Author Topic: Making an 18th century pistol case: part 4 partitions (PHOTOS FIXED)  (Read 8412 times)

Offline smart dog

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Hi,
I originally intended to include building partitions and lining the case in one part but it was too long.  Consequently, I divided the tasks into two separate parts. In this part, I will describe making partitions for an 18th century English-style pistol case.  I apologize for the length of this but I think it is a task, about which many of you would appreciate some detailed information.  English makers generally created thin-walled partitions that roughly outlined the pistols and accessories but held them snugly in place.  Below is a cased pair of Barton pistols.  Barton was a partner with Wogdon and the photos shows the typical English arrangement of thin-walled partitions:



Continental European makers often carved the exact outlines of pistols and accessories in wood blocks that were covered with some sort of cloth (velvet) or leather.  Click below for an example:



I little doubt that the European design was superior with respect to holding and protecting the pistols and accessories but it also created a lot of unused dead space in the case.  The English method was more compact.  Cases were not made for display but to protect the pistols during travel.  Certainly, some cases had decoration that embellished the basic box but the primary purpose was to protect the guns.  Hence, the relatively sleek and unadorned surface of the case and the eventual adoption of recessed handles and hooks that would not get broken off.  Some modern-made cases use a soft pillow-type lining covered with loose velvet or leather.  Those cases are nice for display but are not really traveling cases.  I've also seen some modern cases with English-style partitions that look like sloppy TV-dinner trays.  Again, that may be fine for display but it does not serve the purpose of holding the pistols snugly and is not historically accurate for 18th or 19th century English duelers and traveling pistols.   

The first step is to figure out the layout for the pistols and accessories.  Typical accessories included a powder flask, oil bottle, loading rod, bullet mold, flint whisk, screwdriver, flints, balls, tow, patches or patch cutter.  Looking at photos of Wogdon cases I chose to include 2 lidded compartments containing the screwdriver, balls, flints, and patches, slots for loading rod and mold, and a center compartment for flask and oil bottle.  The lidded compartments would conform to the shape of the pistol handles and the compartment for the flask would separate the pistols and lock them in place by butting against the trigger guards.

The sequence of construction that I used for the partitions seemed to me to be logical and effective.  I make no claims that it is historically correct, however, the result has the look and feel of the old cases.  The lidded compartments should be installed first.  Mine were made from the same trim used for the lip on the box.  I trimmed the lip down a little so that it would be lower than the outside lip, which makes fitting it to the trim easier.  First, draw a pattern on paper showing the positions of the pistols, the center compartment for the powder flask and oil bottle, and the partitions for the mold and cleaning rod.  Place the pattern in the case and mark out the shape and position of the lidded compartments allowing about 3/32" extra space between the pistols and the compartment walls to be filled by the fabric.  I then cut the 4 pieces of trim, and mitered the ends.  The long pieces had 40 miters where they butted with the sides of the box, and 70 angles where they connected to the short pieces of trim.  The short pieces had 90 angles where they butted to the sides of the box and 70 angles on the ends connected to the long pieces.  On the ends that butted with the sides of the case, I filed profiles of the shoulder on the side trim so they form fit with the sides.



Photos show profiling of compartment walls where they attach to the case trim.

I then glued them in place.  When dry, I cut pieces of wood used for the partitions and glued them in place to form a shoulder and baize line inside the compartment that supports the lid.  The shoulder forming the baize line on the sides of the case and the compartment sides became the support for the lid.  Once the compartments were glued in place, I stained and finished the portions that would show above the fabric and let them dry thoroughly.

The next step was to cut the partitions for the powder flask, mold, and loading rod.  In old cases, these were usually made of "deal" wood, which in England generally referred to Scots pine.  I made mine from the king of all softwoods - Sitka spruce.  Partitions are about 1/4" at the base and taper on one side to about 1/8".  I cut mine 1 1/4" wide (high). The taper does 2 things: 1) prevents bunching of the fabric (if it is particularly thick) as it bends over the top of the partition, and 2) the tapered side forms a slight "V" profile that provides a nice snug fit for the pistols. 




Photos above show spruce cut for partitions and their tapered profile, and using the pistols to measure the length of the compartment.

