Throughout the next couple of weeks, I’m spending time with my family. I encourage you to do the same. I’ll see you in the new year.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.
Build Something Great!
Glen D. Huey
Last week I finished the work on the goose-neck mouldings and the carved rosettes. At the left, you can see the mouldings and rosettes in place (click the photo to make it larger). This week I turned my attention to the columns that flank each side of the hood at the front and back.
These columns are reeded and need to fit a 3/4″ opening in the brass capitals. To make things work, I need to make the columns a larger diameter, then create the reeds, which extend beyond the 3/4″ diameter. I decided to make the columns 1″ round and to scratch in the reeds. The extra diameter allows for the reeds and provides a bit more material if needed.
My first thought was to turn the columns at my lathe. Even with a copy lathe, the process is slow and laborious – I need eight columns, four for each clock (I’m building two). There is no shape to these columns. No undulating whatsoever. They are straight from top to bottom.
After the first column, I remembered a technique to produce round dowels using a router table setup. It’s way faster. All you need is the correct router bit and material that is about 4″ (2″ extra at each end of the column) longer than the final length of the dowels. The router bit is a round-over bit that is half the total diameter of your dowel. In this case I am making 1″-diameter dowels, so I need a 1/2″ round-over bit. (If your dowels were 3/4″, you would need a 3/8″ round-over bit.)
I needed 16″-long columns. To work this technique with the added 4″ of material, I needed a minimum table length of 34″ (twice the column plus 2″). My router table top is nowhere near that length, so I whipped up an auxiliary top made from a piece of 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood. I positioned the router bit so the bearing was flush with my fence, and set the height just even with the top edge of the plywood.
You need to pivot the material into the cut so you leave a short section of square material at the leading end. As the material contacts the fence, cut the profile just as you would normally do, but do not run through the entire length. At the trailing end, stop short, leaving 2″ or less of square material. It’s those square sections that keep the dowel from turning as you make the last pass.
After you complete one pass, rotate the material 90° and make another pass. Four passes later you have a rounded dowel that rolls across your bench.
I completed all eight dowels (plus an extra just in case) in about 15 minutes after I had the setup ready to go. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.
Now to come up with a way to hold the dowels as I scratch the small reeds. I remember seeing a setup that Jeff Headley concocted for a similar purpose. Think I’ll dig that up.
Build Something Great!
Goose-neck mouldings are, in my opinion, the great equalizer in any discussion of moulding planes or power tools for curved designs. Sure straight runs of moulding can be made using hollows and rounds, but the curved mouldings are a completely different animal. With goose-necks, you better be thinking kindly about a router, router table or shaper. And, you probably should have a selection of carving tools if your design has a rosette and doesn’t return on itself (as shown in the above photo).
Of course, the Egerton clock has rosettes. This translates into more hand work using carving chisel. But the bulk of the waste is removed with power tools. You just need to find the correct profile, and that can be tricky as you flip and turn the profile looking for a match, especially if you’re using bearing mounted router bits. (I’m tossing out shaper work, because most woodworkers are not working with a shaper – router tables have all but replaced the shaper in home shops.)
The best way to run these profiles using a router is with the face of the goose-neck moulding facing up. To do that you need an over-arm pin router setup, or you need to create a method to hold your router above the workpiece as you guide the cut, as shown to the left. This setup uses the guide-fence holes and scrap pieces to raise the router cut abilities. The setup is easy to duplicate, but using the arrangement is not that simple. You need to accurately guide the router along the curved lines of the goose-neck while holding things at 90° to the workpiece. Slow and steady wins the race, but even then you have clean-up work to do. It is much better if you can use bearing-mounted router bits. To do that in this scenario, I had to run at my router table, keeping the face of the mouldings against the table.
