Wierix or Melancholia Squares

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Project by Alan posted 11-11-2014 02:19 AM 3396 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So I am obviously very, very new to woodworking, having only gotten into it over the past year and a half or so since my dad passed away. Knowing that I know nothing, I have busily scoured the internet trying to cram my brain with information. So I follow Chris Schwarz’s blog(s) pretty religiously. Well, when he started blogging about late Renaissance/early Modern woodworking squares found in the works of, among others, Albrecht Durer, it really grabbed my attention, for two reasons.

One, the Ph.D. dissertation I was working on until last spring was on the development of early geometric counter-gunpowder-artillery forts in 16th century Europe, so the name Albrecht Durer was one I with which I am quite familiar.

Second, he wrote those blogs at pretty much the exact same time I was on the hunt for a better woodworking square or squares. Like every other n00b woodworker, I have a cheap combination square (mine’s a Craftsman, I think) that I use for most everything. It has its advantages, but let’s be honest – a 12” combo square isn’t the handiest or friendliest thing sometimes. Also, I’m really interested in doing a lot of mortise and tenon work, so I really wanted a square with a stock that was deep enough to also function as a saddle square on standard “2x” construction material. And of course, I have absolutely no money for tools.

So this seemed like an ideal solution. I didn’t have any molding offcuts that I could use for the stock, which is what you’re ‘supposed’ to use. What I DID have is some offcuts of an 8/4 oak plank that I had drilled a large hole through with a hole saw – giving me a couple of curved ends I could cut off. I also had some 1/8” milled walnut I bought from… somewhere? Woodcraft, probably? for making Krenov-style shoulder plane bodies. So I took my two bits of oak, slapped ‘em face down on the table saw and ran them over the blade to cut the kerf for the walnut blades. I glued both oak stocks onto opposite ends of the piece of walnut before cutting it apart with a coping saw. Unfortunately, that’s where I went wrong. See, what I wanted was two mirror image squares, so one could be used on one side of the work, and the other on the other side. I needed to have the oak stocks upside down relative to each other, but sometimes my abstract spatial reasoning isn’t so good.

So now I have two Melancholia or Wierix style saddle squares that are absolutely dead dog square, beautiful (I have to get a glamour shot of the medullary rays on the underside of the stocks) and I don’t like either of them.

But hey, I learned something.

-- I have some idea what I'm doing.

5 comments so far

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14192 posts in 5221 days

#1 posted 11-11-2014 02:22 AM

Interesting and unique posting.Nice wrk too.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4572 days

#2 posted 11-11-2014 09:02 AM

Nice try. As to the mishap, you are not alone!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4832 days

#3 posted 11-11-2014 07:12 PM

Sweet, and welcome to LJ’s I’m sure yo will love it here

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3618 days

#4 posted 11-12-2014 04:59 PM

I’ve seen those squares in pictures before but always dismissed them as a corbel. Interesting project.

-- Rick M,

View Alan's profile


44 posts in 2540 days

#5 posted 11-13-2014 03:40 AM

Nice try. As to the mishap, you are not alone!

- stefang

To be fair, they came out dead square and are perfectly usable. They’re just not what I wanted. ‘S why I put ‘em up for sale.

-- I have some idea what I'm doing.

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