Friday, April 1, 2016

And Another Big Project Is Done...

For about the last two weeks, we've been working on another project here: painting and refreshing the kitchen. 

It's something Mrs. Graybeard has been wanting to do for a while, but she was having trouble picking colors and, well, deciding what it was going to look like.  We started in earnest after the antenna project was done. 

The novelty here is that for the first time in our house, we did a two-tone wall, with the bottom darker and the top lighter.   Also for the first time, we added a chair rail.  I've never done that sort of finish carpentry before, but I have the tools to do it.  We found a rail we liked on the Big Orange Borg's web site and put it on order.  It took a week to get here.  We measured and cut the rails yesterday, then put a couple of coats of poly something or other on them.  Horrible Freight had a pneumatic nail gun on sale for $22, so I grabbed one of those rather than do everything all stooped over.  The lifetime supply of 2", 18 ga. nails I had to get offset that saving.  All in all, the chair rail went up like it was supposed to; or as I like to say, "almost as if I knew what I was doing".  

It's not completely done.  The walls in any house are rarely as straight as chair rails so there are some annoying gaps between the walls and the rails, but a little bit of caulk will solve that.

Only now Mrs. Graybeard is looking at the miter saw and thinking "crown molding around the entire house".  


  1. Oh, boy......

    That's why I've *never* let my wife see how well I do finish carpentry!

    That was all done in one of those "another life" periods we all have, and I don't do it any more.

    Besides, even though I've done excellent work, I'd never do it fast enough to suit her. I'd rather pay someone else to do it so she can complain about them.....

  2. The impact of words. Crown molding. Two simple words. But what a flood of memories.
    The scene is the back porch. We have had a contractor do all the heavy lifting and now we have a four season room with lots of windows, and heat and air conditioning. We have done all the painting, and we have laid the laminate floor and completed all the finish carpentry. (lots of fiddly bits)
    She looks up at the ceiling and says those dreaded words, crown molding.
    And I say, sure, how complicated can it be?
    If you are doing crown molding for the very first time, maybe you should not do a room that has a high ceiling. And maybe you should look at where the powder room is in the one corner and realize that if you begin on the one wall, the molding will be parallel to the floor, then as you move towards the main part of the house, the molding will turn an inside corner, while simultaneously beginning to climb up. But that was not the most interesting part. The most interesting part was where the downward slope of the molding intersected the trim of the one kitchen window. When the molding gets to the window trim, we will do an inside 90 corner, then about a half inch later we will do an outside 90 corner, then we will go over the flat window casing and then do a 90 outside corner, and then a 90 inside corner.
    When you look at putting the crown molding into the saw, you quickly realize that there is one right way, and there are about a gazillion wrong ways.
    Floor to ceiling height at the tallest is thirteen and a half feet. You will not be able to do the job from a ladder, so you will be buying scaffolding.
    The first crown molding attempt was an utter failure when trying to use the tiny bevel gauge on the good chop saw. (we did not own the electronic angle gauge at the time)
    The not orange box store had a 12 inch Hitachi chop saw on a great closeout price and the saw had digital readouts for both miter and bevel. Now we can move forward.
    Get a book. We used "Crown Molding & Trim."
    We bought the suggested angle gauge and it worked out well.
    Make up a set of templates for the inside and outside and left and right cuts. If you are ready to cut a left inside cut and the the blade settings do not match your template, you are about to make a mistake.
    Begin the experience curve with primed MDF crown molding in a small area with no climbing or descending angles.
    Next trip to harbor freight add a finish nailer. You will have to add blocking in areas and this will give you a slightly longer reach of nail, and a larger nail for some applications.
    The job turned out great, but when we did crown molding in the bedroom, we used a plastic product that has a flat back and the corners are simple 90s and glued together.
    Like all jobs where we bit off a little more than we could chew, we learned a bunch, I got a new saw, the job looks great, and she is happy. So it was win win win all the way.

  3. Crown molding and automatic transmissions, two things I will never attempt again...

  4. For automatic transmissions in the Central Florida area, scott king, you want to let JW Performance Transmissions in Rockledge do the work if it's a manual operation. For electronic auto trannys, you would go to Ken's Performance in Orlando.

  5. If you want to cure her of crown moldings, SiG, just get two short pieces of whatever style she wants and make the first cuts. Then ask her to help you fix it. Shouldn't take long...

  6. I was going to add my horror story, but it looks like you folks covered it. For me, it wasn't worth the headaches, wrong cuts, etc. Unless you want to end up with a shop full of tools that only see use once or end up remodeling your entire house "because they are there", hire it done, if you must. If you were bored, SiG, that would be one thing, but unless you want finish carpentry to take over from all of your other interests (ham radio, guitar, reloading, shooting, boating/fishing, etc.), you might offer Mrs. Graybeard a new gun or some jewelry, instead ;-)

  7. She assures me she was kidding, as I thought at the time.

  8. Eh, crown isn't that hard, esp. after you've run a couple of thousand feet of it :-)

    Seriously though, the main trick is cutting the moulding upside down, and at the angle it will be between the ceiling and wall. Usually this is done by clamping a guide board to the chopsaw. Once you get it right, you only have to worry about keeping track of inside and outside measurements. There's a trick for that too. Build a 'mock up' of each type of corner, with the legs 1 foot long on the bottom edge. Then to measure a wall with an outside corner, you can hold the mockup on the corner, and measure to the leg, add the foot back and viola! Not really as hard as it sounds, you can make pencil marks on the wall at each leg and measure between them... And since you are cutting with the moulding upside down, you are always measuring the bottom edge, which will always be the length of the wall (+- a bit).

    Always leave them a bit long, so you can 'spring' them into place. That will help you keep your joints tight.

    Anyway, the best way is to have someone who does it well show you.

    All that is for painted crown. Don't try running stained crown for your first go. There's no caulking the seams with stained.


    1. edit, I said "inside and outside measurements" but meant "inside and outside corners" since that determines which way to swing the chopsaw.


  9. The idea of a mock-up of the corners took me three walls of my first attpt to germinate. But after that much easier. Can also use the test pieces to gauge how non-square actual corners are and make adjustments.