The problem with bearing-mounted router bits is reach. On wide goose-neck mouldings, you often cannot reach back into the profile enough to make things work. On the Egerton moulding, though, that’s not a problem because it’s only 7/8″ wide. I was able to use the bearings on my router bits of choice to get the job done, so the first bit used was a cove design for raised panels. That router bit allowed me to reach back 3/4″ of the 7/8″ needed – that left an 1/8″ of flat at the top edge of my profile. On the straight runs, cut from end to end. On the curved work, you need to stop just short of the rosette area.
The second profile I used was a simple 1/4″ round-over bit, but I switched out the normal bearing to use one that was a 1/8″ smaller in diameter. That change moved the round-over profile in slightly on the workpiece. Height adjustments need to be accurate. Because I was looking to flow the second profile into the larger cove cut, I found it best to sneak up on the final setting. I could have stopped at this point, but the square edge left after the second router cut was smaller than what I saw on the original clock profile. I wanted more.
Deciding to make the last router-bit cut added the needed square-edge to my profile, but it also caused more work after routing work was complete. To achieve an additional 1/16″ of square edge for an 1/8″ total, I used a rabbet bit to push the design up into the moulding. That cut removed a lot of the round-over profile, but that would be easy to replace with carving tools, and the extra square edge made the design of my goose-neck more in line with the original.
To complete the mouldings, both the curved and straight pieces, I use a couple carving gouges to re-round the profile. Work on the straight pieces was easy. I found and carved with the grain direction. On the curved pieces, carving required that I move in different directions due to the grain changing as the curves undulated. Even with that need, the work was not difficult.
Next week I’ll show the completed and installed goose-neck moulding with the carved rosettes in place. I’m getting close to finished.
Build Something Great!
This week I jumped full-force into carving the rosettes for the tall clock. I don’t often carve; it’s not one of my favorite things in woodworking, which is probably why I moved so quickly into Federal-period furniture. As I worked the first ten minutes in earnest to produce the final design of the rosettes – I need two rosettes for each clock, or four total pieces – I knew it would be a short work day if I didn’t find a way to ease my back pain. My bench is set up more for power-tool woodworking, so it is a bit higher by design. But that height wasn’t cutting it for carving.
My quick solution was a carving lift that would raise the work surface nearly 12″. As stated, I’m not an every-day carver, so I didn’t need anything that would be worthy of a magazine article build. I needed quick and simple. Thank you Kreg jig.
I ripped a few pieces from my collection of scraps, chopped the appropriate lengths at my miter saw then screwed together my carving lift. The additional length at the bottom, plus the wide-open area between the ends, makes clamping the unit to my workbench a snap. The top, over-hung in both length and width, allows me to easily clamp and re-position the work as needed. Will this lift be around forever? Nope. That’s the way it was designed. When I’m finished I’ll pull the screws and stack the pieces back in my scrap pile.
Did the extra height work out? You bet. The only pain I felt the the balance of the day was from a few carving mishaps and a couple of wood blowouts. My back was fine.
A second tip I found useful as I carved on the clock’s goose-neck mouldings was a technique I discovered as I built my first goose-necks for a highboy years ago. I think it’s worth repeating.
In the above photo, you see that I have made a pattern of the half of the top edge of the scroll board. The mouldings for the clock are 7/8″ tall, so I need to produce a line that is exactly that distance down from the pattern. I could use a compass to scribe the line, but that would require that I be consistent as I trace the pattern. That’s room for error.
To make it almost foolproof (nothing is completely foolproof), I cut and shaped a piece of plywood to 1-3/4″ in diameter, or a 7/8″ radius. When I slip a pencil through the small hole at the middle of the wheel and roll the wheel along the pattern, I’m assured of an accurately marked distance.
I use this technique whenever I need to produce an accurate offset line. Most times I find a washer (fender washer) that works for the necessary size. But as you grow in the distance you need to offset, you move beyond typical washers found in a home center or hardware store. It’s then that I turn to shop-made wheels. This is one to keep in your pocket. It works.
Build Something Great!
Next week I’ll post about the goose-neck mouldings. The profile comes off the router table using easy-to-find router bits.