Methods to Speed Up Trim Installation - Page 2 - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #21 of 27 Old 03-03-2014, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by hands made for wood View Post
Hey friends! As a young guy, I can manage to achieve a decent looking finished product with millwork and cabinetry. However, the thing that really gets me, is feeling like I'm slow compared to other finishers.

I thought I would ask all of you which methods have helped you speed up your work? Particularly installing casing, and baseboard. But even in general, what are keys to your speed?

Any help and input will be a HUGE help to me :)

Thanks in advance!
Get a system that works for you, I always installed the doors first, then windows trimmed, ceiling, chair, base and shoe. With a really good blade and a good circular saw and with a speed square, you can run base and shoe much faster but it does take practice to get good enough.

On base I did my cuts then nailed last. Ceiling mold, base, shoe and chair rail I cut the wall to wall pieces a good heavy 3/32 heavy, coped, then popped the pieces in place, they look like they grew there.


Anything is possible IF you don't know what you are talking about.
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post #22 of 27 Old 03-04-2014, 08:58 AM
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The key to efficiency, and this is where the time goes, is not so much in saving time with the steps of the process, but in cutting down the number of steps with your feet to bare minimum. It's not a game of getting the work done, but a game of efficiency.
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post #23 of 27 Old 03-05-2014, 09:07 AM
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And experience.
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post #24 of 27 Old 03-08-2014, 01:58 PM
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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.
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post #25 of 27 Old 03-09-2014, 10:18 AM
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Couple good tips thanks - I need to remember them.

One think I need to learn. There must be procedures when you make a mistake or when you are trimming out something that is not square. In my recent project my original cuts were fairly accurate. However I was working with a less that square hole in the wall. And it was dark work area. So after I nailed it up I noticed that the 45 degree joints were not flush to each other. Either I leave it as is, remove and redo or take my sander and sand them even. I don't know yet. My wife thinks I'm crazy, etc etc etc. Any procedures for these type situations?
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post #26 of 27 Old 03-10-2014, 10:59 AM
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The "science" of making miters fit is interesting. The 2 main things to look for at every intersection on a door or window or box to be trimmed out are 1) Is the corner square? If it is not, then how far off is it?...divide that by 2 and adjust the saw cuts to that. You can use an angle finder to be exact or a square or use 2 mitered scraps of trim to check the corner so you can see how to adjust the cuts. 2) is the corner to be mitered sticking out ahead of the wall material or recessed into the wall? If the corner is sticking out, then the back edge of the casing pieces will hit first and also the points, leaving a gap in front and the inside of the miter. Remedies include planing down the jamb so it is flush to the wall or adjusting the miter cuts by sliding a shim under the inside corner to match the amount that the jamb sticks out from the wall, and re-cutting the miter. You will need to do this on both pieces. The shim method is much easier than tweaking the head and bed angles on the saw. You may also want to run a block plane along the outer edge to the jamb to recess that outside corner so the inside edge of the trim will meet the jamb and not leave a gap.

If the jamb is recessed into the wall, then the inside corners (heal) of the miter will touch first and the front edge will touch first. Correcting the miter cuts with a shim under the outside of the trim piece of the same thickness that the jamb is recessed into the wall, is the easiest method I know of. You will most likely need to shave or knock some drywall out from under the trim piece to get the outer edge to touch the wall.

Those steps should take care of the out-of-square, proud, or recessed corners. The other frustrating part of mitered corners is variation in trim width and thickness. __it happens! Trim pieces vary in size. Blame it on different runs through the shaper, different suppliers, cuts of wood from different parts of the tree, different moisture content, whatever...trim can be different width or thickness. This means that the profile will not match at the miter. The thickness can be shaved off the back so it is good to test both pieces together before nailing one down. If one is wider than the other, get out the mini-files, X-acto knife, and sandpaper. If the trim is pre-stained and finished, use touch-up stain pens to color the pieces and spray on some Deft to re-finish the corner, masked off with paper. If the trim is unfinished...sand away. Just make sure you don't sand cross grain. Once stain goes on, all your imperfections will get magnified.

So, that concludes my treatise on miters. I did not include the glossary of curse words or ways to release stress at the end. That is for you to discover. Nor did I include the method of carrying a block plane in your apron to shave off the miter edge to fit. I have watched trimmers do that, but never caught on to it. It seemed that the guys I watched had enormous beer bellies (in Wisconsin) to rest the trim on as they shaved the edge. Lacking that beer belly may have been my problem. I am sure there are many more paragraphs to write about miters, but this is a start. As already stated, experience is the key.

Last edited by MNsawyergp; 03-10-2014 at 11:06 AM.
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post #27 of 27 Old 03-11-2014, 09:12 AM
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I already know the curse words in several languages.

I'll print these posts out so I have them to refer to.

I now know to expect problems and a few ways to deal with them properly. And I'll pick up an angel finder next time at HD.

Thanks again.
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