Thursday, July 9, 2009

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Home PageDoorsBase & Shoe MoldingCrown MoldingTips, Etc. ArchivesTools of the TradeBuilding MaterialsChair Rail & BackerSpecialty Projects. Finish Carpentry 101 Tips, Etc. ArchivesMiseries, Revelations & Successes

July 4, 2009 - Revelation

People say that every thing you do has been done, everything you think of has been thought of, and everywhere you go someone's been there before. This may be true, but no one has ever been anywhere, and done things and thought things quite the same way as you have. Whether this gets you ahead in life or not, who freakin' knows, but just the fact you got a shot is what its all about. Peace out and Happy 4th. Hug a veteran. They are the ones giving you a shot at being an individual.

June 28, 2009 - Misery and Revelation:

Once I was using a nail gun to install window trim. A carpenter friend of mine, who fancies himself a comedian, was standing beside me. The nail gun slipped, and I shot a nail through my hand into the wall, securely fastening me there. The other carpenter looked at me and said "What are you doin', dude? We only got half a clip of nails left!"

He would have paid dearly for this comment had I not been nailed to the window.Tips of the Week

June 28, 2009 - When installing crown molding, work from left to right. When installing base, work right to left. This will make coping the material much easier.

When installing shoe molding, who cares; I hate shoe molding. I'd rather sit naked on an ant hill.
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Organization & Order of Your ProjectTools of the Trade

For me, this is one of the most important areas of this site. I just cannot express enough how important it is to use a decent tool for the job. An inferior tool is more dangerous than its worth. I can't even count how many tools I've burnt up doing my job. Please, if you buy a tool, buy a good one.... I'm begging you. You are not saving money if the boat anchor you just bought burns up halfway through your spice rack project, can I get an "amen"?

More to come...

Organization & Order of Your Project

I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on this subject, because most of it boils down to common sense. Also becasue it's about as interesting as shopping for a good sitzbath product. I will say though that an organized job will always go faster and encounter less nasty surprises. I've met a lot of superintendents on jobsites in my life. When they come on the job, I usually can tell immediately what I'm dealing with. The best supers I've met all had one or more things in common. They had the ability to deal with people and get them to do what they want without belittling them and puffing up their chests and spouting orders. These are the ones that get the job done fast, efficiently and on budget. I have met many that I would swear were distant relatives of Adoph Hitler. None of this really applies to an average DIY'er byt I just had to get that off my chest. The point of this fairytale is that good planning can really save you a lot of time, money and sanity.

More to come...
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This project can actually be fun even for the most jaded among us, unlike some projects like running shoe mold which tends to make me speak Latin backwards and spew pea soup.

The reason this type of project is cool is because we all have a picture in our mind of what looks good. Your fireplace mantel is a place where you can do a lot of stuff and make it llok great and suit your own particular tastes. The process is mostly the same to build, but the end results can be vastly different from what you had before and a beautiful change. On the down side of this, it could just be a horrific mess. Isn't that always the way.... oy.

More to come...


Nowadays people seem to be interested in decorative shelving and such. These types of projects can be done by anybody because they are so simple when you break down the steps. By the way, chicks dig shelves. (Yes, we do.... ~Editor)

More to come...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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Home Page. Finish Carpentry 101 DoorsI want to cover this category in depth, because many homeowners are wary of installing doors simply because they are not familiar with the process. Installing doors is easy, as is a lot of the stuff I cover on this site after you learn the basic steps. The problem with doors is that they have to be functional or they will drive you nuts, whereas a piece of crown can go up with a tube of caulk stuffed in it and no ones the wiser. Doors must be installed properly to function without sticking, creaking, moving around, etc.

