It is often necessary, especially when repairing or adding to old work or making up furniture from old materials, to have a few feet of moulding to a special pattern, which does not approach in size or outline the stock patterns on hand, and, as a rule, it is found to make new cutters and run it off the machine will not allow the job, if it is one in the ordinary course of business, to pay.
In such cases there is no other way but to work the moulding by hand on the bench, by the aid of hollows and rounds, and possibly bead planes, together with the plough and fillister, which may be used to remove some of the surplus wood.
The method of doing this has been asked by a correspondent, and the idea struck me that if I enlarged on the subject a little an article might be useful to many readers.
In the first place, if good mouldings are wanted, good material must be provided, and if they have to be stained or painted, soft wood can be used. And either white or yellow pine, or the best American white wood (Canary pine) is to be recommended. When the moulding has to be polished to match old hard wood, wood of the same kind is necessary; but whatever kind of wood is required, it must be dry, straight-grained, and also free from knots and shakes.
It is also best to work the moulding in such lengths that all pieces which have to intersect in any one member can be cut from one length, and follow after each other in the same order as they were cut from the length. By this method, a bad intersection is avoided.
In the accompanying drawings I have given a few profiles of mouldings which will guide the reader in the working of any shapes; for instance, Fig. 1 shows an ordinary scotia, which is one of the easiest mouldings to work. All that is necessary in running this is to mark a gauge-line along the edge and side of the board, and then take off the corner to the dotted line, and finish with a “round” plane of suitable size. To ensure correctness, the scotia should be marked on each end of the wood, which can be done with the compasses in this case, but in the more complicated mouldings, a zinc pattern or template should be made, so that it can be applied to the end of the board, and marked closely round.
Fig. 2 shows an ogee moulding. The corner of the moulding is first taken off with the jack-plane, the hollow being worked with a “round” plane, as in the scotia moulding before mentioned, and the ound at the top with a “hollow” plane. The dotted lines show how the plane should be held to obtain best results.
Fig. 3 shows a more complicated moulding, in making which the plough is required. The quirk A should be ploughed out first to the depth required, and then the part marked B followed by C, D, and E in consecutive order, after which the hollows and rounds may be finished to the correct shape.
Fig. 4 shows a flat ovolo, which is in itself easy to work, but is especially dealt with here owing to the difficulty of working the ovolo without damaging the two square fillets. The parts F and G should first be removed, but not quite to the extent required to finish. The round may be then made, and finally if a shaving is taken off each of the squares with the rebate plane: it will take out any marks made by the corner of the iron in working the round.
Fig 5. can be run in three different ways, the thinner part of the moulding J may be worked on the same piece as H, and attached to K by a tongue and groove as indicated; or this process may be reversed, working J and K in the solid piece, and tongueing them to H. Besides these two methods it is possible to make the pieces separately, attaching them together with tongues and grooves as shown. In each of the two former cases, the parts L, M and N are removed with plough and fillister, when the mouldings can be worked in the way already described.
Fig. 6 shows and astragal moulding – not difficult to make. If several lengths are wanted, one groove can be made to answer for two lengths, worked side by side, as shown at O.
A sunk bead is shown by Fig. 7. If no proper plane is to hand, the groove to form the quirks may be ploughed, and afterwards a smaller and deeper one for the insertion of a solid bead, which should be worked to the width of the small groove and glued in.
The ordinary “rule” joint, commonly used for leaves of tables, &c., is shown on Fig. 8, and this moulding requires careful working to do it well – simple as it looks. The material a P and R is first removed, and then the round worked. The other part is the same as the scotia moulding S (Fig. 1), being removed with a jack-plane, and the “round” plane used to complete its profile.
Fig. 9 is what is usually termed a “thumb” moulding. The parts at T and U are first removed, hollow and round plane accomplishing the remainder.
Many more examples might be given; but enough has been shown to give the reader an idea how to proceed when any design of moulding has to be prepared. Mention has already been made of the necessity of having good timber for working mouldings; and it is no less essential that the timber should be faced up properly and gauged to the correct thickness and width.
The planes must also be in good condition, so that they take a shaving of equal thickness at all parts of the iron. In addition to these precautions, considerable practice is required to enable the beginner to handle the various hollow and round planes properly, in such a manner and with that ease and certainty which generally seems to accompany the production of good work. The fingers only are used as guides, and the power of holding the plane at the proper angle throughout a length must be acquired.
Small mouldings are best worked on the edge of a board, and sawn off after working, as it is essential that the board to be worked should be firmly fixed, this being practically impossible if narrow strips are employed.
I have found Stanley’s “Universal” of great use in working mouldings, especially where beads are wanted in places where the ordinary bead plane will not work.
A correspondent having asked the sizes of the circles which are worked by the various sizes hollows and rounds, I give them below, and I may, perhaps, mention here that no one need purchase a full set of planes; a half set (either even or odd numbers) will answer all purposes.
• No. 2 works 3/8″ circle
• No. 4 works 1/2″ circle
• No. 6 works 3/4″ circle
• No. 8 works 1″ circle
• No. 10 works 1-1/4″ circle
• No. 12 works 1-1/2″ circle
• No. 14 works 2″ circle
• No. 16 works 2-1/2″ circle
• No. 18 works 3″ circle
The odd numbers, of course, fall between the above, which may vary slightly in different makes of planes; but for all practical purposes the sizes given may be taken as correct.
I have not said anything about finishing with glass-paper, but this will be found necessary, and blocks should be made to fit the various sizes of hollows and rounds, so that the paper can be wrapped round them and take effect at all points at once.
From “The Woodworker” June 1902 edition.