Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dunlap Tall Case Clock, Hollows, Rounds and a Trick for Crown Molding

This is going to be a good one, I promise...

Most of the time when using molding planes on square stock you want the grain leaning in this direction. (Starting at the top right and finishing on the bottom left.)
This allows the planes to travel with the grain on both planes when planing at an angle.

When I work a larger crown I change my ideal grain to the following. (Again, traveling from the top right to bottom left.)

The reason for this is that I don't like using wide planes at 90 degrees to the floor. I find it very difficult to be accurate with these larger planes pressed this way. Orienting the grain like the second photo allows me, when working a 90 degree arc, to put my weight on top of the plane for the entire profile. I work half the profile to completion and then flip the stock over to work the other half.
Working on top of the plane increases accuracy. Additionally, if your bench is like Big Pink, it prevents that inevitable belly flop that will occur when the bench dogs fail. Belly flops produce very bad results, trust me.

I know what you are asking: "what's with the 11" of crown?"

I won't lie, Table saw

#16 round, flip it, #16 round


#8 round, one at a time

Rabbet followed by #6 round

Rabbet followed by #6 hollow

Using the tracing paper trick that Chuck Bender of The Acanthus Workshop taught me and my Kindergarten teacher did not, lay out a dog tooth

Cut, scrape and...


This molding is much more impressive when it's wrapped around an incredible piece and not made out of glued up poplar. Ladies and Gentlemen, again, Don Boule...

Do you want to see the rest of this clock? Are you interested in Don's piece or reading more about Dunlap furniture? Here's a great book with a lot of measured drawings.

One last thing, I started using Patrick Edwards' Old Brown Glue years ago. If you haven't used it, get some. It's easy to use, it can be easily reversed, it dries quickly, it's solid, I glued all of those miters above in the 7 minutes leading up to those pictures.


  1. Matt you are the man!!!! Them numbers on the drawings are just what I needed. Down to the pit and see if I can duplicate the moldings. Thanks very much for them. Thanks also for the post. John

  2. Thanks for the post. I look forward to each one. Now all I need is the time to try some of this great info out.

    Gary Newland

  3. Great blog. This is the sort of information that needs to be published. I do have a question though. How do you go about figuring out the dimensions of your plows? Depth? Width?I can do it if I draw it in AutoCAD but seems there is a better way. Or is this knowledge just gained with experiance?



  4. Hoss,

    The plow plane's iron needs to be thinner than the width of the round's iron so that it can ride both tips of the groove. The groove so shallow that it simply guides the plane for the first few passes as you establish the concave profile. It can be as deep as the curve.

    A deeper groove is better because you will then be able to use it as a depth gauge. A wide groove is also better because the plane will be steered more accurately.

    In this situation I used the iron that was in the plane and roughly adjusted the depth.

    I spent most of the time adjusting the fence so the grooves were centered.