18th-century Reflections

0508mirrorMake a classic mahogany looking glass by hand.

by Joshua Klein
page 40

Even before the days of Facebook and selfies, Americans were undeniably conscious of self-image. In both Europe and America, the 18th-century genteel elite kept specialized accessories for maintaining appearance. Among the most important of these was a reflective mirror. Because these “looking glasses” were typically heavily ornamented with elaborate fretwork and gilded carvings, the looking glass itself has become an icon of refinement.

This looking glass is based on a piece sold at Skinner Auctioneers in 2014. What drew me to this example in particular is that it is a vernacular expression of a form often punctuated by excessive ornamentation. It’s charming because it reveals the maker’s obvious awareness of high-style fashion but intentional artistic restraint.

Traditionally, mouldings were stuck in long lengths (8′ or more) with moulding planes, then miters were cut along the length to ensure consistency of the profiles at the corners.

As much as we all may appreciate the efficiency of wooden moulding planes, not every woodworker has access to properly tuned ones. But is there another way to cut custom profiles simply, efficiently and inexpensively? There is: Just scratch them.

Using a scratch stock is a straightforward method for making elegant custom moulding profiles without fancy tools.

Blog: Read Joshua Klein’s blog to find out more about his work (and coastal Maine).
Video: Megan Fitzpatrick shows you how to use a scratch stock. 
Plan: Download a free SketchUp model of this project.
Web: Visit the author’s furniture restoration web site.
In Our Store: “Building an 18th-century Jointer Plane,” a video by Bill Anderson.

From the August 2015 issue

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Popular Woodworking Magazine August 2015 Cover