There probably are some sites that show how to make trim but I don't know
who they are - but......
Having made some fairly complex custom moldings in the past, I've found that
with a little ingenuity, some head-scratching and up-front planning, it can
be done - and done safely. I'm assuming you have the basic tools to mill
the stock and tools to shape the trim such as router table with a solid
fence and a few router bits (or a shaper), a tablesaw and a decent blade,
some Bondo, and a way to cut/file a piece of card-scrapper stock into a
template to make a custom scrapper (if needed). I use a Dremel tool and
diamond coated bits to help shape the template if it's real intricate. Not
needed for most molding profiles I've done though.
There are several sites that have molding profiles on-line that you can
download and print out. The magazine sites (AW and FWW) have several How-To
articles and Methods of Work type articles that show how to make cove
moldings using a TS and an angled fence. For other moldings (not the large
cove moldings) the router is what I use. A shaper and custom made blades
are another way if you have the spare change. See Tom Plamann's site for
some examples http://www.plamann.com
of how he makes moldings using a shaper. (for some reason his site is very
slow today). He used to have some pictures showing him making some wide
custom moldings on his shaper. If those pics are gone, his site is still an
excellent example of how a little ingenuity will help you succeed.
Here's what I've done. First get a couple of the best you can find, rift
cut, 2x4's - yes 2x4's. Let them acclimate to your shop for a week then cut
them to the length plus a couple of inches for the longest piece of molding
you expect to make. For a small shop like mine (12'x20') and full of
machinery, a 7' long piece is about all I can handle which is long enough
usually for most doors and windows, cabinetry etc. I use 2x4's because
they're lighter and less expensive than making a 7' carrier out of
laminating up some hardwoods or MDF pieces. You'll appreciate having the
stability of a wide edge to run your stock vertically past a router bit and
manipulate the piece easily while you work it.
The 2x4's are milled to make them into 1-1/4"w x 3" - flat and square
carriers. Square meaning the edges are perpendicular to the faces. A slight
bow in the length is okay since the molding stock gets attached to the
carrier and a slight bow will not affect the shaping of the stock along it's
length. No cupping or twist allowed - that will affect the shape of the
molding. Place the 2x4 on edge, attach the molding stock with double-back
tape with the edge of the molding even with edge of carrier - the reference
While these 2x4's are acclimating - order the router bit extender from MLCS
($25). When using a router table, you will need to extend a router bit at
times to make a molding shape and you'll be tempted to just pull the router
bit up a little -creating a potential safety hazard. The MLCS extender
gives 2-1/2" reach if needed. I've only needed an additional 1" on any of
the moldings I've made so it works out nicely and makes it much safer in my
I attach the molding stock to a length of milled 2x4 (typically either 7'
long or 3' long) with double backed tape going the full length - not just
short sections. You want the molding flat to the carrier and any gaps where
there is not tape will telegraph thru after routing. The 2x4 carrier now
gives a solid and safe way to mill the molding. Since most window and frame
moldings have a thin edge, they would be difficult to handle by themselves
and route vertically. The 2x4 carrier makes routing the moldings far easier
and safer. I can now concentrate on "How do I make that profile" and less
on "How do I keep 10 fingers attached".
I've found that only a few basic router bits are necessary for most molding
shapes - different size round-nose bits, a table-edge bit or two, dish
carving bit and a couple different sizes of half-round bits. Obviously some
shapes just can't be done on a router setup unless you have a vertical bit
that matches the shape you want such as a vertical panel raising bit. I
have a multi-profile bit and while it sounded like a nice bit to have, I
have not found a use for it - yet. So save your money unless it really fits
what you want to do.
shows some specialty molding bits you can get as well as the ones I've
mentioned. Plenty of manufactures for router bits, I just happen to like
Freud bits - plus they're readily available to me locally.
If you already have a molding that you want to copy (and depending on it's
complexity), make a mold of it using the Bondo. Once the Bondo has cured,
attach some self-adhesive sandpaper to it to work down to the final shape of
the molding you're making. If the molding is intricate and has some sharp
edges that need shaping, I've made a custom scrappers to do the final
shaping. No... you wouldn't want to use either of these methods for making
a lot of moldings such as a whole house full of rooms. But if it's for a
cabinet decoration or picture frame, then it's probably worth the effort.
My sister-in-law wanted some extra-wide window moldings for a bay window
they installed in their log home. The profile of the molding she found and
wanted reflected the "log look" but it was a non-standard size and had to be
custom ordered at $15/ft. Not all that complex in design really but just
enough to be a nice challenge. I was able to duplicate it using 3 router
bits, the extender and a Bondo mold to do the finish sanding. I first made
a test section (~24" long) to work out how the cuts would be made and in
which order. Once I was comfortable with each test cut, I marked the test
piece with notes and numbers that indicated the sequence of cuts. The test
piece itself then became my reference piece for setting the depth of cut for
both the height of the router bit and depth of cut by moving the router
fence in or out.
I use a Jessem Rout-R-Lift http://www.jessem.com/rout_r_lift.htm and a
router fence I built that Pat Warner designed two years ago and was featured
in FWW http://www.patwarner.com/routerfence.html . I believe you can still
find the parts list on FWW's site and as I recall, Pat has a link to it on
his site. Point being, that the combination of router lift,
micro-adjustable fence and using a carrier makes precision routing far
easier than what I've done in the past and I'm a lot more comfortable doing
detail work safely. (you can do the same cuts with an MDF router table with
a router attached and a chunk of flat wood clamped to it for a pivot-fence).
I know the above doesn't directly answer your question and maybe someone
else will - like the Duke of URL's if he's lurking about but there are a
number of ways to make moldings. This is what I came up with and its worked
well for the moldings I've made. I too will be interested in reading how
others tackle this task.
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