some pieces of it live on as part of Sinclair Hawkins and Kari Kyst's "Great Hall", and I salvaged the two doors to use on a new (much smaller) gatehouse.

As a side note, I painted the Kingdom Coat of Arms and the sign below it while on-site.

"Apprentice Bench"

This is one of two benches I made as "apprenticing" gifts to my apprentices, Baron Lucien and Baroness Brig. The benches were modeled on a 15th century Norman bench that I once saw a pattern for. Owing to time constraints, I did not do any carving. The shape of the stretcher was improvised, but seems to have turned out well.

I like the trefoil and pointed arch motifs of gothic design, so that is what my apprentices got on their benches.... This was originally 3/4-inch oak that I had to plane down to 1/2 inch. I used Minwax's Golden Oak stain for the finish. The pegs are sanded down sections of 1-inch oak dowel left from another project. The top is a single piece of oak approximately 12 inches wide. The height is 18 inches, and the legs are set at a 12 degree angle.

Sadly, there is a slight twist in one of the bench tops, but it is still very solid. The bench was designed to pack flat for transportation to and from SCA events. This was the first time I attempted angled mortise and tenon joinery. And the nice thing is that even though I made them over a year apart, I was able to make the benches enough alike that their parts are actually interchangable.

Glastonbury "Thrones"

I built these two "thrones" for the Barony of Nottinghill Coill with mentoring by Magnus Iain Craig. Magnus (who is a master cabinetmaker by trade). The most complex part of the joinery was executed by Magnus, as were a couple of the jigs we used but the vast majority of the work was completed by Eldred. The design is based on the "Glastonbury chair". The chair is completely made from ash and finished with a ground walnut stain and sealed with three layers of hand-rubbed carnuba wax and linseed oil mix.

We modified the plans found in Daniel Diehl's Medieval Furniture. The major modifications were to replace the the tusk-and-tenon style pegs were replaced with threaded inserts and bolts due to the need for regular and relatively frequent assembly and and disassembly. Additional slight variations are that the chairs sit a little higher, and have a slight slope backwards so you sit more comfortably. Of course, the carving is mostly original, though I did preserve some of the design elements from the original chairs. My "in-jokes" were to stylize the headers of the seats to look like Baronial coronets and to carve "assembly instructions" on the insides of the arms (indicating "dexter" and "sinister").

The completed chairs represent a collective effort of approximately 700 hours over a 3-year span of time. When the project was started, I worked one evening a week, borrowing space in Magnus' brother's workshop. It was a heck of a project for a first-time woodworker to try! Up until this point, the only thing I had made was a "viking dayshade" from 5 pieces of 2x2....

Boxes, Chests, and Benches

The little boxes were intended to be "feast gear" chests given to people who were able to attend all of the events in a series our local canton hosted. I use mine and Christine's to store games and pieces for our Red Ale Inn.

I made two "bench boxes" out of a desire to have a multi-purpose item for SCA use. I was inspired by the basic "six board box". One of them stores all the ropes, stakes, canvas and tools for our "viking dayshade" with a tiny bit of room left over. I created the second so it was deep enough to accomodate my scribal notebook and other random gear. The idea was to use a single 12" x 1" plank to make the bench. It only took 11 board feet of lumber to do it.

The large paneled chest was my attempt to make a nice cover that was "better than throwing a blanket over a Coleman cooler". I mostly used as much scrap lumber from my workshop as possible, and though the fit is a little loose, it worked tolerably well for the two weeks it was at Pennsic. I did not put a tremendous amount of effort into the project, knowing that it would likely get rough handling on the trip, and the variable weather conditions would put a lot of stress on it.

Ealdercote and the images contained therein are © 2010 J.T.Thorpe and C.M.Grewcock
Last updated November 2010