Tuesday, February 1, 2011

John Townsend Table Edge, Support Molding, Hollows & Rounds

I have been speaking to a customer that is in the process of producing John Townsend's famous chest.

He has asked for direction and tooling in regards to the table's edge and support molding. He sent drawings of the two profiles. (Apparently he is building one along side a friend. The drawings were executed by his friend and have bearing locations illustrated for a shaper cutter. I wonder who will be done with the molding first--me or the friend?)

Table's edge
Rabbet Plane

The Radius listed was 17/32". I got it close with a #8 (8/16 or 16/32") and then free handed a couple passes until I was near the profile I drew on both ends. Any slight facets can be scraped out.


The radius listed was 5/32". I got it close with a #4 (4/16 or 8/32). Again, facets will need to be scraped here. (we're talked 3 minutes with a scraper.)

Support Molding

Rabbet Plane followed by a Rabbet Plane (for clearance).  (The orange Rabbet with a plow plane/chisel then rabbet would probably be first if I sold a plow.)

Side Round followed by a #12. The Radius listed for the cove was 1", which equates to a #14. I thought I would be able to create enough clearance to get the plane in there. I was wrong. I actually needed to take a few passes using the side round at an angle to knock down some of the red section third from the left in an effort to get the 12 in there and use as few planes as possible. Again, any facets left by the 12 are just scraped out, they are minimal. 

#2 hollow and #4 round (4/16) to get close to the listed 5/16" radius. 

The Results

The lesson to be learned here is that you don't need to have a #5 to cut a 5/16 circle. You don't need a number 5.5 to cut an 11/32" circle. You can get very close by drawing the profile out on both ends and free handing it to completion What you see is off the plane, including the 1" radius cut with a 3/4" plane. 

That being said, I very often wish for a 1 and 3 hollow. 

Let's just hope the friend doesn't challenge me in seeing who can execute the carving first.


  1. Excellent post. You really sell it with the application on a real piece. My question is why didn't you use the #5 hollow? Was there not enough room for the #5?

    Jim Marsh

  2. Great question, Jim. I assume that you meant a #5 round for the cove in the support molding. I don't have a #5...hollow or round. A #5 would have been perfect there. A number 3 to cut the 5/32 radius on the table edge would have been preferred.

  3. Or just make the molding fit the tools on hand which would cause the profile to be 1/16 smaller but still look correct. Right?

    Great blog!

  4. That is so sweet!!! Could you put numbers to them 2 pieces of trim? My imagination needs to be waken up. Hopefully if you would have the time to make a print of it maybe my minds eye can see it better. Thanks in advance for your time. John

  5. John Hoffman,

    Certainly. That's what I would probably do. But I was after something specific.


  6. John,

    Are you looking for dimensions? If so, of what?

  7. Matt, I would like to see the thickness of your stock and the width. Actually all the deminsions of the rabbits and radiuses once would be a great way for me to put things in perspective. If I am the only one who is having trouble with this I am sorry. Thanks for getting back to me. John

  8. I like the use of color. Why not use spectral color order to delineate the order in which you make the cuts? (ROYGBIV) - or number the cuts. I’m having trouble visualizing where you cut first and then next, etc..

    These efforts of yours are much appreciated!

  9. Anonymous,
    I changed the rabbets to your liking. Once you start doing these it will become apparent what you want to do first. It takes a lot of effort to go the full depth of the rabbet 4 times. It doesn't take too much effort to cut wider rabbets. I cut the widest rabbet within the width of my rabbet plane first.