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Introduction to the Thickness Planer

Posted by on August 26th, 2014

In this post you’ll learn:

- How to use a thickness planer
– Why you should consider using one
– The difference between rough cut lumber and S4S

Back in 2005 when I was building my first set of kitchen cabinets, I made an impulsive purchase and bought a used thickness planer I found on Craigslist.  I had heard from numerous carpenters in online forums that by purchasing rough stock instead of the ready-to-use wood from the big hardware store, I would save a lot of money.  It ended up working out in my favor.  When the cabinets were finally completed and installed, I estimated I probably spent around $2k-$3k for all of the lumber and hardware for the kitchen cabinets.  That number may have been a few hundred dollars higher if I bought all of my lumber from Lowes or Home Depot.

The key to saving that money was the thickness planer.  Without it, I would’ve had to purchase more expensive and often lower quality lumber.

Here’s a video I just put together where I explain the basics of using a thickness planer. If you’ve never used one or frankly, have never even heard of a thickness planer, then it’s worth a quick watch. It could potentially save you money on your next carpentry project.

An Introduction to the Thickness Planer

Link to the video is also here.

Key Takeaways

- Thickness planers can cut wood either on the face side or on an edge of a board
- S4S means Sanded Four Sides and is the finished wood available for purchase at most large home improvement stores
- Rough cut lumber is generally cheaper per board foot compared to S4S lumber
- S4S is more expensive and can also contain major imperfections like bows or curves
- Boards you plan on planing should initially be cut wider or thicker than the finished width or thickness desired
- Plan on running a board through the planer 3 or 4 times.
- You can adjust the amount of material being removed in each pass with an adjustment knob
- I use the DeWalt Model 734 (affiliate) and it’s on my Tool Recommendations page

Here’s a picture that illustrates the point further.

planed board

The board on the left has just been cut with a table saw and has a fair amount of imperfections including raised, uneven surfaces and saw marks. It would take a LOT of sanding or hand planing to clean that edge up OR a few passes through the thickness planer.  The board on the right has just finished a few passes through the thickness planer and it looks clean and perfect.

Here’s the bottom line. If you are seriously getting into wood working and have some larger projects coming up or plan on working with reclaimed wood, then consider purchasing a thickness planer.  If you are mainly into smaller projects and are just an occasional woodworker, then you’ll probably survive without one.

Any questions?

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

Blogging 3 Years Later

Posted by on August 17th, 2014

Just last month, this blog of ours turned 3 years old.  If you’ve been reading our stuff this entire time, thanks a bunch.  Chances are however, you’re probably a new reader or you’re landing on this site for the first time and if so, welcome.  I decided to write a post about my experience with blogging for a couple of reasons.  The first reason: my approach to blogging has changed over the past few years and I firmly believe that it’s worth sharing the rationale behind those changes.  I know a number of my readers are bloggers and I hope they’ll benefit from this post.  The second reason is for all the readers that aren’t bloggers.  I want to tell you where this blog is headed.

blogging tips

Background:  I started blogging in 2011 for two main reasons.  I had developed enough home improvement and woodworking skills over nearly a decade that I could help people who were trying to add value and improve their homes.  I also heard that people were making money blogging and I thought I should give that a shot.  Seemed like the perfect combination of opportunities.  I loved talking about home projects and I could potentially make some money on the side.  Win-win.  The only problem was, when I first started out, I didn’t know how to do that.

The first two years.  When you’re first starting out, the easiest thing to do is follow the leader.  The best and most influential home improvement bloggers were all pretty much doing the same thing.  They were publishing great content.  In fact, they were publishing great content several times a week.  To be clear, I’m not just talking about Young House Love.  Everyone who was leading the pack seemed to be posting at least five times a week.   I think they all were doing that for a few reasons.  The more content, the more search hits, the more readers.   I don’t think that’s a bad strategy, at least at first.  When you are trying to get rolling, publishing a lot of content really can’t hurt.  Plus, if you really enjoy writing, then go ahead write the posts.

The underlying problem with my approach the first couple of years was my monetization strategy.  Most of the big time home improvement bloggers were making money from ad revenue and sponsored posts.  Those methods CAN be pretty lucrative IF you have a lot of traffic.  If you don’t have a lot of traffic, then no dice.  Ah, but more time and more posts will deliver more traffic.  More pins.  More time on pinterest.  More social engagement.  More tweets. More comments on popular blogs.  More guest posts. More.  More.  More.  If I just posted more often.  If I just get that one post that goes viral.  After two years and 300+ posts, I was starting to become skeptical of this whole traffic and ad based concept.  It works for some folks.  Wasn’t working for me.

