I was in Newport, RI the last few days for a Lie-Nielsen Handtool Event. When I am at these shows I'm often asked about the relevance of the tools that I make in today's shops. The answers always seem clear to me. I'll take this opportunity to show you.
A chest of drawers without the moulding is just, well, a chest of drawers. By adding the profiled shapes around the edges we are able to manipulate that rectangular chest into a piece of work that commands attention from the other side of the room. Why do we let today's router bit manufacturers dictate what those edges are going to be? After all, we don't do that with dovetails anymore and they're hidden.
With the planes on my bench I can make everything that occurs along a straight surface, regardless of shape. A moulding, any moulding, is just a combination of convex, concave and flat edges. That's exactly what these planes make. These planes allow you to make what you want, not what you have.
This weekend I was asked the sharp follow up question: "So I can make everything I see in Home Depot?" I shyly responded that I actually couldn't make the new profiles you often see because they've been flattened out to fit in thinner material. The ogees have been squashed. The curves have been reduced. The elegance has been withdrawn.
"Can you show me what you mean?"
Here I go.
I made this moulding during the slower times at my bench throughout the show.
Here are the steps:
#10 hollow followed by #6 hollow.
Here is the present day equivalent (the bottom portion) that I cannot make with my planes. I found this in my hotel room Thursday night.
You'll notice that there are significantly fewer shadows.
(The paper may have been hung upside down, but I'm no expert.)