The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Home Stretch


When I woke up yesterday morning I found myself not feeling so great. Both my wife and daughter are just getting over colds, and I think I managed to contract some of the germ myself. It was a warm day yesterday, and with rain expected over the coming week I felt that it was now or never and decided to continue with my bedroom remodel. First thing I needed to tackle was the window where I had left off last weekend. To trim it out I went with a traditional square casing, using 1×4 pre-primed stock, the same I had used on the closet and entry doors. Last week I took great care to install proper structure by reinforcing the two-by stock under the window, as it hadn’t been framed properly when the house was originally built. That extra work paid off greatly, as I had a nice, plumb frame to work with. With that I was able to cut the casings, meaning the bottom/top and the two stiles together. It was a huge time saver and everything fit very nicely. The only minor inconvenience was cutting two shallow rabbets at the bottom end of each stile so I could fit them around the wainscoting. For that task I used the table saw to nibble away and a chisel to clean it up. With that finished I cut in a sill. I don’t like wide window sills, I prefer them shallow, especially with a traditional square casing. Once again, the square frame was easy to work with and I had the sill cut and fit in no time. To finish off the first window I used some 1/4″ thick poplar strips around the side and top of the new casing; for that job I used a backsaw, cutting the pieces to a spring fit. It turned out very nicely and cleanly. There should be a bare minimum of caulking to do before it’s ready to paint.

With the window casing installation finished much more quickly than I thought it would go, I moved onto the wainscoting. Again, because everything is nice and square I was able to cut the pieces in bulk and the installation was flying by. I ran into no problems until I reached the second window. It turns out that I was one piece short of 1×4 trim. My bedroom has an access panel for the plumbing going to the shower. The original wainscoting had a portion of it cut out as a makeshift door held with some screws. It was poorly done to say the least. I had planned on doing the same, but hopefully in a much nicer fashion. However, when it came to it, I decided that taking a lazy shortcut, like the original installers did, wasn’t such a good idea; so I framed it out using a 1×4 trim piece reserved for the second window. I made a door out of the wainscoting, held together in the back by two battens. At the bottom of the door I installed a piece of the baseboard trim I am using. Rather than put it on hinges I used two magnetic catches, and attached a knob to use as a pull. The catches hold the panel on just fine and I believe it is a much cleaner look. Though I used one more trim piece than I originally thought I would, my access panel framing came with a few added benefits. Firstly, it looks much, much nicer than it originally did, and secondly, because I added a small ‘doorway’, it broke up the wall length. Rather than having to scarf two pieces of baseboard moulding together, I was able to use one piece, along with the cutoffs from another to finish off the door and the wall. This will allow me to return a section, which at nearly $20 per length will pay for the extra piece of 1×4 I need with change to spare.

Because I couldn’t trim out the second window, I installed the rail cap on the other two walls and basically called it a day. I’ll pick up the piece of trim I need some day after work this week, and if all goes well, the carpentry portion of this remodel should be finished in two or three hours on Saturday. I had some reservations about starting this remodel but now I’m glad I did it. All of the initial prep work paid off and things are going at a fast pace now. The funny thing is that I thought our bedroom looked pretty nice before, but now it looks that much nicer. The material cost for this job will end up being around $400, not including whichever paint my wife picks out. If I were bidding this job for somebody else, I would probably have charged right around a thousand, including demo, but not including any of the electrical work I had to do, that would have added a few more hours labor to the task. You won’t really have to look far on certain woodworking forums to see some good old fashioned carpenter bashing. It could be an accountant, or computer engineer who easily charges $75 minimum per hour for his services. This is the same guy who started woodworking a few years ago, possibly working with his hands for the first time in his life. His ass is about a foot too wide and his waist about five or six sizes too large, but somehow he knows exactly what a carpenter should charge per hour for his work. Well, I’m going to get on my high horse and say that don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. If you think properly trimming out a room and making it look nice is easy then you’ve never done it before. It requires just as much careful measuring and lay-out as any fine furniture build, AND, you are dealing with variables that are completely out of your control, such as wall flatness and out of square framing. I can honestly say that I’m proud of the work I’m doing in our bedroom, and every time I take on a carpentry task such as this, it gives me that much more respect for the guys that do it day in and day out and do it properly, because I know from experience that it’s not easy.

Again, sorry about the poor photo quality. My iPhone is about at the end of its rope.

Also, for the record, those are not gaps at the top of the window casing. The trim came pre-primed with the edges already eased, and I thought it would be silly to trim the eased edge off when it will be covered with a few coats of paint.

Coming along.

Coming along.



  1. Jonas Jensen says:

    That is looking really good. In my opinion, few things signal class and style as a well made inspection hatch.
    I am working on the trim of our upstairs, and it is a big job to say the least.
    Brgds Jonas

    • billlattpa says:

      Like in most projects be it woodworking or carpentry, it’s always the little details that make the big difference. As far trimming out a room and making it look professionally done, there are a lot of so-called woodworkers who look down upon it but have never actually done the work themselves. Firstly, it is much more physically demanding than building furniture, and secondly, in many cases the work is just as exacting, not to mention on a much larger scale. I’ve already put in more than twenty hours and I still have a few more to go.

      Also, I have to agree with Christopher Schwarz, you ARE dedicated! I haven’t smiled that much in my entire life 🙂

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October 2013
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