Moreover, most of MY content is not terribly pinterest friendly.  The whole home blog scene tends to be dominated by women.  My content is more aimed at both men and women.  As a guy, I tend not to read blogs on a regular basis.  I’m assuming most guys don’t.  Even today, if I want to learn something new, I’ll google it.  If I land on a cool blog, I’ll try to remember it, but chances are I’m not going to pour a cup of coffee and read 15 posts in one sitting.  My wife will do that.

The past year.  Around July of last year, I bumped into a blogging niche that was taking a completely different approach to online publishing.  Lifestyle and income bloggers.  They were publishing LESS often, sometimes 4-5 times a month.  They had great traffic, but they weren’t using pinterest (if so, barely) to drive it and they were making more income in one month than some bloggers were making with their full-time jobs and their blogging gigs put together.  Sound cool?

What are they doing differently?  They’re publishing the same great content other bloggers are providing, but they’re also selling digital products on the side.  E-books, courses, consultations, you name it.  They have newsletter subscribers, not just RSS feed subscribers.  They have e-commerce sites, static sites, affiliate programs, podcasts.  It’s a whole other world of blog monetization.

Who are these bloggers?  Pat Flynn.  Derek Halpern.  Chris Ducker.  Ramit Sethi.  Melanie Duncan.  Many more.  Normal folks, that simply package their content in more ways than you may be accustomed to in the DIY and home improvement community.

Whats next.  Over the next several months and years, I’m going to continue to keep up the same posting schedule, the same content strategy and the same type of home improvement projects that you’ve come to expect.  I’m also going to be rolling out some new features that I think will help me deliver value to you, my reader.  I’m shooting to launch a new podcast before November and I’m thinking about adding a forum for more on-site conversation.  The goal with these two projects would simply be to grow the Our Home from Scratch community.

If you’re new to blogging or are considering starting your own, here are a few things I would consider adding to your to-do list.  Keep in mind, these are my own lessons learned.  At some point I was guilty of all of these infractions at one time or another.

1.  Start a Newsletter.  I started my first e-newsletter in December and I’m on pace to reach 1000 subscribers by the time next December rolls around.  How is this different than subscribing to posts in Bloglovin, Feedly or just an RSS subscription?  Newsletters are emails that you write to your subscribers telling them in your own words what’s going on.  You CAN use them to keep people in the loop on your latest posts, but you can also use them to remind them of giveaways, contests and downloads.  You can write unique content.  Have an idea for a post that you’d rather not publish?  It would probably make a great newsletter piece, plus it’s exclusive.  If you DO end up developing some sort of digital or physical product, it’s a great way of introducing it and offering sales information.  So start a newsletter.  I use Aweber for my newsletter service and so far so good.  Not sure who would ever subscribe to your newsletter?  Try offering something free in exchange for someone’s email address.

Just to put this in perspective.  My absolute biggest blogging regret was not starting an email newsletter on DAY 1.  Hands down.  When I started the newsletter, I wasn’t sure if I’d get a dozen subscribers in a year.  I’m getting 2 or 3 a day.  Some days I get a dozen.  I’ve had a Facebook page for my blog for nearly 3 years now.  I have under 400 likes.  Newsletters.  Do it.

2.  Only Post Valuable Content.  Don’t waste people’s time.  If you have nothing going on then don’t post.  You don’t NEED to post something just because you always post on a Tuesday or whatever.  If you take the time to write content that will provide value to people in one way or another, then you’ll readers will come back time and again.  But if you mail in a post and just talk about what you had for lunch (unless your blog is literally about your daily lunches) and waste people’s time, then they’re much less likely to pay you repeat visits.  I’m not talking about your blogging friends and real world friends that actually know you in real life.  I’m talking about people that read those 2 or 3 killer posts you wrote over the past year and you’re starting to grow on them.  Don’t blow it.  Oh and for the love of God, if you take a week or two off from blogging, you don’t need to apologize to your readers.  They’re not offended.  I promise.

