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What is an Ogee?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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An ogee is an S-shaped curve that can be found on many molding and trim profiles. The convex and concave curves on this profile may be of equal or unequal size, depending on the design of the molding. Ogee molding is very similar to cyma-profile molding, as both feature an S-shaped design. On an ogee profile, the two ends of the curves point up and down to form a vertical S-shape, while the ends of the curve point out to the sides on a cyma profile to form a horizontal S-curve. The ogee profile is commonly associated with Gothic architecture, and can be found in both the arches and trim on many Gothic-style buildings.

This design dates back to early Arabian architecture. The traditional arch design in the Arab world consists of two ogee curves arranged back to back. One end of the curves sits on the floor to form the base of the archway, while the other ends meet at the top to form a pointed arch.

In modern architecture, this profile is used to create a decorative finish on furniture and walls. Ogee molding may be installed at the joint between a wall and ceiling, or along the base of the floorboards. It also acts as a trim for windows and doors, and is often found on the glazing bars between adjacent window pains. Many installers add ogee molding to the top or bottom of furniture and cabinets to create a finished look. This profile can also be used to trim the exterior walls of a building or other structure.

Ogee molding is often made from wood using special router bits. These bits, used in conjunction with a wood router, make it easy to create smooth, even curves along the entire length of a piece of wood. This molding profile can also be formed using plaster molds, or shaped from aluminum or other soft metals. When used on exterior surfaces, this profile can be carved into stone or concrete.

This trim profile can be combined with other types of molding or trim to form more complex designs. It can also be joined together to create molding with a double-ogee profile. The radius of the curves can greatly affect the appearance of the molding, as well as its shadow pattern. Very large, deep curves create shadows that add depth and texture to a room, while smaller curves add texture without shadows.

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Discussion Comments

By Malka — On Aug 04, 2011

@malmal - Oh, wow, you're putting ogee designs on your walls? I guess that's normal, the article references it too. I just never have encountered ogee anything except for on furniture. I have dining room chairs with ogee used on them, and they're really pretty.

I wonder if it would be possible to make my own ogee designs for furniture without too much hassle or fancy woodworking saws?

I make furniture for fun as a hobby, but I've realized lately that the reason my home made stuff looks so much plainer and less fancy than the store bought stuff is that the store bought furniture has small carved detailing like ogee designs on it.

By malmal — On Aug 03, 2011

@ahain - Wow, that's pretty impressive that the building has lasted this long! I knew the ogee style was old, but I didn't know it was this old.

I looked up ogee styles here after learning that ogee was the name for the kind of molding my sister is installing in her living room. It's such a quirky word, I had to know where it came from, but I guess nobody knows since they don't know for sure the country of origin, huh?

My sister's new ogee trim looks pretty cool. She's painting it turquoise to go around white walls with texture, and between the texture and the ogee bumps, it adds just enough complexity to feel finished without cluttering a person's view with excessive colors. The ogee is nice to look at without being too ornate or weird, too.

By ahain — On Aug 02, 2011

@VivAnne - I think the ogee is a style that many countries have used over the centuries. I doubt we could ever confirm who thought up the idea for and built the first ogee styled building, but it's fun to look at examples of the style used all over the world.

One of my favorite historical buildings featuring an ogee design is the Monastery of Jesus of Setúbal in Portugal. This beautiful monument was built as early as the year 1490, and even though it's been damaged by time and earthquakes over the centuries, it's still in remarkably good condition today. The ogee designs are on the roofs of two pointed towers on either side of the gateway.

By VivAnne — On Aug 01, 2011

I wish more buildings included an ogee design on the roof line. The ogee style has been around since ancient times, and was once popular in France, England and Rome as well as Persia.

I find it entertaining that the continued historical barbing between France and England is extended even to the ogee. In France they called the ogee style "flamboyant" and in England it was "decorated". That tells you something about the two countries' views on fancy roof styles, doesn't it?

England seems to go more for portraying itself as regal, and France as flashy. Just my observations from learning about history -- no offense intended to any French or English people reading this!

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