Tag Archives: moulding

Goose-neck Mouldings

Kasper Bonnet TopGoose-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).

#5024-01Of 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. Router_JigThis 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. IMG_1399On 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. IMG_1401That 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. IMG_1403To 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.

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Dressing-up the Keystone

IMG_1394With the moulding installed around the arched opening for the dial, there’s one last detail on the hood before moving on to the goose-neck mouldings of the broken-arch pediment. The Egerton tall clock has a small keystone that separates the two pieces of the arched moulding. The keystone is made from solid mahogany, but the face of the piece is a small assembly of veneer. And by small I mean 5/8″ wide at the bottom, 1-1/4″ wide at the top and about 1-1/4″ from top to bottom. That’s not a lot of inlay, so I can easily get that from scrap pieces already on hand. (Check out the photo. You can see a picture of the original clock between the hoods of the two clocks I’m building.)

To get things started, I thought it best to lay out the design to better get a feel for the pieces and steps. That also made it easy to get the sizes of the maple veneer just right, IMG_1381and that made the work go much quicker. After I had the design, I snapped off pieces of the ebony stringing and cut the small pieces of maple from a leftover sheet of shop-made veneer – I’m tired of sanding through the 1/40″- or 1/64″-thick commercial veneer and vow to never purchase it again. To make sure things went as planned, I stuck the pieces to a piece of tape, then checked the size against the actual keystone.

I was now ready to stick the pieces to the keystone. With a thin layer of glue on the keystone, I positioned the veneer and stringing. IMG_1382(Again, I really like the Titebond No-Run, No-Drip Wood Glue.) A neat technique was to lock one leg of my spring clamp into my bench vise, leaving the other leg operable. This allowed me to easily move or reposition the keystone in any way necessary. At this time, I wasn’t concerned about the length of the pieces applied to the workpiece. I didn’t want them to run past the top and bottom, but I also didn’t need them to be perfectly aligned. After everything was placed and slide to its final position (moving the veneer pieces up or down influenced the overall width of the assembly so I could easily match the keystone face), I set the piece aside to allow the glue to dry.

The next step after the glue dried – about 10 minutes – was to saw the top and bottom edges to add the last pieces of ebony stringing. IMG_1384A marking gauge is perfect to scribe lines to which to saw, and I particularly like a Japanese saw for these types of cuts. With the assembly locked in the spring-clamp vise, I sawed the two lines then peeled the waste parts easily off the keystone. A little more glue was added before I position the two last parts to the face of the workpiece. After the glue dried I used a rasp to level and smooth the inlay, then sanded everything smooth with #180-grit Abranet.

The finished keystone is shown in the opening photo. It’s a small piece that adds significantly to the overall look of the clock. And that’s what inlay does, at least to my eye. Also, if you look at the opening photo you can see the first carved rosette that fits at the end of the goose-neck moulding. I ran through three alliterations before arriving at what I think will work. To get a quick look, I stuck the half-finished rosette in place, then stood back to make a decision. So far, so good. But there is more work to be done.

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Egerton Moulding Install

I promised last week to show you the moulding installation. But if you stopped by, you found that I was unable to post. So as promised, here is the technique I use to cut, fit and install the lower moulding on the tall clock.

Layout is the important step. First position the arched moulding to the hood. After it’s in position draw a line along the back or top edge. IMG_1365Make the line run the entire length of the moulding, or at least indicate where it crosses the inlay at the center and the lower 2″ at the hood’s base. The second step is to lay in the straight line to indicate where the moulding runs along the base – show the area that fits between the arched moulding and the hood’s return. To obtain the angle needed to fit the two pieces (arched and short straight) draw a line from the two corners as shown in the photo above.

Moulding Marking

To reveal the cut lines on the moulding, slide the arched piece back into position then use a couple of spring clamps to keep it in place. On the top edge of the moulding, mark where the lines intersect – the intersection of the arched and straight, as well as where the arched crosses the inlay should be marked. Repeat the steps to mark the two points on the inside edges of the arched moulding. Both steps are shown above.

On the back face of the moulding, make a couple of tick marks that show the two points then use a rule or straightedge to draw the line from mark to mark. Strike the lines at the two layout points. IMG_1374I also square the lines down the back edge of the mouldings to provide two points of reference as I cut. Because the moulding is arched, a couple of spring clamps will hold the piece secure as you cut. The easiest way to cut the lines is to grab your handsaw and make the cuts. I like a Japanese saw for these cuts because the finer teeth are easier to start, and glide through the cut better. This saw is from Lee Valley (link). Make the cuts while watching both lines – it’s the same as when cutting dovetails. After the arched moulding is cut (touch-up the cut with a small plane if you’re off your layout line), reposition the arched moulding to the hood.