3.  Don’t Make it a Chore.  Growing your blog takes time.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to churn out new, amazing posts every week.  If you feel like you HAVE to hit publish or your blog is going to sink, you’re going to get burned out.  Most people start blogs because they have something to say about a topic and they approach this new hobby with a fresh sense of optimism.  So very many of them will quit or get bored or become cynical over a lack of success.  If you’re blogging because you enjoy writing, then only write when you are going to enjoy it.  If you’re pissed off or in a hurry, then you’re going to make the process miserable.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Take your time.

4.  Be Known For One Thing.  When people land on your site, they decide within the first few seconds whether or not to look around or to move onto the next website.  People are a fickle bunch, no?  You need to grab their attention and immediately make it clear who you are and why they should read your content.  Chances are your content is diverse and you’re a complex person with skills, passions, hobbies and pictures of your pets.  That’s all great.  Let new readers figure that out after they’ve read a couple of posts.  Initially though, you need to hit them right in the eyes with who you are and what you’re awesome at.  Like a deer in headlights, if that’s what they’re looking for, you’re in luck.  So how do you do that?  Well, take my site for example.  I want people to know right away that this site is about home improvement and power tools.  Before they leave, I want them to think “Oh, this guy builds furniture.  This guys is good at home improvement.”  What do you want the people who land on your site to think?  Gear your site towards that goal.

 

 

Posted in Blogging,Lessons Learned. Tagged in ,,

Table Saw Basics

Posted by on August 10th, 2014

This week I’m back in the shop continuing to make progress on our home office built-ins.  So far I’ve got all the hardwood cut to width and length.  Next up will be a run through the thickness planer and then the router table.  If you recall, these cabinets are going to get a bead detail on the face frames.  It’s the first time I’ve ever attempted this technique and frankly, I’m a little nervous over how they’ll turn out.  It’s going to be a bit of a challenge.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I will be filming nearly all of the cabinet build for your viewing pleasure.  I hope when it’s all done you’ll get to see a quality video on cabinet construction.

In other news, I’ve put together a quick video on Table Saw Basics.  If you don’t yet own a table saw or you do but you’re not exactly sure how to use it, this video should be helpful.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video in the event the player isn’t visible.

This is not the first time I’ve discussed table saws.  Here’s a run down on most of our Table Saw related discussions.  This post then will sort of be a Table Saw Resource Page.

1.  My Tool Recommendations Page lists a couple different table saw options if you are in the market.

2.  The Table Saw Station we just built for my contractor grade table saw.

3.  An older post on What You Need to Know About Table Saws.  Worth reading along with the video.

4.  Thinking about buying a used table saw?  Not a bad idea.  Here are some tips for purchasing used power tools.

5.  In the video I mention grooves and dados.  Not familiar with those?  Check out this post and video.

I hope this post helps you get a better understanding of the table saw if you’ve never used one.  In our next video (probably next week) I’ll be showing you my thickness planer.  It’s loud and it’s awesome so you won’t want to miss it.

Oh and last month our blog hit our 3 year anniversary.  Not a big deal at this point, but I’m going to put a post together discussing my thoughts on blogging now that we’re pretty experienced.

Thanks!

Now I want to hear from you.  If you are an experienced table saw user, what additional tips or advice do you recommend for novice woodworkers and DIYers?  What did I miss or what did I get wrong?  I honestly don’t mind negative feedback as long as it’s helpful and not mean spirited.  

If you haven’t yet used or bought a table saw, what questions do you have? 

 

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

An Intro to Routers and Router Tables

Posted by on July 31st, 2014

Whenever I get a new newsletter subscriber, one of the first emails I send to them asks a basic question.  “What would you like to see”?  Recently, I’ve gotten at least a dozen replies specifically asking for more information on routers.  Most express an interest in simply learning the basics about them.

So, I’ve finally gotten around to filming this brief intro to routers and router tables.

I’ll be using both my router AND my router table when we make the built-ins for our home office remodel.  The face frames on the cabinets will feature a bead, which will be done with the beading bit and the joints for the doors will be made on the router table instead of the table saw.

(link to video here)

Here’s what you’ll see in this video:

- An overview of routers, collets and router bits
- Discussion on router speeds and bit sizes
- Explanation of router bases: plunge vs. fixed
- Using the fixed base router
- My router table
- Using the router table (link to the free plans)

If you’ve never used a router yet and you’re not even sure what one does or where you’ll use one, I can tell you it’s a skill and a tool worth learning.  Around our home, we’ve used the router and the router table on a number of projects.

