How to create custom moldings with handplanes
Make your own moldings, from simple to complex, with hollow and round planes
Synopsis: The secret to producing any molding profile, no matter how complex, is having the right molding planes and knowing how to use them. Matthew Bickford makes molding planes in Connecticut and knows the ins and outs of how to cut convex and concave surfaces using hollow and round planes. Here, he breaks down several profiles to show exactly how it’s done.
It’s a common quandary: You get 95% of the way through building a piece of furniture, having safely navigated wood selection, milling, joinery, and assembly, only to get stuck at the end on the molding. Despite having a seemingly limitless collection of router bits and shaper knives, you don’t have the means to produce the exact molding you have in mind. So you compromise and make a molding that’s roughly similar to what you really want. But compromising on molding profiles is unnecessary if you have the ideal tools: hollow and round planes.
All molding, even the most complex, is only a series of convex, concave, and flat sections. A single pair of hollow and round planes affords the opportunity to make dozens of these shapes. Add a second pair of planes and the number of possible molding profiles rises into the hundreds. With a larger collection of hollows and rounds, you can make any profile you want.
Once you’ve learned how to cut simple concave and convex sections, you’ll have what you need to move on to more complex moldings.
Guiding hollows and rounds
Hollow and round planes have no fence and no depth stop. This would seem to make them difficult to steer. And it’s true the likelihood of balancing a hollow or round on the corner of a board and producing an acceptable molding profile is, conservatively, 0%. To cope…