Scrap Moulding Construction Contest


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. music2wood

    Make a display pedestal with mitered corners and the top made from a like board (walnut or cherry or whatever the moulding is) but saturate the top material with India ink to ‘ebonize’ it and give a nice contrast. As a Christmas gift, I made a similar piece (mine was 6″ moulding) for a good good friend who is a potter. He uses it on the floor to display a large, slab built pot.

  2. Muck

    I would use that vintage moulding as the skirt on a wall mounted pot or knife rack in the kitchen. To increase the “usefulness” you could hinge the bottom of the moulding and create a tilt out tray for spices.

    Okay, who am I kidding? If I built it I would commandeer it for my shop. It would look great with some vintage tools on it.

  3. laneycath

    I would lop it off so it is a manageable 4 feet. I would drill 4-6 holes and maybe insert large gold rivets or finish the holes . Then I would paint the flat part white – with a chalk style paint – rough up the edges. Then the moulding would be antiqued or gold or silver or any other contrasting color combo. Then I would caligraph CELEBRATE. Lastly I would glue or add hooks or magnets of some fashion to the moulding. Finally I would mount it on the wall but spaced enough so I could access my drilled holes, which are at the bottom. I could thread ribbon. My hooks would allow me to attach lights or other ribbon or I could use the magnets to display greeting cards. This is permanent celebratory frame – mounting.

  4. woodfellow

    If you can duplicate the profile, I would make a coffee table. Using the moulding and backer board(cut to the height needed) as aprons.

  5. jcksnssn

    Don’t throw out the picture frame idea. We’ve made some inexpensive pictures bought while travelling (think street market artists) look very impressive by framing them dramatically. This really draws attention to a small piece of art. Can even use part of backerboard as if is a mat if desired. Effect is a bit like a shadowbox, except glass is not at front of box but is either
    absent (small oil painting like ours) or directly on top of picture like a traditional picture frame.

  6. RedneckRev

    Make a recessed light that stands out from the wall where she can put plants to grow. This could be the front panel and the light could shine down on the plant area. Or you could cut it in half and make two so that she could have two different areas (possibly in one two different rooms of the house to grow plants or make a memory wall of some kind (like pictures of the family or of the historical homes/buildings she has helped to save, etc.)

  7. jetjock07

    I would look at building a nice mantel clock. Cut the backer board off, joint the edges and glue up to make the face or sides of the clock. Then use the moulding at the top and possibly on the bottom as well. It would end up being a family treasure that can be passed down for years to come. Have fun with all the ideas.

  8. donnac36

    Your piece would make a beautiful cornice board to highlight a lovely window. You could hang some pretty curtains/drapes behind it.

  9. webbie

    small side table… backer boards glued top, moulding to trim and either glued up legs or some type of metal legs (also salvaged, maybe).

  10. rboe

    Low hanging fruit since Chris blogged about it earlier: Make a try square or a T square or both if you have enough material.

    You could use in the shop or hang it from the wall or both.


    1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

      While I might find that a lovely use of the piece, I don’t think my mother would. But you never know!

  11. WoodenDreamsCreationsBob

    It would make a beautiful box. I had a leftover piece of crown moulding that I made into a very interesting box with a peaked lid.

    1. Godschild

      What about a magazine and newspaper rack to set by her favorite place to read. The backer board can be used to make the frame and legs and the molding used to wrap around the top, that way the molding is used for what it was originally meant to be.

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