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Raking Cornice: Part 2

Traditional Methods for Developing and Producing Rake Moldings

The required joinery for a molding that transitions from level to rake around a corner frequently puzzles many carpenters. At first glance it appears that it should work, but upon experimentation, it can be maddening to find out that it won’t.

A Note from the Publisher:

NOTE: This article is part of a three-part series on drawing and making rake, horizontal, and plumb-cut crown molding for pediments. Click here to read the first article, by Todd Murdock, and stay tuned for the final article by Jed Dixon.


The missing piece to this puzzle is that two different sizes of molding are required. If the change in pitch is only slight, then the change in molding size will be small.

The greater the change, the larger the mating molding has to be. Similar to how the size of a ridge board has to be larger the steeper the pitch of the roof.


(Note: Click any image to enlarge)

The approach that I use to find the size and shape of the mating molding has not changed in centuries. It is done with paper, pencil, a square, and a compass. Once you become familiar with the technique, it is quite simple to use. There isn’t any math involved or a CAD program which one has to learn. All of the information required is taken directly from the molding and the rake angle.


These techniques are shown frequently in pre-industrial revolution period books. The more comfortable you become with the technique, the easier it will be to see the relationships in the drawings. The process stops being a fight to get things to fit, and becomes something less stressful, period correct, and better looking.

In the accompanying videos, I’ll explain the method I use to draw and project the three unique profiles for decorating a classical pediment. And I’ll also demonstrate how to make those moldings with hand planes and, of course, a table saw, too. _MG_4424-1

There are some traditional techniques that are no longer used in our trade, but there are many that still are, even ones that are executed with hand tools. Learning these techniques can provide valuable lessons to serious craftsmen. How one goes about producing the product isn’t as important as knowing what it should be and how it is derived. Though you may never have the need to make a classical pediment from scratch, lessons learned from the process can be applied to a multitude of other carpentry tasks and may change the way you approach a problem in the future.

The Drawing

Making Molding with Handplanes



10 Responses to “Raking Cornice: Part 2”

  1. Jason Leeker

    Wow! This video series was awesome! Thank you so much for sharing. Now you got me really really excited and interested in working with these moulding planes. Where would be a good place to purchase these moulding planes from? Thank you again for posting this, I really enjoyed it!

    • Keith Mathewson

      Thanks Jason,
      You can buy either new or vintage planes. The vintage ones from Ebay, etc. are a gamble as they may or may not work well without tuning. As for new there are only a few makers which I’m aware of. I bought mine from Old Street Toolworks, I had to wait over 2 years for delivery and they now have stopped taking new orders. Another full time plane maker is MS Bickford and I believe the waiting period is less than a year. A third option is Caleb James but he is overwhelmed at the moment. From England there is Philly Planes, but having bought sets of planes from England in the past the shipping costs are a consideration. Good luck.

  2. Sim Ayers

    Excellent Keith. Love the layout technique on the single piece of wood. I’ll have to give it a try in the next couple of weeks. I can get 1 3/4″ poplar. Is that wide enough to develop the rake crown moulding piece, if I use a standard horizontal piece of crown moulding?

    If there was an American journeyman carpenter test, I would include this layout technique/procedure in the test.


    • Keith Mathewson

      Thanks Sim,
      The thickness of the material is the same for all three moulding profiles. When I refer to the projection of the moulding it is the same as saying the thickness of the moulding. I was recently in Manhattan and one cannot walk more than a couple of blocks in any direction without seeing a broken pediment on a doorway. This was common knowledge, at least among stone mansions 100+ years ago.

  3. Tim Raleigh

    Thanks for writing and making these videos.
    The instruction is invaluable.
    I always enjoy watching you work with these planes and seeing the results.

  4. J. Alvis

    Thank you, Keith, for these great videos. I cant tell you how much help this kind of information is to younger woodworkers like myself.

  5. skye

    I really enjoyed this. Thanks for taking the time! I have a busy life with young kids these days but it’s medicine for my sanity to find stuff like this online, I appreciate the webspace that Gary Katz and others like you have made for the community of us carpenters and woodworkers. Keep this stuff coming! I read a lot of similar articles but rarely comment, I wanted to though to let you know that I appreciate the effort and time and I think a lot of others do too whether they take the time to comment or not.

  6. Keith Mathewson

    Thanks for the comments, much of the credit goes to Gary and his team. It takes them a lot more time and effort to produce these than it does those of use who contribute.


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