“small panel” molded decoration, pt. 2

Well, I told you this was a practice piece. yesterday was one of those afternoons when all craft skills evaded me. But I can show you the steps to finish the so-called “small panel” decoration. Just not a neat job of it. This first photo is using the same molding cutter, now mounted to scrape the profile on the edges of a thin strip (1/4″ or less in thickness) to be cut into the inserts.

edge molding a strip for inserts

Holding that thin strip is tricky. I simply nailed it down to a piece of scrap pine. That gets it up high enough to clear the fence portion of the scratch stock. Cutting the first two miters on a blank is easy – there’s a length of material to hold. I got this miter box from Jennie Alexander umpteen years ago, tried to sell it. No dice, but glad now I didn’t get rid of it.

miter box

Once those two miters are cut, I lay the piece in place, and scribe its length based on the distance between two rows of molding. Ideally, it’s the same from row to row. Mine aren’t. They’re close. When I do a box front like this for keeps, I’d cut up a number of blanks and scribe all the housings in one pass. I was going back & forth for the photos & videos I was shooting. So a bit clunky and inefficient.

scribing the length

I didn’t shoot photos of cutting the 2nd set of miters, on a piece that’s now about 1″ to 1 1/4″ long. Hard to hold that little devil in the miter box. I fumbled around with a couple of options using clamps. Too cumbersome. Finally just pinned it in place with my left hand and LIGHTLY sawed. Key word is lightly. Any extra pressure shifts the blank aside & ruins the miter. Next, I used a square to line it up, as preparation for scribing its placement.

squared up

Make sure it doesn’t shift on this next step either, scribing its edges and miters.

more scribing

Then comes the chisel work. Chopping down to sever the fibers. I’m working inside my scribed lines. I’ll sneak up to them.

chisel work, pt 1

Now, bevel down. chop out the waste. Some back & forth with chopping down into the fibers, then cutting out the waste.

stock removal

Once you’ve got that bottom flattened out, and all the bits removed it’s time to cut to the scribed lines. Set the chisel right on the line, and chop it.

last cuts

It will take some practice to get to the point where I can cut the inserts spot-on, then the housing ditto. But this shot gives you the concept of alternating these faux muntins to divide up the rows of moldings.

starting to see the pattern

In many cases, it seems that these mini-panel frames were painted black. To me, that seems to defeat the effect of the molding. But it does hide a multitude of sins. Here’s a chest of drawers I made back about 2002, showing that black paint scheme. (the low light in that room is giving the black that blue cast…) Paint might save yesterday’s efforts, but I still think I’ll do it over.

(pt 4 Essex County cupboard project 2021)

Carving the Lozenge panel

Daniel & I worked out editing the first video of panel carving to accompany the sets of drawings. This panel is one I have never carved on video before, nor have I covered it in print.

When I shoot these, I’m the camera-person as well as the carver. That means I get to ruin things two different ways. I shot these in late July, and here two-plus months later, I found out that for one section the camera was not in focus. So when I get to the free-hand stuff outside the diamond, there’s not much detail about what I’m doing. But I think you can see it pretty well. I was very happy with raking light across this one. So much so that we only used the views from one camera. It’s long, like most of my videos so far. If you make it to the end, or scoot through to the end, there’s a gallery of about 4 variations on the pattern.

I still have copies of the drawings for sale – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

Working now on set # 2 – I’ll keep you posted when they’re coming along.

scribe lines

scribed layout on face of chest
joinery scribed on face of chest

A reader asked about the scribe lines I left showing on some carving recently. In seventeenth-century work, I find them running the gamut, from scribed on the face of a piece, such as the chest front above, to being barely if at all discernable. It is quite rare to not see some scribe lines somewhere on the piece…

In thinking about why the layout for the joinery is on the face of this stock, I have worked on the notion that it helps to transfer the layout from one rail to its mate, or one stile to its mate, etc. Thus hold two mating pieces edge-to-edge, and then transfer the lines right across the faces. Then carry them across the edges with a square and awl.  And yet I can’t then explain why this chest (below, from the same shop as above)  laid them out on the front face, and the inside face too…

scribed layout on inside face of chest

While I have this file open, here is some carving from one of these chests, and its scribed layout is still visible on the face of the carving. Some of it is hard to pick out, but the margins, compass-work, and three vertical lines that divide the panel into four segments vertically…as well as the lines struck across the panel to locate the compass’ leg for centerpoints for arcs.

carved panel, with layout scribed

scribed lines carving
detail of scribed lines for carving

Back to the one that started this line of thought, here is a detail from the pews from Totnes, Devon. The scribed lines are faint, but there are three horizontal lines struck here; a centerline, and an upper & lower line to locate the arches of the motif.

carved panel, Totnes pews

There’s lots more, usually we find mortise gauge lines, alignment marks in the form of triangles and/or arrows, and chisel-and-gouge-cut marks to identify & dedicate mortises and tenons. I’m glad they left them there, it’s like a road map for me. Makes my job easier.