I made the center compartment first.  With the pistols in the case against the lidded compartments, I measured the length of the center well such that it would butt against the trigger guards and lock the pistols in place.  I allowed 3/32" extra space for the baize fabric to be glued to the well.  I then measured the width of the compartment so that the sides formed a nice cradle for the pistols.  I cut the spruce partition wood and butt glued the box together making sure the tapered sides of the partitions were on the outside of the compartment facing the pistols.

Photo above shows center compartment being glued.  Note the tapered walls facing out.

When the little box was dry, I positioned it inside the case along with the pistols and padding, and then glued it in place.  Next, I made the partition for the mold, which was pretty straight forward once I determined the width so that the outside edge cradled a pistol.  Again, allow for the thickness of the baize fabric.  Also, the partition must be low enough to clear the frizzen.  To accomplish that, I tapered the compartment such that it was 1 1/8" high on the end near the frizzen and slowly rose to 1 1/4" at the end toward the muzzle.  I glued the well together and when dry, glued it into the case.  The partition for the cleaning rod was formed by gluing 2 partitions together lengthwise for extra width.  This partition must also clear the frizzen so I cut it down to 1 1/8" all the way along its length. I glued it in the case checking the position with the upper pistol and baize fabric.  In all cases, make sure the tapered sides face the pistols.  The guns should fit snug into their wells but not tight.  Also, make sure that you avoid having a rear sight digging into a baize-covered partition, potentially ripping it.


Photos above show checking the size and postion of center compartment using pistols as a guide and padding to account for the thickness of the lining, and the finished partitions ready for lining.

With the partitions glued in place, I made the compartment lids.  I made paper patterns for each lid and cut them out of 1/4" thick mahogany on the band saw.  I made lid pulls from little brass lamp mounting screws and nuts.  I turned the finials down on my wood lathe with small files and drilled horizontal holes for the ring pulls.  The rings were made from brazing rod and the ends were soldered together after placing them in the finials.  Lid pulls also could be simple fabric ribbon loops, turned brass knobs, or bone knobs.  The ring pulls were the most appropriate for the period represented by my case.  I sanded the lids but did not finish them at this point.   

Photo above shows a compartment lid.

At this point the case is ready for the wool baize lining, which I will discuss in part 5.

Thanks for looking and I hope this has been useful.

dave
                     
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 03:09:46 AM by smart dog »
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highlander

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Dave, I can buy some 1/8 or 1/4 walnut strips at the wood store, that I can use for the partions (the wood stained part and the outside perimeter lining.  I think that will work, but how did you cut your lip or mold on the top of this?  I am inletting the lock, and now the key hole and will install one of the plain key hole ecstucheons that outlines the hole.  WOW, what a pain. :)  I have the hinge areas inletted and now just need to screw them in and hope that it doesn't bind :)  Just piddling a few hours each evening, playing with it.  I'll post photos when I get the hinges set etc.

Offline smart dog

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Hi Highlander,
I drew a couple of rough sketches of the profiles for case trim that I have seen on cases.  There may be other profiles but these are the only 2 I've seen.  The first is what I used.  The second was also very common, perhaps more commonly used than the first style.  The key is to hide the edge of the fabric lining.  To make the first style, I used 1/4 inch thick wood strip, and cut a rabbet that was 1/8" deep and about 5/16" wide across the top of each strip.  I used a "plough" plane but a router would work fine.  After cutting the rabbet, which formed the shoulder, I simply rounded or radiused the corner of the shoulder (as shown below) with a scraping plane but you could easily do it with a scraper and sandpaper.  The curve of the shoulder does not need to be perfect because the fabric will hide any unevenness, however, the line of the shoulder must be straight.  Also, you want the outside of the lip that extends above the bottom of the case to be champfered slightly so the lid does not bind when closed over it.  The second profile should be easy to make as well.  Just cut a straight line in the trim for the edge of the indent and then carefully scrape the angled surface to a depth equal to the thickness of the fabric lining.

I describe my case trim in part 1 of my tutorial (on page 2 of the tutorial forum).  I also show installing the lock and key escutcheon.  Good luck Highlander and keep us informed.

dave

« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 03:15:35 AM by smart dog »
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