scratch-stock moldings

scratching a molding
scratching a molding
Recently Mike Wenzloff asked about scratch stock use in seventeenth-century work…and as it happens the next step I needed to do on part of the cupboard I’m working on was a couple of moldings. Some type of molding cutter (in addition to molding planes) was in use in the period, although I have never seen a documentary reference to one.  Many chests show a molding that runs out between the junctures of the mortise-and-tenon joints. I had my apprentice from this past summer, Bryan MacIntyre make a white oak chest. I  showed him how to run a molding like this. On this photo, it shows up in the background, the inside face of the chest. You couldn’t acheive this molding with a plane.
carved front rail, molding inside chest
carved front rail, molding inside chest
I make mine from leftover stock given to me by Mark Atchison, a blacksmith I work with. I file the shape, mount it in an oak handle, and go right to it. I try to flatten and polish the face of the cutter, but don’t usually bother with honing with stones, etc. – but stoning the blade would make it cut longer between filing. Nice straight oak helps make the moldings go easier, the high moisture content is helpful as well. this stock was planed just a few weeks ago, still very wet…
newest scratch stock and moldings
newest scratch stock and moldings

3 thoughts on “scratch-stock moldings

  1. Most excellent! Thank you Peter.

    The chest Bryan did the molding on. Wonderful optical illusion in that by leading in and out like that makes it appear to be a gentle curve. Very nice. I’ll have to borrow that treatment for something.

    I asked the question–which would have been better asked if molding planes had been in use in the 17th century. As I thought about my question after posting, I would have assumed that scratch stocks predate “formal” molding planes. You answered both the asked and unasked question. Thank you.

    Though I have some 18th century and many 19th century molding planes, I have often used simple scratch stocks altogether. Too, I have made scratch stocks to compliment a couple of my molding planes simply because the junctures of elements can be made much finer by the addition of the scratch stock.

    What got me started mulling this over was Zea’s small book on the Hadley chests. While the dates on some pieces dip into the 17th cent., most it seems are early 18th century. Some of the moldings are large and seem would be done by plane while some are smaller and less “precise” and seem perhaps scratch stocks were used.

    Nice profile, btw.

    Thank you again, Peter.

    Take care, Mike

  2. Don

    Yes, it can be done like a cabinet scraper’s edge, but like I said, I usually just file it & start scraping. The wood I use is pretty green, so cuts easily. A true burnished edge like a cabinet scraper will take more time to establish, but will cut very well. Diligent craftsman will get good results that way.

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