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1 First Steps

The classic Waterleaf moulding, first steps:

  • the moulding profile
  • laying out
  • stepping off
  • main and secondary leaves.

I strongly recommend you use the more studied step-by-step guide to carving this Waterleaf moulding in my book Woodcarving Projects & Techniques (GMC Publications). Once you understand how this moulding 'works' you should be able to adapt it to different ogee profiles and the tools you have - as I do in the Waterleaf projec, part 4 of this series.

Subscribing members will find a link below to a PDF of my working drawing, tool list and notes for the Waterleaf Moulding below.

Subscriber download: Water Leaf Moulding


| 08 September 2020 09:33

Tim - I don't, I'm afraid, but I'm sure there must be.
How about contacting people who use router cutters, such as joiners or furniture makers? Or somewhere like the Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine? (When I taught a carved mouldings course there I sent the templates; they made up the practice pieces so would have found the cutters with the right profile somewhere.)
Sorry not to be more help; I'm amazed you are having this problem. I guess it's all about fishing in the right pond...

| 08 September 2020 01:12

Chris - Sorry to be a bother again. I tried to order the cutter from Wealden, but they do not sell to the states. Do you know of any supplier who does sell these cutters to the states?

| 02 July 2020 12:38

Chris - Thank you! I think I will keep the cutter as a smaller profile can be useful, I’ll just need to workout the proper gouge sizes for the carving to go with it.

| 16 June 2020 15:37

Tim - Apologies. I left out a crucial dimension in the download diagram which you need if you want to copy the moulding using the same tools as I did. I've revised the download to include it. I actually got mine from Wealden Tool Company, where they call it a 'flat roman'. ( Product aT7540).
The waterleaf moulding comes in a huge range of sizes, with the amount of ogee varying too. If you don't think you'll ever use the cutter you bought then you do return it. And apologies again for my oversight.
Here's a suggestion: Carve a short length of the ogee moulding that you would like to use, by hand, and work out what tools you'd use for the actual carving. In the download I've added a picture of the flat roman cutter and you can see they are specified by various dimensions. You should be able to work out the cutter you need from that sort of picture.

| 12 June 2020 23:50

Chris - I ordered the ogee cutter from Axminster (part 951299) but it is much smaller than I was hoping for. Is the cutter that you use actually a panel cutter?

| 03 May 2020 15:52

Thanks Chris! I think that Axminster has the right profile. Many of the sites I checked had too steep of a profile, but this looks correct for the waterleaf molding.

| 27 April 2020 19:08

Tim - If you put in 'Ogee router cutter' into a search engine, you'll find many distributors from which to choose: Axminster Power Tools, Wealdon Tool Company, Trend - just a few examples for the UK and I would guess there must be a similar plethora in other countries

| 27 April 2020 03:20

Hi Chris - I’m having a difficult time finding a router bit suitable for the waterleaf. Do you have any source recommendations?

| 19 November 2019 13:40

Jerome - There are definitely a lot of mouldings that just don't do corners! The waterleaf is a good example, as is egg and dart. If you simply draw them on paper you can see that they won't work. (Though they do work on curves, such as the base of columns and arches of course.) There are various answers this problem:

The simplest is to stop short of the corner. Or do a sort of phantom leaf as John Eugster has done in the Members Gallery:

At the other end of possibilities is a step or shuffle at the corner: a version of the leaf, with more lobes like an acanthus. Houghtons of York have an example on their website:

If you search images online for carved frames, waterleaf moulding, that sort of thing, you'll find quite a few examples to get you designing. Do a mockup corner first to make sure you like the look, have the tools etc.

And let's see your frame in the gallery!

| 18 November 2019 15:30

Hi Chris, I would like to use the waterleaf for making picture frames. Is there a way to layout the waterleaf pattern around a corner? Or do you use something in the corners of the frame instead of a waterleaf?

| 19 March 2017 20:24

Cliff - The best thing is to look at picture frames in museums and see what options carvers have taken then make up your own.

The egg and dart usually has something like a much larger egg in the corner, covered with acanthus leaves or similar. When one writes a book, one is give a word (and picture) count, which equivalents to a number of pages. There wasn't room to go into the corners I'm afraid.

| 17 March 2017 09:08

I am doing some egg and dart moulding at the moment and was trying to work out how to deal with internal and external corners. I have your book projects and techniques, which is great for the moulding itself, but can't find anything on corners.


| 05 April 2013 04:59

Peter - There's no hard and fast rule; you'll see leaves that vary from narrow to broad. Unless you need a specific leaf (unit) size, then the sweep of the gouge determines it - as you rightly suppose. And, of course, that gouge is more or less useful depending on the overall size of the moulding profile itself. If you are interested in this sort of thing, it's worth trying both narrow and broad waterleaves - very different feel to the final moulding

| 04 April 2013 13:49

What is the dimensional relationship between the leaf spacings and the width of the moulding? Is there a rule of thumb that sets the spacing or is it based on the sweep size of the gouge?

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