Separate molding shapes

It’s impressive how a major league outfielder can run full tilt to snag a fly ball without crashing into the home run fence. A big part of the feat is the fact that the outfield has that narrow strip, the warning track that allows the fielder to know that the wall is just a few steps away. If you think about it the warning track is a relatively small element compared to an entire baseball outfield. It’s just a narrow band that separates the outfield from the fence and the stadium seats rising up behind it.

I’ve been writing a few posts about using a simple bead or a small filet or fascia as a separator to help divide up a furniture design visually. In many cases these design ideas have application on several levels. Often we can see the same concepts applied on a macro scale or a micro scale. This translates into the visual image as seen from a distance, then as we draw closer, and finally the close up detail. In earlier posts I wrote about using a bead or fillet to separate major elements in a form such as making a capital distinct from a column shaft, or using a bead to suggest a shadow of a base at the bottom of a table leg. Also looked at how a bead could help us separate a bank of drawers on a chest front. That would be an example of using separation on a minor element or something that would be noticed as we draw closer. Finally we use fillets and beads to separate elements on a micro scale or up close.

We use small fillets and beads in molding combinations to separate different molding shapes. A small fillet or fascia is a natural choice because the flat vertical surface will reflect light in a strong monotone and usually will contrast with an adjacent surface that is curved such as a cove, cyma recta, or Ovolo. The bead also works visually as a separator because the recesses where the edges of the bead sink back into the surface creates shadow lines. Often molding combinations are assembled with major and minor elements and a bead or fillet separates those elements, yet still allows them to compliment one another.

George R.Walker

About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
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2 Responses to Separate molding shapes

  1. Jeff Burks says:


    I just received your latest DVD and was about to view it when I remembered something that may be of interest to your readers. A few years back I had been doing my own research into mouldings and millwork (from a carpentry perspective) when I came across a listing for a book titled Theory of Mouldings. The book had been out of print for almost 80 years when I came across the title in a University Library catalog on the Internet. I decided to track down the book on ABE and was finally able to secure decent copy in 2005. I was so amazed by the quality of the information in the book that I decided to scan my copy and make a pdf version of it freely available to those who wanted the information because the book was so obscure and difficult to locate(only 1 printing). I hosted the file during 2006 and then in 2007 the book was brought back into print by W. W. Norton. The book was copyright expired though so I continued hosting it for a few carpentry forums that I used to participate in. For all practical purposed my pdf is the same as the new print version minus the forward and some glossy photographs.

    Theory of Mouldings (1926) By C. Howard Walker (long lost relative?)

    This book is based on lectures given by the author while Professor of Architecture at MIT during the 1890s. It’s one of the only sources I have ever read that sheds significant light on the origins of architectural mouldings. The book covers the different evolutionary paths taken by wood vs stone mouldings and the purposes of each, as well as insights into the shapes and combinations from classic architecture.

    I just found my pdf version on an old DVD and re-uploaded it to my current file server so that your readers could check it out. This pdf version was left at print resolution so the file size is large (117Mb). I think you will find it is worth the paper and ink to print out in full.

    • walkerg says:


      I have a copy of the new reprint and you are correct, it’s a great source for historical background and application. It was a key source for developing the material on my video on moldings. Again it’s aimed at architects but much of the information translates to furniture. I highly recomend it.


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