New Video: How to Install Chair Rail Molding

Posted by John on May 16th, 2015

In this video and post, you’ll learn
– How to install chair rail molding
– How to install molding on a stairway
– How to add end caps to your trim work
– How to use two basic tools to figure out what angle to cut your trim pieces to


Happy weekend everybody!

This past week I was able to get some more house work done in the form of chair rail molding.  This is the second time we’ve added chair rail to our place.  The first time was back a few years ago.  You can read about that experience here (photos were pre-DSLR).  This time around it went MUCH quicker.  Funny how a little bit of experience will do that.

This time around, I snapped a chalk line in the areas where the chair rail was to be installed.  I also used my patented* no-tape-measure approach to trim installation, which was more fully explained in my baseboard installation video.

Anyway, why don’t you watch the video and let me know if you have any questions…

(If you don’t see the video, please click here to be redirected to YouTube)

The key takeaways from this video are:
– Use construction adhesive and a chalk line to align your trim
– Use a finish nailer for trim that is thicker than 1/2″ or so. Keep in mind that the nail needs to go through a 1/2″ thick piece of drywall plus the trim. Most brad nailers only shoot nails up to 1-1/4″ long.
– Use a t-bevel and your miter saw to figure out what angle your molding should be cut to.
– If you want an end cap or a “return”, just cut the end of the trim to a 45 degree angle. Then using a piece of scrap trim, cut a 45 degree angle on the opposite side you intend to install it and then just lop it off with a straight cut.

I hope this video helps you with your chair rail installation or any similar type of work.

Any questions??


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

How to Install Baseboard Molding

Posted by John on April 29th, 2015

In this video, you’ll learn:
– How to remove baseboard molding
– How to install new baseboard molding
– How to work without a tape measure

Well, we finally started our latest home improvement project.  As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re working towards adding some character in our vestibule with taller baseboard molding, additional chair rail trim and shadow boxes.

How to Install Baseboard Molding 2

The first item on this to do list is the baseboard molding.  Rather than write a few hundred words on how to rip out short molding and install taller trim, it’s easier and more educational to simply film it and narrate the work.

Here’s a super quick video on how to install baseboard molding.  By the way, super quick for me is around 5 minutes!

(If you don’t see the video, you can click this link to be redirected to YouTube)

I hope you find this video helpful.  Adding taller trim can give your home a more high end look since shorter trim is very common.  The visual effect of the taller baseboards gives the wall a more defined contrast with the wall.

Again, I’d like to emphasize that you don’t always need to work with a tape measure.  Sometimes you do, no doubt.  However, I find that if I’m able to employ the process I used in this video, I make less mistakes. When I first started out installing molding years ago, I used a tape measure.  I can’t tell you how many cuts I messed up.  When you use a tape measure, you’re adding potential pitfalls.  You measure the wall then you measure the molding.  If you make tiny mistakes on each of those steps you can make a noticeable mistake at the miter saw and cut the board too short or too long.

You can see another example of where I was able to avoid using a tape measure when I installed quarter round molding in our family room a couple years ago.

In our next video, I’ll show you how I use a t-bevel to make trim installation on angled walls easier.

Are you in need of new trim in your home?  What molding work are you considering? 

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

Our Next Project: Shadow Boxes

Posted by John on April 13th, 2015

The last couple months have been super busy.  In case you couldn’t tell by my complete lack of posting, I haven’t done a whole lot of home improvement work lately.  Life with three little kids is much more time consuming than it was with two and my free time is just about gone nowadays.  I have maybe two hours every evening after work to either blog, do house projects or other online projects that I’ve started.  It’s a challenge to say the least.

I’m expecting to get back in the swing of things this week with our latest home improvement adventure: shadow boxes.

We’re going to dress up our vestibule with some simple trim work to give the home some more character.  Over the years, I’ve installed a lot of trim, but this will be my first crack at shadow boxes and I’m looking forward to the challenge.  We’ll also be taking the opportunity to upgrade the baseboard trim.

Here’s a shot from our vestibule now.

shadow box before

You can see in the photo that we have chair rail molding already in place.  We installed that back in 2011.  Here’s a link to that tutorial.  The baseboard molding looks pretty puny, so we’re going to pop that off and install the taller stuff.  When we built the house, we were under the impression that the baseboards would be the taller variety.  It was one of the few minor disappointments we had during our walk-thru.

When we renovated our home office, we took advantage of the opportunity and installed the bigger baseboards in there first.  The goal is to have the bigger molding throughout the first floor.  We’ll continue that work with the vestibule and then maybe the living room at a later point.  It’s unlikely that we’ll change the baseboards upstairs.

Here’s a reminder of what those taller baseboards look like.

high baseboards

Pretty nice if you ask me.  Definitely worth the effort to rip out the short stuff.

Now that you know what we’re up to, here’s what you can expect to see and learn during this small project.  I’ll film and explain the essential parts of the work like the sizing, cutting and installation of both the shadow boxes and the baseboard molding.  Even if you aren’t planning on performing this same kind of project in your home, understanding the process should be helpful.