The next step is to cut and fit the short, straight moulding at the base. You can repeat the same procedure to cut this piece; layout the two points, IMG_1375strike your line then saw the cut by hand. But for this cut – because it is a straight piece of stock – I work at my miter saw. I simply guess the angle then make a couple of cuts to hone-in on the final angle. You could, of course, use a bevel gauge to setup the correct miter. Even using a bevel gauge, I find myself fine-tuning the cut, so I go right to the saw. Make sure your fit is tight and that the moulding profiles align. You will have a small amount of work to do to bring the two profiles to match, but the work should be minimal.

For me the tricky part of this installation is the next step. On the top edge of the straight moulding, mark the start of the 45° bevel, and indicate the direction of the bevel. IMG_1377(That’s where I sometimes have problems.) It’s easy to get things turned around as you move to make the cut. I, again, use my miter saw. This is also a straight piece of stock and easily set and cut at the miter saw. Because it is a small piece, you may not feel comfortable at a power saw. If that’s the case, use your handsaw and a bench hook to do the job.

The last piece – on this first side – is the return. It’s a simple 45° cut at the front with a 90° cut at the rear. With all the parts cut and fit, turn your attention to the second run of mouldings. IMG_1378The process is the identical, but the angles are reversed. When both sides of the mouldings are fit, use spring clamps to hold a run in position as you prepare to attach the pieces to the hood. Working with the arched piece of moulding, add a thin bead of glue to the back face, then position it to the hood and to the short straight piece that is clamped in place. A few #23-gauge pins hold everything as t he glue sets. Work from there to the return, then repeat the same steps to install the second run of mouldings.

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Circle-cut Moldings

High_Res ScrollI’ve returned to the Egerton tall clock this week to begin work on the hood moldings. Due to the dial design selected, this clock has a circular molding that is cut at an angle to fit to straight runs before it turns back the sides of the hood. I’m beginning with the arched section because it’s easier to produce a match when working on the straight runs, than it is to work up a perfect match on the arched section after the straight stock is made.

For this operation, I find it best to use my router along with a circle-cutting jig. You find the radius of the cut, which changes with each router bit used as you make the profile, then swing the setup as you make your cuts. IMG_1128For this clock, because there is a small added inlaid piece up the center of the hood, the arched molding is divided. That allows me to set up the stock as a pair of pieces instead a single piece with the entire arch cut. This translates into stronger moldings because there is no short grain where the piece can easily break.

In the photo above, you can see the setup. I have my router attached to a shop-made circle-cutting jig and yes, that is a drill bit I’m using as a pivot – no right-sized dowel in the shop. (Make do with what you have.) In the photo I’ve made the first pass, creating the thumbnail profile along the top edge of the molding. The workpieces are held with double-stick tape, as is the pivot platform.

The trick to this work is to properly set your router and the length of the jig to cut exactly where you need to produce the profile.IMG_1129 To do just that you need to accurately measure for the hole location (pivot point) on your jig. As you can see in the left-hand photo, you don’t need to be centered of your jig. As long as the measurement from the pivot to the correct edge of your router bit is right, your cut will be in the correct location. There are times when you’ll set to the far side of the bit and times when you use the near side to cut your profile.  Once determined, I use a bird cage awl to start my hole so the drill bit stays put as I drill. It takes some time to get the position just right, but it can be done.

IMG_1131The results are great if you use the correct router bits and get the setups just right. In the right-hand photo you can see the results of three passes using the setup. The first was the thumbnail. For the second cut I used a round-nose bit. The third cut was with a straight bit and it was simply to clear the material for the subsequent passes.

It was after the third pass that I realized I had used the wrong round-nose router bit. The width of the round-bottom trench was too wide for the profile as I had it drawn. You know what that means, right. Yep, start over. I’ll choose the right bits this time, and I think I’ll re-design the molding somewhat; I wasn’t thrilled with how it was coming out. Also, because it is time-consuming to accurately position the jig, I’ll switch to my Micro Fence circle-cutting jig which allows me way more accuracy as I work.

That’s my Sunday (another day in the shop, yeah). What are you planning?

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Hollows & Rounds – No Way

IMG_0339In woodworking, joinery and casework are important. But just as in life, the devil is in the details. Great casework without strong moldings leaves the project lacking. This is especially true on tall case clocks. The hood’s scroll moldings dominate a clock, but it’s the other moldings that carry ones eye upward to the hood. Poorly designed base-to-waist moldings or shabby cove moldings used to support the hood can destroy the line of a tall clock.

Of the “other” moldings on clocks,  the base-to-waist cove on tall case clocks, due to the thumbnail edge detail, is a difficult molding to reproduce using power tools – you cannot add the thumbnail using round-over router bits as that would require that you invert your molding as it runs past the bit. It is with this molding that I most often thought that I may benefit with a set of hollows and rounds, handplanes specifically designed to produce moldings.

