Posts from November,2011

How to Install Trim on Odd Angles

Posted by John on November 29th, 2011

This Thanksgiving weekend, despite all the gratuitous turkey related napping, we were able to get a few hours of work done on our trim upgrades.  We finished up the installation portion of the chair rail molding that we has started last week.  We still have to caulk, putty and paint, but we’ll do all of that at once when we’re done ALL the trim.  Yes, there’s more trim work coming so stay tuned.

Since the last portion of the chair rail molding will be installed on a 45 degree wall, I thought I’d to a quick tutorial on how to install trim on odd angled walls.

****WARNING:  Although this procedure DOES apply to crown molding, the crown molding will need a special jig to hold the piece to the proper orientation, as we found out this weekend (Ed, talking about you here). ****

How to install trim on odd angles.


1.  To start this procedure, I have already marked the wall at 36″ up from the floor (again, see here for the basics of trim installation).

2.  I’m going to use a t bevel to help me identify the angle of the wall.  Although I know this wall is a 45 degree angle wall, I’m still going to measure it anyway.  You could also use a protractor or a couple of rulers.  To use a t bevel, loosen the lock nut, position the bevel against the wall making sure both pieces lay flat against both walls and then tighten down the lock nut.

3.  Since I don’t have a protractor, I’m going to use the next best thing, my miter saw.  With the saw unplugged, I place the t bevel square against the backstop and then turn the saw’s miter until it matches the angle of the t bevel.

4.  Once I’m confident the saw’s miter is the same angle as the saw, I can look at the miter indicator to see what angle it’s at.  In the photo above, the indicator is landed on 45 degrees.

5.  I then return the miter back to 0 degrees and then set the saw bevel to half of the 45 degrees that was identified in the previous step.  Half of 45 is 22.5.  You halve the angle because the corner on the wall splits the angle in half.  So you’ll need to two pieces each cut to 22.5.  One piece will be cut from the right, the other from the left.  The saw is shown at a 22.5 degree bevel.

6.  Here we used a small scrap piece also cut to the matching 22.5 degree angle to test fit the long piece.  Once the long piece on the left is glued and nailed in place, I’ll toss away the small scrap and install the actual piece.  I learned that trick from Norm Abrams.

Here is the other piece installed.  Notice the gap against the wall; make sure you account for that when you’re using your small scrap piece as you may need a longer scrap to avoid the dip in the wall from throwing off your test fit.  The gap will be filled later on with some painter’s caulk.

So that’s it.  Not too bad.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Are there any other clever tricks that you know about?  Do you own a t bevel?  What else could I use it for?

Posted in DIY Projects,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Our Thanksgiving in Pictures

Posted by John on November 28th, 2011

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Ours was fun and the food was delicious.  We got a couple projects around the house done this weekend and we’ll share them throughout the week.  But, for now, here are some awesome DSLR pictures for you to feast your eyes upon.

Yeah, so that post just made me really hungry again.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Have any great new recipes to share?  I promise I’ll like it.

Posted in Cooking,Holiday. Tagged in ,, ,

Flashback Thanksgiving

Posted by Lisa on November 23rd, 2011

Way back when… when John and I were newlyweds we hosted our first Thanksgiving. It was kinda a big deal and of course I had such a great time planning, cooking, and decorating. I thought I would share some photos.

Our table..

Yes! There were homemade place cards.

Yummy food (without any mishaps!!)

My turkey… I was so proud!

I always cook the traditional side items including sweet potatoes, stuffing, and green been cassarole. Does anyone have any great Thanksgiving recipes or traditions they want to share!?

Posted in Fall,Holiday. Tagged in ,

How to Install Chair Rail Molding

Posted by John on November 21st, 2011

This week we started a new interior project: molding.  We’re thrilled to be finally done with the garage and all the outside adventures.  We’ll be installing a chair rail molding in our vestibule as well as some crown molding enhancements throughout the house.  We decided to add these features before we start the paint.  It’s easier to paint afterwards in our opinion.