I've put in a ton of doors in my career and over the years I've learned ways to do it fast and functional. A partner of mine and I once installed 150 doors in an apartment complex in just over a day and a half. They were done correctly as well. That's a lot of doors in a day and a half. The point here is that when you learn the the correct steps to installing doors they can be done fast and functional and are really easy to do. On the other hand nothing in carpentry work drives me more nuts than a door that is put in wrong. Trust me I've seen countless doors installed wrong by jacklegs that claimed to be good carpenters either through laziness or just not really know how to do it even though they said they did. It drives me nuts. I've run a lot of trim crews, and I was constantly having to manage the installation of the doors because as soon as I turned around, they would be slapped in wrong and the builder would chew me out because they were installed wrong. It's one of the most basic finish carpentry jobs that must be done when trimming out a house. When a builder walks on his job and inspects the trim crews work, one of the first things he checks is whether the doors are done properly, because he knows that if they aren't that a few weeks down the road they will be sticking or will be out of level so bad that they make the walls look terrible, etc. They simply must be done correctly. Once you learn how, it is like riding a bicycle; you will always remember it

Let's start with the basic anatomy of a door. Simply put, a door is a box or frame that a slab (actual door) is hinged upon and swings right or left. The swing of a door is critical when installing it. I'll expand on that later in this chapter. The box in which the slab swings is called the door jambs, so you will have two side jambs and a top section of jamb.

(insert pic)

There are two main types of residential doors the homeowner needs to be familiar with: a sold jamb door and a split jamb door. A split jamb door is probably what most DIY'ers will end up with, because they are what Home Depot and Lowes carry for the most part. They are cheaper in price and quality, but they do have some advantages for the novice installer. They are called split jambs because the jamb is actually in two pieces. You install one side which typically already has your casing or trim already nailed on. Then you shim it between jamb and framing, and simply plug the other side of jamb on, which obviously is the other side of the two rooms. It will have the casing on it as well and then you nail it all off and you are done. Keep in mind this is just an overview of the door types themselves. I will go over the details of installation below.

Prehung doors come in a variety of sizes. This seems like a simple statement but when you want to buy them and they ask you what size you want, things go fuzzy quick. Most homes have a few basic sizes of doors, and they are labeled in size in a confusing way. For example, if you go to buy a door, most likely you will by buying what is called a 2-0 door, a 2-4 door, a 2-6 door, a 2-8 door or a 3-0 door, etc. I'm getting' a headache describing this. These terms simply mean that a 2-0 door is a 24-inch door, a 2-4 door would be 24 inches plus 4 inches. I know, I know, why not call it a 28-inch door? Maddening, isn't it? Along this line of logic, a 2-6 door would be 30 inches. Uhh, you get the idea. I don't know why this is, but I wasn't invited to the meeting where these things were hammered out. Most framers will frame a door opening 2 to 2.5 inches bigger than the door being installed, so, for example, if your door hole (pardon my French) is 32 inches wide you would need a 2-6 door or you can just pay somebody to go get it and have a martini.

This extra room the framers give you is so you can level the door and shim it. There are not many things more infuriating that trying to put a door in a hole that is framed too tight. If the hole is too tight, don't try to just cram the door in the hole with no room. It might work for a while, but it will not stand the test of time. If your house settles at all, and they all do, the door will stick eventually. It's better to have an opening that is too big than too small. That reminds me of a joke... uh, never mind. The height of the door will be listed as a 6-8 door or an 8-foot door. 6-8 meaning 6 feet, 8 inches high. I know, it's brilliant, isn't it? So if you have a 32-inch opening and went to Home Depot, you would simply tell them you need a 2-6/6-8 prehung split-jamb door. Then watch the guy from the plumbing section get on the radio and call for help. Eventually after two exhilarating hours, you will be the proud owner of a shiny new 30-inch by 80-inch door. Let the fun begin!

