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Installing a Wood Floor Without Glue or Nails—340 Years Ago

Ryan Kushner
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Photos courtesy of Dicky de HaanPhotos courtesy of Dicky de Haan

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Opp 421 Wfb Am21 Wdwrks Castle 3 Med

When a 17th-century Dutch noble requests wood flooring without glue or nails, by Jove, you find a way to do it. And 340 years ago, that's exactly what the master carpenter at Amerongen Castle did. Netherlands-based wood floor inspector John McCabe of the Blackwood Consultancy recently came across the unusual installation while touring the castle in Amerongen, the Netherlands. The odd installation request originated from the "Lady of Amerongen," Margaretha Turnor, the wife of a prominent diplomat at the time (around 1680). Standard installations in the late 1600s used face-nailing, according to McCabe: "The reason she asked for something different was because she loved to dance, and surface-fixing by nails would tear her silk stockings," he says. To accommodate her request, the original carpenter created a sliding dove joint with a reducing angle to lock the boards in place. The 60-by-22-foot floor, still intact, is Norway spruce, and the dovetail joints are oak. Hundreds of years later, the 17th-century carpenter's ingenuity is still inspiring craftsmen. "In my opinion, to have this clever jointing system in a huge floor is masterful," McCabe says.

John McCabe works as a consultant in the wood business very often sourcing rare and unusual species or specifications. He also holds seminars about wood and wood products and can be reached via email here.



RELATED: 19th Century Wood Floor Craftsman Leaves Secret Diary Under Castle Floors

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