Like our window sills in the dining room…

make a window sill

Or the cap on our wainscoting

cap wainscoting

OR the grooves in our custom TV stand

groove with a router

 

After you’ve watched the video, I’d love to hear how you’ve used your router if you own one.  If you don’t yet own a router, what project do you would use it on?  If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below.

And how about that animation??  Just had it done!

 

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Setting Up Shop: Table Saw Upgrade Part 3

Posted by on July 28th, 2014

This past week the family and I spent a few days vacation in Cape May, NJ.  Been going there since I was a kid.  Great family town.  Lots of beautiful Victorian style homes.  Made a visit to the Cape May Brewing Company while we were down there and tried some of their delicious beer.  Got me thinking about trying to brew my own beer someday soon.  I think I may need a whole other blog for that though!  Anyway, didn’t get too sunburned so that’s a relief.  I just turned 35 a few weeks ago and I’m at the age (and hair density) where I apparently need to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to the top of my head.  Womp womp.

Anyway, was able to get back into the workshop and finish up my table saw upgrade.  Let’s pickup where we left off after our first and second posts.

The frame was all built using some scrap plywood ripped down to 3.5″ in width.  Once I was out of plywood, I finished the rest of the minor framing using 2x4s.  They were in non-critical areas so I’m not too concerned about their imperfections causing and issues with the saw.

table saw work station 1

I then screwed down a piece of 1/2″ thick plywood right where the saw will be located.  Turns out I probably could have used a 3/4″ thick board because I needed to shim the saw up some to get it flush with the table top.

table saw bench 1

The saw has to be secured in place so it doesn’t move relative to the table or fence so I just went out and bought some longer hex bolts to keep the saw where it’s supposed to be.  I also cut out a hole for the dust to be removed.  At some point I’ll hook up a dust collection system and this hole will come in handy.

table saw work station 2

table saw saw installed

The tricky part was installing the Biesemeyer fence system.  This fence was a leftover from my previous table saw and has been collecting dust in my basement for several years now.  It simply bolts onto the front frame of the table.

completed table saw table

The fence system has a built-in tape measure that I calibrate by squeezing a 3/4″ thick board between the fence and the blade and then setting the indicator to 3/4″.  Later on I’ll adjust the fence to ensure it is square to the blade.  I’ll also show this table saw station in more detail in an upcoming video.

table saw fence

table saw workstation fence

The best part of this table saw setup is it’s the same exact height as my other work table and the router table.  That means they can all be in-feed or out-feed tables for each other.  That alone is going to make cutting large sheets of plywood MUCH MUCH easier.

outfeed table

So in a few hours worth of work I’ve managed to build myself a simple work bench that compliments the other tables in the shop, adds over seven inches of width to the amount I can cut and cost me around $50 worth of fasteners, wheels and wood.  Not too bad.  This project is perfect if you’re looking to improve your table saw situation.

If you don’t have a Biesemeyer fence, which I wouldn’t expect you to, you can check out these picks from Amazon (affiliates): the Vega PRO, the Delta 36-T30 and the Shop Fox.

In our next post, I’ll be featuring a video on the basics of routers and router tables.

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

Setting Up Shop: Table Saw Upgrade Part 2

Posted by on July 21st, 2014

“Let’s start over.”

That’s what I said to myself a couple of days ago.  In case you missed it, I built the top to my table saw work station out of 2x4s.  I was planning on building the rest of it out of 2x4s too and while I was reasonably satisfied with the results so far, I DID run into some warped and twisted boards.  That’s going to happen when you work with framing lumber.  It’s just the way it is.  It’s not intended for tight tolerances or fine furniture.  It’s for framing houses, which is why it’s called framing lumber.

The same day I published last week’s post I got an email from one of our awesome subscribers, Rick.  I could tell right away Rick knows his stuff.  Rick was honest, experienced and suggested I not use 2x4s for this project since my intention is to make a fairly accurate table saw station.  Accurate cuts are obviously important and having a table top made from 2x4s doesn’t help.  Rick suggested I use planed and cut hardwood boards instead.  Planed hardwood boards, like maple or oak, will be much more stable and less prone to warping or twisting and will therefore provide a much higher quality product.

As soon as I read Rick’s email, I knew he was right, but I dithered.  I was telling myself that I already spent around $20 on 2x4s and I’m sure it would turn out okay.  I was lying to myself.  I kindly replied to Rick that he was right, but I had already purchased a whopping $20 worth of wood and I didn’t want to invest in the hardwood upgrade.

I’m also stubborn.

