• Welcome
  • Search
  • Categories

How to Add Trim to Cabinets

Posted by on May 5th, 2013

Hey all! Hope everyone is doing well. Had another productive weekend around here. We got a huge jump on our Pinterest Challenge project. Stay tuned for that! We posted a couple hint photos on our Instagram account.

Last week, we wrapped up our sitting room built-in. I also promised a quick post on how to add trim to cabinets to make them look more “built-in” and less free standing cabinet. The process is pretty simple and can be used on any type of cabinet. There are a number of blog posts out there about turning ikea bookshelves or stock kitchen cabinets into built-ins. Adding trim can really add some depth to their look.

Here’s how to add trim to cabinets..

We start with the baseboard molding. When I installed the cabinets, I removed the baseboard molding on the wall where the cabinet was being installed. Made things easier.

baseboard trim on a cabinet

Before I add the new piece though, I’m going to add a couple thin strips of wood to the side of the cabinet. The cabinet front overhangs the sides by about 1/4″ and if I try to install the baseboard molding without a shim, it won’t look right. Adding a strip to the top and bottom help keep the molding solid against the cabinet.

shim on cabinet

The molding on the wall is cut square on the cabinet side and just butts up into the cabinet. The molding that goes on the cabinet has a coped joint on the left side and a miter joint where it meets the front. After it was installed, I caulked and painted the molding. To make this job easier, it helps to pre-paint all the trim then all you need to do is some touch-ups after it’s installed. Last thing you want to be doing is painting that close to carpet.

baseboard trim on cabinet

built-in molding 2

Now for the crown molding..

There are a couple ways to approach crown molding on cabinets. You could do option A, like John and Sherry did in their kitchen, which is to add a strip of wood on top of your cabinets. This method is perfect for already existing cabinets that don’t have a lot of width up top to accommodate the 1/2″ or so of crown molding that will need to make contact with wood.

Option B, let’s call it, is to skip the extra piece of wood and nail the crown molding right into the face frame of the cabinet.  This option works if you DO have a lot of space near the top of the cabinet.  In the case of our built-in, we’re going with option B.  Actually, I designed the top cabinet to have that extra 1/2″ space.. another benefit of building your own stuff.

To get started, I measured about 1/2″ down from the top of the cabinet and made some pencil marks.  I’m also adding a shim up here as well.  Oh and if you look closely at the next picture, you can see some splintering at the edge of the plywood.  That’s from using a saw blade that wasn’t as sharp as it should have been.  It’s okay though, because it’s getting hidden by a shim and crown molding.

crown molding on cabinet

shimming crown molding

Now, how to cut crown molding… It helps if you use a special crown molding jig, which you can pick up from Amazon or Lowes.  The jig keeps the molding at the right angle for cutting.  What’s the right angle?  Well, crown molding has two flat surfaces that are 90 degrees from one another.  Both of those surfaces need to be 90 degrees on the miter saw when you cut them.  Crown molding jigs help to lock the molding in that position.

how to cut crown molding

You also need to cut them upside down.  That can be tricky.  It helps if you think about the molding and the piece you are installing it on as being upside down too.  For real, find some crown molding that already installed somewhere and look at it if you were standing on the ceiling.  It would look just like normal baseboard molding if you look at it from that perspective.  The challenge is thinking about it like that when you are standing in front of your miter saw.  It’s tricky.  I’ve installed a lot of it and it still throws me for a loop.  I had to buy 3 pieces of crown molding for this project because I messed up the cuts twice.  It happens.  Crown molding takes practice.

I’ll probably do a more intensive how-to video or a dedicated post on it as some point, but for this post I just wanted to show you the basics of adding trim to cabinets.  Crown molding on walls is roughly the same, but requires a little extra work.

But seriously though, think about it upside down.

crown molding miter saw

crown molding on cabinet 2

When marking the crown molding for the cuts, I like to leave the first piece long and mark it for length right on the cabinet instead of measuring it with a measuring tape.  Just make a mark where it meets the front edge.  Your crown molding should just touch the 1/2″ marks you made earlier, which will ensure that your molding is level… as long as your cabinet is level that is.  I used a brad nailer with a 3/4″ nail for all of this work and I skipped the glue.

crown molding on built-in

So that’s crown molding and baseboards on cabinets.  Not too hard and it makes a world of difference.

Later this week I have a final exam and then I’m done grad school for the summer!  That means a summer blog theme face lift and more outdoor projects!  Only one more course in the fall too.  Can’t wait. 

