Overengineered Boxes for Ceiling Medallions

So, as I mentioned, we have these two huge ceiling medallions in need of restoration. For the mo, they're lying on the pantry floor, and we live in fear of destroying them. On the other hand, we're not quite at the cashflow or project cycle moment for getting them restored, so a couple of weeks ago Noel suggested we make them a pair of sturdy containers to store them in, the sort of thing we could move more easily than the medallions themselves.

I asked for some advice on the boxes at school, and got the suggestion that they come apart so the restoration work could be done without moving the medallion at all, which seemed like a good idea. Three of us sat down and designed this completely overkill box. On the other hand, it's likely to be as sturdy as required.


The idea is four sides that bolt together somehow, with a groove to hold a bottom panel and latches to hold the lid on. Rope handles are pretty effective when a thing like this is not going to be carried often. In the center is a dowel that will go through the center hole in each medallion and hold it in place (roughly).


In order to get enough depth in the hole for the dowel to be secure, we'd have to drill all the way through and attach a bottom bit. Which is actually fine because the bottom of the box is raised up by the bolts that hold the frame together, so the center bottom can help keep it from sagging. The bolts are placed at places of maximum load: the top, and on both sides of the notch that holds the bottom in place.

Bolt detail

The role of the dowel is to just keep the medallion from slipping and chipping at the edges (where it is thin). Since threading the medallion onto a fixed dowel is a surefire recipe for disaster, a removable one makes a lot of sense, and makes it easier to remove the medallion from the box.

Dowel detail

The base itself is loose in the frame: to work on the medallion, a conservator can remove any number of sides and slide the medallion onto a table. Or just leave it in the box.

Box bottom detail

Drawing out details for this box and discussing how it would work really helped clarify what we needed and how it would go together. Sometimes, just taking the time to sketch it out, even if you are no good at drawing or diagramming, make all the difference.

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posted by ayse on 01/22/07