Trim Carpentry Tips
Trimming is detailed work that requires patience, skill and just a little bit of a perfectionism. Here are some great trim carpentry tips to get you from hack to pro.
Install a nailer
I hate redoing any miter, but I will if that’s what it takes. Also, I always install a nailer for the crown molding even if the trusses are running perpendicular. A nailer takes the guesswork out of finding the trusses/floor joists and guarantees the crown will stay in place.
Submitted by New Hope Remodeling @newhoperemodeling
Consider using a jack miter
A jack mitre is basically a combination of a butt joint and a mitre joint. So why use a jack mitre? Basically, the jack miter gives you extra strength and minimizes the movement of the wood, which means that there’s less of chance of gaps. Plus, the jack miter creates a much smaller glue line so there’s no glaring glue mark after your casing is painted. And, jack miters are just cool!
Submitted by Seth Vyn @sethvyn
Build a large assembly table
It’s typically much easier to preassemble large casing and jambs before installing them. An assembly table is especially useful if you’re working on a house with a bunch of large windows. A big, flat, stable area to work makes assembly a breeze and results in cabinet shop-like quality.
Submitted by Sean Fagan @sean.fagan
Mark your casing reveal
Mark the locations for the edge of the casing. That will remove the guesswork and you’ll end up with consistent reveals every time. You just need to mark the middle and two ends. A combo square is the perfect tool.
Record it all on a pitch block
As soon as you figure out the angle of your stairs, record them on a pitch block. If you also record the rise and run and you’ll have all of the numbers and angles you need. You can use the pitch block for adjusting a miter saw or you can use it as a template for skirts and handrails. Take a snapshot on your phone so you have it in case it gets misplaced or accidentally chucked.
Submitted by Modern Oak Construction @ModernOakConstruction
There are plenty of ways to apply pressure to a miter so it gets a nice, tight fit before it gets fastened and the glue dries. One way is to take two blocks and cut 45-degree notches at equal distances. You can screw the two blocks to the trim or hold them in place with two additional clamps. Then just hook your clamp into the notches and tighten it up. This is a good way to get perfect window trim every time.
Submitted by @carpentry_bymar
A spinning miter saw blade can grab hold of tiny pieces and send them flying across the room. That’s not good for finished wall surfaces or the side of your coworkers head. Prevent projectiles by building a sacrificial fence like this one.
Weave instead of miter
A good way to give a ceiling a unique look is to create a woven intersection. They do it to floors all the time, why not ceilings? Standard miters would not have looked nearly as nice, and this pattern is going to hold up to changes in temps and moisture levels much better.
Submitted by Justin Caraway @trim_guy
Pocket screws are a super handy form of fastening that I’ve under-utilized for too long. Recently, I have been learning to use them in as many places as possible. On this project I used pocket screws to secure a kitchen island. The base molding will cover the holes.
Submitted by Alan Muncey @thepeicarpenter
Close a miter with a back-bevel
It’s difficult to get a tight closed miter in casing when the jambs of a door or window stick out past the drywall. Cutting the miter with a slight back-bevel should solve the problem. Wedge a pencil, a shim or small chunk of something to lift the casing off the plate of the saw. The size of the wedge and the distance to the blade will effect the the amount of back-bevel. Practice on scrap pieces.
Cut a 60-degree+ angle on a miter saw
Cut a block of wood at a 45-degree angle and cut a flat spot for the clamp. Clamp the molding to the block and line up the miter saw with the mark to make the cut.
Submitted by Will Hendricks @will.hendricks
Measure from the 1-in. mark
Sometimes it’s impossible to hook your tape onto a piece of trim. Instead of setting the hook right next to the end, which can be unreliable, I line the end up with the 1-in. mark. To help me remember to subtract the extra inch, I write, “Put the inch back!” on my saw. I haven’t inched something on my chop saw since I did that. It’s the little things.
Submitted by Scott Burman @burminator
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Do you have a jobsite or tool tip that makes your work-life easier, safer, or just more fun? Why not share it with your construction comrades? Plus, you can show off your professional prowess to your family and friends.