17th Century Jacobean Oak paneled room #6: Devise an installation system

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Blog entry by woodwkr posted 03-09-2008 07:02 PM 5950 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Farther down the wall Part 6 of 17th Century Jacobean Oak paneled room series Part 7: Last Post »

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 Riving 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. Photobucket

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.

Finally the columns are installed, the doors hung, and the lineal feet of moulding is nailed up.

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" :)

4 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3938 days

#1 posted 03-09-2008 07:16 PM

wow, this whole thing looks very difficult. i can’t wait to see the installation and the finished room. its so cool to see things progress like this and this one has been so interesting and I’ve learned a lot. thanks for the post.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3992 days

#2 posted 03-09-2008 07:32 PM

This is getting better with each post. Putting an oak strip into a dado on each of the panels was a very innovative solution to the installation problem. To tell the truth I am beginning to think that the challenge of the project for you all was the most deciding element with respect to the logic of taking on this herculean task.

Very well done and I am looking forward to the climax of this series.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4132 days

#3 posted 03-09-2008 11:30 PM

Great process

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View woodwkr's profile


73 posts in 3937 days

#4 posted 03-10-2008 01:57 AM

Thanks all,
>>> I am looking forward to the climax of this series<<<<<<
Yes, I need to button this thing up. It doesn’t seem to be generating much interest.

-- Marshall _ Wichita, Ks _ "Growing Old is Mandatory - - Growing Up Is Optional" :)

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