I’ve always had the urge build a tabernacle style frame and was able to satisfy that urge not too long ago. Another artist and friend, Julian Miranda and I had talked about a tabernacle frame as well for one of his pieces. As we were talking about it I became pretty enthused at the prospect of designing and building another like this; for me it’s more about the challenge of an exciting project than making a bunch of money. His painting is based on the angel of death sent in Exodus as one of the plagues of Egypt. That Biblical reference led me to Solomon’s Temple for inspiration.
After showing him a 1/2 scale drawing which he approved I stated in the bid that artistic license was needed as I designed and built this frame. Sometimes what looks good on paper may not transfer to 3D. I ended up making a full scale drawing to really visualize the project and made some changes. The painting is 11″ x 14″ and the first design was too “squat” so changes were made to elongate it. During the design process some of the elements were roughed out to make sure that what I drew could be made. My preference is to use hand tools as much as possible so the elements of the frame were designed with that in mind.
The columns sit on blocks which are referred to as “plinth blocks” and these will wrap around the corner of the frame. The columns are made with the Veritas small plow plane equipped with a 1/4″ bead cutter. These are very similar to what was created for the first Tabernacle frame.
An architectural detail that showed up on many of the images of Solomon’s Temple was stepped stonework around the entrance. I was able to form these with the plow plane and a 1/8″ wide cutter. This was a challenge since the part is quite small and after making it decided it needed to be even narrower! Since the steps on this were small the depth stop and the fence had to be adjusted for each one. Holding stock this small is an issue as well, there’s something called a “sticking board” but I was able to clamp the piece between the bench dogs so didn’t need that. To separate the two pieces and cut the rabbet I used successive cuts with a rip blade to leave a flat surface. Finally cutting the piece in two was accomplished with a filler piece so that it wouldn’t fall into the blade as the cut went through.
The final piece completed was the stairs that form the bottom of the frame. I’m really taking this literal. A skewed rabbet plane did the trick and in this instance the depth stop fit on the step cut before so the depth on each tread is the same. Metrics came in handy here, the piece is 1-1/16″ which isn’t so easy to divide by 3, turned out to be 27 mm and gave a step height of 9mm. After planing a piece of wood to that dimension it was used to set the depth — hard to get a ruler in there! Cross the grain cuts done first then the edge — plane worked great!
The main portion of the frame is butt joints reinforced with biscuits. The top and stair section will provide enough long grain glue surface to long grain surface for strength. Anxious to see how this project progress along! The top section of the roof has a piece of embossed molding that will be oil gilded over red clay then burnished to replicate age.