Scrap Moulding Construction Contest

momsmoulding

My mother, Elizabeth F. (“Penny”) Jones, is an architectural historian and collector of all things historic…and not. When I was a kid, she was one of the driving forces behind the preservation of countless old buildings in Louisville, where I grew up. After moving to the Washington, D.C., area when I was in high school, she joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation as director of Preservation Programs, and was later executive director at the American Institute for Conservation (usually known as “AIC”). While she’s now retired, she remains incredibly active in preservation efforts. All this is to say that though she comes by the tendency honestly, my mother is altogether unable to throw anything away; It might be important someday…so it’s worth saving.

The picture above is of a piece of moulding from a mid-19th-century historic house in Louisville, one the few she was unable to save. So she saved a part of it – in, I believe, 1974. So, by my calculation (which might be off by a move or two), this moulding scrap traveled from Louisville to Alexandria, Va., in 1985, and has since moved to at least four different homes.

Now, she’s asked me to make it into something useful…but what? The easy solution is to make a picture frame…but that’s a pretty short run of stock for such a wide moulding; the frame would wholly overwhelm whatever is inside it.

I could also make a simple narrow display shelf, with a flat attached to the moulding edge at the top. But that’s kinda boring and predictable (though still an option).

So your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with the winning idea, as determined by my mother and me (which is to say I get veto power…I’m not making a stepback just to stick that on top of it; she doesn’t have room for a large furniture piece…and I’m a bad daughter…so think “small”). The person who submits the winning idea gets a 6-month subscription (or extension) to our video streaming site, ShopClass on Demand (with more than 400 woodworking instructional videos, including the first 20 seasons of “The Woodwright’s Shop”). And then I shall build the winning idea. Eventually (always good to CYA…).

The deadline is June 20 (the same deadline as the 2014 PWM Excellence Awards – have you entered?).

The piece is 5’4″ long, 7-1/2″ wide and projects 2-3/4″ from the backing board. My mom didn’t tell me how thick it is, but I’m guessing in the 3/4″ to 7/8″ range. I also don’t know what kind of wood it is…but I would guess a local domestic hardwood, such as walnut or cherry (this was a fancy house – not like my plebian Victorian-era “manse,” which has yellow pine trim throughout).

Submit your idea in words below – and if you wish to include a link to a sketch (though it’s not necessary), use an “a href=” html tag in your comments…and if you don’t know what that means, send it to me and I’ll add it for you.

And now I must get back to the mouldings in my own house…I’m in the midst of installing new baseboards in the kitchen (yes mom, they match the originals).

— Megan Fitzpatrick

39 thoughts on “Scrap Moulding Construction Contest

  1. knothole

    I like Stephen Davis’ idea. It would be nice to have a complete archive of molding shapes showing the dates they tended to be used, and what style. It would be a good resource to help us date furniture and architecture.
    You might use the molding horizontally in a fireplace mantel, if it is long enough.With the miters cut off, and some hooks added, it could be a coat rack or a pot/utensil rack. A shelf ,or shelves, such as a plate rack, could be added on top. Maybe it could be used a a molding around the top of a country/primitive cabinet; something like a chimney/jelly cupboard.

  2. JohnSturgess

    How about a Potato/vegitable bin with a cutting board on top. The moulding would go around the top, making the cutting area wider than the bin pedistal, providing toe clearance. It would be easy to move when she changes locations and she could use it regularly.

  3. AlanWS

    Whatever else you intend, it will become a feline display platform, so I propose you design it as one. A pedestal with a platform edged in crown molding will allow your cat to look down on you regally. (I am assuming your affinity for cats extends to your mother.)

  4. hmerkle

    Yep – I had bgrimes idea two days late so here is my revised idea;
    You write and read (a lot!) so my guess is the apple didn’t fall to far from the tree…
    My upcycle idea is to create a fancy lap desk for reading or writing
    or a book (cookbook?) stand (think a one-sided Jefferson).

    Can’t wait to see what you do with that historic piece of architecture!

  5. fishaaron2000@yahoo.com

    I think you could make a nice plant stand. Use the molding at both the top and the bottom in a mirrored appearance. You could make a simple four sided plant stand, or if you are feeling more adventurous make a hexagonal tower, again with the moldings at the top and bottom.

    1. richardrank4

      Great idea about scrap molding! I also suggest the coat rack, with some refinements. Cut and attach returns on each end to make it stand out some from the wall, and use either hand forged hooks or simple black old time hooks to complete the vintage look.

    2. richardrank4

      Great idea about scrap molding! I also suggest the coat rack, with some refinements. Cut and attach returns on each end to make it stand out some from the wall, and use either hand forged hooks or simple black old time hooks to complete the vintage look. The piece is long enough for two racks.

