Editor's note: This is a guest blog post from Charles Murray, an experienced period furniture maker based in central Ohio and instructor at the Artisans Guild.
A few weeks ago I needed to make 7’ of casing for a house built in 1903. At the time of the home's construction, moldings were machine-made and there was an ever expanding catalog of profiles from manufacturers throughout the country. 115 years ago I could have picked this up at the local mill or hardware store, but not today.
Although a cutter could have been ground for a Stanley 55, a simpler solution was to make a cutter for my Scratch Stock holder. In the first photo below, you can see the best use for those cheap saws that every garage sale has. I have marked it with layout fluid in preparation of grinding the profile. I have a sample of the molding and will scratch the profile directly onto the cutter from that. After using a grinder and some files, I have shaped the profile and installed it in the holder (you can also see another cutter made from an old band saw blade).
After preparing the stock, I start cutting the profile. I generally put hash marks on the board, across the grain, to judge my progress. Because I was using poplar (not the best wood to scratch a profile into), it took about 15 minutes per side. Because of the way I filed the cutter, it left a track for the hollow, which created the pulvinated (soft convex) area in the middle.
All told it took about 40 minutes to shape the molding. You will never put the home center out of business doing it this way; however it would take a lot longer to just to go through router bit catalogs just to find out that they don't even have anything close to what you need.
- Charles Murray
Charles is teaching a class on scratch stocks on August 17. Students will grind and file their own profiles and then learn how to cut molding using the tool. Registration is open.