Many woodworkers struggle when designing their own mouldings, and that’s because they haven’t studied enough of the most common forms. Imagine trying to build a chest of drawers if you had only seen a few of them.
To become fully aware of mouldings, it’s best to study their forms from about 1400 to the present. That’s outside the scope of this particular blog entry. But we can help you with the more recent stuff.
Thanks to Eric Brown, we are accumulating a nice collection of hard-to-find references on moulding shapes. Eric has a bad/good habit of picking up woodworking ephemera when he sees it and sends a good deal of it my way so I can share it here.
Thor Mikesell has digitized three of these catalogs for us. Thor is a new student to traditional woodworking, with a background in trim and finish work as well as scenic construction for the stage. He lives in Eugene, Ore., with his wife, Holly and their two dogs.
There are three catalogs for you to download, study and enjoy. All are in pdf format.
The first is the 1938 “Arkansas Soft Pine Handbook,” which was published as a way to promote use of Pinus echinata, a shortleaf pine that is technically a yellow pine but was being promoted as great for interior trim.
Aside from the interesting marketing of this pine that I grew up with, there is a fantastic visual guide to mouldings in this 68-page booklet. It is well worth downloading and taking a look at.
The second booklet is “Mouldings Millwork No. 72” from the Foremost Lumber Corp. in Brooklyn, NY. It has a similar (but not identical) array of mouldings.
And the third is is “F&E Original Doors and Moldings” from F&E in Los Angeles.
Take a look and you will be well on your way to getting a feel for the curves of traditional millwork flow and work together.
Thanks to Eric and Thor for their 100-percent volunteer help with these catalogs.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you want to learn to make mouldings by hand, we publish Matt Bickford’s “Mouldings in Practice,” which is just going into its second printing.