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  1. #1
    Dan Guest

    Default Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    I am planning to restore a vintage 1890 building here in Chicago and want to recreate a bunch of molding to match the original.

    I went to several places to get quotes, and was unsatisfied with the level of knowledge, service and price, so I am considering making the moldings myself. In my research I have run across two articles in Fine Homebuilding (June 87 and January 02) that describe the use of a Williams & Hussey molder/planer to do exactly what I am thinking about.

    However, I also found that Grizzly has a molder/planer for about 1/3 of the cost ($700 vs $1800). Does anyone have experience with either of these two machines, or can comment on whether the W & H is worth the extra cost. Also, any advice on this approach in general would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    robillard Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    My friend and sometimes work associate has a Williams Hussey. I use it often, works great. Its a small machine, and takes up little space.

    We take profiles of existing moldings and fax them to a company who makes the knives for a $ 100 per inch. Most knives are under $150.00.

    Moldings are sharp, crisp and sweet! Plus we then own the knife after the job.

  3. #3
    piffin Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    The custom knife sets are about $50/inch/pair.
    I'm not familiar with the Grizzly machine but own the WH and it does fine work. Search. There was quite a long thread on this at Breaktime, Fine Homebuilding not long ago.
    You would have no trouble selling the WH again after the job because of their reputation. Folks might hesitate on a griz.

    You would definitely save bucks over a custom shop once you set it up.

    Don't fax the drawings of profiles though. Mail them. A fax can distort the profile.

  4. #4
    T Moore Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    Dan: DO NOT get the Grizz... get the W&H. The extra $ is worth the cost... we have 2 of 'em and work the hell outta them when we're working on custom molding jobs.

    They MUST be modified when 'ya buy the W&H brand new, but the modifcations are easy and fairly easy to accomplish fer a good guy in the shop.

    Either get an experienced W&H owner to give ya the good word on the mod's required, or get the experience the hard way (on yer own).

    We have run 30k+ of custom molding through our W&H, and many more thousands through another dedicated molder... the W&H is well-worth the cost over a dang China import.

    Buy American!!

    T Moore
    Active Door

  5. #5
    Mark White Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    We've owned a Hussey for over 12 yrs. It's a great, versatile machine. Can't say I've ever looked closely at the Grizzly, so can't help you there. One thing to note is that the Hussey is open on one side where the Grizzly is not. This has come in handy on many occasions when running curved trims with tight radii or odd parts and weird jigs. Make sure the profiles you want to run are no more than 3/4" (7/8" in a pinch) deep, as that is a limitation of the Huseey, as well as the knife width. Knife costs for both machines would be the same, but we always use corrugated back knives so we can run them on the shaper as well.
    The customer buys the knives, you keep 'em. You can easily pay for your machine in the first year. As for cost difference between the two machines I can't help but spout "you get what you pay for"...

  6. #6
    Dan Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    Thanks for the advice.

    Piffin, I found the thread on FH breaktime, and it's got more good information in case anyone else is looking into this.

    A couple of follow up questions:

    1. Can anyone explain what is meant by the "modifications" that are required, as mentioned by Mr. Moore above? I do know that you have to wire up the W & H to a power feed and switch (110 or 220). Is this what is meant?

    2. Mark refers to corrugated back knives- not sure how those differ from whatever is the "standard" knife stock- any more detail would be appreciated.

    3. Viel tools makes a profile copying machine for about $600 that will allow you to grind and sharpen the knives yourself. Seems a little tricky, but if you can get it to work, the machine could pay for itself in one or two jobs. Any experience or thoughts on this machine or the approach?

    Appreciate the help!

  7. #7
    T Moore Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder


    1. We have ground off about 2 lbs of steel off'a each machine to make room for all the diff kind'a knives we use.

    2. The tension settings for the pinch rollers is tricky... we have made many templates for the moldings we run, and adjusting the pinch rollers to "re-run" moldings make the molding come out perfect.

    The factory will tell 'ya that the piece MUST be run throught the machine once and that's it. Which is a load'a BS if you adjust the in and outfeed pinch rollers carefully for the stock you're about to run... it depends on the type,species and thickness of stock you are running.

    3. For running curves as we often do for door moldings/casings, even more futzing around is required to make repetitive moldings. The jig W&H sells is nice, but a few modifications are required to make them duplicatable... more grinding and more bed-boards.

    Like I said, we own two, and work the hell outta them. Nice machines for what they are. No complaints at all.

    T Moore
    Active Door

  8. #8
    Gary Katz Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    Can someone post the link to the FHB thread? I can't navigate on that forum anymore at all. What's with that software, anway? No, I'm not bashing Breaktime, I'm just curious. Actually, I HATE ALL NEW SOFTWARE, especially that MS guy.

    I'd like to know more about the WH machine. Yeah, yeah, I go again.


  9. #9
    Mark White Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    In response to the question about corrugated back knives: when we first got the Hussey, we ordered knives from W&H, once we got into it we started shopping our knives around. W&H's knives were around 3/16" and smooth both faces but the steel quality was not great. Then we found thicker, better quality steel (for less money too). Then one of our suppliers recommended corrugated back knives (for a small upcharge) for mounting in shaper heads. This made alot of sense, even though we didn't have a shaper at the time. Well, a few years later we finally did buy a shaper and now I can't tell you how glad I am that I bought knives that work on both machines. Some runs just work better on a shaper, but it's even nicer to have the versatility of either machine. You also should find a shop used to the required geometry for the Hussey, that way all you need do is send the profile and you can be assured that the knives will do the job. While I have been tempted to buy a grinder and do my own grinding I realize this is more complicated than it seems. Start out with a good shop. I highly recommend you speak with Jim at Connecticut Grinding at (800) 404-1220, I think their prices are at $16/inch. and he knows what is and is not possible with the Hussey.

  10. #10
    Dan Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder


    Re the FHB thread, navigation over there is a mess in my opinion, and I don't think it's possible to link directly to a thread. Here's the best I can do:

    1. Use this link to pop directly to breaktime:

    2. You will have to log in to proceed. (You can log in as guest.)

    3. In the far lower right of the breaktime home page, "click on advanced search."

    4. I entered "Hussey" in the keywords field, and changed the time period to go back about a year.

    5. It will then bring up the individual messages, but I never did figure out how to read them in the threaded order.

    By the way, as someone new to this business, I can't tell you how much I enjoy your finish carpentry book. It's already well-worn.


  11. #11
    Gary Katz Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    Thanks for the step-by-step. You must know me. And I'm glad you enjoy the book. I hope it helps, especially the attitude. We're lucky to be working in such a valuable trade.

  12. #12
    piffin Guest

    Default Re: Making custom moldings- W & H Molder

    For me it was a bed because the cast machined base is to small and hard to mount clamps, guides etc to. My bud added an outfeed roller.
    I also used tension to hold the motor down. They desig it to use gravity like a lot of tablesaws. When cutting deep and taking lots of meat off it can build a wicked vibration into it which can play out in chatter marks on the surface. This is why the above recommendation to make multiple passes. Unfortunately the machine is not set up from the factory for multiples. start with smaller moldings and learn from the machine.

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