Lend a hand as we spotlight the stone, glass and
wood crafts - and more - that helped raise the great cathedrals
of the Middle Ages.
punch, claw, chisel'
was the medieval method for shaping stone. (CLICK on each tool
to learn their name & function.)
chisel and mallet, and the hammer and claw, above, are well-documented
as those of equal importance in the application of medieval stonecraft.
Although evidence suggests that many other tools were used, they
are difficult to find in medieval written records. However, clues
are found in graphic depictions in period drawings and illuminations:
or axe - in
depictions of Gothic cathedral construction, the axe is seen wielded
by French medieval stonecutters with the broad side down, used
as a roughing out tool (as seen at right), or with pointed side
down for finer cuts.
or dividers - medieval iconography shows only one mathematical
instrument in the hands of the stonecutter - a compass - used
for configuring arcs
and intricate moldings. Artists of the period sometimes depict
Christ as the Supreme Craftsman holding a compass.
square - the simple tool that ensured that the
walls of Gothic cathedrals remained square and true at 90 degree
edge - On completion of a flat stone, success or
upon the straight edge laying perfectly flat across the
face of the stone. So the use of this tool was a
litmus test of the stonecutter's skill. If
spaces appeared between the straight edge and the stone, it was
evident the stonecutter had cut too deep. If
the straight edge 'see-sawed,' more cutting was required.
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