Pear Wood

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Pear Wood

Post by vintage frames » Fri 24 Sep, 2021 9:24 am

Back to making picture frames.
I've been making this Hogarth style moulding for quite a while now, in obeche.
The trouble with obeche is the horrible little grain flecks that sort of ruin the effect when you go over with either paint or shellacs. One way to mitigate is to give the moulding a couple of coats of gesso or other but the trouble with that is when you rub back into the finish to create a 'worn' look, you get white gesso showing through.
So the answer was to do what the original makers did when producing Hogarth frames, that is to carve the profile into Pear wood.
Pear wood is expensive though and what they did was to face the frame in pear wood and use pine wood for the main body of the frame.
Here's a photo showing what I did -

IMG_3275.JPG

For this moulding I've stacked two profiles together to create what is known as a Gothic style Hogarth frame and you can see the pear wood sections laid on to the pine base.
The way it's made is to glue thin slabs of pearwood over some good pine ( R&H pine stretcher) and feed them through the spindle moulder. The front sight edge is gessoed and a grey bole laid ready for water-gilding.
The beauty of pear wood is the wonderful even finish that can be achieved with no annoying grain effects showing through.
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Re: Pear Wood

Post by Not your average framer » Fri 24 Sep, 2021 9:56 am

Hi Dermot,

Pear wood is a classic cabinet makers and furniture makers favorite and appears on some pieces of antique furniture. Is it all that hard to come by in this day and age?
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Pear Wood

Post by vintage frames » Fri 24 Sep, 2021 10:25 am

I've only been able to source it in waney edge boards so far. PAR boards would be more convenient, but even more expensive I suppose.
If anyone here knows better, 'would be grateful.
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Re: Pear Wood

Post by fusionframer » Fri 24 Sep, 2021 6:31 pm

Interesting timbers in somerset have a selection of timbers. They will organise shipping too. May be worth a check.

Nick
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Re: Pear Wood

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 25 Sep, 2021 8:30 am

Pear trees don't grow very high, so the length of the tree trunks will be limited. I don't think that the girth of the trunks tends to be particularly large either, so the available sizes of pear woods are not likely to be particularly large. Pear wood has been a traditional furniture wood as far as I know, but probably not used very much on larger pieces. If you know what you are looking for you might spot older pear wood furniture at a worthwhile price in local household auction, which you could cut up to re-use the waste.

Before covid, I use to go to household auction looking for small furniture items that no one wanted to bid on as a source of re-usable reasonable quality wood. The amount of re-usable wood from some furniture items is sometines disapointingly small and it can be a lot of work to dismantle some items. Wood prices have been increasing in recent times so maybe re-using wood from items bought at local auction might make some worthwhile sense after all, in these current times, but it's not without it's difficulties.

Spending time cutting up and dismantling furniture in the road outside the auction house, in order to get it into the car can be hard work. Reversible sash clamps can be a helpful way of breaking so joints apart, but don't think that everything easily will simply be broken down into useful pieces by just using ths method. Some bts need cutting apart with a saw and this can be back breaking and take plenty of time as well. Auction house charges have also risen over the years and you need to be good at tinking on your feet, to figure out if what needs to be spent makes and sense in buying some items.
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Pear Wood

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 25 Sep, 2021 8:49 am

Pear wood is supposed to be quite hard and can be worked to produce nicely finished, finlely gained pieces. A possible substute wood type could be beech, it is also very hard and it finishes to a really smooth finish. If you are finishing the wood so that the woodgrain will not be seen, the really smooth finish obtainable can be very helpful to getting a really smooth flawless finish. I use beech moulding from time to time and generally look for ways of repurposing any left over scraps. It's quite a solid wood and somewhat harder to cut than most, so not the fastest wood for repurposing and making into other things. As a result I always cut it with a power saw, otherwise it takes forever.
Mark Lacey

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Re: Pear Wood

Post by vintage frames » Sat 25 Sep, 2021 9:38 am

Thanks Nick for mentioning Interesting Timbers. I used to go there, when I lived in that region. That's where I bought the best book I've ever read on frame making - Framing and Gilding, Paul Curson. They also had really good quarter sawn oak boards.