Make sure you stop by later this week.  I’ll be releasing my next set of free woodworking plans.  This time it will be the table saw station.

Have a great week!

Posted in DIY Projects,Trim. Tagged in ,,

How to Build a Router Table: Guest Post

Posted by John on July 2nd, 2012

You know that router table I’ve been talking about building for a while now?  Well, I built it a couple weeks ago and today I’m guest blogging about it over at One Project Closer.  Stop by, say hello and check out their great website!!

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

Dining Room Status Update

Posted by John on June 8th, 2012

Thought it may be helpful to bring all of our readers up to speed on what we have left to do in our raised panel wainscoting project in our dining room. Just yesterday, I was able to get another small wall section installed.

(via my instagram: john_ohfs)

That leaves one more long wall section.  This last one will be made of four panel sections similar to our longest wall, which had six.

So far, we’ve..

1. Removed the existing trim
2. Decided on the look, layout and panel spacing
3. Moved an outlet and added an additional one
4. Repaired the holes in the walls from the outlet install and trim removal
5. Installed panel sections (here, here, here and here with one wall left)

Still to do…

6. Build a simple router table
7. Rout the MDF panels with a raised panel profile
8. Install the MDF panels
9. Install the bolection trim
10. Make and install the cap trim
11. Sand
12. Prime
13. Paint

Does that seem like a lot?  I notice we’ve only got 5 items out of 13 done to date, but that’s okay.  I can say with some certainty that the hardest part is behind us.  The rest shouldn’t be too bad.  I’m thinking we’re a little more than halfway done.  Wish I could just take a few days in a row off here and knock this out.  I may get the chance, but not for a few more weeks and then who knows how far along we’ll be by then.

After the wainscoting is all done and painted, Lisa and I have to decide how to finish decorating the room.  We both really like the look of quatrefoil.  I prefer the stencil approach like I’ve seen at Drab to Fab and Lil House that Could.  Both of those projects came out great.  Plus, I like the idea of not having any seams or paper to deal with.  Lisa is more set on wall paper.  The advantage of that is we may be able to bring in some texture and depth to the walls that we wouldn’t otherwise have with just paint.  To be frank, wall paper is a little intimidating to me.  The process to hang it seems maddening.  So, at some point we need to make a decision there.  We’ll be asking your opinions on that once we have the options in front of us.

For the time being, it seems like this dining room paneling is going to be the biggest project both financially and in terms of production time we’re going to be attempting all summer.  There are a lot of small 1-2 day things we can work on the rest of the time.  I’ll have a bunch of scrap wood left over from this wainscoting project and I’ve already got a few ideas for some small projects I can use it in.  We also have a TON of room painting to do, lighting… a good amount of outside work like planting and more irrigation… plenty to keep us busy.

To top if off, I’ve got some boat and car work to get done.  I promise not to do too many posts on that stuff since this is a Home DIY site, but a lot of it will be a learning process for me, so I don’t think it will hurt to share some of that work.

Have a great weekend!  I’ve got to get caught up on my blog reading now! 

Posted in Carpentry,Trim. Tagged in ,, ,

Add Trim without the Tape Measure

Posted by John on January 11th, 2012

Lisa and I are still basking in the awesomeness that is our new hardwood floors. They’re so shiny and clean that I almost don’t want to walk on them… almost. Lots of sliding in socks going on around here. On Monday morning, I took a brake from basking and sliding and I started installing the shoe molding, aka the quarter rounds. Bruce makes a matching shoe molding, so we just picked up a couple boxes of those when we ordered our floors. Now, I’ve already done a post on molding installation, but I thought this post would make a nice little tutorial on how to make your molding installations faster. Having trouble figuring out which angle your wall is at? Read this tutorial.

Obviously, speed isn’t the name of the game when it comes to home projects. Quality and safety are number one. However, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few tricks now and then to reduce your work time AND get a more accurate result with fewer errors. Our family room is around 400 square feet or so and I managed to install all the shoe molding in under 30 minutes using this trick.


First thing’s first. You generally don’t need to use a tape measure to make accurate measurements. I just use the piece of molding I’m going to install and I mark that piece. In the photo above, you can see that I’ve already got a section of shoe molding installed to the left. I cut the end of that piece at a 45 degree angle (the pieces are only 6′ long so I need a few of them in a row to cover the wall). My next piece will start with a matching 45 degree angle. In this example, I need to determine how long this last piece will be in order for it to meet the end of the wall.IMG_2718-1024x682


To get that measurement, there’s two ways.

1. Use a measuring tape and try to get the distance from the end of the last shoe molding to the corner of the wall. The only problem with that method is that it’s more prone to errors because you’re resting your tape measure on a piece of molding that’s been cut to an angle. So which part of the slice do you measure?

2. Use the molding itself. I cut the next piece of molding to match the one already installed and I lay it on the floor like I’m going to install it. That way the 45 degree cuts lap together nicely. Then I mark the piece where it meets the corner with a pen or a pencil.IMG_2720-1024x682


For outside corners like the one above, I can even mark the backside of the molding by running my pen along the baseboard molding, creating a perfect line on the back that marks the edge of the wall exactly.

