- Q.I was recently asked to add
a cherry base cap along the finished stringer of a
custom staircase that makes a broad sweeping curve
along the wall in several places. What's the best way
to make this molding? Should I use a softer, more
pliable wood and stain it to match the cherry? Your
help is greatly appreciated.
A.Associate editor Dave
Frane responds: If I were doing the project,
I'd laminate a curved cherry molding off site.
The most straightforward way to do that is to
rip the milled stock into narrow strips that can
easily be bent, then glue-laminate the strips
around a curved form. The form can be a doubled-up
piece of 3/4-inch plywood with a curve cut on the
edge, or a series of 2x4 blocks screwed or tacked
to a sheet of plywood or a workbench top.
The idea is similar to using bending rail stock
to make a curved handrail. If you need an 8-foot
length of curved basecap, start with three 8-foot
straight lengths and rip them until the profile of
the stacked pieces matches that of the original
molding. You'll have to account for the parts of
the molding lost to the table saw kerf, which is
why you start with extra pieces.
Glue the ripped pieces together on the form and
hand sand the finished piece to the final profile.
This will take a lot more elbow grease than other
methods but requires no special equipment. Yellow
glue is okay if you work fast, but I prefer epoxy
because it sets slowly and spans gaps. Put plastic
under and behind the strips so you don't glue them
to the form. Use plenty of clamps to avoid gaps in
the finished molding. Tight joints between
laminations mean that less glue will show, which
will make for a better-looking molding.
The curve on the form should be tighter than the
curve on the wall because the molding will spring
back slightly when it comes off the form. The
amount of spring-back is related to the number of
layers in the lamination: The more layers, the less