Berry Moulding

The berries are carved on to an astragal- shaped moulding (see Figs. 12 and 13a, which can be applied to numerous items of wooden furnishing including the glazing bars of a door or the moulding around the edge of a box or table. This decoration can even be carved on turnings, as seen in the candlestick project.

Carving berries is an excellent learning exercise because the element of of repetition means that the techniques required soon become second nature. 

1. Form the moulding along the edge of a plank held in the vice. On completion of the berries, cut the plank down to the required size. If you have a moulding plane or router, cutters are available to enable you to cut an astragal /moulding of the right size. First remember to scribe a line where the cut separating the moulding from the plank will be made around 2mm (1/6in) below the shoulder.

Holding chisel No. 2 in the pinch position, form a circle on a piece of scrap wood. Set the dividers with the points resting in the grooves at the full diameter of the circle (8mm (5/16in). Then mark a series of divisions along the upper ridge of the moulding.

2. Hold chisel No. 1 in the pinch position and rest the blade on top of the first division. Start a dividing cut with the heel of the chisel by rolling the blade over the rounded ridge. Re-adjust the chisel’s position so the cut may be completed with the pointed tip, ensuring that you do not mark the moulding’s shoulders.

Apply gentle controlled pressure and continue this action down the length of the moulding.

3. Hold chisel No. 2 in the fist position, form an anchor and place the inner cutting edge of the chisel between two cuts in the centre of a division. Apply slight pressure and ease the chisel down towards the division cut line to form one side of of the berry. Practise raising the handle and work the blade through the wood in a fluid motion, creating half the berry in one cut. Repeat this each division. Using the other hand (see Becoming Ambidextrous), follow the same procedure to complete the second half of each berry.

4. On completion of the moulding, perfect the appearance of the individual berries by setting their profiles in a little deeper with chisel No. 2 and generally tidying up any lumps and bumps. Use chisel No. 1 to remove any surplus timber and splinters still attached around the base of the berries. A light sanding may now be appropriate, although avoid altering the overall shape.

5. Give the work a light rub with a clean dry nail brush to remove any remaining splinters. Here you can see both the finished berry moulding (top) and variations of the decoration which can be carved into the same dimensions of moulding. Why not try your hand at these, referring to the various drawings below.

For the moulding shown here I used a Brazilian mahogany. As it is designed to be applied to furniture etc. a matching timber is usually chosen for a moulding, although a contrast might be an interesting option.