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Book review - 'Mouldings in Practice'

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Cheshirechappie

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'Mouldings in Practice' by Matthew Sheldon Bickford continues the trend being set at Lost Art Press for producing high quality books of diverse, informative and thought-provoking content. The book itself is beautifully produced, a cloth-bound hardback with sewn pages; it will not fall apart the second time you read it.

The author covers the making of mouldings using hollows and rounds, supplemented by snipes bills and side round planes. The main thrust of the work, however, is the use of rebate and plough planes to remove the bulk of the waste, and to create guiding rebates and chamfers for the hollows and rounds, thus making the task of steering these planes easier, and reducing the amount of waste they have to remove. He shows how a great variety of mouldings may be cut by using comparatively few planes. He shows how to lay out a moulding, and the sequence of work required to successfully complete it. There are copious sequential diagrams showing the steps required. He also discusses the sharpening of simple moulding plane irons, and how to return antique planes to use (the difficulties he had in getting good results from antique planes led the author to make new planes). Workholding, and the use of 'sticking boards' is discussed. There is a short chapter on correcting mistakes and 'cheats' worth knowing. There are several appendices discussing the work required to produce the mouldings for 8 historical pieces of furniture.

The book does not cover the use of complex moulding planes, the working of curved mouldings, or the strategies to work harder woods or cross-grain mouldings. The different bedding angles of moulding plane irons, and the reasons for using those different bedding angles, are not discussed.

At about £28 plus postage, this is not a cheap book. However, the information it contains is not widely available, and despite the omissions, would be a valuable addition to any hand tool worker's library. The author's writing style is simple, direct and accessible, and the illustrations generally clear and informative (one or two of the photographs are slightly unclear, but these are exceptions). Using the information in this book, any moderately competent woodworker will be able to produce a wide range of mouldings using a fairly small kit of planes. Whilst not a book for the out-and-out beginner, I have no hesitation in recommending this book as a useful and interesting addition to any developing woodworker's library.

In the UK, the book is available from Classic Hand Tools; the LAP blog suggests that Axminster Power Tool Centre may be stocking it in due course.
 

AndyT

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I agree with all of that!

Although I have 'several' old books on woodworking that touch on the use of hand planes to make mouldings, none of them really covers the subject very much, and most of them follow a slightly different technique to the one Matt Bickford advocates. Being thorough, he describes this technique in a chapter called "The Dark Side" - but his way is better.

To my mind, it's a positive thing that people like Matt are teaching woodworkers that hand tools are highly effective and practical. The only downside is that good quality moulding planes sold on eBay are going up in price - at least they do when the seller offers shipping to the USA.

For anyone who wants to see what they would be getting in the book, you can download a sample chapter from the Lost Arts Press blog here.
 

jimi43

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Thank you CC...very kind of you to take time out to write this excellent review.

I am sorely tempted to get this book...maybe another one to add to my Christmas wish list!

I had better accelerate my acquisition of H&R Gabriels now! :wink:

Jim
 

bugbear

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There's a decent illustrated outline of the process in Bernard Jones' 4 volume "Practical Woodworker", circa 1930.

Only 3 pages though.

BugBear
 

AndyT

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bugbear":17osqip2 said:
There's a decent illustrated outline of the process in Bernard Jones' 4 volume "Practical Woodworker", circa 1930.

Only 3 pages though.

BugBear
Indeed there is - I've just been and looked at it. It somewhat unhelpfully does not show any picture of a plane being used, or even comment on what planes are needed. (One example would need a side round, which are comparatively uncommon.)

The method shown in Jones is the one Matt Bickford covers in his chapter on the 'dark side' and is harder to do. It shows hollows being used along a single arris and rounds being used along a flat chamfer.

The method shown in Matt Bickford's book (and on his blog, which will tell you almost as much as the book, for free) is that a hollow will always work along two arrises and that a round will always work in the internal angle of a rebate. The difference is that having two guide lines makes 'steering' automatic and gives a clear visual indication of when the cut has finished (a hollow cut will make a single, wide shaving instead of two narrow ones; a round will give a full-width shaving.)

To me, that difference felt like a rediscovery of a technique which must once have been widely known but had dropped out of the collective memory, and I thought I'd support him by buying a copy of his book.
 

custard

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I really enjoyed this book, contains a mine of practical information that is clearly presented.

Let's hope Lost Art Press continues publishing such worthwhile books.
 
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