Here’s what our vestibule presently looks like…

You can see that I’ve already added some chair rail molding on the front wall.  We thought about maybe adding some shadow boxing as well, but we decided against it with one of the main reasons being the front door isn’t centered to the vestibule.

Here’s a side view of the profile we put in.  We also have it in our dining room.

Here’s our dining room.  We have BIG plans for this room.  At some point in the future, we’re going to install a ridiculous raised panel wainscoting.  Not going to happen this winter, but maybe next!

So, let’s get to it…  Here’s how to install chair rail molding.

1.  Tools.  I used a tape measure, a pencil, a pneumatic brad nailer, a level, some liquid nail and a miter saw.

2.  Measure Up.  I installed my molding 36″ off the floor to the top of the molding, but you can vary that measurement however you’d like.  We got 36″ from our dining room.  That’s what all the molding in there is set to.  Same deal as our nursery.  Take a pencil and measure up from the floor and mark your molding height.  These marks will be the top of the molding.  Enjoy the 2″ of my boxers.

3.  Make a cut.  I took a piece of molding and cut it a few inches longer than the length of the wall.  I didn’t make any angled cuts here.  In fact, I only used one angle cut on this piece.  The one end I butted right into the wall and the other I let overhang the wall and I marked the molding for my angle cut.

Butted the right side…

Left the other end long and marked for my cut…

A close up..

4.  Cut the angle and install.  I used the pencil mark I made and cut the piece on the miter saw at a 45 degree angle.  I tested the piece on the wall to make sure it wasn’t too long then I added glue, level and nailed it on.  Very important:  Use a piece of scrap cut to the matching angle to match the corner before nailing.

Glue added…

Leveled off…

Set the distance…

Nail in place…

So, that’s how you do all your outside corners.

5.  Coping with inside corners.  The other end of this board was not mitered because I’m using a coping method.  You could miter both ends then miter the next board into it.  The problem with that method is if the walls are not 90 degrees, you’re going to have to mess around with the angles more.  If you cope the molding, you’ll get it right the first time.

Here’s how I started this next board:

I measure the space for the next board and cut it to length.  Both ends of this board got the same 45 degree angle cut.  I hold the cut board up below that space I’m going to install it to check to see that it’s about the right length.  I’m going to stop the board before it hits the steps.

Now I start to cope the left angled side.  I’m going to remove all the non painted area with a coping saw.

Here’s the coping saw.  They’re pretty inexpensive and they’re very useful, especially for crown molding!

So I’m going to cut off all the unpainted area with this saw to reveal the profile of the molding.  It’s not difficult, just take your time and try not to make sharp turns.  Remove the blade in and out and attack the piece from varying angles.

When you’re done, it should look like this.  It does not have to be perfect.  The more unpainted area you can remove, the tighter the molding will fit into the other piece.  Be sure to flick off the very top and bottom of the cope piece too as they get in the way (they often break off during the coping anyway).

Now glue, level and nail in place.  Any gaps will be filled with caulk anyway.

6.  Finish off the ends.  You’re going to want to finish the ends off with a cap.  To make the cap you cut a 45 degree angle into a piece of molding on the opposite side that you’re capping.  Then trim off the angle piece you just made with a straight cut.  It’s kind of tricky and takes some practice.

So that’s it.  Pretty basic.  Once all the molding is installed, you can fill the nail holes with wood filler and caulk the seams with painter’s caulk (which we haven’t done yet).

Here’s how it looks as of last night…

So did I miss anything?  Any additional tips or insight?  Anyone else trimming their place up?

Posted in DIY Projects,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Seven Things to Consider When Buying a Miter Saw

Posted by John on November 18th, 2011

Since I’ve been in the market for a new miter saw, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about all the features that I take into consideration when making a new miter saw purchase. If you don’t have a lot of experience with one of these or are thinking about buying one, then this post may be helpful.



First, let me show you my current miter saw.

This model is a Makita LS1011 that I bought used from craigslist a couple years ago. I had bought it because my other miter saw at the time, a Ridgid, had essentially crapped out. The Makita is a 10″ sliding compound miter saw. Shortly after I bought it, it started to show some signs of wear. One of the buttons fell out. I replaced it though, with a cement board screw. Yeah.

