In my last post, in which I talked about Ripple Moldings and the Moxon Waving Engine, I also mentioned that all the strips on the piece I am restoring were accounted for, and I would only need to repair some minor chips which I could do by carving. The rest would be taken care by some professionals that I hired from Fixling handyman. Well, I’ve since learned to count.
It turns out, there was a missing piece of the ripple molding, which left me with a decision to make: re-create the moxon engine, or carve it. Knowing my own propensity for perfectionism, I determined remaking the moxon engine (or some version of it) would likely take days, if not weeks, and I’d likely end up re-designing it (gotta make some use of that mechanical engineering degree, right?). If this were an experimental piece, I might do it, but as this piece is for a customer, I opted to carve it, since, while time consuming, it would be much faster than the former method.
Here, I’ll give a brief photo record of what I did. I won’t talk about the art of carving, per se, because, well, you don’t want to learn it from me.
Make a scratch stock using the profile from the original molding to make the horizontal profile.
Mark the spacing of the ripples with dividers or by pencil (I just aligned an existing piece along the new piece, and marked each groove with the pencil)
Cut a shallow kerf to about the depth of the bottom of the ripple at each mark
using a v-tool, carve a notch along across the profile to the depth of the kerf
the v-tool leaves the general shape, but with clear facets on the grooves, rather than smooth ripples…
…the rest of the work was using a small #5, a #2 sweep, the v-tool, a #11 veiner, an exacto-knife, and a very small v-file to round all of the transitions as much as possible.
this one shows the original, my first attempt at the carving (I made 2, the first for practice, in different species of mahogany) and a ruler for scale.
And here is the final product, installed on the secretary (sorry for the shadows). Can you tell which is the new one?
The finishing: I used a blend of red mahogany and mission brown transtint dyes in denatured alcohol to match color, which was tricky. Fortunately, there wasn’t uniform coloration on the original, so there was some margin of acceptable tint. The finish was garnet shellac with a little transtint dye mixed in. The exposed endgrain in the grooves of the ripple really soaked the dye in, which darkens the grooves substantially, giving the appearance of added depth.
In all, carving was time consuming, and definitely left a more faceted and non-uniform appearance than the moxon machine would have, but was a satisfying experience, and I’m happy with the product. When I have some down time, I may just cobble up a waving engine…for the next time.