Our physical location is temporarily limited to small business activity. We will update this notice when education and hobby use resume. Until then enjoy our online learning activities for makers.

Making an Elliptical Storm Window

So I had spent a long cold winter fabricating around forty-or-so old tymee tilt out storm windows for our 1895 house. That was tough but I was left with an even more vexing problem of how to protect an elliptical leaded glass window high up on the facade. First was getting on a  high ladder and taking measurements and then reproducing it in drawing. Suffice to say, the ancient Greeks figured out how to easily draw an ellipse with two sticks and a piece of string, but I cheated with digital drawing software and made a print out as a template. That was quick … then came a long period of contemplating how one physically achieves an ellipse in actual wood. I jumped to the conclusion that I would need to steam bend the frame and that lead me off on a tangent for many months leaving me with a nice steamer box but not a window frame…I didn't end up using the steamer for this project because hat process was way more complicated than necessary….and not as controllable as the method I’m about to describe. I accidentally found my answer when I was doing some repair work on the half moon windows in my attic. When I got them in my shop and looked at them closely I realized that the wood grain was travelling in a straight line and not following the curve of the window and that therefore, the curves had been cut out of a much wider board. I also realized that at the top of the half moon, there was a pronounced open tenon holding two pieces together. This allowed the original fabricator to subdivide the arcs into lengths that could come out of a reasonably, but not absurdly wide board. This also prevents the arc from travelling completely cross grain which would leave a very fragile point within the frame. When I sketched a bit over my template I realized that I could do the ellipse in four pieces and carefully jigsaw out the ellipse. Below is a photo record of the process.