The Corbridge Cabinet is a small project that’s proved quite interesting and which has now been finished.
Some time ago, I received a ‘phone call from my daughter Megan, (a professional archaeologist who is interested in all sorts ancient stuff) about a large parcel that we should expect in the post.
On opening the box, very carefully wrapped up was a copy of The Corbridge Hunt Cup…
…which is a replica of the original that I saw in the British Museum. A hunt cup was a piece of Roman pottery ware and this one was found undamaged, together with a hoard of coins, very close to Hadrian’s Wall. Replicas of this type are made to commission by Graham Taylor from Rothbury, Northumberland who specialises in this type of historical reproduction ware. He said of the pot:
The replica is based on a Roman “Hunt Cup” made in the Lower Nene Valley in the 3rd Century AD. It is a style of pottery known as Colour Coated Barbotine Ware. As with the original, the pot has been formed on a wheel and the decoration applied using slip (liquid clay), a high iron bearing coating was then applied over the surface before firing to about 1000 degrees Centigrade.
Suitably impressed, I thought that a little cabinet in teak would be ideal to display the cup so it wasn’t long before the design was sorted out and the material cut oversize and left to condition. I’d had it in various workshop for over thirty years so it was pretty stable.
I usually always choose an accent timber for small details like handles or catches which I generally make from Indian ebony. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I use African blackwood.
The story of the Corbridge Hunt Cup and its cabinet was posted onto my Facebook page, where it was picked up by my friend Ethan Sincox.
A private online conversation ensued, over the course of which he suggested that instead of ebony, I ought to think about using Bog Oak. I replied that I didn’t have any, whereupon he mentioned that he had and would send me some.
It would have been churlish in the extreme to have refused Ethan’s offer and so shortly afterwards, yet another parcel arrived, this time from St.Charles, Missouri in the USA.n
Inside were several small pieces of bog oak, but this was rather special as these few lumps had a unique provenance. It appears that they were part of the original Roman port of Londinium and were thus around 2,000 years old. Ethan had bought these (and much else besides) the last time he was in the UK. It’s quite thought provoking to think that they’ve travelled nearly 8500 miles to finally end up in a small teak cabinet which will house a replica of a Roman hunt cup.
The cabinet is made from solid teak and teak veneers. The construction of the stand and door is with dominos. The internal corners of the cabinet and stand were made by glueing on an additional section with Titebond III to provide enough material to bearing cut the curves. It’s worth noting that although Titebond III does a good job on teak, the surfaces should be degreased with acetone and the joint left clamped for the full cure time or preferably overnight.
The back of the cabinet is a solid teak framed panel which has been rebated into the sides.
The top and bottom consist of 2mm thick, bandsawn veneers glued in the vacuum press onto lipped, 12mm ply and all the small accent details have been made from the ancient Bog Oak. It’s been finished with two thinned coats of Osmo PolyX with Swedish beeswax over the top applied with a grey Webrax pad.