The following is excerpted from “Mouldings in Practice,” by Matthew Sheldon Bickford. The book turns a set of complicated mouldings into a series of predictable rabbets and chamfers that guide your hollow and round planes to make anything – anything – that has been made in the past or that you can envision for your future projects.
“Mouldings in Practice” is accessible for even the beginning hand-tool woodworker. It uses more than 200 color illustrations and dozens of photos to explain how to lay out, prepare for and cut any moulding you can draw.
The first half of the book is focused on how to make the tools function, including the tools that help the hollow and round planes – such as the plow and the rabbet. Matt also covers snipes bills and side rounds so you know their role in making mouldings. Once you understand how rabbets and chamfers guide the rounds and chamfers, Matt shows you how to execute the mouldings for eight very sweet Connecticut River Valley period projects using photos and step-by-step illustrations and instruction.
Breaking a moulding down into a series of simple forms results in a smooth execution. When you look at each aspect of a profile, consider the following rules:
Following these rules will make complex mouldings achievable.
12 thoughts on “Rules for Making Sense of Mouldings”
This is an excellent explanation of how to make mouldings, but it would be even more useful with two changes.
First, it should have a spiral binding so it would lie flat on the bench. I had to use weights on my copy to keep it open to a given page.
Second, the illustrations should be to scale so the user can take off a given measurement with dividers and transfer it directly to the stick.
A nicely printed book is less useful to the learner than a manual. What counts is not how it looks in the hand—it’s how it works on the bench.
Our books will lay flat just fine on the bench if you prep your book. Here is a video we did years ago that shows the process:
This only works with books with signatures that are sewn (like ours). Don’t try it with a perfect-bound book (where the pages are just glued in). The pages will fall out.
Why don’t we use a spiral binding (you aren’t the first to ask)? The books don’t last as long as a sewn book. Pages are easily removed inadvertently. To prevent this, you have to laminate the pages with plastic, which we are not interested in.
As making the drawings full-scale, that is a good idea.
I would not puncture my book with dividers. I would rather make a photocopy of the profile of interest (adjusting the scale if needed.) Isn’t it convenient to be able to glue the profile to the end of the board or use it as a template to mark it?
Although not having easy access to a copier, I would do the drawing myself by hand. There are nice templates to draw circles.
Explaining how to draw a profile (if not in the book) would, in my view, provide people a useful skill.
There are probably thousands of different profiles and it would be costly to print all of them.
Out of curiosity I have had a look at a vendor of spindle moulder accessories and he was proposing more than 200 different profiling knives.
The book does a good job covering ways to draw or copy moldings. And does it all with way less than 200 knifes 🙂
My molding improved 100-fold after reading this book. I can copy any molding I come across with the simple layout system set forth in this book. Thank you Mr. Bickford and Lost art press.
This book was such a great revelation. I had not seen anything before which explained making mouldings so well. Brilliant.
Hey Fitz, do you have any recommendations for good resources for designing moulding profiles? Appendix 4 of the book suggests analyzing other historical furniture, but I’m looking for more general guidelines, like “coves are a supporting profile” or “these ratios often look nice in a cyma reversa,” etc. Thanks!
Check out some of the Youtube clips by Brent Hull. He has lots of clips about what makes molding work, how to use them, and when styles were common. Also has good recommendations for historical books on the subjects.
Get Your House Right by Marianne Cusato has a useful and succinct summary of ratios relating ceiling height to interior moulding eg crown, various rails, casing, baseboard etc. Not exactly what you’re asking but possibly of interest?
“By Hand and Eye” Walker/Tolpin Lost Art Press
I’m afraid I don’t – so thanks to everyone who did! (Now if you’re talking architectural mouldings…)
Thanks all, that’s very helpful! I definitely wouldn’t be mad about some more architectural mouldings references! 😄
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