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Creating Stopped Flutes Using Handtools


I am doing exterior trim around the front door of my house which will include a pair of fluted pilasters. I would like to do this with hand tools but have a question on creating stopped flutes in the pilaster face. What is the best method–scrapers, gouges? How was this done in the past?—Steve DaCunha


Al Breed replies: To make architectural stopped flutes with hand tools, first do the layout of your flutes. I start with the center one if it’s an odd number and then space the others accordingly to the edge of the pilaster. Next, tack on a straight board as a fence and create the portion of the flute that will show on either side of the filled flute using a rounding plane. Run these cuts the entire length of your flutes, they will serve as a guide to hollowing them later. The “fills” are actually rounded, but the exposed small section of flute is hollowed, so technically you need a hollow and round plane, but wait until you’ve done the hollowed flutes to exactly match the exposed flute section.

Use a rounded rasp or scraper to fine tune this last. You can run the plane off the bottoms of the flutes but you’ll have to carve or scrape the top sections, stopping a few inches short of your total flute height. Next, round off the tops of your fills, usually about a third of your flute height, using a gouge, most probably an 8-16 or so.

Then, using the gouge, hollow your flutes between the guide cuts from the first step. At the top, feather your hollowing gouge cuts by starting at your maximum flute length and cutting down to meet your flute. This will give you an elliptical termination to your flutes, much nicer and more authentic than a plain arc that you’d get from a router.

Tags: Flutes, Outdoor