Shaping my own molding/trim/etc, to paint white - what materials are best? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 01-13-2011, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Shaping my own molding/trim/etc, to paint white - what materials are best?

Hi all,

So I'm a novice, at best, at all things woodworking. I'm about to finish hanging drywall in my new office, and as it's the first room in our entire house I'll be installing trim/molding/sills in, I have to pick out shaper bits and materials this coming week to get started on it. I've been reading and searching these forums furiously for answers so I won't waste everyone's time with inane questions, but I'm afraid it's time for a couple

I bought a second-hand Delta 43-122 shaper last year (hurray craigslist). Here is a picture of a similar one, missing it's fence. If memory serves, my shaper came with a spindle insert that allows router bit use, but I'll have to go look at it again this weekend and verify (I'm aware that would require a much lower feedrate, as the shaper rpm should be approx 9-12k vs a router 20-30k speed). I'd like to form the trim and cabinet/built-in parts and pieces needed for the upcoming projects using this shaper.

My goal is to completely overhaul my home trim/molding (baseboards, windows, doors, and possibly crown molding in living room/dining room). I will also be trying my hand at designing and building a number of built-ins around a large fireplace. All to be painted white.

Questions for the veterans of the forums; could you give me your opinions on what types of woods I should use for the following;
- Base molding, window trim, window sills (I have 11 windows I recently installed that I need to build sills for). I've read that mdf is too easily dinged/damaged, even when well primed/painted, and nails can cause mushrooming you have to sand down - not nice in an occupied home. Is pine really much of an upgrade in durability, or should I just go with poplar (or another hardwood)? I know it seems a crime to paint any hardwood white, but my wife and I are very sold on the look for the entire home (going to learn my way into building cabinets and remodel 2 bathrooms and a kitchen over the next decade). There is a good chance I'll be installing wainscoting and chair rail in the dining room, which means a lot of exposed high-traffic areas.
- Crown molding. I have seen many people recommend doing these with MDF, and no one speaking out against it. If you think it's wise to go with another material, why?
- Built-ins, and cabinets in general (with doors/doors/sliding panels). Since I'm building them from scratch, painting them white, is MDF the right direction to be going in the name of strength and cost-effectiveness? I assume that any exposed detail pieces should be the same material type as my trim in the rest of the house, but am curious if this is correct.

I know that's a ridiculous pile of questions, and there's probably a fair number of you who are dying to tell me what an idiot I am for doing an entire house in painted white woodwork. Sorry about the pain Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!
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post #2 of 17 Old 01-13-2011, 12:30 PM
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Poplar would be more durable than pine.

You would be better off with shaper cutters rather than router bits.

I dont like MDF for trim or cabinets.

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post #3 of 17 Old 01-13-2011, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdntrdr View Post
I dont like MDF for trim or cabinets.
What is your personal preference for materials to build the cabinet body with? Thanks for the response by the way, it is a bit of a confirmation of what I was hoping would be the result of this question process!
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post #4 of 17 Old 01-13-2011, 12:52 PM
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Veneer plywood for case construction.

Hardwood for faceframe, door, and panels.

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post #5 of 17 Old 01-14-2011, 07:14 AM
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If your painting then I would agree with mdntrdr & use poplar. It takes paint real well & is easy to work into moulding. It's also one of the softest hardwoods & better than pine for durability.
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post #6 of 17 Old 01-14-2011, 08:13 AM
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Take this as positivity...........be extremely careful with shapers.As bit radius goes up the tendancy to pull the "unwanted" in goes up exponentially.Spend quality time making and adj fence.Expendable 1/4" ply inserts,inlet into shaper fence to almost zero clearence around bit is a start.Feather bds not only keep stock against fence/table but if placed correctly will prevent finger/cutter contact.They also smooth out the cut in the absense of pwr feed.

More positivity.......be extremely vigilant with drywall finishing.The use of straight edges in high profile areas is recomended.And you can almost make a case for installing "certain" moulds before DW mud if;its in a high lite or long straight section where DW field joints couldn't be avoided.For instance if you are running a chair mould and theres a cpl DW,field butt joints.Having the chair installed provides a built in guide strip to mud to.We're looking for as flat and level a "playing" field as possible WRT DW.....take your time.Best,BW
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post #7 of 17 Old 01-14-2011, 08:20 AM
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MDF machines easily and can make nice mouldings. It's also more stable than wood, but more susceptible to swelling due to moisture changes or high humidity. Using it you are limited to 8' lengths. Smaller profiles can also be the subject to breakage. I would use Poplar, as it's a fairly clear wood that takes well to machining and painting, and is available in long lengths.

I wouldn't get your hopes up too high on the proficiency of that shaper. Most middle HP routers will outperform it. Shaper cutters could cost you more than router bits. If you can afford a power feeder, that would change how effective a shaper can be. It can also improve the work done on a router table. It's one of the best safety devices you could use. I would rather not use a shaper without one, especially for running long lengths of stock.