More to come...
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This site is designed to help homeowners understand and implement basic finish carpentry techniques themselvs in order to save time ,money and the personal satisfaction of doing a project themselves
crown moulding can be extremely frustrating for DIY'ers .Once you become famialiar with the crown and basic physics of cutting it it becomes easy fairly fast. Most people have trouble with cutting crown because they have trouble with the concept of cutting it upside down on the saw.I know it sounds strange but when cutting crown mould you bed it on miter saw ,with the bottom of crown up and resting against saw fence.There are many profiles of crown but generally, the small detail is the bottom of the crown so this would placed up against the saw fence and the top would be down against the saw table
The crown shown in the attachment is shown with bottom up and is a typical crown profile

i will be attaching photos of everything i discuss as time permits so check back with this site at your convenience.also please forgive my punctuation etc. as im a carpenter and keyboards are not my forte but i can help you begin to understand
basic carpentry techniques.
Crown moulding can really spice up a room and add value to your property.It gives an immediate pop to any room ,especially when it is done properly an all that takes is some practice and determination.Personally it is much harder for me to type out
this imformation than it is for me to install crown.

Okay,lets start with the basics.Crown is simply a ceiling trim piece.It is bedded between the ceilng and the wall which provides depth and dimension.It can be installed as one piece or several pieces together to really give some dramatic detail.
Crown can be cut on a miter saw laying flat or bedded .For now we will concentrate on bedding the crown on the saw,because once you understand the principle of bedding the crown ,you begin to really grasp the tricks of using this moulding.i will be adding photos ,as i said earlier , of each process i discuss.]

lets start withe a simple square room. you can join the crown in the corners by cutting a 45 degree angle on each peice and butting them together,or you can square off the first piece on both ends and then work your way arond the room left to right and cope the next piece over the first. Coping means that you would cut the crown on that same 45 degree angle but backcut the angle so it lays over the top of the squared off piece.I know this sounds strange and complicated but once you have perfected this technique it can be applied to many different types of trim,like base ,shoe mold etc..I will attach photos of these type of joints and it will become much clearer to you ,as we go along.

this seems mysterious to alot of people but it is a fundamental skill that is easy with some practice but once you get a feel for it you will always be confident in you joinery because the room your installing the trim in can be crooked as hell but this technique can solve a lot of grief because once you learn it it doesnt matter if a room is perfectly sqyuare when you simply bevel the inside corners at a 45 degree angle if the room is out of square the miters will not fit but when you cope one piece over the other it can make life much easier see attacthed photos of coping an inside corner and just beveling an inside corner remember coping works for many types of moulding such as base shoe nold chairrrail and backer etc its an easy effective method for joiming inside corners.

as i said earlier , im concentrating on explaining how to cut crown here by bedding it on the saw instead of cutting it on the flat because i think that once your mind wraps around the concept of how crown works and understand how it beds ,then you can really quickly get a grasp on getting it on the wall without 6 tubes of caulk,wasted time , and wasted money

lets start with installing the crown in a ten foot square room.measure your first wall and cut the crown nice and snug ,square on both ends . nail this piece on the wall making sure tha it is bedded properly see pic nail it off all along the piece but do not nail within 2 to 3 feet of the ends this will allow you to teak them later they may need to be tapped up or down to improve your finished joint .more on that later. by hte way , before i go on i must tell you that alot of these methods are adapted to the individuals prefernces i know alot ofcarpenters that have their own way of doing this stuff but ultimately the tips im trying to give you are universal techniques for example, some people cope their corners by pushing the coping sa away frome them see pic i preferr to use a pulling motion with coping saw its faster and more accurate and the other way to me is just goofy but thats a personal preference the results are basically the same

when ever your eys glaze ove just refer to the pictures ill add as many as i can as time permits.k back to the should have one piece nailed on wall bedded between tha ceilng and wall
and as i said no nails within 2 feet of eithher end next, measure the next wall measure this wall really snug. when measuring always measure reall snug . as the crown is forced it the wall it will help tighten the corner where your cope joins with your first piece once you are competent that you have a good TIGHT MEASUREMENT bed the crown with the bottom up on saw fence
see pic and cut your inside bevel on left end of board see pic then backcut the crown along the short point of the bevel see pic just takeyour time on this or even better take a couple of scrap pieces of crown snd prctiv=ce this technique, the first few times you try this it will be maddening and you will want to stick the claw on your hammer into your forehead , but once you get it youll always have it and this stuff will be childsplay for you. but it will get you flustered snf irritated at first