You may also notice that the blade guard is missing, making this saw a total hazard. Immediately after I bought it, I changed the blade out and I couldn’t figure out how to put it back together, so I just left it off.

So, I’ve been looking around for a saw for about a month now and yesterday I went out and bought a DeWalt 717. It’s also a 10″ sliding compound miter saw that has a lot of positive reviews. Best part of my purchase today was the 10% discount I got because the box was damaged.

See that handle sticking out of the box? That hole saved me a bunch. Plus the handle was fine.

So here’s the meat of the post: Seven things to consider when buying a miter saw.

1. Use. What are you going to be using the saw for? Are you just doing basic molding or window trim or are you building a deck or a shed and will be cutting much wider pieces of stock? Are you planning on keeping the saw until the day you die or are you looking to just get an entry level saw? Would you like to get into making cabinets or furniture? If you can determine what you’ll be cutting with the saw, selecting a model will be much easier.

2. Price. The main factor for most people when buying just about anything. Miter saws can vary wildly in price from a basic $99 chop saw up to a $1200 Festool Sliding Compound Miter. The bulk of the units are between $200-$500. When it comes to miter saws, in my opinion, you get what you pay for. If you have a price range, my advice is to set a price ceiling and then down select to the saw that has the functionality you’re looking for. DO NOT buy the cheapest saw you can. The more expensive saws are often worth it, but the features may be more than what you’re looking for.

3. Blade Diameter. Miter saws can vary in blade diameter from 8″ to 12″ with the most common probably being the 10″ blade. The size of the diameter blade can determine how thick a piece of wood the saw can cut. A 12″ blade can cut a thicker and wider piece of board than an 8.” My vote here is for the 10″ or 12.” But, personally, I think the 12″ units are too big. The 8″ saws, in my opinion, are not as useful. There’s no room for growth in a 8″ saw, but maybe that’s all you need. Also, bigger blades cost more as do the saws that run them.

4. Miter (above photos). So the miter is the left to right movement the blade makes. Since these are miter saws, they generally all “miter” to some extent. The extent to which the saws miter is variable, but they generally are all capable of an angle on one side of 45 degrees and around 50 on the other.

5. Compound (above photos). The compound is the tilting of the blade head. A single compound miter saw only has a tilt in one direction. A dual compound miter saw tilts in both directions. The tilt allow you to cut stock on angles and the dual option gives you the freedom to position the board in multiple ways. For two cuts on a single compound miter saw, you may need to flip the board over, whereas on a dual compound, you can just tilt the saw head without moving the piece. Get it? It’s another bell and whistle. Personally, I would pop for the dual compound, but it’s not necessary.

6. Sliding (above photos). A sliding miter saw is obviously a saw that slides through the cutting area. It allows the saw to cut very wide boards, considerably wider than non-sliding saws. This feature is expensive and sliding miter saws tend to be heavier since there is more equipment there. Do you need this? You do if you’re going to be building a deck and cutting 12″ wide skirt boards or making built-in furniture.

7. Weight. Really only relevant if you are going to be moving it around a lot. If you plan on setting up this up once and leaving it stationary, then it’s not a factor right? Because your table saw weighs 200 lbs right? If you plan on taking it to job sites or friends’ houses, then you may want to consider getting a smaller more compact model. A 12″ sliding compound miter saw can weigh over 70 lbs! Yikes. I think my DeWalt weighs around 45 lbs.

Hope this helps! We picked this saw up because we started a new project which we’ll post about next week, but here’s a sneak peek.

Anyone have any extra advice on what to look for?

Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,,

My Beef with Our Garage Door Opener

Posted by John on November 17th, 2011

After a couple hours in the garage last night rewiring our garage door opener, I can safely say we’ve pretty much wrapped up the major work in there for the season.  Here’s how our checklist looks at this point…

–  Have the garage spackled.
– Epoxy the floor (postponed until APR/MAY)
– Paint the interior garage access door (also moved to warmer months)
Rewire the garage door opener (this week)
– Install garage organizers (soon, probably before Christmas)

As you can see, we’re still planning on putting in some sort of shoe organizer, but we’re still kicking ideas around for that one.

