Mold Building 101

One of the common problems encountered in trying to restore old treadle cabinets is that pieces of the old "carving" are gone. This "carving" was actualy a pressed product that was glued on. Recently, Mary McMasters did a restoratiion job in which she molded replacement carvings, using those that were left. She posted step by step instructions on how she did it and has given permission for me to re-post them here in The Wood Shop.


Here are the drawers missing the wood moldings, as well as one in better shape. Also, here is the ruabber mold builder and the piece of gauze I will use to reinforce the mold. (Note: The originals were high pressure molded out of a wood dust composition material. Some of these moldings are still available from Van Dykes Restoration, web site at: )

Another picture.  The drawer I am using to build the mold has hand lotion on it so the mold will come off easily. 

First coat of rubber, still wet.

Dry the next day.

Here is the last coat of rubber (#3) with the gauze put on for reinforcement.

Finished mold.

Mold filled with thin layer of liquid plaster of paris.



Part of a dried and hardened plaster of paris decal along with my favorite tool, the dremel tool.  I use this tool to smooth edges and sand the bottom of the decal to the proper thickness.



Mold being put on drawer.  Sometimes they can be put on whole, sometimes not.



Here are the molds in place and painted.  Painting them the correct color is the part I hate the most because they just never look natural to me.  Any suggestions anyone?


Finished cabinet with my Red Eye in place.  Though this looks shiny, the polyurethane I put on was semi-gloss and not so shiny "in person".  I use polyurethane because the wood in this cabinet and on the drawers had evidently been left outside and there was some dry rot.  I've found that polyurethane strengthens soft wood.


I also removed the rust from the ironworks and repainted.



Well, there you have it. Between the instructions on the mold building product and Mary's pictures and comments, you ought to have a fighting chance at saving more treadles than you otherwise would have been able to ...

The Captain