Sunday, March 30, 2014


Gadrooning is an embellishment carved into a moulding consisting of a series of curved convexities interposed with curved flutes. The heyday of gadrooning for cabintmakers occurred in the latter half of the 18th century. 

Close up of gadrooning from armchair attributed to Thomas Affleck

The word is thought to be derived from the archaic French word, godron or goderon, meaning ruffle.
Excerpt from A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues by Cotgrave, 1611
 I  recently returned from a great week at The Woodworking Workshop of the Shenandoah Valley for the Philadelphia Card Table based on Thomas Affleck's piece (more on this on a later post). Steve Hamilton, who is an experienced carver, showed us the method of creating the gadrooning. I took plenty of photos of him carving away. In his hands, the gouges pass through the wood as if it were soft clay. Having a thorough grasp of grain direction, his cuts were smooth and precise with no tear out. I watched closely and understood the process and was ready to give it a go upon returning home. By the way, I have virtually no carving experience.

(Addendum - In retrospect, the carving gouges that I thought were sharp, were fairly dull which prevented a smooth carving across the grain. Having said that, I  muscled through this one and ended up depending more on rasps and files, which was not ideal.)

The convex portions turned out OK. While Steve's gouge cuts were mostly across the grain, my attempts at this method resulted in some ragged edges. I honed and sharpened the gouge with no improvement. I kept at it and proceeded to the concave fluted segments with even more raggedness. I ended up switching the orientation of the gouge so that it followed the grain, rather than going cross grain. For me, this resulted in a smoother appearance, but it was still fairly shoddy. What rescued the piece a bit was the use of round and triangular files as well as a V parting tool to clean up all of the "raggedosity". This is just a method I used that worked decent enough for me. 

A gadroon pattern is very similar to the periphery of a shell carving

Marking out

Rasps used to create a half round on the curved moulding.

Clean up with #44 cutter from Stanley 55 plane

Creating the convex portion, #6 sweep

Completed all convex portions first.

Dog meat phase. I'll blame it on the cherry wood. Fluted segments were roughly gouged. I wanted to remove a lot of material to deepen the position of the flute to accentuate the adjacent convex portions.

Cheating with a circular file
Cleaned up transition areas with a v-parting tool and a small triangular file to be followed by 220 grit sandpaper