Monday, September 14, 2009

Mouldings and Miters

Heritage Door Update

I had a pretty productive weekend here in the wood shop. I managed to get all of the main door panel mouldings made as well as mitering them for a dry fit. I also picked up the glass for the opening and was happy to find it perfectly fit the recess I had made. The mouldings came first and that's where I'll begin...
The first thing I needed to consider when starting the mouldings is that the panels are not centered within the doors thickness; they're slightly set proud to the front for some reason (if I had a time machine I'd be able to ask someone) and the exterior of the door to the interior profiles will be slightly different. The profiles themselves will be the same but the back of each moulding and how it sits in relation with the door frame will be different. I began with the front ones for no reason other than the door was lying on it's back and the less I need to move this thing around the better!
I have to cut this back rabbet before the front profiles because if I were to cut the profiles first and then try to plane a rabbet into the back, holding them in place would be next to impossible. I should also mention that each panel moulding is taken from one piece of stock for grain continuity and the miters are run from one end of the stock to another working my way around the panel perimeter. Again this is purely aesthetic to create a nice flow in the wood grain. The main door panel stock was also cut this way to keep the grain consistant throughout; one of the benefits of custon work I suppose.

I used my skew rabbet and shoulder planes to establish the first rear rabbet of the pieces and then turn them over to lay out the 'steps' to create the moulding profile. When we look at the curves of the profile we can determine these series of steps required to remove the bulk of the waste. It's funny when I used to think of moulding planes and the work they do but the reality of making the mouldings, the actual moulding planes are only used at the end of the process. Kind of putting the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Again, it's a series of skew rabbet plane to the shoulder plane or the skew angle block to the shoulder depending on grain direction. In the following shot you can see I've already established the rear rabbet and have created these 'steps' to follow...

I went ahead and brought all four pieces to this stage before introducing the moulding planes. This speeds up the process of 'sticking mouldings' by performing each of these 'pre' steps before moving on to the hollowing and rounding over.

From here it's time to get out my moulding planes and round over these steps in the Oak. You may remember my ealier blog about these planes; Phil Edwards from Philly Planes made them for me and before today I had only run some test pieces on some poplar scrap. I'm happy to say that the planes worked perfectly! This White Oak is a great test for the Beech planes and they exceeded expectations. Comfortable and accurate a few people commented on the fact that Phils wedges are not tapered and wondered how they would perform in a harder wood. Well anyone out there thinking about some moulding planes I can't say enough...they're great!

I should also mention that just prior to taking the first cuts with the moulding planes I ran down the edges of these 'steps' with my small block plane to relieve the corners. After watching Don McConnell's video on Molding Techniques he suggested doing this step to elongate the life of the moulding plane sole. Makes perfect sense right?
With the four mouldings shaped (still a little rough but they'll get a final smoothing once they're mitered) I'll get set up for the mitering process. I used my old Stanley miter hook back when I did a test run for these pieces but since then I received my Bad Axe Saws. The only issue with my Stanley miter box is it wouldn't fully support the back saw due to some warping in the metal bracket of the antique bench top appliance. It works o.k. but the plate that holds the saw firmly is slightly bent and these miters I want to be damn near perfect.

Instead of spending my Saturday afternoon setting up this vintage hand tool appliance, I instead decided to quickly make a miter box out of some 1" poplar I had. Nothing fancy, I simply glued and nailed two fences to a bottom piece and carefully sawed in the 45 degree kerfs. These need to be dead on accurate so take your time if you make your own. This one is about 11" long, and just wide enough to handle the largest moulding stock on this perticular project. The length of the jig is random because it was the off cut I had...

Speaking of bench top appliances, my shooting board with it's miter hook attachment and my dedicated No. 9 is all I'll need to take the slightest shavings while I fit the mouldings to the panels.

My bench top 'clutter' is feeling great from the miter box to the shooting board I work my way through the pieces.

When I shaped the mouldings I tried my best to keep the profiles consistant from one end of the stock to the other but any slight discreprency will be magnified once the miters are cut. I'm happy with the results and only have some minor areas to balance out. This will be done with some sand paper and a shop made sanding plane. This is essentially a scrap piece of wood cut with the same size mouldings planes to create a matching round. The scrap is then wrapped with some 220 grit sandpaper and attached by way of a thin slot and a wooden cleat. I'll be able to work any of these questionable areas down using this method and this jig. Thank fully, as mentioned they look pretty good right off my shooting board so I didn't have to do much sanding...
Here's an illustration by Jim Richey taken from an article I did for Fine Woodworking Magazine awhile back showing you how to build a convex sanding plane:

From here I dry fit the pieces going back and forth from the door to the shooting board, taking the finest shavings to achieve that perfect fit. When the four panels are wrapped in their new Oak borders I'll go ahead and remove them being careful to label each piece as I go.
All the time it took to insure the continuity of the wood grain, gracefully flowing around each of the panels could be lost if I mixed up the pieces at this point. On Sunday I got in a crew of helpers (my wife and I)and turned the door over...this same process was followed and the back panels are also ready to go. They didn't get the rear rabbets in the back but simply live within the frames, sitting flush with the panels. From here it's on to the main window surrounds...

Stay tuned.