You will during the course of running moulding have to take steps and /or change hands mid stream, maybe a few times. It's during these intermittent switch overs that you can get deformities, such as dings or divots, some larger than others. Using feather boards and hold downs will help greatly, but may not eliminate that possibility.

I would also suggest making sketches of each room and the moulding needed, and making notes for the lengths you will need to install single pieces, thus eliminating joints. Doing that will help you get a shopping list together for what lengths of lumber to order.

As for material for casework, I would use plywood, and if a face frame is used, solid lumber. If you want a prefinished no maintenance interior, you could use melamine for the boxes, and then veneer whatever shows on the exterior with wood veneer of your choice, or 1/4" hardwood plywood.










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post #8 of 17 Old 01-14-2011, 08:31 AM
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I would respectfully disagree with CM comparing routers to shapers.The heat issue alone will kill a router.Then theres the limited range of router bits and as they get bigger the more stresses the TINY(by comparison)bearings have to endure.......and about ten other VG reasons.

Routers have their place.....heck,we got a slew of'm.But if you're gonna run one for any length of time,say over an hour at a time.....even starter shapers will leave them in the dust.Just sayin.BW
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post #9 of 17 Old 01-14-2011, 08:14 PM
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Hi,
I have installed MDF crown even in bathrooms where moisture would be a little higher. I have seen no problems as long as you prime all sides & paint. As long as it does not come in direct contact with water & is sealed it should survive where ever you install it. For baseboards you could go either way, but it is more easily damaged verses real wood when run into. For real wood that is painted I like poplar as my choice.

If making cabinets to be painted I build using birch ply for case with poplar face frame, doors are popular for rails, & stiles with an MDF center panel. If you were to stain then MDF would be out & you would have to use same wood species of choice. Here is a picture of a built in using poplar for face frame, stiles & rails on doors with raised panels out of MDF. The crown around the top is MDF. So if painted you can mix materials.
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Last edited by jlord; 01-14-2011 at 08:20 PM.
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post #10 of 17 Old 01-15-2011, 11:33 AM
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I am another fan of popular. Very easy to machine, paint, and glue. One thing to consider if using mdf is that it is hard on tooling. All shaper tooling must be carbide if using mdf. If using popular you can grind your own knives or have them made in quality high speed steel, for a 1/3-1/4 the price of carbide.

Also for any shaper with a 3/4" spindle and up you can get a small shaper head that accepts corrugated HSS knives. CG Schmidt sells the best ones I know of. Hss knives on a corrugated head will give beautiful results on trim that needs a wide profile milled. For example crowns and such. In my opinion much better than any router bit.

Also mdf is harder to finish than wood. The first coat of whatever you put on it fuzzes like crazy and takes tedious sanding to smooth the profile.

Lastly, I hate the dust that mdf makes in my shop. It goes everywhere!!!! And after working with it for a few days I feel like Ive ingested things that are not healthy.

Now Im not against "buying" premade mdf crown at home depot and springing into place when installing to combat shrinking. Very nice and easy if you find a style you like. But I wont machine it myself.

Good luck!

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post #11 of 17 Old 01-15-2011, 03:10 PM
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i would never use mdf for trim.
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post #12 of 17 Old 01-16-2011, 05:24 PM
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[QUOTE=MattS;175892]Hi all,


Questions for the veterans of the forums; could you give me your opinions on what types of woods I should use for the following;


- Base molding, window trim, window sills
I would not use MDF at all on trim pieces. Window trim and sills I lean towards Poplar. I have used pine on my own house, see my pics on Den Remodel, but I used the better grade of pine. Not the southern yellow pine variety that is used in framing. In my pics, the crown in the ceiling is paint grade that I purchased. There is a piece of 1x4 that I put a half inch cove into and nailed that to the wall at the ceiling before installing the crown. I did this because this old house did not have very straight walls. As you can see in the pics, the room was originally paneled.

- Crown molding.
I would go with pine. Since you are going to paint it, it won't matter about the "softnest" of the material since it's up in the ceiling.


- Built-ins, and cabinets in general
I would use Birch plywood for the cases and poplar face frames for the fronts. The fasteners hold better IMO than in MDF. You can also use ply for the door panels.

QUOTE]

I used my router table and Hitachi M12V router to make all my trim pieces. It did not run more than a couple of hours. But then again I was not making full crown out of blank stock.
I don't have much experience with shapers lately. So unfortunately I will not be of much help with that tool.

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Where did I put that tape measure???

Last edited by Texas Sawduster; 01-16-2011 at 05:25 PM. Reason: Spelling correction
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post #13 of 17 Old 01-17-2011, 10:39 PM
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Think about sanding all the chatter marks. It will take a lot of hand sanding. The best way is to use a powerfeed and run it as slow as possible through the shaper but you will still have some sanding to do.

That being said, there is not much difference in hardness between poplar and pine so i would go with pine since it is easier to sand. Clear pine is pretty expensive though.

For sills, I would use soft maple. Much more durable and it will show less grain through the paint.

