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Coping with Carpentry

11th January 2007


The 70’s weren’t exactly the golden era of home building. From aluminum wiring to faux woodgrain vinyl on particle board woodwork to popcorn ceilings and swirling gold glitter faux marble, this place screamed 70’s. Except for some of the aluminum wiring all of that would soon be gone from this emerging new house. Just to emphasize the point, I offered some of the removed materials (interior doors, vanity top) that were still in good shape to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. All were refused except for the medicine cabinet and a set of drawer pulls. Everything else went to the landfill. I was afraid the landfill might even reject the stuff, but they took it all anyway.

I bought several contractor bundles of pre-primed baseboard and casement from Home Depot. It was very reasonably priced I thought. It is some of the softest wood I’ve ever come across. I’m not sure how well it will hold up over time, but it will look good for a while at least.

I began trimming the windows first. All of the windows were replaced and needed to be trimmed out. The original windows were trimmed with sheet rock. I don’t mind the way it looks, but I dont’ believe sheet rock is durable enough for window surrounds. I would trim them in plywood and wood molding. The fastest way for me to do it was to build the shells off the window and install as a single unit. It is much easier to get tight and square joints this way, or at least for me it is. After they are built it is a simple matter of sliding them in and shimming the sides and finish nailing the casement to the wall. There were 2 shells that I had to score the sheet rock and trim a bit to make fit, but it worked fine.


The windows trimmed out pretty quickly. The doors would take much longer. I replaced all of the interior doors with pre-hung 6 panel molded doors. 20 years from now, these may turn out to be the equivalent of the vinyl coated doors I replaced, but any way you look it they look much nicer than what was up before. I put together the mitered pieces of the casing and then tacked the assembled pieces to the jambs and walls. I trimmed the closet openings the same way. This helped keep the mitered corners good and tight and square. It worked well for me at least.

Finally it was time for the baseboards. I cheated here a bit. I recycled the vinyl coated simulated wood grain pieces in the closets. I painted them but I know good and well that paint will not stick. Who looks in the closets that closely anyway, I told myself. I replaced the rest of the baseboards though. The first couple of coped inside corners weren’t the best you will see, but with a little caulk to fill the gap and no one will ever know. By the time I got to the last coped corner it fit very snugly without the need for any caulk.

coping baseboards

I was finally ready for paint. Painting is not my favorite thing to do, but it was nice to begin to see a finished product. It was on to the floor next. I rather enjoy laying tile so I was looking forward to the next projects

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