Quantity and quality do not come from the same people...most of the time. I am as slow as a turtle when I work, but I never get a call back or a bad reference. I have been called in to tear out and re-do other "wood butcher's" bad workmanship. There is nothing more hideous than going into a house that has beautifully milled woodwork and seeing hack job miters and copes on casing and baseboard or botched stair rail installations. So, don't get upset about being slow.
As others have replied, get used to measuring the whole room for baseboard and all the pieces for both sides of a door and all the pieces for each window. I actually take a notebook and go through a house, room by room, and measure all the doors in one column and all the windows in another column. I measure the base for the whole floor that I am working on, room by room. Being right handed when coping, I start at the door and work my way around the room, counter-clockwise when measuring...writing down each measurement to the 32nd of an inch and noting the type of cut on each end S=straight, C=cope, M=miter, etc.
I take my notebook to the miter saw station and start with the 7' door casings. I stand them up along a wall and look at color and grain pattern and make sets of 2 side pieces and a piece to be cut in half and used for tops. The side pieces are cut to exact length. I leave the top pieces about 3/8" long. I attach the sides, then fit the top to them. Not everybody will agree with this method, but I like it. I match the grain and color so the finished miters will look like the boards grew from the same section of tree. I cut and label the parts for each door and stack them by the saw. After I am done with the door trim, I do the windows. These trim pieces usually come in 10-16' lengths so I try to get 2 sides or a top and bottom out of one length, still trying to match color and grain pattern. For these, I cut the sides to exact length and fit the top and bottom, which I cut about 3/8" long, again.
When I cut the baseboard, I lay the lengths out in piles. I look at my list and cut from the longest lengths to the shortest. This allows me to make maximum use of the lengths and the scrap. By the time I get to the 4' long pieces and shorter, I am done with the long pieces and can use the drop offs from them to make the shorter pieces. I do all my coping with a jig saw fitted with a 14 tooth metal cutting blade. These blades stay sharp longer and do not heat up and lose their temper. I place a shim on the baseboard next to where I will be cutting the cope. The jig saw base rides on that shim so the trim face is not marred up. I do this same thing for coping crown molding. If the cope is complicated I will rough it out with the jig saw and finish it with a file or with a small angle grinder or Dremmel tool. After I cut each piece, I label it and put it in a stack for each room. I do not have to leave the saw area until I am done with all the cuts this way. Once I am done cutting, I grab the door and window stacks for each room and take them to the room. Later, when I do the baseboard, I do the same thing. Once everything is cut and layed out, then I get out my compressor and nail guns and start nailing trim in place.
I could write a book about each phase of finish carpentry and built-ins. The best thing I learned is to be aware of what you are doing and stay present, in the moment. You can't be making surgically precise cuts and thinking about going fishing or your girl friend. "Haste makes waste" and "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get" are the mottos I live by. If you pay attention, the wood or the project will "talk to you" and you will "see" what to do and how to save time.
One big tip...if you can mark off where the studs are on the floor when there is no sheet rock on the walls, nailing on the baseboard will go a lot faster. I go through the new house before the sheet rock guys come in and I use a big crayon to mark off the studs.
Another tip...if you are doing your own staining and finishing of the wood pieces, do it first and then install it. It works A LOT better.
Last edited by MNsawyergp; 03-08-2014 at 02:07 PM.