Yes Mark, Pear wood is quite limited to find and only in short lumber
Here's a board that arrived yesterday, just over a meter long -

IMG_3280.JPG
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Re: Pear Wood

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 25 Sep, 2021 12:35 pm

Hi Demot,

What is you opinion of Lime wood? Most of the wood carvings in Westminster abbey were produced from Lime wood by the famous Grindling Gibbons and it does produce very smooth, uniform and clean looking surfaces on mouldings. I have used Lime wood moulding, but it's not easy getting most customers to pay the extra for Lime wood moulding in my shop. As a result, I have not used any for a really long time. A local framing supplier (Venton interprises), also used to get more, or less flawless Tulip wood moulding from Roumania and this did not have any of the usual blemishes found in normal Tulip wood mouldings. Sadly Venton enterprises is now long gone, but maybe there are still sources for this really flawless and very light coloured Tulip wood from other sources instead.

I'm not a particular fan of most standard grade Tulip wood moulding as they are usually not great for stained finishes, due to the number of black and dark grey defects, but they do cut and join extremely cleanly and usually do not require gaps in corners to need filling at all. Up to a certain width of pine mouldings from particular suppliers, I can get some very clean looking and generally knot free pine, when using certain techniques can be stained to look like something much more distiguished then pine. Really good quality Pine does tend to be my go to choice for many basic uses, it is easy to obtain and is particularly convenient in terms of cost. I typically buy such moulding in quantities of 200 feet at a time, which pernits me to do a bit of sorting it in terms of how attractive, or less attractive it may be.

A certain amount of pine mouldings tends to be not cut to display the grain from a good direction of cut and I like to use such bits for less important uses, I am fairly sucessful in using these less attractive pieces in other and more advantageous ways. Some pieces get used turned through 90 degrees and sometimes this exposes a much nicer grain presentation. Other pieces are used for uses, which the less attractive grain is not going to be on display. I also make slips, fillets and spacers from off cuts as well. It all gets used anyway and over the years have proved very helpful and cost effective for me. I'm into stacked moulding frames in quite a big way. A reasonable number of my ready made frames are produced from my left over Pine off cuts, of which I tend to produce a few, as I don't much like using any Pine containing knots.

However bits of Pine containing knots are still useful, so they are not necessarily cuts to be so small, that they are useless, but still get used for making rustic pine frames. With a little bit of the most appropriate colouring, these can be amazingly popular sales items! Normal Antique pine stain is not the way to produce anything which will look remotely classy, in fact as far as I'm concerned itis the kiss of death in terms of ay sales potental. I know what really old and beaten up Pine genuinely looks like and it is nothing like what you get from antique pine stain at all. Realistic looking old looking rustic pine is not difficult to produce, but for me it involve a bit of a learning curve. I know how to produce rustic pine frames in a variety of different looks and finishes. Different customers buy different items! Little Rustic pine framed mirrors, which include a small shelf are quite popular.

The real kiss of death is anything whick looks too much like it might be a bit "run of the mill". I do my best to produce things wich are different and somewhat unusual. Things which are genuinely distnctive almost always get snapped up by customers. Selling anything, which fits the mass produced style is very difficult to do at all. As a result, finding nice pieces of left over, or unwanted hard wood is very helpful indeed. Old bits of beaten up looking wood are really great too! I would not be here, without having my old fashioned looking shop windows, they really are a big part of the secret to sucess. Also if you are operating from a old fasioned building, try not to be too super neat and tidy, people like to rumage hoping to fide that special hidden gem. I'm very in to different and also producing niche market style items. Customers love it!
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Pear Wood

Post by vintage frames » Sat 25 Sep, 2021 2:53 pm

I've never used lime wood. I do know it's used by wood carvers and would indeed be used in a frame if the ornament around the frame was hand carved. After that, the carvings would usually be covered in gesso so the primary choice of lime would be it's quality to hold delicate carvings.
Woods such as pear, ebony and cherry are usually chosen for their fine and long grain structure which can be polished to a beautiful finish under shellac. And don't we all miss ramin.
Tulip is OK under gesso but it can go a bit fluffy when being worked. Much prefer obeche and pine under gesso.
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Re: Pear Wood

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 25 Sep, 2021 3:06 pm

Yes, we all miss ramin. There was not really anything quite like it and it stained and polished beautifully. Do you remember those beuutiful Albor ramin cushion shaped mouldings? There were so popular in those days! They were amazing to cut and join and never needed any filling on the corner joints. They were not excessively expensive either. Those were good days!

I still think that there are particularly nice quality wood moulding which are great to stain and polish, unfortunately stained and polished mouldings are not so much in fashion anymore!
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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