Things Medieval — Market Stalls

Basic Stall

A basic market stall that is frequently seen amongst re-enactment groups and medieval events in Queensland. There is some debate as to the historicity of this design, and mixed opinions on the original source, but these have the advantage of not being obviously anachronistic, provide good shade, and can be erected by two people. Or one patient person with long arms. Click on any of the photos for a full sized image.

Basic Market Stall Basic Market Stall
Ideally the front leg is pegged down through the convenient hole, and a couple of pegs placed over the bottom horizontal at the back. This prevents the structure slipping in strong wind, or when some member of the public kicks the leg. Basic Market Stall

Detail of top joint. While there is no “right” way to put the legs together, there is a best way. Working from the inside out: front leg, back leg, roof

Basic Market Stall

Depending on how much play there is in the joints, you may want to splay the front legs out slightly, to add further stability to the structure.

Constructing your own Stall

A few people have asked about how to go about making their own stall, so here goes with a very brief and hand-waving explanation. To begin with, I'll beg your forgiveness for the vagueness that follows - I make things like this in the same way I cook, with approximations and guesswork. Also, I apologise if there is a mixture of imperial and metric measurements. My father was an old-school carpenter, and I learned to measure smallish things in imperial units, and biggish things in metric.

You will need the following materials:

Bore holes through near the ends of each of the six framing pieces, perpendicular to the widest dimension, and about an inch from the end. These holes need to be a fraction of an inch bigger than the diameter of the three lengths of dowel. You want them to be a close fit for the dowel, so that the structure doesn't wobble or rock when erected, but not so tight that seasonal changes in the dimensions of the timbers make the dowel hard to get into (or worse, out of) the hole.

While you've got the drill out, drill one or more holes a little bigger than the 7' poles perpendicular to the narrow dimension of two of your framing pieces. These holes do not go all the way through, instead make them about 1" deep to act as sockets for the 7' poles. As you can see in the picture above, these two framing pieces now become the "roof" pieces, with the 7' poles holding 'em up. I put these sockets between 8" and 12" from the end of the roof piece.

At this stage, you've done all the mandatory wood work, and the frame can be erected. I go a little bit further than this, of course, and sand and smooth all parts before either painting or oiling them. I also round the ends of the framing pieces a little to knock off any acute corners that people will walk into.

On that note, you probably wonder why I bored a hole in the ends of both of the front leg pieces, when only one end needs a hole to accept the horizontal dowels. Two reasons:

  1. I don't have to remember which is the back leg and which is the front leg, or which way around they go, since both front and back legs are identical, and have no right or wrong end
  2. I usually put a tent peg through the holes at the bottom of the front leg, to prevent members of the public or other re-enactors from accidentally kicking the leg out of place. On that note, I also put two pegs over each end of the dowel at the bottom of the back leg, to prevent any risk of the back leg slipping out of place.

Time to deal with the cloth. I suggest you wash the cloth if you think it might get wet and subsequently shrink, and it doesn't hurt to waterproof it. Chop your 32' length into two 16' pieces, and join them side by side to make one 16' x 7.5' piece (approximate width). You should find that the width of this final piece is about as wide as the space between the legs, that is to say the length of the horizontal dowels less the width of six framing pieces and a couple of inches extra - call that 18", giving you about 7.5' width. I use a flat-fell seam to join these two pieces (have a look at this Dragonwing Article for some instruction on how to do a flat-fell seam). Doing it this way makes a ridiculously strong seam that absolutely won't stretch.

Next sew a pocket across the 7.5' width of one end of the 16' length, big enough for the horizontal dowel to go through, but not too much bigger because if the pocket is too wide it seems to cause weird strain on the stitching when the structure is erected.

Now erect the frame with the fabric on it. Yes, you only have a pocket at one end at this point, so put the top front horizontal through the pocket, and drape the fabric over the top and down the back. Pin up the pocket at the bottom back edge now to ensure you get the fabric length matched to the actual dimensions of the frame. You may need to pin this up in several iterations, tightening the fabric up each time until you are happy with the tension.

Take the cloth off, sew up the remaining pocket, and you're done.

There are some remaining nice touches you can add if you want, such as knocking up a bag to carry the fabric and pegs in, and adding grommets along the edges of the fabric so that you can tie the fabric off to the frame. You can even add a decorative valence to the front edge of the fabric, or go nuts and paint the framing in decorative designs.



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