The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Test blocks for door trim installation? You betcha!

comments (2) January 20th, 2009 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
thumbs up 6 users recommend

One of three test blocks for fitting door trim. The part dripping with stain is the critical piece--it will help create an even reveal all around the door. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

One of three test blocks for fitting door trim. The part dripping with stain is the critical piece--it will help create an even reveal all around the door.

Photo: Ryan McKenna

A few months ago I relocated my "shop" (a.k.a. assortment of tools) from the garage to the basement. It's taken a while to carve out a spot down there, but I think I finally have a foothold. And now that I have the tools reassembled, I decided to tackle what I thought would be a simple job.

You see, we replaced our front doors (entry and storm), and I'd been procrastinating the job of putting up trim on the interior. I just wasn't jazzed about using store-bought stuff and then staining it in an attempt to make it match the existing molding.

No. I am a woodworker.

I have power tools.

And hand tools.

I have a workbench (finally).

I can make moldings that are better than what I'd get at the home center.

A little background here... The new door, though plumb and level, doesn't exactly sit flush with the drywall. I've done some home-improvement stuff, and I figure this is not a big deal cuz most houses have their faults, er, personalities. Well, it is a big deal for a guy like me. I labor over details. Some might say that I stress over them.

The design I had in mind was simple, not ornate by any stretch. But the hard part was figuring out how to deal with the gaps that will show if I were simply to lay the molding on top of the drywall and nail it in. So I decide to attach a filler strip to the molding stock to conceal the gaps on the inside. Simple, eh?


To come up with the right size filler strip, I made a few test pieces, with fillers of different thicknesses and widths. So there I was, sliding these test blocks around the door looking for the perfect look. Fortunately, I found the perfect size to use, and now I can use that test block to set up all my machine cuts. But this process chewed up time like Ms. Pac-Man on 'roids: I spent the entire afternoon--that's 4 hours for those of you keeping score--trimming drywall and foam insulation, filling any air gaps, measuring for the molding and making those test blocks.

In retrospect, I guess I could've just slapped on the molding and lived with the defects. After all, most people probably would not have noticed inconsistencies in the reveal or small gaps here and there. But I would. Every time I'd leave the house or answer the door, I'd see the errors of my ways. And I know it would drive me nuts.

So I guess it's official. I've become a fussy woodworker, sweating detail after detail. I think it's one reason why I enjoy the hobby. But I'm not sure my family appreciates the long wait until a job is completed to my satisfaction. This year I plan to remodel one of the bathrooms in our home. Judging by the pace of my molding job, look for a completion date of July 2012.

posted in: blogs, pine, woodworker, molding, fussy

Comments (2)

Tom Tom writes: Memphis,
I don't recall that article, but I'd be happy to help you with any of your questions about joints.
Posted: 7:54 pm on January 25th

MemphisMatt MemphisMatt writes: Mr McKenna,

I am very interested in both creating specialty joints and concealing joints. You have a good article entitled "The Easiest Joints Around" and wondered if you have considered recording a video of your work with joints.

Posted: 1:18 pm on January 22nd

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

ABOUT THE EDITORS MAILBOX editors report from the woodworking front lines. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.

Learn about our new format!

Archive: Temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned and sorry for the inconvenience.