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Cabinet Maker
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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!
Levi
 

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Sawdust Creator
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Repetition......eventually you'll get quicker at it. I think it really comes down to that....
 

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Accurate measuring. You should be able to walk up to a window measure all four pieces of trim the wall to the saw and cut all four pieces before going back to the window.

I see a lot of guys measure a piece cut the piece then go measure the next piece. Takes way longer.
 

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hands made for wood said:
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! Levi
Hey I know exactly how you feel. I felt VERY slow in comparisons to the master carpenters around me when I started my job. Practice is the best thing to help you become more efficient, but there's a couple things I've learned that might help you.
First I learned to slow down, and think, because in doing so you make a lot less mistakes which cost you time.
Secondly I've learned the trick of cutting multiple pieces at a time. Work on two things at once so if you're walking to the miter saw you're utilizing your time walking and then you can come back and install 2 or 3 pieces and so on.
Thirdly, Plan. Planning is essential. When I start my day I take a few minutes to plan what I'm going to so I know. And then I can go from one thing to the next without having to stop and figure out where I'm going.
Hope this helps!
 

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after measuring (twice) window and door casings w/ 1/4" reveal, I cut & assemble them all in the shop with biscuits and miter clamp. install them, crown and baseboard on site.

I don't shoot for speed as much as I do quality. they'll pay for quality, rather than fast.
 

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Accurate measuring. You should be able to walk up to a window measure all four pieces of trim the wall to the saw and cut all four pieces before going back to the window.

I see a lot of guys measure a piece cut the piece then go measure the next piece. Takes way longer.
As Ryan says, that ability comes from experience;

George
 

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As an amateur who has done the the finish carpentry on my entire house (wainscot, window, door, crown, etc..) I find this conversation interesting. I have lots of friends who come over and admire my work which is always flattering. Then some will ask if I can come over and do some on their house. Besides not having the time my usual response is "sure as long as you're willing to have me take a half hour to trim out a door. The point being I think getting a "nice looking product" is not all that difficult for basic finish carpentry like I've done. But doing it with any kind of speed to a level where you can be profitable is what separates the pros from the wannabes. If I did this for a living I would go broke quickly. I wish you luck in your endeavors. I am sure much of it is practice, practice, practice like has been said.
 

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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!
Levi
One thing is to make sure you measure the longest point for the trim, so you don't have any times you need to cut an entirely new piece. If you are caulking, then you know you can add a hair to get a good joint.
As other said, you can measure a bunch of pieces at once. Right them down with the labels for left or right miter, etc. You will learn to communicate with yourself.

Another thing not mentioned is to use drop pieces as tests, if you are doing some difficult crown, for example. It's a good way to test your angle before cutting your real piece. Also you can join inside miter pieces together (glue and pin) before installing them, to ensure a good joint (if you are not coping).
 

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Good advice--from every one---

Learn to measure accurately---

Make a wood out/infeed table for your miter saw--this allows you to control the wood better and set stops for repeat cuts.

Keep a speed square and spring clamp at the table---for double mitered pieces, clamp the speed square to the heal of the first cut---then hook your ruler to the speed square--fast accurate cuts.

A Dremmel tool with a sanding drum makes for fast trimming of coped cuts.

A 4" angle grinder set up with 60 grit sanding disks (back to back) is great for making scribes or coping large crown molding.

A sharp knife is sometimes better than a pencil ,when marking cuts.

Thick CA glue is handy for gluing outside miters
 

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Work from the door/entrance and go around the room in a consistent direction. It doesn't matter if you go clockwise or counter clockwise, just be consistent.

I use the backs of short cutoffs instead of note pads, they are easier to jam in your pocket.

Try to always face copes away from the door, they are less visible that way, and first impressions last.

Practice cutting copes on scrap in your spare time until you can quickly get them right the first time, every time. And, I mean evenings and weekends.

Taunton/Fine Homebuilding publishes some very good books on doing trim/finish work. Their "For Pros by Pros" series is very good. And, they have lots of articles available online if you get a membership on their website. I think you can still join for thirty days as a trial for free.
 

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mdntrdr said:
You should be able to go into a room, take all the measurements, write them down, noting cope L or cope R, and cut the entire room. :smile:
Since I'm predominantly right handed I run all my base counter clockwise and my crown clockwise so it makes it easier for me to cope. This way I always know which side to cope ;-)
 

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Hi everyone,

I have a square hole in the wall for the cat. About 6.5" by 6". I installed 1/4" thick oak on the inside. I'm now waiting for my outside trim to dry. My method of measuring is incredibly bad. I cut about an inch long, then take off little bits as I get nearer and nearer to where I need to be. This project is on the second floor, miter saw in the basement. I will be getting some good exercise.

So maybe a dumb question, but I need to get better at this task; I just need to get the exact length of the opening and cut my pieces to that size right?
 

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Sawdust Creator
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Correct. Measure two or three times....cut once.

Keep in mind if your doing casing to figure your reveal in when measuring.
 

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Ok I tried a test with scrap. Looks good. I think my problem might be when a square hole is not square and one side is a bit longer/shorter.

And I don't know what a reveal is.
 

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Sawdust Creator
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Casing usually isn't put right against the opening, usually it's 1/4 inch back from the opening on all sides or so....that's the reveal.
 

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Good to know, I will experiment with a reveal on this project. Make it a bit fancier. Also it may give me some room to work with if I have a different lengths problem.

Thank you
 

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Scotty D
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Good to know, I will experiment with a reveal on this project. Make it a bit fancier. Also it may give me some room to work with if I have a different lengths problem.

Thank you
If you cut your pieces different lengths, a 45 deg. miter will no longer work... :no:
 

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Good that will make it easier to cut. I need to remember that.

I'll put the 4 pieces up, make the best adjustments I can and nail em in.

Thanks for that tip. Yes I will stick with my day job.
 
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