After thinking about it for a few days, I realized that I MIGHT actually have enough leftover plywood from some previous projects that I could build the entire table over again.  After all, I had only built the top and it probably only took me an hour.  I checked my inventory (my giant pile of scraps on the basement floor) and sure enough, I had enough for maybe 80% of the table.  Okay.  I could do this.

Let’s start over.

If you’re not a regular woodworker or are just getting into this sort of  thing, plywood is actually more dimensionally stable then hardwood and MUCH more stable than 2x4s or framing lumber.  The reason is it’s a board made from thinner laminations of hardwood where the grain alternates directions from one layer to the next.  Consequently, it’s much less likely to suffer from twists, cups or any of those annoying features that is common in framing lumber.  Plywood is perfect for shelves, cabinets and all sorts of carpentry projects where stability is important (like my garage shoe organizer).   It’s also cheaper than hardwood.  Not quite as pretty, but cheaper.

So big thank you to Rick for reminding me that it was worth taking the time to do this project correctly.  I owe you a beer.

Anyway, I re-built the top out of plywood.  You probably can’t tell from the photo, but it’s a much better product.

table saw workbench 2

This is pretty much where we left off last time.  I then cut out the melamine for the work surface.  The open area is where the table saw will be located.  I didn’t permanently install the melamine yet since it would just get in the way during the rest of the build.

table saw workbench 1

Now for the legs.  Just a couple of plywood boards with pocket screws.

table saw work bench legs

I topped them off with a couple of small plywood pieces for the wheels.

table saw work table legs wheels

Flipping it back over, I threw on some cross braces, which is where the table saw will ultimately be located.

table saw workbench 3

That’s it for this post.  In our next post I’ll finish the build and setup the fence.

Ever start a project over after realizing you could’ve done better?  Leave a comment below and explain yourself.  

 

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, , ,

Setting Up Shop: Table Saw Upgrade #1

Posted by on July 13th, 2014

If you’ve been following along lately, you know that we’re knee deep in our home office renovation.  In our last post, we discussed the work we’ve done to date and what work was coming soon.  We’re starting the second half our office project today by upgrading my main workshop power tool, the table saw.  For what it’s worth, you can expect a lot of workshop posts and videos in the coming weeks.

Here’s my current table saw, a Hitachi.

hitachi table saw

What I like about it… It’s a great table saw.  It’s powerful, it’s lightweight, portable and it’s perfect for most DIY projects.  (By the way, on our Tool Recommendations Page, I recommend the Bosch model instead since it permits dado blades, whereas the Hitachi does not.  So, if you are in the market for your first table saw, consider the Bosch over the Hitachi.)

Now for what I don’t like about this saw and frankly, contractor saws in general.  It’s not such a great cabinet saw, which means it’s not ideal for cutting big plywood sheets.  It’s a bit undersized, so larger pieces of plywood tend to be more of a challenge than I’d like.  The table will move or wobble slightly when I place a larger sheet of wood down on it and it doesn’t have much of an outfeed setup.  For long pieces of wood I have to walk around the back of the saw and pull the piece through once it starts hanging off the back.  I’m sure that’s pretty common for people who use these types of saws, but it’s not ideal nor is it very safe, folks.  It also only allows cuts up to around 24″ or so, which also isn’t great for wide cabinet parts.

While I’d love to buy a full blown cabinet saw, those are pretty pricey and would really only be worth my investment if I opened up a cabinet shop (not interested).  Here’s an example of what a cabinet saw looks like:

grizzly table saw

This is a Grizzly brand table saw (affiliate link).  Now THIS is a cabinet saw.  You can click the link to see how much it costs, but it’s close to $2k.  My hitachi was around $300.  Yeah.  Not interest in spending that sorta dough.  Eventually, I plan on buying one way down the road, but I’m not in any hurry.  These saws have powerful motors and huge table tops.  They are VERY heavy and don’t move a lick when you slap a board down on them.

So what to do?  Well, I’ve decided to make a sort of hybrid table saw station similar to something I saw on New Yankee Workshop years ago.  I’m building a 2×4 framed work table that will feature a melamine top and a more professional Biesemeyer fence.  My Hitachi table saw will then sit inside this workstation and have access to a larger work surface.  I’m going to build this new table to the same height as my workbench, which will be able to act as either an outfeed or infeed table.

Here’s how it’s coming together so far.