you simply follw this routine right around the room and on the last piece you measure reall nice and snug and cope your final piece on both ends commonly refered to as a double cope

the reason you want to go left to right is because in my opinion, it easier to cope in this direction see pic

crown can be a real pain in the ass, but there are very simple things that mak it much easier

every crown has what i referr to as a sweetspot. by this i mean, that every crown is just a tad different and if you can find that sweet spot or where it seems to want to bed and get a nice joit then you can simply mark that spot on your miter saw and simply bed it there consistently and all your joints will come together much better see pic

virtually all crown has a squared off part along the top and bottom the squared off part on the to should rest flat and tight to ceiling and if you are bedding the crown right then the bottm sqared off point wil be tight to the wall i know from many hard years of doing this stuff that by simply bedding the crown a little high on your miter saw ,or in other words [rolling it up]
it can dramaticall increase your results. im tellin ya this works see pic just roling the crown up or down even by minute amounts can really change the ange and bevel of your cut see pic

just practie it alittle and you will begin to understand the bedding process. the most important thing here is that just by rolling the crown up or down really affects the tightness of your inside corner see pic

there are many types of crown that dont have a bottom or top they are the same on both ends see pic these you just bed them and cut them as desribed earlier. i started with crown on this site because over the years ive met so many people that were frustrated and frankly about to go insane because they were trying to run crown without any idea of how to do it . it becomes really easy if you just get your mind around the physics of how it beds in between the wall and ceiling. and also once you can cope crown, coping anything is a peice of cake, such as base etc

when you come to an outside corner in a room it is the opposite of an inside corner, obviously, and the outside corners are where it can get dicey only because the are very visible and caulk can only help them so much. inside corners are much easier to hid sins in than outside corners because they are far easier to caulk. outside corners need to be really nice and tight to acheive good end result. to me , a badly done outside corner is a real eyesore see pic

a lot of what i think frustrates so many people with crown is they just dont get the bedding,upsidedown on saw ,and direction that the crown needs to go to go up fast and tight

try cutting an inside corner and an outide corner on scrap to get a feel for it before ya try to put it on the wall , crown is expensive and you can waste alot of money and end up with a bad job really easy hopefully the pics etc can get you started
crown can get really nasty when you are trying to put it in small rooms,such as bathrooms and powder rooms because the smaller the pieces you are trying to join the harder it gets simply because you cannot bow it in like you can longer pieces see pic

for this reason you really need to practice the above before you run crown in small spaces
if you get anything out of what ive gon over i hope it is that crown is not mystical and anyone can do it with a minimal amount of practice
trust me ,if youvenever done it it will test your resolve but eventually youl realize how easy it really is if i were to run that 10 foot square room i would charge at least 75 dollars just for labor and the materials would be about the same depending of course what kind of crow you want to run
it would take me as long to get the tools off the truck as it would to run the crown probably 30 minutes tops so you can really save alot of money doing it yourself

alot of the fancy large mouldings you see in houses today are simlpy crown with a few pieces added same order ,same process just more pieces so it appears to be a much bigger piece of trim

speaking of tools, i realy,really recommend usin a pneumatic finish nailer to apply the crown hand driving nails in crown can be a costly ,miserable,horrific undertaking
please just rent a saw or borrow one and a compressor and nailgun to do this work just trust me on this its so worth the money hand driving nails in crown is a bitch and almost always not as good in the end

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WELCOME Ive been a finish carpenter for many long hard and lean years.As a result of this ,Ive learned thru trial and error, and expensive heartache, some lessons that DIY'ers can use to make their projects more enjoyable,less expensive and much more fullfilling.Below is a list of common projects that homeowners can do themselve to add value and beauty to their homes and get brownie points with the wife.
















Please bear with me , as im much better with wood than typing but i can save you some money and time.i will start breaking down these categories on this blog as time permits .Check back often.