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

Dining Room Wainscoting Wrap Up

Posted by on August 20th, 2012

Finally.  We’re done the dining room wainscoting project.  Yep.  All done.  Well, except for some minor paint touch ups and a little bit of caulking.  BUT, it’s on a 6″ section of doorway baseboard molding, so.. technically, it’s not really IN the dining room.  So, like I said.  We’re done.  High five.

I don’t want to seem like we’re spiking the football here.  We posted last week when we finished up the painting and we got a lot of very kind comments.  I almost feel guilty posting about it again.  Almost.

We started the planning for this project back in February with an intro post.  We started the demolition and electrical work in March and April.  The actual trim carpentry started on May 15.  So, it took us about 6 months from planning to final brush stroke.  Yikes.  It was worth it.  Here’s a more thorough wrap-up of the work that went into the dining room.

Our Dining Room Wainscoting Project, the Cliff’s Notes.

A year ago, the room was completely unpainted.  We still have quite a few rooms in this builder boring state at the moment.

We started the upgrade process by adding some molding beneath the crown and painting it all semi-gloss white. Then we painted the room accessible beige by Sherwin Williams.

Then the rest of the process went like this…

- Removing the existing chair rail molding
- Adding a new outlet behind the buffet
- Planning the options, look and layout of the wainscoting
- Installing the poplar frame (1, 2, 3, 4)
- Adding the MDF panels
- Adding the bolection molding and capping
Priming
Painting

And now we’re all done…

You know you’re getting old when wainscoting is considered eye candy.

Couple things to note.  See if you caught this.  The dining room table is missing a chair.  It was in another room when I was taking the pictures.  Oops.  Lisa noticed.  I didn’t.  Also, we’re going to be adding some additional decor items at some point and eventually replacing the cellular window shades.  For now though, this is fine.

Any items you’re dying to remove from your to-do list?

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Home Decor,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Wainscoting Painted

Posted by on August 13th, 2012

I was originally thinking about skipping all the posts on our dining room wainscoting until we were completely finished with it. Staged and all.  However, it may be another week until it’s all buttoned back up, so I think I’ll just get on with it and show everyone where we’re at.

The last couple weeks we’ve been painting.  A lot.  We finally finished painting the wainscoting and this past weekend we finished painting the walls.  We had hoped to avoid repainting all the accessible beige, but the touch ups were pretty visible, so we ended up repainting ALL of it.

One tip I learned from painting the large panels of the wainscoting is definitely worth sharing. I was getting some major streaking or flashing with the semi-gloss on some panels. You can see the brush strokes. For some reason it just wasn’t going on evenly. It was driving me mad.

To remedy this problem, I just used a small roller and applied a nice even coat just to the MDF panels and then used a dry brush to flatten it out. Worked like a charm.

Yesterday, I started adding the outlets. Since they are situated in the MDF panel part of the wall, the boxes need to be extended by 3/4.”

I was able to find outlet extenders at Home Depot. They come in varying sizes (1/4″, 1/2″, etc) and can be screwed right onto the existing boxes.

When installed, it brings the receptacle flush to the wall.

Here’s some shots of the room. We still have to finish up a few more outlets and add the oak quarter rounds to tie the walls to the floors. Then we’ll need to clean up and bring everything back in.

Can’t wait to be done with this already!! Late last week we were in DC for a couple days, which is why we skipped out on posting. We’ll be sharing some of our experiences with that trip later this week.

Do any painting this weekend? What are you looking forward to finishing?

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

How to Make a Window Sill

Posted by on August 6th, 2012

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Lisa and I were upstate in NEPA on Friday for an annual golf tournament that’s held in memory of my father.  It’s usually a great time and the proceeds are donated to a local charity.  This was the fifth year we’ve had it.  The tournament is organized and run by a committee of people that knew and worked with my father and they do a masterful job making it happen every year.  It’s a lot of work on their part and our family is deeply grateful for their efforts.  I especially enjoy seeing all those folks that knew him very well.  It’s nice to be reminded he was well liked and is still missed.

Even though golf is supposed to be a leisurely sport, it’s a long day on the course and it was pretty hot out.  We didn’t get back home until late and Saturday I was pretty sore all day (I golf like once a year).  Consequently, this weekend wasn’t that productive in terms of home projects.

We don’t have a lot of work left to do on our dining room wainscoting project.  We were able to squeeze in some time this weekend to get some painting done and if you’re following me on Instagram (john_ohfs), you were able to catch a sneak peek of the current progress.  We still have to do some touch up painting, wire the outlets and add the shoe molding (which we’ll be staining ourselves to save money).

