Furniture Details: Decorative Mouldings With Bite

Copyright Charles Bender 2014 - all rights reserved.

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company – All rights reserved.

When most people think about adding something to enhance crown mouldings on pieces of furniture, they turn instantly to dentil moulding. It’s easy to make because of the repetitive cuts, and you can jig it up on a table saw in mere minutes (it uses the same jig as a box joint – learn how to make the jig in “Hardware Hideaway”, Glen D. Huey’s article in the June 2014 #211 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine) . But, what you may not know is, there are other under-mouldings that can be made that will dress up your crowns very nicely too.

One extremely easy moulding to make is on the chest pictured at the beginning of this post – called Wall-of-Troy. At first glance it looks quite complicated, but it is made with the same type of jig used to make the dentil moulding. All you need to do is create double-spaced notches then flip the moulding blank over and run the same notches on the other side. It’s just as easy to cut by hand – careful layout is key to either method.

Another more complex moulding that was used is called Greek-key. It looks very similar to dentil and Wall-of-Troy but it takes a turn that just makes it much harder to produce. If you look at it closely, you can see how the it starts out being made like Wall-of-Troy moulding but the sockets take a right-angle turn. While the example shown is carved, I have seen sawn examples that have been applied. Either way there’s lots of hand work involved with a Greek-key moulding.

Dentil

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company – all rights reserved

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company – all rights reserved

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company – all rights reserved

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company – all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall of Troy

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company - all rights reserved

Photo courtesy Charles Bender & Company – all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Key

Photo courtesy MESDA

Photo courtesy MESDA

Photo courtesy MESDA

Photo courtesy MESDA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—Chuck Bender

4 thoughts on “Furniture Details: Decorative Mouldings With Bite

    1. Chuck BenderChuck Bender Post author

      I think it most likely came from the moulding resembling what has historically been described as the top of the walls of the ancient city of Troy. Whether the actual walls of Troy were castellated or not is unclear. As far as 18th century furniture is concerned, the age of enlightenment certainly held sway even among craftsmen. Reading books such as Homer’s “Iliad” was not limited to the ruling class. It was certainly fashionable for members of the new “middle class”, or the “merchant class”, to be educated and well read (many were even well traveled…Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as two examples).

      In Chippendale’s “Director” many of the designs took their inspiration from classical architectural designs and elements. He was not only blending French and Chinese elements but also Greek and Roman. It’s not a huge intellectual leap to associate “Wall of Troy” moulding as a harkening to an ancient, classical architectural element.

      1. Sven in Colorado

        Chuck, another decorative pattern that is used in the Chippendale style is the lattice, set at a 45 degrees. I’ve seen it used on flat faced quarter columns, table skirts, and chair legs. Its a very low relief carving, much of the time with stippling added to the relief cut outs to add texture, and depth to the background. I’ve frequently seen the New York “school” of Chippendale design use this motif in conjunction with a gadroon edge treatment.

        1. Chuck BenderChuck Bender Post author

          That’s getting into blind-fretwork more than where I was headed with this post. My example of Greek key moulding is lacking a bit in clarity, but it was the only example I could find that was large enough to view on screen. What I was looking for was not the carved, blind fretwork that is in the picture but a true under-moulding where the low areas (in the pictured example) are actually spaces. I may have to make some and add the pics to the blog…

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