Table Saw Upgrade #1

I started the build by measuring the dimensions of my Hitachi taking into account that the mobile base it’s attached to will be removed.  I then took those dimensions, drew some rough sketches on paper and added in some length and width for the fence system.  I start construction on the top frame, since that’s probably the most critical piece.

The sides are 2x4s and the front and back are 2x3s.  A lot of this wood I had left over from our coffered ceiling framing.  I joined the pieces together using pocket screws and liquid nail, but regular wood screws through the sides would work just fine too.

table saw workbench 1

I then flipped the frame over and started adding the internal frame boards.

table saw workbench 2

table saw workbench 3

The large open space is where the table saw will be located.  The rest of the table top will be melamine.  While I haven’t finished cutting out all of the melamine, you can get an idea of what it will look like with the last piece.  I want the melamine to be recessed into the framing, which will make more sense later.

table saw workbench 4

I’m hoping to finish the legs and sub framing later this week.  This quick project will hopefully make the cabinet project much easier.

So what’s your table saw situation?  Do have have a contractor’s saw?  Know anyone with a cabinet saw?  

 

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

Get on Board with Our Cabinet Build

Posted by on July 7th, 2014

Happy Monday, folks.  We hope all of our American readers enjoyed their 4th of July weekend!  Lisa and I took the kids over to the USS New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.  It’s the closest Battleship to our home in South Jersey.  I’m a HUGE fan of the Iowa Class Battleships.

Gotta tell you… I was not disappointed.  Tremendous history there.  If you ever get the chance to go on one of the Iowa’s, I suggest you take it.  The USS Iowa is in LA, the USS New Jersey is in Camden,  the USS Missouri is in Pearl Harbor and the USS Wisconsin is in Norfolk.  I’ve been on the Wisconsin before, but if I recall correctly, the tour was limited.  The New Jersey tour is impressive, although the teak deck is in rough shape in some areas.

uss-new-jersey-guns

I’m leading today off with this Navy reference for a good reason.  If you haven’t yet subscribed to our free newsletter, now it the perfect time to GET ON BOARD!  See what I did there?

So we’ve finished most of the work on our coffered ceiling and later this week I’ll be prepping to build the built-in cabinets for our big home office remodel.  Part of the prep work will include setting up my basement workshop and I’m planning on filming a 30-40 minute long episode after it’s all done.  I will also be filming some quick five minute long videos going over each of the power tools I’ll be using for the cabinet build.  If you’ve never used a table saw or a router, this is right up your alley.  I’m also in need of a larger table saw station and a more permanent miter saw stand before I get started.

That’s why this is the PERFECT time to get on board with our free newsletter and follow along with the project as it unfolds.  Building cabinets is our bread and butter and if you’re interested in learning how to make your own, you’re going to enjoy this series.

Subscribe to our newsletter

What I’m going to cover:

1. The Table Saw
2. The Miter Saw
3. The Router
4. The Cordless Drill
5. The Kreg Jig
6. Cabinet Building Jigs
7. Design and Dimensioning
8. Face Frame
9. Cabinet Boxes
10. Assembly
11. Finishing
12. Installation

Sounds good?  Have any questions on the cabinet build process that you’d like answered?  Leave me a comment below and I’ll try to answer it.  Big fan of big ships?  Would love to hear what ships you’ve been on!

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

5 Tips for Better Crown Molding Results

Posted by on June 26th, 2014

I’m relieved to finally tell you that all of the crown molding has been installed in our home office.  It was a bear.  Granted, I still have to putty all the nail holes, caulk the joints and paint them.  I’ll save that work for the weekend.  That’s not the end of the molding in the office either.  Once the built-ins are completed and installed, I still have to install a final piece of wall trim and all the baseboard molding.  However, that type of trim work should be considerably easier to handle.

In today’s post, I’m sharing a video tutorial I made (with Lisa as camera lady) as well as some additional info below where I discuss some of the techniques I used to get better crown molding results.

coffered ceiling

Tips for Better Crown Molding Results

1.  Pre-paint your Molding.  While not hugely important, getting at least one good coat of paint on the molding BEFORE you install it will allow you to only have to paint it one more time after it’s installed.  That’s less time on the ladder.

2.  Use Backer Blocks.  In the video, I use some simple plywood backer blocks.  These little blocks can be cut from scrap wood and provide the crown molding a solid surface to lay against.  It makes installation SO MUCH EASIER.  After this list, I’ve shared a quick tutorial on making your own backer blocks.

