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.
Not every molding that you see on a period piece of furniture was made with a plane. The use of scratch stocks for making small shallow moldings has been around for centuries and the practice continues today. After all, if you just need five or ten feet of molding of a small profile, there is no more economical or safer way to produce it. Although it’s an easy and simple way of making moldings, many woodworkers are not familiar with this practice.
I was introduced to this method years ago when I read about it in a magazine. The article was about beading using a SLOTTED screw and a block of wood. The size of the screw head (#12 or 14 works great) along with how far the screw sticks out determines the size of the bead. The slot of the screw must point down into the wood as you draw it along the edge. After it has cut as deep as possible, you then take a block plane and round over the outside edge. A little 240 grit blends it all together.
If you look at Jacobean, William and Mary, and with Queen Ann furniture, you will undoubtedly see small moldings that were made efficiently using nothing more than a filed piece of spring steel and a wooden holder. You could say that these took the place of a Mutiplane during the 17th and 18thcentury. After all, it was one holder and several “bits” that made these moldings possible. A scratch stock works better with harder wood over softer woods. It also works better than a router with figured woods such as Tiger Maple.
Consider using scratch stocks the next time you need a few feet of molding and you have to run out a buy a router bit.
- 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 a molding using the tool. Registration is open.