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