3.  Make a Cut Guide.  Before measuring and cutting any intersecting crown molding pieces, make a cut guide with a piece of scrap crown molding.  The guide can have a 45 degree cut on both ends and can be used to determine if any adjustments need to be made before the actual piece is cut.  You’d rather find out that your molding needs a slight adjustment before you cut through it.

4.  Use a Crown Molding Jig.  While I do recommend using the Bench Dog Crown Molding Jig (affiliate link), you can just as easily make your own using some scrap lumber and a couple of clamps.

5.  Be Strategic with your Boards.  When you walk by the office or look inside, all of the crown molding pieces that face you don’t have any miter cuts.  They all are straight pieces.  That’s intentional.  All of the cut boards are on the sides of the boxes.  That way, even if the joints aren’t perfect, almost no one will notice if they stick their head in the room.  Getting the joints done right is important, but any minor mistakes will be less visible this way.

 

How to Make Backer Blocks for Crown Molding

1.  You’ll need a carpenter’s square, a small piece of the crown molding, a paper, and a pen.

crown molding tips

2.  Arrange the crown molding inside the carpenter’s square so that both the top and bottom flats of the molding are flat against the square.  This is how the crown molding will look when installed.

crown molding tips 2

3.  Using a pen or a pencil, trace the inside triangle made by the molding and the square.

crown molding tips 3

4.  You can remove the square and the molding.

crown molding help

5.  Measure the length of the top and the length of the side, marked here as “A” and “B,” respectively.

crown molding help 2

6.  Now for some math.  Using a scientific calculator or an online calculator take the inverse tangent (tan raised to the -1) of A over B (A/B).  If you do that math, you get 38.7 degrees or roughly 39 degrees.  Now you can set your table saw angle to that value.  All you need to do now is make sure you cut the board to the length of “A,” which in this case is 1″.

crown molding backer block

crown molding cheater block

To make things easier on you, you can also lay that drawing on your miter saw and use the miter saw’s gauge to determine the angle of the molding.  OR you can just use a protractor.

For our home office, the larger molding had a block with an angle of 36 degrees and as mentioned above, the smaller molding was 39 degrees.

I hope you found this post helpful.  Even if you’re not planning any crown molding work, keep this project in mind for when you do.

Now I’d like to hear from you.  Do you have any crown molding installation tips or tricks?

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Videos. Tagged in ,, , ,

Home Office Update

Posted by on June 22nd, 2014

Believe it or not, it’s been about seven months since we started our home office remodel and we still have a good amount of work left to do.  While we never intended for it to take this long, life has a way of stretching some things out.  Since we starting our office project back in December, we’ve since gained a good amount of new readers and newsletter subscribers, so I thought it would be helpful if I did a mid-way thru recap post so everyone can see what we’ve done to date and what we have left to accomplish.

home-office-ceiling

1.  We kicked off the office remodel with a post and a video on removing old hardwood floors and installing new ones.

2.  Next we made a video on how to use Sketchup for designing basic room layouts and we showed you our future office layout.

3.  We switched gears for a bit and discussed the coffered ceiling concept design and then settled on the final detailed design for both the ceiling and the built-in cabinets.

4.  With the room planned, the coffered ceiling framing was installed, wired for the lights and then finally drywalled.

5.  After the ceiling was primed and painted, I got around to installing the old work style recessed lights.

If you check out this list of posts, you’ll be all caught up on our home office remodel.

Right now I’m in the middle of installing the crown molding.  It’s a giant pain in the rear.  Each coffered ceiling box gets crown molding and then the entire perimeter of the room will get it too.  This isn’t the first time I’ve installed crown molding and I have managed to learn a few tips and tricks along the way.  In our next post, I plan on sharing a video where I’ll share what I’ve learned.  There are a few things you can do to make the job much easier.  It still stinks though, got to be honest with you.

So here’s what coming soon to a post near you:

1.  Crown molding installation video with tips for better results

2.  Cabinet construction.  (I probably won’t go quite as in detail as our last cabinet series, but you can expect more videos)

3.  Building a filing cabinet from scratch.

4.  Building a simple desk.  (I’ll share a trick I learned to make thin wood look super chunky)

5.  Baseboard molding and finishing touches.

6.  Dressing up the room.  There will be Doctor Who themed decor items.  Plan on it.

Thanks for reading!  If there’s ANY part of this office remodel project you’d like more info on, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I’m happy to share details or answer questions.

Have a great week!

 

 

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