  6. Sawtooth

    Picture frame. I’ve seen a couple of Greene and Greene style picture frames that do not use “regular” moulding for all four sides, but usually the sides are similar (but mirrored) and the top and bottom have different shapes/edge profiles. You could use this moulding for the top and bottom and tie them together with sides that complement whatever is in the photo/painting/drawing or whatever you’re framing. Alternatively, you could use it to frame a mirror for a living room or hallway, and the side pieces would be designed to complement the decorative theme of the room where the mirror will hang. Andy

  7. bsrlee

    You could build her a ‘corner cupboard’ as illustrated in ‘Work’ Issue No 114, available for free at Tools for Working Wood. Printed in May 1891, it is also the first article to appear in the publication by a…..woman! The top moulding looks suspiciously like your mother’s moulding too. It could even be made as an independent structure so the moulding can continue its peregrinations.

  8. bmyyou

    The moulding is too wide as-is for a jewelry box, however the top portion of the moulding could be ripped for the box top trim section and leave a suitable wide piece of moulding remaining to construct a crown-moulding-type jewelry box. I believe the original plans for the top of a crown moulding box called for plywood and a trim piece around to cover the exposed ply edges; the flat below the moulding profile could also be ripped, jointed and glued into top and bottom planks and the edge trim could be omitted.

  9. Steven Davis

    How about pulling together an archive of architectural Moldings with profiles and images through Popular Woodworking as an online resource to preserve and share?

  10. Jim McCoy

    Hi Megan,
    My idea, assuming you can separate the moulding from the backer board without damaging either one, would be to make a free standing display shelf attached to a wall. You could make a torsion box out of some home center wood and attach it to the wall with long, stout screws. Then you could attach the backer board to the top of the box to serve as the shelf and wrap the torsion box with your Mom’s moulding, mitering the corners of the moulding and creating nice returns on the sides. The length of the shelf would be dictated by how much useable moulding you are able to get out of the piece you have so that the backer board has a nice balanced look sitting on top of the moulding. I think that would make a nice shelf for displaying other historical items or antiques, it would celebrate what is left of that old house, and it is a pretty simple and inexpensive way to use a majority of the moulding your Mom managed to save.

  11. mobilefour

    Scrape Molding. I hate to call it scrape, and it should be kept substantially intact being only 5’4″. Several possible uses would be molding for the top edge of a bar, island in kitchen, built in bookcase or counter in the kitchen. Being as old as it is I’ll bet when finished it would stand out. Old is good and I like your mom’s taste.

  12. Maurice

    Megan,
    As someone with a degree in Historic Presevation, this project screams for so thing vertical. It came off of a building, so why not create a tall-ish structure? I’m thinking a rectilinear bookcase with glass doors (or no doors). Heck, even paneled doors. In any event, the moulding should best be served crowning off that piece, and emphasizing a tall stature.

  13. don2laughs

    I think it would be a wonderful base for an interior window seat for a view of the garden. The molding is long enough for a 3′ window with a 1′ return on each side….to be topped with a nice piece of cherry or walnut for the seat.

  14. Jonas Jensen

    My suggestion is a small hexagonal chest of drawers.
    The top should be made out of the moulding itself, 6 pie shaped pieces with the thick part on the outside. That way the completed piece will resemble a small medieval tower (in my imagination at least).
    The lower skirt of the case should be made out of the moulding put in the high edge withthe “fat” section down.
    The backing board should be used for making fronts for the triangular drawers and maybe sides as well.
    The vertical dividers are inserted in grooves made in the top and bottom. The horisontal dividers are inserted in rabbets made in the vertical dividers.
    Making the top is hard, because wood movement will open up the all end grain glue surface (I have sadly tested that).

    Brgds Jonas
    Here’s the URL to see a sketch: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/Hexagonal-chest-of-drawers.jpg

    1. bgrimes

      Since your mother might want to entertain you (or her friends) at some point, why not make her a tea caddy? You can probably cut the moulding at an appropriate angle to join the pieces with biscuits into a small serving tray. Cut some handles into the sides by boring holes at the drill press then connect the holes, smooth and shape the handle area. Line the bottom of the tray with decorative tiles and the job is done.
      I took some measurements from a metal tray which just fits in our standard-sized oven and the long sides of that tray were 16″ while the short sides were 11″. I think you’ll have just enough material to do the job, but take a piece of flat stock pine and mark out the cuts for a trial run. If you get the compound cut angles right, you should have a good start on your project and use up 100% of the original moulding so there won’t be any left to ship to a FIFTH home! Good luck with this. It is an interesting challenge.
      By the looks of the backing board, you might want to plane it down to 1/2″ if you intend to use that as well. It could be cut, squared, jointed and made into a panel to use as the bottom of the tray. Or, you could incorporate it as part of your baseboard project if you wanted to share some of the wood between houses.

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