For inside corners, I usually make my cut for the inside angle ahead of time on the molding and jam the molding into the inside corner of the wall first and try to mark the other side of the piece. This method essentially makes all your inside corners into outside corners. You’re just working in the other direction. Get it? If this verbiage is confusing, let me know and I’ll add some additional pictures to clarify. Maybe I’ll make another video to show how to do this throughout an entire room.

The speed of this method is best realized by allowing the molding to lay past whatever you’re measuring it against. For the examples above, this is done against an outside corner, but it could easily be against another piece of molding.

Hope that helps. If employed properly, you could really move through a molding job. I started using this a while back when I kept mis-measuring my cuts with a tape measure. I’d be off by about 1/8″ and it was driving me nuts!!

Have any additional tips for making molding fly besides throwing it?

Posted in Flooring,Home Decor,Trim. Tagged in ,, ,

Vestibule: Painted

Posted by John on January 2nd, 2012

New Year: New Colors. Since we moved into our new home in July of 2010, we haven’t done much interior painting. We DID paint the outside of our front door and we painted our nursery before the baby was born. But other than that, the white walls have been here as long as we have. Well, the week before Christmas, we changed all that. First, we started with the morning room. We had gotten a quote from a painter for the vestibule, but before he came over and our money was spent, we wanted to be sure we really loved the color. Nevermind that we already bought an un-returnable 11 gallons of non-VOC Accessible Beige from Sherwin Williams.

After we painted the morning room in our first video, we knew we made the right color choice. So we painted the living room too. We REALLY love it. Thus, we gave the go-ahead to the painter to paint the 2-story vestibule; he ended up painting the upstairs hallway as well. Overall, he did a great job. We weren’t at all worried though since he was recommended to us by our neighbors. If anyone is looking for a painter in South Jersey, let us know and we’ll give you his number. He started on a Wednesday morning and he was done after lunch the following day. I’ll be posting more on his painting skills later as they’re worth writing about. I definitely picked up a couple things.

Here are the after photos…





Oh and remember that molding we added just below our crown molding? It really pops now that it’s been painted.

We’re really happy with how that came out. It adds some depth and complexity to an otherwise normal crown. Despite all that work, we still have to paint the family room, kitchen, and figure out what we’re doing in the dining room all before the end of January and that doesn’t even include our bedrooms. Why January? You’ll see…

How was your Christmas break? Did you get any projects done? How about any painting?

Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting,Trim. Tagged in ,,

Such Great Heights

Posted by John on December 12th, 2011

I hate hiring contractors.  Ok, wait.  I don’t hate hiring contractors.  I hate hiring contractors for jobs that I could do myself.  That I definitely hate.  But, there is one thing that I hate more than that: heights.  I hate heights.  Not. a. fan.  I’m not so terrified that I can’t go up elevators or anything crazy.  After all, I did manage to build our shed myself and that required me to get onto the roof on multiple occasions.  But, I did nearly have a heart attack on the Space Needle in Seattle a few years ago and left Lisa alone up top to eat her lunch alone while I “recuperated” on the ground floor.

Now, there’s no space needle in our home.  But there is a two story vestibule.

So what?  Well, it wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that we’re installing trim below our crown molding and we have a ton of painting planned.  So, yesterday, I brought in my extension ladder out to attempt to scale the wall and start adding the trim.

After extending the ladder up the wall and coloring it with the ladder’s black plastic feet, I climbed up.  No go.  There is no way I’m going to be able to install a piece of molding, let alone paint it.  Not happening.  It’s too difficult with a ladder.  Now, I could do this with a scaffold system, but that’s overkill.  Alas, we’re just going to hire someone.  At least it will be someone else up that ladder.

We’ve also decided to scrap the molding in the vestibule and just leave it in the dining room and the living room.  After all, these two rooms are the most formal rooms in the house, and the molding adds some elegance there that we don’t need in the entry anyway.

So, the rest of the day we puttied and caulked the trim we had already installed.

Here’s how I prepped the trim for painting:

1.  I went around all the trim and looked for all the nails that hadn’t been sunk below the surface of the wood and used a setter and knocked them down.

2. Then I used some white wood filler and filled all the nail holes.  I just apply it with my fingers and rub the putty until it’s basically flush down with the wood.  A deep hole may require two treatments because as the putty dries it contracts.  Oh, and use the white putty if you have white trim.  The wood colored stuff needs more coats of paint to hide.

3. Once all the holes are puttied, I apply the painter’s caulk.  Now, the best interior caulk contains both latex and silicone.  By best, I mean least likely to split or crack.  You don’t want to have to do this again.  I just cut the tip to a small size and spread it out with my finger.

4. When it’s all done. It will just need a little bit of light sanding before you paint it.  I’ll be painting these trim pieces this week.

So, I know I’m not the only one that’s had a major phobia keep them from getting some home improvement projects done. So spill the beans. What have you skipped or handed off to a contractor?! Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting,Trim. Tagged in ,,

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