How I Spent My Spring Pandemic

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by Alasdair Mac Roibeirt, grade 12+

This would have been my third year at Atheneum as an exhibitor. Being involved in the first online Atheneum is for me, and I am sure many others, a bittersweet experience. It is exciting to be involved in a new way to showcase my artistic passions and I hope to see continued opportunities arise in the future. That being said, the tangible quality of many areas of A&S is harder to convey via electronic medium.

So What Have I Been up to?

My main area of interest is woodworking. I make a variety of things to enhance my and other peoples SCA experience, many of which I have chronicled online via my blog site,

The Flax Break

I have also done a few things that have yet to make it onto my blog such as the Flax Break I recently completed for Countess Elisabeth de Rossignol. 

The construction of the break was not from a particular period source, rather it was a creation based off of a request and one I particularly enjoyed doing. Some of my favorite projects are the ones I get to do for people to further their efforts into the arts and sciences.


Another such project was the double bellows I created for Mistress Maricka Sigrunsdotterfor her period glass bead setup. The bellows were built off of examples I was able to look at in manuscripts with assistance from modern and recreation bellows.

Double Screw Vise

One that did make it to the blog was the double screw vise, also called a moxon vise. I was commissioned to build one for a bookbinder and liked it enough to build one for myself as well.

Dantesca Chairs

One of my first big projects that I set myself when I first started woodworking was to build chair. I found online instructions for a Dantesca chair and decided I could figure this out. I made it work and I used it for several years until I learned more and made a better version for myself. Over the years I have made a number of Dantesca chairs for a variety of people as well as teaching classes on the chair and doing a walk through on how to construct Dantesca chairs on my Blog This past year I retired that second chair and made a set for myself and my lady to use.

Online Classes

Woodworking 101 : 6 board box

Currently one of my main focuses is a series of online videos aimed at easing people into woodworking for the SCA. Discussing tools as needed for a given project as well as some work arounds or alternative ideas for getting the job done. The first class was centered around saws and used a 6 board box as a project.

You can find the link to the video on the blog or jump to it directly here.

Woodworking 101 : 15th century bench

The second class was for a 15th century bench and focused on chisels as the new tool. I have not made a blog entry for it just yet.

15th century french bench used for class example

Tent painting class

In addition to the starting woodwork classes I have also taught a few others Including tent painting,

Historical seating for home and camp

There was also a class centered on different seating options available for camp use in the SCA.


Bentwood boxes discussion

This being me I also did a class on the history of the bentwood box.

Those who know me or who have seen my work in the past few years know of my obsession with bentwood boxs. Archaeological finds show us evidence of use of these containers as early as the neolithic period with manuscripts and paintings showing them in use through much of the middle ages and Renaissance. Very few have survived to present day and many of those that have are post 17th century in construction.

Bentwood single entry

I entered Kingdom A&S for the first time in 2018 with a single entry bentwood box, some nerves, and a lot of questions still to be answered. In 2019 I again entered a single entry on bentwood, still with nerves, but with a few more answers.

If you would like to check out my documentation its right here.

You can also visit my blog posts for some further information.

Bentwood : some new progress

Since the last blog post I have answered a few more questions and learned a few more things. I am slowly learning how to read a tree to know what kind of wood i can split from it and also learning how to split, or reeve, logs to produce usable lumber. My latest breakthrough is in the actual lacing of the boxs. Prior to this my information was sketchy at best to what material was used for lacing the boxs shut. I was fortunate enough to make a trip to Sweden and discussed bentwood with some learned individuals. The result was the idea that tree roots, birch specifically, could be split and scraped to lace the boxs shut. Once dried the roots would tighten and harden making a long lasting connection.

Not having ready access to birch trees and looking at a number of manuscripts I ended up attempting to use sections of inner bark from a fresh felled cedar tree. It worked beautifully. It worked so well in fact I put together a couple of videos to set down the entire process from start to finish on making a bentwood box.

Bentwood : The Process in Video

Splitting wood

Starting with splitting blanks from logs. The beginning steps of making a bentwood box in a medieval appropriate way.

Bending wood

After splitting the log the blanks are processed down to thickness and bent.

Finishing touches

Putting the finishing touches to finish the journey from log to box.

Thank you

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and check out what I have been up to. I love to hear from other woodworkers, just starting or been at it forever. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any comments or questions.

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11 Replies to “How I Spent My Spring Pandemic”

  1. Wonderful work! I appreciate the diversity and range of objects you have recreated and designed. I am particularly interested in the results of your research in Sweden and how seeing the extant items have informed your process. I would also love to chat about your wood selection process and how that connects to period usage.
    Wonderful work!! Thank you for how much you share through classes!

  2. I am so happy to see your work here. I have been watching your classes online and following your blog. In fact based on your seating class we are working on all new camp seating (just waiting to get together with some like minded friends for a work day).

    Thank you and your lady for sharing your work and knowledge freely!

  3. I’m really excited about your teaching these classes! I’m had a great time making sawdust. I mentioned it to my Dad, a woodworker and stone mason (a lifetime ago), who said, “Oh, great! I was thinking you needed another hobby.” 😉 Looking forward to making the bench and modifying the bed, and someday…a bentwood box. Thank you for being a great inspiration!

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