I personally can't get myself to use much of it but MDL is a much better product than MDF. It does not mushroom when you nail it, it's stiffer and lighter than MDF, and it does not swell in high moisture environments since it is rated as an exterior product.

Like MDF it is available in long lengths as well, maybe some stores only stock it in 8 foot lengths but my lumber yard stocks it in 16's and I think they special-order 20's as well. So maybe you will have to look around but it's out there. It would be easy to sand the chatter marks too.
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post #14 of 17 Old 01-18-2011, 07:42 AM
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I find Pine to be softer than Poplar & would be a great material for sills. It takes paint great & does not have the bleed thru of grain that Pine usually does.

James
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post #15 of 17 Old 01-18-2011, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sketel View Post

I personally can't get myself to use much of it but MDL is a much better product than MDF. It does not mushroom when you nail it, it's stiffer and lighter than MDF, and it does not swell in high moisture environments since it is rated as an exterior product.

What are you referring to as MDL? Did you mean MDO (medium density overlay)?










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post #16 of 17 Old 01-18-2011, 03:24 PM
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Cabinetman, I think the proper term is ultralight, MDL was the sku at a lumber yard I used to work at.

jlord, depends on the species. Ponderosa pine is almost as hard as poplar, some species are actually harder. Personally, I think both poplar and pine are too soft for a sill, both would dent pretty easily. I have kids though.
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post #17 of 17 Old 01-19-2011, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
you can get a small shaper head that accepts corrugated HSS knives. CG Schmidt sells the best ones I know of. Hss knives on a corrugated head will give beautiful results on trim that needs a wide profile milled. For example crowns and such. In my opinion much better than any router bit.

Also mdf is harder to finish than wood. The first coat of whatever you put on it fuzzes like crazy and takes tedious sanding to smooth the profile.
Thanks for this advice - the combination of negatives really has me shying away from messing with milling my own mdf. If anything I'll buy some preformed for crown, and that's about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BWSmith View Post
Take this as positivity...........be extremely careful with shapers.

More positivity.......be extremely vigilant with drywall finishing.
I will be very careful, and appreciated all your tips on setting up. I may wind up posting some pictures of how I set up my fence/fb's/etc and ask for helpful critique once I get to that point. I paid a guy who does taping/sanding for a living to come do my drywall finishing, he did a really sharp job. I know it's one area that I could spend a week trying to do, and still wind up looking a bit botched. It's the only part of my projects that I outsource labor for, and don't mind a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
If you can afford a power feeder, that would change how effective a shaper can be.

You will during the course of running moulding have to take steps and /or change hands mid stream, maybe a few times. It's during these intermittent switch overs that you can get deformities, such as dings or divots, some larger than others. Using feather boards and hold downs will help greatly, but may not eliminate that possibility.

I would also suggest making sketches of each room and the moulding needed, and making notes for the lengths you will need to install single pieces, thus eliminating joints. Doing that will help you get a shopping list together for what lengths of lumber to order.

As for material for casework, I would use plywood, and if a face frame is used, solid lumber. If you want a prefinished no maintenance interior, you could use melamine for the boxes, and then veneer whatever shows on the exterior with wood veneer of your choice, or 1/4" hardwood plywood.
All very good points. I looked around at pricing, and it's pretty far out of budget for me to buy a power feeder right now, but I can see why it would be almost critical to have one (especially for longer lengths). I have a pretty high opinion of my steady hand, but I can see where it would be practically impossible to avoid any dings/divots/deformities as I try to shape trim. I hope building a very impressive fence and feed table/out table system, and boxing in my working area well with featherboards etc will minimize this.

Thanks for your detailed advice on wood choices for building cabinets! I intend to follow it


Quote:
Originally Posted by BWSmith View Post
I would respectfully disagree with CM comparing routers to shapers.The heat issue alone will kill a router.Then theres the limited range of router bits and as they get bigger the more stresses the TINY(by comparison)bearings have to endure.......and about ten other VG reasons.

Routers have their place.....heck,we got a slew of'm.But if you're gonna run one for any length of time,say over an hour at a time.....even starter shapers will leave them in the dust.Just sayin.BW
I really want to validate my purchase of a shaper by making some sawdust - and it sure makes me feel better to hear some folks saying it's a worthy tool. I will likely be banging out something like 600+ feet of trim over the next few years, so it might really be worth my while to get this thing working correctly and make a setup that I can use over and over again. I'm sure I'll want to get a router table set up for quick changes and cheaper bits to do smaller projects so I don't have to disrupt my shaper and it's semi-elaborate configuration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlord View Post
Here is a picture of a built in using poplar for face frame, stiles & rails on doors with raised panels out of MDF. The crown around the top is MDF. So if painted you can mix materials.
That is really sharp, and is the direction I'm hoping to take on my built-ins, as well as some doorways. I was just at Lowes this weekend eyeballing the preformed mdf crown, it looks like it could sure work out. Thanks for the picture, I do love pictures, hehe. Nothing works better than pictures for showing my wife what I am shooting for end-product wise

Last edited by MattS; 01-19-2011 at 09:59 AM.
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