Now for the opener…

When Lisa and I moved into this house last July (2010), one of the first things we did was install a garage door opener.  We bought a Chamberlain Whisper Drive model that installed fairly easily.  Is it whisper quiet?  Well, the opener is, but the actual garage door is noisy enough to make up for it.  Apparently, if you really want a quiet garage door, you need to replace the metal wheels that are attached to the door with plastic ones.  That change is supposed to soften the door’s ride.

No, I didn’t have a problem with the noise.  My big beef with this garage door opener was the wires were too short.  No, not too short that it didn’t install properly, the wires were too short to run in straight neat lines.  I was majorly disappointed last year when I had to run these crappy wires directly across the garage ceiling at angles instead of keeping them in the corners.  Garage doors, generally speaking, have three sets of wires that need to be run when the openers are installed: one for the button or console by the door and two for the trip sensors that detect if something is in the path of the door.  The sensors are safety features designed to protect children, pets, etc.

Since we were painting all the walls, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to rectify this grave injustice!  As part of my paint prep, I removed all the staples holding the wires on to the walls and just let them hang.  I also picked up about 50 ft of white (to match) 18 gauge alarm/thermostat cable from Home Depot and went to work. The idea here would be to run the wires where and how I wanted and then just splice in the new white wires as an extension.

I started with the console by the door, went straight up the wall and just kept tucking the wire into the corner.

Every few feet or so, I’d add another wire clamp.  These are the clamps I used…

Here’s what that run looked like when it was finished.  Hard to see the wire right?  That’s the point!

Kind of an OCD fix, but I’m happy with it.

Anything really minor bug the hell out of you?  Did you goto great lengths to fix it?

Tomorrow we’ll have a post on our new Miter Saw purchase.  I’ll tell you what I look for when I purchase one.

Posted in Electrical,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

Shoe Storage Ideas and More

Posted by Lisa on November 16th, 2011

If you’re like me you are probably thinking another post on the garage?  Yes, my friends, the garage project is still going on.

One piece of the garage puzzle that is still missing is shoe organization. We need small shelves to keep shoes on in the garage.

So off to Lowe’s I went to see what shelving units they had.

They had some pretty nice indoor shelves.



These are cute, but a little too sophisticated for the garage. Well except for that crooked espresso colored shelf on the right.

They also had large pieces of melamine that you can cut at home.


And a bunch of brackets to choose from.


Pretty easy and affordable, but I wasn’t crazy about having an unfinished side (or two) exposed.

Everything else was the standard wire shelves that are good but I’m concerned about dirt from the bottom of our shoes getting into the shoes below.

SO that means the garage will have to go on without the shoe storage completed. It will be nice to park in the garage again!!

Ok, so enough about the garage. Since you’ve read this long, I figure I’ll throw in some awesome (in my opinion) lampshades I picked up while at Lowe’s.


So excited I saw these! I have jade curtains and I love the quatrefoil design.

Here’s my lampshades in our living room before.


They’re ok and I was planning on covering them to match my curtains. But it’s been over a year so that project is out the window.

Here’s the lamp now.





And as an added bonus here’s the entire living room.


And while I was over there I took a picture of the dining room.


I am so happy I picked up these lampshades! The room is starting to get together. I can’t wait to paint!!

What about you? Any projects that seem to drag on and on – just like our garage?

Posted in Garage and Tools,Home Decor,Ideas. Tagged in ,, ,

Painting the Garage

Posted by John on November 14th, 2011

Despite another busy week and weekend, I was able to plant myself in the garage and get some serious painting done (used Olympic ONE).  All told, I probably put about 8 hours worth of time in this ridiculously over-dragged out project and that’s just for one coat!!  But anyway, the paint is finally done.

Here’s our to do list for the garage:

– Have the garage spackled.
– Paint
– Epoxy the floor (postponed until APR/MAY)
– Paint the interior garage access door (also moved to warmer months)
– Rewire the garage door opener (this week)
– Install garage organizers (this week)

After I painted the walls earlier in the week, I setup to paint the ceiling.  Since our garage ceilings seem about 9 stories high, I improvised a scaffolding with a couple of ladders and a 2×8.  Two 2x8s would have been better, but this worked pretty well.

