Corbels have been around for centuries. Even before medieval times the use of corbels as supports was standard fitment in most homes. The poor used plain corbels to support ceiling beams. The rich would adorn the corbels to give a baroque look.
From wood to metal was an obvious leap and some of the building renderings in the 11th and 12th century in Europe show balconies supported by large corbels. The picture of Juliet balconies (Juliet refers to Romeo courting Juliet (Shakespeare’s play). The fact is in the play Romeo would romance Juliet while she was at a window. However the name struck and has been in use ever since) is a fine example of the various uses of corbels both structurally and architecturally.
Traditional Juliet Balconies with Corbels
In the modern era, corbels have made a stunning revival in interior decoration. The advent of CNC routers has made giant inroads to the architecture of interiors.The big differentiator is the speed at which CNC routers turning out corbels or support pieces. Importantly the symmetry of two pieces is fantastic. Designs incorporated in the 21st century are inspired by nearly ten centuries old designs giving proof to the adage those classics never die or fade. Corbels are decorative element below kitchen islands and counter tops.
Juliet Balcony with Wooden Corbels
Traditional Carpenters using CNC routers
CNC router application for making corbels is a fine skill. In the hands of well-trained master carpenter, machine turned corbels have a life of their own. Carpenters who have been working with wood for a long time understand grain, texture and can visualize the finish. In the hands of the modern day hobbyist, the difference is immediately noticeable. The tool path vectors of the CNC machine in the hands of a technology geek is precise. Overall, the finished products though perfect in all respects lack soul. That is why you will find the old working with new and the result is a thing of beauty. Engineering merging with creativity is breathing extraordinary life into corbel engraving. Standard CNC routers come with 3-axis movements. With the addition of 4th axis, turning the block of wood gives an added dimension during the engraving process. The size of the CNC router will determine the size of the corbel. However if the corbel is very large it can be machined in two pieces and assembled after engraving and carving. A key element in corbel engraving is transferring the artwork into the CNC computer. To a newcomer the three surfaces (front and two sides) need proper visualization and tool paths clearly identified.
Corbel Engraved with CNC Router
Omni-CNC router model 6015 and 1325 is a fine example for using the router for 3d corbel carving. A link to the YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL90cPV23YE gives a perfect rendering of corbel carving. Typically, a CNC router removes material from the basic starting block. Starting with an X and Y coordinates at zero-zero position every point on the carving is identified by a co-ordinate which the computer guides the tool head to the precise location. The tool head has the cutting or engraving bit and the depth of cut is controlled to give the beautiful 3d effect.
OMNI CNC 1325 Router Model