IMG_0330With all this in mind, I set out to find an easy way to make the moldings for my clock using power tools. The first step was to sketch the design I was after. Because I needed to move out 1 5/8″ and up 2″ I decided to use a 30/60/90 triangle design. The two parallel lines in my rather crude drawing represent the 3/4″ thickness of my workpiece. The thumbnail is oriented as it fits to the clock case. After I had the design drawn to scale, I transferred the profile to the ends of my milled stock.


The next step was to setup my table saw to make the cove cut. I set my blade height to match the arc of the drawn cove then skewed the fence so the blade entered and exited the cut at the two points of my profile (shown in the insert photo). Above you can see the long fence as it is skewed to produce the cove that I needed.

IMG_0334Take a look at the end results as the pieces are complete at the table saw. My cove is offset to one edge of the stock. It is this beefier edge that becomes the thumbnail area. With my fence back in use, I set the blade angle to 30 degrees. My first cut was with the stock standing vertical to my fence and the cove facing the fence. This removed the extra material at the top, back edge so my molding fit tight to the waist of the clock. A second cut, with my cove facing up, produced the flat area that fit to the top edge of the base section. Below you can see the results.


Next I moved to my router table to form the thumbnail. As I mentioned above, you cannot use a round-over bit to make the thumbnail unless you run your stock inverted and you have the router bit set extremely high above your table. It’s dangerous and I do not suggest you work that way. Instead, look at other router bits you have at hand. I have a 1/2″ bead bit that is perfect for this operation. In the photo below you see how I have the bit set to cut using only the top half of the profile. You also see a neat trick when you do not have a fence that offsets.

Insert 2

Calculate the amount of material removed as you make your cut, then on the out-feed side of your fence, clamp a scrap that is sized to the exact thickness. As the cut is made, your molding runs tight to the scrap and is supported throughout the cut.

A little light clean-up work and my new cove molding was ready to fit to the clock. I mitered the two corners then added a small bead along the top edge to complete the profile shown in the opening photo. While this takes some calculations to get the profile to perfectly fit into position, it is way faster than making the molding with hollows and rounds.


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Moulding Tips

Any piece of furniture looks best with proper mouldings – be it waist mouldings, base mouldings or the most important crown mouldings. Crown mouldings can be as simple as a flat-cut, angled design as on my adapted Shaker Press Cupboard from “Fine Furniture for a Lifetime” (Popular Woodworking Books), or a complex assembly such as found on the Canadian Step-back Cupboard in the same book (shown on the right). Installation of these mouldings can sometimes be laborious and/or tricky. With this post, I thought I would share a few tips to make sure your moulding work is easy.

First, take a look at the poplar spacer in the photo below. In working on a three-stage crown moulding, I need my thin, lower moulding to extend beyond the cove just the right amount, at least to my eye. With two pieces of scrap cut to 1-1/8″ in width (an estimated width), I can balance the first moulding in place then fit the cove to the case. Not happy with the look, I shaved an 1/8″ off each piece and took another look. Those spacers keep me from having to mark up my case with lines that need to be sanded away. I made three changes before deciding on the location. I ended up with a 3/4″ spacer. Spacers also hold pieces in position as you work to wrap the mouldings around the case.

It's always a good thing to wrap mouldings around your case. Here the end piece was a cut-off from the front. By wrapping it around the corner, you have a nice match in grain and finish.

Another tip is to use spring clamps to hold your cove in place as you fit pieces. I set my miter saw to 45 degrees to the right and leave it there throughout the job. Begin with the left-hand piece as the case sits on its top  – upside down is the easiest way to install crown mouldings (as shown in my photos). Make your miter-saw cut with the piece upside down and backward, then position it to your case. (Because you can trim the length anytime, keep the piece extra long.)

The front piece of cove is next to fit. Make your saw cut with the cove right-side up, or so the bottom edge is down to your miter saw table and fence. It takes a bit of balance to make this cut. If you lean the moulding out or back, you influence the cut – that is something you can use to your benefit to tweak your fit as you gain experience. Position the front cove to your case by matching the angle-cut ends, add spring clamps to hold everything in place then mark and cut the second end of your front cove. Finally, fit the remaining end and trim the lengths to size.

My last tip for mouldings is to glue end grain as you assemble pieces. Most woodworkers forget this step, but it really adds strength to your stacked mouldings. Below is what I’m working on with most mouldings in place. There is one more piece to add to the works. It’s a frieze moulding that is centered between the bottom edge of the crown moulding and the edge of the door opening. I’m sure you’ll see the finished piece somewhere down the road.

If you have a simple trick to cut or install mouldings, please add it to the comment section below. Any help is appreciated.

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Filed under Power Tools, Shop Tips