Oh, and before I got to the ceilings, I was able to install a couple brackets to hold up our long ladder.  I’ve used these brackets before and they’ve worked really well, they’re actually made for bikes, but whatever.  Here’s how they went up.

They fasten directly into the wall studs.  I screwed in the first fastener and then used a level and held it vertically next to the bracket before I screwed in the second one.  I used my handy dandy stud finder and looked for a stud about 4 feet away and used my level as I installed the first screw.

With both brackets in place I was able to throw up our longest ladder.

After the ceiling was all painted, I started to cut-in.  We always keep our used Chinese soup containers for just this purpose.  Sure beats buying them.

After all that painting, we’re pretty happy with how clean the garage looks now  Here’s the before…

and here’s how it looks after the paint… still cluttered though.

from the inside…

Huuuuge improvement.  Although the paint was so bright white that it made our door trim look creamy (which it is I guess).

Painting the garage wasn’t that painful.  So hopefully, we’ll have a few more garage improvements to show you this week!!

Anyone else use Olympic ONE?  How’d you like it?  Anyone paint the interior of their garage a color other than white?

Posted in Garage and Tools,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,,

On Tap for Next Week

Posted by John on November 11th, 2011

Well this week has flown by.  We’re still in the process of painting our garage!!  It never ends.  Thought I’d take a minute and share with everyone what our post topics will be next week:

1.  The conclusion of the garage project, for now anyways.  A month ago, when we started planning this small job, we envisioned completing the whole thing from start to finish in a couple of weeks.  Didn’t happen.  We’ve also decided to shelve our second coat of epoxy floor paint until spring.  We’ve already got one coat from last year so this is no big loss.

2.  A trip to Z Gallerie.  I took pictures of my favorite pieces on a recent trip to San Diego’s Z Gallerie.  Lisa and I will provide commentary as we review the photos.  It will be similar to our Scary Movie Post.  Will she like what I like or will she think I’m crazy?  Probably the latter.

3.  I finally purchase a replacement Miter Saw.  Still working on picking one.  Really hard. I’ll show you what I look for when I goto buy one.  I show you pics of my old one too.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Have a great weekend!!




Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,,

We Temporarily Interrupt This Program…

Posted by Lisa on November 10th, 2011

We I temporarily interrupt the greatness that is the garage progress with something a little more domestic – Christmas time!!

It all started because i was a good wife and picked up some drop clothes at the dollar store.


Then I got to looking at the Christmas stuff.

Then I went to a few more stores and I came home with:
1. One white 4′ pre-lit Christmas tree
2. One 6′ slim Christmas tree
3. 36 shatterproof balls in pink, silver, and red.
4. 48 shatterproof balls in blue and silver.
5. 3 large silver bows for big gifts (like a car!!) (SUPER side note: I always wanted a car for Christmas and I always likes the Lexus commercials when families receive cars on Christmas day – it’s a little unrealistic though).
6. Pink beaded garland
7. 3 packs of battery operated lights

Not too much, but I already have a lot of Christmas decorations.

I told myself I wouldn’t get into the Christmas spirit until AFTER Thanksgiving but I couldn’t resist! It feels like Christmas started even earlier this year (like before Halloween). Anyone else agree?

While I was unpacking the bags I turned on my most favorite Christmas album – Neil Diamond!! In my personal opinion it isn’t Christmas until Neil Diamond sings ‘Joy to the World’.


This CD has two thumbs up in my book, but I needed the other thumb to take the picture.

So there you have it! Christmas has officially begun thanks to Neil Diamond!

… And back to our home projects – the garage walls are still being painted, and the ceiling can begin thanks to my drop cloths!


Anyone else love Neil Diamond? Or already start decorating for Christmas? How do you incorporate your Christmas tree with a turkey and pumpkins??

Posted in Garage and Tools,Holiday,Winter Stuff. Tagged in ,, ,

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