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I am attempting to recreate ornamental brackets that were installed on my porch. The house in built in New England at around 1914. The brackets appear to have reoccurring patterns. I recognize some basic shapes, and I would like to figure out how the original craftsman laid out the bracket so they could be produced in batches. There are at least a dozen, and they are fairly roughly made, it looks like the hand of a carpenter (as opposed to a journeyman cabinet maker, or furniture maker).

I have watched Roy Underhill's The Woodwright Shop, and I recall an episode where Roy used simple dividers to layout impressive details on a chest of some kind. I also recall a different episode where his guest produced remarkable beading and decorative edging using similar techniques.

Is there a good resource I can look for that will allow me to piece together decorative shapes using an ordinary pair of dividers? photo of bracket

The dimensions are 16 inches by 16 inches, cut from 3/4-inch stock, and fitted with (5) ~1/2-inch diameter spindles.

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Good answer by @Graphus, though my initial interpretation of your question was about using dividers to lay out the curved shapes of the bracket itself. If so, my advice is to not bother... just pull one down and use it as a template for future ones. (You could either trace and jigsaw, which would give you a slightly rustic look, or you could use that with a template router bit. Given your quantities, I'd probably choose the jigsaw.)

And I know this isn't a shopping advice site, but here's one anyway: http://store.cincinnatidowel.com/9_-Birch-Spindle----S7/313

(No commercial affiliation; haven't used them, but would seriously consider it if I needed 60 identical spindles.)

  • Oops! Completely missed the actual question... time to delete *sob* – Graphus Dec 4 '16 at 8:26
  • @Graphus -- please tell me you kept the text... someone can invent a question for you to answer. – Aloysius Defenestrate Dec 4 '16 at 16:51
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When designing projects, it's common for dimensions to be defined in terms of ratios to other parts of the project, as a way of subtly tying things together even when their size varies. There are some theories about what kinds of ratios look good/"natural". If you're using this spproach, the actual measurement is less important than the ratio, and dividers can be a way of laying out these relationships without locking yourself into inches or millimeters or other things that may not divide conveniently where you want them to.

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