Episode #37: Entertainment Center Molding

Note: All of my old podcast videos have been moved to my YouTube channel.  You can now watch this video here:


7 thoughts on “Episode #37: Entertainment Center Molding

  1. Excellent video Bob. The use of live action and SketchUp really clarifys the principles involved.

    When you are designing the mouldings are you conscious of the planes you have available or do you design to suit the piece and work out how to cut it later?


    • Thanks Simon! I actually do both. I first design the molding proportions to suit the piece I’m working on. Then I go back and see how the radii of the curves suit my molding planes. At this point, I’ll make minor changes to the individual components that make up the profile. I have a half set of H&R, so the radii of my planes graduate in 8ths of an inch. There are times when it would be nice to have the odd numbers in between (i.e. the 16ths of an inch), but I make do.

      I find it’s more important to get the overall size of the molding proportionate to the piece rather than the individual components of the profile. Once I have the overall size, I then break it up proportionally into individual components within the molding stock constraints. If the sizes of the curves don’t match my planes, I’ll make minor tweaks to make them do so, or at least get really close. You’d be amazed at how doing something as simple as changing a fillet 1/16″ will affect the radii of the other curves in the molding. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Other times, I have to make one curve slightly bigger and another slightly smaller. Still others I change the overall profile all together because I simply can’t make the profile I wanted fit the space and tools I have and still be visually balanced.

      This is where you will hear a lot of design folks (e.g. George Walker) talk about using proportions as a tool or a guide, but not holding yourself strictly to them. I like to let the proportions guide me close, but then let my eye finish the job.

  2. Bob, having seen all of your videos, including this one, and having read all of your articles, I would highly recommend you write a book about building furniture with hand tools, or the use of hand tools in building things with wood. You have many pearls of wisdom to impart and I think it would sell well as they say.

    I think one thing (not the only thing) that comes across strongly to me as I read your articles, and view your videos, is the economy factor. You have a way of reducing the tools needed down to what I would call the economy mode. I can’t emphasis enough how important that is for woodworking in any economy, but especially in our current economy. If you haven’t already started such a book, I would greatly encourage you to write such a book.

    Thanks Bob,


    • Thanks Dean. I have thought about it, and I do have an idea for a book I’d like to write someday. Now is not the time though. I know what kind of time drain writing a book can be. My kids are 4 and 6½ right now and still interested in doing things with Dad. Dedicating time to writing a book would take me away from that, and I’m just not willing to miss that. Perhaps in a few years when hanging out with Dad isn’t cool anymore I can get started :).

      • Having two daughters myself, I can appreciate what you’re saying. A thought: Books have been written from notes that have been taken over the years. Please keep taking those notes!

  3. A small question. The astragal has a 180 degree arc but the hollow has only a 60 degree arc so how do you get a smooth transition when building the 180 arc from 60 degree arcs? I understand that the hollow rides on points but when I switch from one side of the astragal to the other I always seem to get a scratch in the middle.

    • Randall,
      I sharpen my molding planes like a smoothing plane, so that when they are set up to take a really fine cut, the corners of the iron are buried in the throat. I know this is contradictory to how Old Street Tool/Clark & Williams and Matt Bickford sharpen, but for curves that are greater than 60 degrees, I find it beneficial for finishing the profile and making that transition around a larger arc.

      Basically, when the iron is set up for a normal cut, the entire profile is exposed and matches the sole radius almost perfectly; so close in fact that you really wouldn’t notice that it’s not a 100% perfect match. However, when I retract the iron a little for a thinner finishing cut, the corners of the iron are pulled back into the throat and do not project below the sole of the plane, just like a smoothing plane set for a really thin cut. With this arrangement, I can then hold the plane at different angles along the arc to smooth out the transition between parts of the larger curve. In addition, because the outside edges of the iron aren’t cutting in this arrangement, the outside of the sole acts as a depth stop and prevents the plane from cutting too deep.

      I’m not sure if this iron arrangement was traditional or not. It seems to work well for me though. Tod Herrli talks about it in his DVD on making hollows & rounds and it is the way I have always sharpened these planes. I’ll get around to doing a podcast on tuning up H&R planes the way I do sometime after WIA.

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