|I’m ashamed to say that despite Chippendale’s advice, I know very little about the classical column orders. I know they are used to define ancient architectural styles. I generally ignore their distinctively decorated capitals. Instead, I simply focus on the basic proportions.The column orders are dimensioned with respect to the maximum shaft diameter also called 1 module. The chart below lists each order and provides dimensions in modules for it’s key features.
I imagine the ancients were interested in making the tallest possible columns for any given shaft diameter. So it makes sense that they would dimension everything with respect to shaft diameter.
I’m more interested in defining the key features in terms of height. If I’m making a table, I know the height of the legs. I need to know how fat to make them and the positions of the apron and stretcher. Depending on the column order chosen, the max. shaft diameter may vary from almost one tenth of the height to a little more than half of that. Of the 5 orders, all of the bases are roughly 1/5 the total height. The capitals vary slightly more.
I made this little Excel spreadsheet sheet of the column orders that you can use to compare the orders and keep on your home computer.