Encountering a Ripple Molding Cutter


Given my recent acquisition of four dozen prints barbarically cut out of a First Edition of Roubo’s L’Art du Menuisier (c. 1771), among which were the fanciful machines on making ripple moldings, I was immediately overcome with the idea that I had to make some frames for these prints.  And of course those frames must feature prominently some ripple moldings.


My memory was drawn back to some correspondence with RichardB, an architectural conservator whom I have known for more than three decades.  Much like me, Richard is a collector of knowledge, the older and more esoteric the better.  Anyhow, Richard knew a nearby fellow Jerry who had a ripple molding cutter his father (or grandfather?) had built.



I arranged to meet with Richard and have him take us to visit Jerry’s shop, which turned out to be a remarkable and inspiring day.

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Yes indeed, Jerry had a motorized ripple molding cutter that performed astonishing feats, producing unspeakably elegant molding stock.


I am pretty sure the master pattern rails on which the cutter head rides are made from Delrin or HDPE, I somehow forgot to ask, and the cutters are all hand made from various tool steel stock.


I stood and watched it for a long time, it is hypnotic watching the cutter head moving back and forth, scraping out the profile and the ripple pattern.


Jerry’s passion is replicating historic clock forms and he uses all manner of ripple molding on them.  I think Jerry is too busy to make any moldings for me, but seeing his in person sure lit a fire under me to make one.

Maybe next winter, or the one after that.

That’ll be worth a blog entry or ten.