Blue Ox Millworks, Historic Park, and School of Traditional Arts
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One of these corner blocks is a Blue Ox reproduction. Can you spot the original?

Rosettes, Plinth Blocks, and Corner Blocks

Plinth blocks, rosettes, and corner blocks are all important elements in the layered feel of Victorian architecture.  When people think of Victorian door frames, most think of ornate design, but these Victorian elements are more than just decorative features.  They have a very deep history, and in many cases they serve as the interface between competing architectural elements.

The plinth block (or plynth block) serves as a connection between the door casing and baseboard.  Often the seam between the two can be very rough, especially with the expansion and contraction of wood over the years.  The plinth block is designed to cover that seam by standing proud of both the door casing and the baseboard by 1/8” to ¼”, hence if the casing and baseboards are the traditional 7/8” thickness the plinth would be 1” to 1 1/8” thick. This  provides  the layering effect and hides any paint crack at the seams.

(Near Right): Blue Ox corner block for a house on M Street in Eureka. (Far Right): Three older wood plinth block patterns from our shop floor.

Custom rosette corner block and several custom plinth blocks from the shop floor

To The Plinth Degree

The easy way to make a plinth block is to run a board through a molder or shaper and then cut the board into multiple blocks, but that leaves the block with horizontal grain, and makes it more susceptible to chipping or shattering over the years as the end grain is now exposed to the traffic being at the edge of the blocks. 

Our craftsmen are able to employ the correct method for manufacturing a plinth block, cutting each plinth block with the grain running vertically . Although more difficult this ensures that they will still be sturdy and strong well into the next century.  This is especially important for stain grade products because it allows the strong vertical lines to continue from peak to floor.

(Far Left): Check out the direction of the grain on these authentic Blue Ox wooden plinth blocks. (Near Left): We experimented with the idea of a plinth block with raised flutes while doing a job for a customer in Boston. This sample was done with the cheaper horizontal grain method.

Sample plinth / plynth blocks

A Corner on the Market

Corner blocks are found at the intersection between the vertical and horizontal casing trim of the door.  Most modern homes directly join the vertical and horizontal with a mitered cut at a forty five degree angle.  Unfortunately, even the slightest expansion and contraction of the wood causes the paint over the seam to crack.

A corner block covers this intersection and adds a layered feel.  As an added benefit, the seam between the corner block and the trim is in shadow so that attention is drawn away from the inevitable cracking in the paint.  Most corner blocks contain decorative elements, usually a bulls eye pattern.

(Near Right): Replacement corner block for a home in Eureka, California. (Far Right) Maple, oak, and poplar pattern corner blocks made by the Blue Ox Millworks.

Custom rosettes and corner blocks

A Rosette by any Other Name

Rosettes are often times confused with corner blocks but where corner blocks are most often square or rectangular rosettes are round.  They are often found staggered in rows or columns as a way of accentuating vertical or horizontal lines.  They make a wonderful addition to barge boards, exterior window casings, corner boards, etc.  Rosettes may be carved, turned, or even cast in plaster.

Whichever of these decorative elements you need for your home and business, Blue Ox Millworks will gladly put our over thirty years of experience to work for you.  Whether in oak, cherry, redwood, walnut, maple or a wood of your choice, the Blue Ox team of expert craftsmen is ready to help.  Contact the Blue Ox at (707) 444-3437 or send us an email for an estimate. View rosette pattern samples here.

(Far Left) Two corbels with rosettes and a sunburst pattern are prepared for shipment to San Francisco. (Near Left) Just a few of the hundreds of rosette patterns that we have duplicated over the years.

Rosettes are used throughout Victorian architecture

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