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June 29, 2017

Decorative Woodworking Patterns of Architectural Millwork & Custom Moulding

“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him to find it within himself.”
Galileo Galilei…Physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher. (1564-1642)

Architectural detail, Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo, Florence Italy

In the article woodworkers can discover decorative woodworking patterns from the architectural millwork and custom moulding of the beautiful Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo in Florence, Italy. Upon seeing this cathedral, I instantly knew this was without question, the most breathtaking piece of architecture I have ever witnessed. Now, keep in mind that these stunning details from the church’s facade are of marble, however the same design layouts can be used in the woodworking shop to create similar millwork. The architectural design and the level of craftsmanship is simply awe-inspiring. It is for this reason I’d like to share it with my fellow woodworkers and finish carpenters.

Work on the facade started in 1871 and was finished in 1887. Take a minute to think about the amount of planning and effort that went into designing the facade. What means and equipment was used to gather the marble from the quarry? How did men shape the marble for the architectural millwork and what tools did they use to create the custom moulding? What type of scaffolding and hoisting apparatus was implemented to aid the craftsman as they worked on the church’s facade? While it is astonishing to witness the finished product, it is equally intriguing to imagine the Santa Maria del Fiore when it was a construction site in the middle of Florence.

It stands to reason that men were quite busy excavating the white marble in Carrara, Italy at this time. The marble would then need to be shaped by skilled craftsmen in their shops to the architect’s specifications and then transported into Florence. Once at the Cathedral, imagine the necessary care taken as the heavy marble was hoisted up the scaffolding with rope and wooden pulleys. What source of power was used to raise the marble millwork upwards? Was the material raised by oxen, horses, or did men use winches to pull up the marble? One’s imagination automatically takes over once in the presence of the Santa Maria del Fiore as it is overwhelmingly beautiful.

Decorative custom millwork, Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo, Florence Italy

The architectural components are simply elegant and yet they are anything but simple. Check out the following: The dentil moulding is actually coved instead of being cut square. The spiraled marble columns are embellished with a repetitive design of cross shaped, green marble inlays. The finely sculpted floral millwork on the left adds a wonderfully tasteful element to the entire composition. The angel in the centerpiece is framed within an elongated hexagon. Notice how this feature adds a three dimensional element to the facade by creating negative space as does the framed box with carvings and mouldings below.

As a woodworker studies the architectural millwork and custom moulding of the Santa Maria del Fiore, he or she will naturally wonders how this work could be duplicated in the woodworking shop. The decorative woodworking patterns of the columns could be turned on a wood lathe, carved to the spiral design, and then the cross shaped wood inlay could then be inserted into place. The coved dentils seem easy enough to create and apply as does the framework of the moulding. Next it is simply a matter of sculpting the floral millwork and then the angel. Simple enough! (yeah…right!)

Keep in mind that this is just a sampling of the facade of the Santa Maria del Fiore and yet there is plenty of detail and craftsmanship in these examples. Understanding that this work was done by hand gives a woodworker a great appreciation for the skills and the dedication of the men who worked on this project. The magnificent Duomo is a work of art and a testament to the skills of these men. The Santa Maria del Fiore along with the genius of these craftsmen will be visited often and appreciated for many years to come.

Recommended article: Decorative Inlay Patterns for Custom Hardwood Inlays


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

Decorative Door Knockers of Florence, Italy

“Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.”
Michelangelo…Italian sculptor, painter, architect, & poet. (1475-1564)

Enjoy the decorative door knockers from Florence, Italy. Many front doors have knobs, hinges, and knockers of unique design of cast iron and solid brass. It is here that we will feature some wonderful door knockers and one very special solid brass door knob.

Florence, Italy is considered the birthplace to the Italian Renaissance and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Some of the worlds greatest masterpieces of art are housed in this capital city of the Italian region called Tuscany. Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Michelangelo, Bottecelli, Galileo Galilei, and Brunelleschi are just a few of the creative geniuses from Florence that have made huge impacts in their chosen fields. This wonderful city along the banks of the Arno River exudes beauty in its many museums, churches, palaces, parks, and art galleries.

The influences of the arts can be found anywhere in Florence and even when one is simply taking a casual walk along the city streets. It was here that I photographed the decorative door knockers of Florence. The woodworker in me could not help but notice the massive doors of many buildings that were embellished with fanciful antique door hardware. It was in short time that I came to expect unique and creative designs with the antique door knockers as they started to appear often to me along my walks. Who knows how old these door accessories actually are as their buildings are centuries old.

Note: A brass knob is also included in this set as it was too unique and special not to include in this grouping.

Enjoy the following… Which one is your favorite?

Door Hardware of Florence, ItalyUnique Lion's Head door hardware from Florence, Italy

Antique door knocker from Florence, ItalyAntique door knocker from Florence, Italy

Antique door knocker from Florence, ItalyCarved Lion's Head door hardware from Florence, Italy

Unique door knocker from Florence, ItalyAntique lion head door knocker from Florence, Italy

Antique gargoyle door knocker from Florence, ItalyUnique door knocker from Florence, Italy

Unique door knocker from Florence, ItalyBrass door handle from Florence, Italy

Watch free woodworking videos:

Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 1

Wood Turning…a Segmented Fruit Bowl…part 1

Building a dedicated Miter Sled for the tablesaw


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

Inspiration in Venice, Italy

Venice Italy

Venice, Italy is an amazing city that flourished many years ago. Today, one is able to visit this city that was built on the marshes along the Adriatic Sea. Visiting this city is like entering another world in thinking as well as the physical. To travel within the city one either walks or travels by water. Ether way one chooses to travel there is a new experience and inspiration waiting you as you turn the corner.

The craftsmanship in this city leads a woodworker like myself to wonder if our methods are in any way more advanced than the engineers and craftsman from years gone by. The works and the designs of this city definitely cause one to be grateful for the opportunity to be witness of the genius of man and man’s potential.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University


James Krenov…Legendary Woodworker 1920-2009

James Krenov...Legendary Woodworker 1920-2009

James Krenov

James Krenov passed away September 9, 2009 as many of you know. However, all you have to do is to look at his furniture designs or read one of his books to be inspired by the energy of this legendary woodworker and author from Fort Bragg, California. James, founder and teacher of the College of the Redwoods and builder of wonderful, custom furniture with a unique style unto its own built wooden hand planes in his later years.  Even the thought of James Krenov in woodworking shop at his workbench he seems to resonate a certain passion about woodworking. His passion was indeed a personal excitement. It almost seems as if his enthusiasm for his wood craft has a life of its own and yet is quite infectious when this renowned cabinetmaker would speak. Perhaps this gives insight into the custom woodworking of this man and also to his writings of the woodcraft. When one talks of The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking it is quite understandable that James wrote the book.

James Krenov, woodworker, cabinetmaker, teacher and author, was born on October 31, 1920. He died on September 9, 2009, at the age of 88.


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

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