Turn a base for an altar cross. It’s not often you get asked to do a job like this so I’ve got to give it a go. What could possibly go wrong? I’m so engrossed in turning the base that I’ve not entirely thought through how the cross will be mounted. A short discussion with West Dean College who have made the cross results it arriving for me to do the mounting.
It turns out that the cross has a 4 inch long rectangular tang on its base. I’m not much good at drilling rectangular holes and my normal approach to this (in the case of a tool handle) would be to drill a round hole, heat the tang and burn it into the base. I am a bodger at heart but I think a more subtle approach is definitely needed here.
The eventual plan, thanks to Alison for suggesting it, is to carefully saw off the top of the base so I can drill some pilot holes and chisel out the rectangular profile to fit the cross, then drill though the base to allow the tang and a threaded bar to be inserted and pull the assembly tight. As the cross is to be delivered the next day, I decided to test this on a practice piece which went well. Unfortunately the real top didn’t behave as well and split before I’d finished the first hole. This was always going to be a danger and though superglue is tempting luckily the practice piece is just about (it will have to be) good enough to do the job,
The result is not too shabby. Nobody would know, except of course now I’ve told everyone! But at least it’s on straight.
Next day the cross is due to be installed on the altar in St Margaret’s a ‘tin tabernacle’ from South Wonston near Winchester and recently re-erected at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. Cue gratuitous picture of the museum in it’s February light covering of snow.
The building is fascinating in both it’s concept and it’s history. Tin tabernacles were supplied as flat packed kits and shipped all over the world – and not an Allen key in sight. Ikea eat your heart out! The concept is that a light wooden ‘shed’ frame is pulled together by the corrugated iron skin sheets acting as a form of exoskeleton. This one is a really remarkably original example anf was first erected at South Wonston in 1909 where it served as a church for over 90 years.
That it lasted so well says a lot about how well the congregation cared for it and rather than see it dismembered they donated it to the museum. Many of them turned up for a small ceremony to mark it’s re-opening together with most of the team of craftsmen who worked on the re-erection.