Right before we added the cap and started painting, I made a new window sill since the old one was too small with the paneling on the wall.   When I told Lisa that I needed to make a new sill, she asked me if we could just buy one at Lowe’s.  If you didn’t know, you can’t really buy window sills.  You may be able to find some online, but the best way to get a window sill is to make them.  I’ll show you how we made ours and you’ll see it’s not terribly difficult.  It took me all of about 30 minutes to make ours.

Here’s how to make a window sill.

Once the paneling was completed under the window, I put this old sill back in.  I kept it and didn’t throw it out because I wanted to use it as a template for the new one.

You can see that the old one is too short on the back edge.  No problem.  I’ll just measure from the front of the old window sill to the window.  That’s how wide the new window sill will need to be.  For material, I bought some poplar.  The piece was a 1x6x8′ and cost around $20.  I almost always use poplar for painting projects.  It’s the same wood that’s all over the wainscoting.  It’s only slightly more expensive than first select pine, but it’s a hardwood, whereas pine is a softwood.  Does that make a difference?  I think so.  Over time, pine will be more prone to showing dings and dents and poplar may not.

To begin the replacement, I used my window sill router bit and routed a window sill profile on the entire front edge of that new poplar 1×6 I bought.  It’s better to put the sill profile on the entire board first before cutting out the shape of the sill.  You can cut the board first and then route it, but if you make a small mistake while routing it, you pretty much need to buy a new board.  If you make the mistake early, you can flip the board over and route the other side.

Once the profile was on the new board, I laid the old window sill over the new board.

I lined up the edges of the old sill with the edges of the new board and traced out the profile of the old sill onto the new board.  To make sure the new board would be the right size, I added some additional width to the back of the poplar piece.

Then I just cut along the lines I drew.  I used my table saw for the long straight cut along the back and my hand held jigsaw for the shorter cuts.  Once it was cut out, it installed with some shims, construction glue and finish nails.

I made sure to shoot at least one nail through each shim.  To remove the unused portion of the shim, I scored it with a box cutter and then cracked them off.

The gaps against the window will be resealed with painter’s caulk.  This new one actually sits a little lower than the old one.  You can tell by looking at the old caulk marks on the window.  Not sure why.  Don’t really care.

We’ll show you it painted along with the rest of the room very soon.

Ever install a window sill?  Do you need to replace any?  Get anything done this weekend?

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

Spraying the Primer on the Wainscoting

Posted by on July 24th, 2012

I think this is going to be the last progress post I write on the wainscoting until we’re finished.  I’ll probably do one more post on how we replaced the window sill, but that will be it.  We’re that close. Over the weekend we were finally able to prime the panels.  Instead of brushing on all the required coats of paint, I thought we’d get a better result if we sprayed on the first two coats, which are the primer coats.

Before I get into the why’s and what’s of spray painting, I thought I’d post the last few photos of the dining room unpainted.  Makes for a solid ‘before.’

There, that should do it.

Now, if you paint unfinished wood like this wainscoting, you typically need to apply several coats of paint to hide the darkness of the wood and to achieve your desired finish.  Painting unfinished wood with a brush for all of those coats can end up giving you a goopy look with a lot of visible brush marks.  After four coats of latex paint, it tends to do that.  To avoid that look, you can spray paint the primer AND the paint or just spray on the primer and then brush on two coats of the finish paint.  Get it?  By reducing the amount of brushed on coats, you can get a smoother, more professional looking result.  Why would you even bother to brush on any coats if you can spray them all?  It’s useful if you want to match some existing paint in your home like trim or crown molding.  It’s a perfect approach for built-ins.

For larger projects like our wainscoting, it’s a little impractical to use cans of spray paint.  Not sure how many cans it would take, but I’m pretty sure it’d be a lot.  Instead, we’re using an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) paint gun.  You’ll also need an air source.  You can use a large compressor, smaller pancake compressors don’t provide enough air.  We’re using a turbine system, which provides air like a large compressor, but it’s very compact.  They’re available used on ebay or craigslist for reasonable prices and they may be worth it if you’re planning on doing a LOT of spray painting.  We picked our’s up when we built our first home’s kitchen cabinets. The paint guns are fairly inexpensive and there are a ton of used guns available.

I’ll get into more of the pro’s and con’s of spray painting in another post.  For now, just trust me that it works pretty well.  I used a Bulls Eye brand water based, low odor primer.  I only bought a quart and was able to get one solid coat done.

We still have to do some light sanding after this primer coat and then we can actually apply the finish paint coats.

Here’s how spraying the primer on the wainscoting came out…

We’re hoping we can finally get this done soon!

What’s been keeping you busy lately?  Any projects dragging on?

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