Before I could layout the panels accurately, I needed to come up with a system for the installers to hang them in the new room. Before I got involved with the project, a bunch of 1/2” plywood sheets were bought to skin the sheet-rock walls in the room so the installers could shim and nail the pieces up. It became clear to me that this was a bad idea for several reasons. First, it would make the installation very complicated and time consuming. – - A long and drawn out installation would also be unacceptable to the client. It could also increase the chance that a 300+ year old carved panel could be mis-cut. :(
Another problem to complicate things was the way the panels were built. It looked to me that the lumber was milled from the logs by a process called Rivinghttp://www.greenwoodworking.com/RivingArticle. This means basically that the lumber is split from the logs in a quartered/rift cut and smoothed, carved, machined and assembled in a green or near green state. The way the wood and carving appeared upon close inspection lead me to be convinced that this was probably true. The face of the style and rails of the paneling were remarkably flat and smooth with almost no tooling marks. The grain, however had the look of a piece that was weathered or lightly sandblasted. This is the way a planed piece of green wood can look after drying – - with the softer grain sunk below the harder grain – - just like sandblasting will do.
Below is the only photo I have that shows a little bit of this.
Because of this construction process, the back side of the paneling was rough. I don’t mean “rough_sawn”, – - I mean rough- split-chopped with an axe. The thickness of the styles and rails varied from 5/8” to 1 3/8”. And that change of thickness could be within 12” apart on the same style!
The method I came up with to bring all of the main panels to a uniform thickness, simplify the installation, and still use all the 1/2” plywood that was purchased, is as follows.
I built a platform illustrated in the bottom of the drawing below.
I could then lay the panels face side down on spacer blocks. The spacer blocks would allow the clearance of any face mounted mould. I could then route a 1” groove along the length of the sides and ends of the panels that would leave a uniform thickness. Then I glued a strip of white oak lumber in the groove that left a 1 1/2” overall thickness. The strips also help to firm up some weak or broken tendon joints.
The panel then could be centered and screwed to a sized piece of 1/2” plywood that would both support the panel, center it in position, and provide a place where it could be screwed on the wall.
The drawing below shows some of the wainscot panels positioned on the plywood at the proper spacing.
Below is the sequence of installation of the panels in the room.
2X4 blocking was screwed to the walls at specific heights all the way around the room. A line was drawn around the perimeter of the room with a laser. ( this is shown by the red line on the second from the top 2X4)
The skirt panels are then screwed to the blocking with the top edge of the plywood lined up to the red line.
I left a 1/4” space between the plywood to give the installers some fudge space. The plywood is shown by the colored areas around the panels.
Then the coffered panel assemblies could rest on the edge of the skirt panel plywood and screwed to the blocking. The main and wainscot panels would mount below. The dashed line shows where the columns surface mount between panel assemblies.
I should say that the installers did a great job and I believe were in and out in less than a week.
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-- Marshall _ Wichita, Ks _ "Growing Old is Mandatory - - Growing Up Is Optional" :)