For a piece such as this: Circular base

How can this be shaped using only hand tools? Normally, a router comes to mind for something like this, or maybe a lathe, and then when you only think of hand tools, I think of hand planes like moulding planes, rounds and hollows, etc. But I've only ever seen those used on straight edges. It seems like this would be really difficult to do using those types of tools. Would they work, or is there a method to work with hand moulding convex curves like this?

Edit: This question actually comes from wondering how this was done in the 18th century. Wood turning seems like a good option, unless there are other ways to do it?

  • 3
    Other than extremely tedious, difficult work using gouges and chisels I think the only way this could be done purely manually is using a type of scratch stock, and I'm not even sure that's possible because of the changes in grain direction (although the type of wood used would have a huge impact on the feasibility of that). I think prior to powered moulders, and later the router, this is very likely to have been a turning job and only a turning job.
    – Graphus
    Feb 9, 2020 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


Without a router, something with a tight radius like this could be done by hand with a beading (and other) planes, but it would take a deft hand by a master. Mere mortals would make profiles that always looked hand-carved. Maybe you would choose material that like to be pared in all directions, and didn't like to split as much. Maybe walnut is right out of the question!

It would take successive passes, and lots of pauses for honing. Holding the work would be a significant challenge.

My best guess is that back in the day multiple similar profiles would be turned into a column using a lathe, and then slices cut from that to the right thickness.


There were curved molding planes of various designs. A scratch stock would work for simple situations, but the quality of a scratched profile would be nowhere near a cut one

Curved plane 1

Curved molding plane 2

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