my current arsenal for mouldings by hand

photo: Musings from Big Pink

I’ve been busy becoming learned…

I haven’t spent too much time in the shop lately. I’ve been too busy diving into my new copy of ‘Mouldings In Practice’ from LAP. When I wasn’t buried in this book, I was glued to ‘Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes’ from Lie-Nielsen. Both of these great resources, along with the tools and blades available at Lie-Nielsen, and some practice and sweat & tears, should give me the arsenal needed to create the moulding planes I desire. Eventually, leading me to my ultimate goal of mastering traditional hand cut mouldings.

Sidebar – As I get deeper into the hand tool world, I discover that this is truly where I belong. Not only do I have some strange desired to rid myself of power tools, but it is coming more apparent that I have an interest in the history surrounding the tools of this time. At this point, I have no desire to use another power tool for cabinetmaking. I have already said good-bye to many of them via my new friend Craig List. Just last week I sold my dovetail jig in favor of my carcase saw and chisels…and this trend continues…

‘Mouldings In Practice’

Off the top, we have what I consider the current best publisher in the business, Lost Art Press. Everything they put out turns to gold, and as you can tell, I am a huge fan. It’s not just about content they publish, but how they publish. This book comes from a printing press in Michigan, and the quality is top-notch. If only more stuff would come back to the U.S. so we could stop buying crap.

So yes, the book is beautifully made. It seems to be the perfect size for the content of the book. There are numerous figures in the book, as there should be. This size allows the figures to be displayed clearly without overwhelming the reader. For example, for larger or intricate mouldings, you may only have one or two figures on the page. This allows you as a reader to really focus in on the step in the creation of the moulding. The color scheme derived is awesome. It might seem weird, but after a while you start to see/imagine these colors automatically. The book is hardcover and to me is just flat perfect…sturdy and simple. The pages fit the bill as well.

The content is what really gets me excited about this book. The author takes you through the process of creating mouldings breaking them down step by step. He shows the basic steps required to do so, which enables you to be able to break down any moulding so that you could reproduce it. I do the same thing when I see furniture…figure out how it can be broken down into steps. As I was finishing the book, I got to the point where I could anticipate what the next step would be. In this way, it is more like a textbook. I don’t want to say too much without infringing on the author and the publisher…so just go buy the book!

If you are looking for an instructional book on how to create (or recreate) mouldings by hand, then you can’t go wrong with this book. There is no storyline here, except if you consider the steps part of a larger story which is the final moulding.

‘Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes’

I watched this DVD after I started reading ‘Mouldings In Practice’. This was a good thing, because I had somewhat of an idea what was going on. It certainly helps to have both of these resources. To know how to cut mouldings in addition to how the planes are made is a huge asset. I don’t think each by themselves would be as affective.

The DVD quality itself was not the greatest. I am not sure what year it was produced, but it definitely is not HD quality. This is disappointing as there is lots of detail in this video crucial to the outcome of making these planes. In addition, the host Larry Williams has some issue that was distracting to me. Throughout the entire video his hands were shaking. I am sure he has some type of medical issue, for which I do not fault him. However, there were times where I lost focus because of it. I must say though that it is amazing that he can build such beautiful planes with his condition…so I applaud him for that. I too have my issues that impact my work.

Larry Williams is what I would call a true master of the craft. His knowledge and skill come through in this video. He takes you on the journey as he builds a set of matching hollow and rounds. You can see how real he is when he is test fitting the wedge and bedding the iron. It is nice to see a video where the host experience real challanges…even for an expert such as himself.

I like the fact that they separated the video into chapters that are labeled appropriately. I can see myself going back to certain chapters in the video as needed. I do intend to make myself at least one pair, if not a half set of these planes. I will say that it is difficult to watch this video from beginning to end in one sitting…I fell asleep a couple of times.

The video is worth the cost as it takes you from the beginning to the very end of the process in making these planes. I feel that I could make these planes while following this video. This is the video that M.S.Bickford followed before he began creating his planes, and eventually authoring ‘Mouldings In Practice’…so why not me too?

I won’t be building a pair tomorrow, but they definitely are one of my biggest goals on this journey.

– JR

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