Replicating a Custom Moulding Profile

For a matching finish job, a craftsman needs fifteen feet of a non-standard moulding. Pros suggest several methods, from ordering custom moulder knives to engaging in router-and-tablesaw sculpting. November 10, 2005

I'm working on a job that requires me to match this molding. I can't find it anywhere, or even a knife that matches its pattern. Any ideas? Can you recommend a place that can make it for me? To make it worse, I only need 15'.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
I suspect I, or anybody with a William-Hussey molder, could do it for you. The problem would be the cost of the knives. I don't know how long the molded area is from your drawing, but you could figure about $35/inch for the knives.

From the original questioner:
I did get in touch with architectural millwork in OR - they are going to let me know the cost soon. The entire profile area is about 2 3/4" inches. So if their cost is the same, I won't feel that bad. This was all my idea. The client wanted the built-ins I'm making to fit in with the rest of the room. I suggested using the existing molding as drawer fronts on the bottom of the cabinet to max out the storage space. I had no idea the molding was custom.

15'? Just set up a router and within a couple of passes with a few different cutters, you should have it. I see an ogee on top, then a flat saw cut, then a corebox bit, then an angled saw cut or an angled dado cut, then a flat dado cut, then a round-over bit (without the bearing - ovalo bit). Then a few passes with a hand plane for the various smaller radii and a little sanding and about 1 - 1 1/2 (probably less) and you're done. I've done it a million times for various odd short run moldings.

From the original questioner:

I did find someone who can help me in my area. I tried to match the profile with router bits, but I could not get that top ogee. I looked at every CMT and Amana bit there was. It made me nuts, and the guys at the stores I was in today. Well, I've learned to look at the molding more carefully in the future before I come up with my great ideas.

Don't act so down on yourself for suggesting a complete and quality detail to your customer's cabinet work. You just haven't done this enough. I reproduce features like this all the time for customers and they love it! It's a big selling point when you can build cabinets for them and make it look like it's original. Good job! Once you are done with it, you will find you want to do more! If you had a 7-1/2 hp shaper with a 1-1/4" spindle, you could run this yourself. Keep up the good work!

From the original questioner:
Thanks. You're right, I would not want to do it any different. It comes down to being an oversight that I'll have to absorb. I already told the client it would not add any cost to the project, so I'm glad it's not going to cost more than it is. I'll have a molder or shaper some day. Until then, I'm glad there are people who can help me out in a situation like this.

You really ought to try to just make the 15' with router bits. Kind of a waste to make a knife for it. This is not as difficult as it may seem, and if there is a section that you can't do with a router bit, trace the profile on the end of a piece of stock and then, using multiple table saw passes with various blade heights and fence settings, you can make any molding. Just sand it smooth. This may seem time consuming, but from my experience, you will have this 15' of moulding installed before you will get a company to grind a knife and run the molding for you.

From the original questioner:
Okay, I'll give it a shot today, but if I can't get it to look perfect, I'll have to go with the molder.

Here's my approach. I tried the router thing, but usually by the time I put the time into it, I could buy the knives. I bought W&H (not plugging the brand; I have no experience with the others) and would calculate in the charge of the knives. The knives were mine for future jobs that give details no one else has.

A long time ago, when I was short of equipment and was doing things like this, I'd get as close as I could with router table and saw cuts, then make a quick scratch stock to finish it out.