You might remember the end of my last post, when I showed you this picture:
The time has come to add some more awesome.
You might also remember that it took me 5 days to do something as simple as install a transition strip. So…any guesses as to how long it took me to make this piece of wainscoting, which is a near-perfect match to the original raised-panel wainscoting?
Well, 2 afternoons, really. 7 hours.
What was the difference? After doing a little bit of math to figure out how many panels I wanted and how big they should be, I took my drawing and my rough-cut pieces and a scrap of the original wainscoting straight to American Workshop and asked for help.
And my wing-man Steve jumped right in and did all the rest of the thinking, leaving me to do the manual labor. Which isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by time-saving tools.
In the past, I have professed my love of pocket screws. I have a little Kreg jig that I am pretty sure can build anything. But that jig is child’s play compared to what I discovered at American Workshop:
This thing is uh-mazing. Drilling all those pocket holes with my jig at home would have taken about an hour. At the workshop, I got it done in about 3 minutes. I’m not kidding. In fact, building the whole frame (from cutting the pieces to the right size, to drilling, to gluing and joining) only took me a little over an hour.
And once it was all put together and ready to be sanded, I was introduced to something called (appropriately) the Timesaver: a 36-inch wide belt sander.
A couple of passes through the Timesaver — and about 5 minutes — and the whole face of the frame was sanded smooth. Try doing that with an orbital sander.
The next step was to rabbet out the frame with a router, to make room for the panels to drop in.
But the router leaves rounded corners, and unfortunately, there’s no time-saving method for this next part: squaring up the corners with a chisel.
I guess sometimes the old-fashioned way is still the best way.
But once that was done, I was able to cut the panels.
And while I was cutting the panels, Steve was setting up the table saw so that I could do the raised-panel detail around the edges. (See what I mean about these guys doing the thinking while I just do the manual labor?) Ta-daa!
We used the Timesaver again to get the panels down to the right thickness. And then, sadly, after making so much progress in so little time, I had to leave and go to work. So I left the rest of the project — making the little bead detail around the edges of the panel — for the next day.
But the next day was Steve’s day off, so I felt bad for Jim, who had to step in as my wing-man for the more detailed, slightly more tedious part of this project. (Sorry Jim!) “Detailed” and “tedious” = making a bunch of tiny pieces of molding. How tiny?
Smaller than a pencil.
It started on the router, making that rounded detail. Then I planed the wood down to the right thickness (thinner than a pencil). While I was doing that, Jim set up the table saw with a brand new blade and whole bunch of guides and feather boards and safeguards, and I was able to rip off those tiny, thinner-than-a-pencil pieces.
There is NO. WAY. I could have done this at home. At least, not in a couple of hours. And probably not without getting hurt, or at the very least having pencil-sized moldings flying off the table saw and sticking in the wall.
But luckily, I have the guys at American Workshop, so it all went surprisingly well.
I laid out all my tiny pieces of molding, then started cutting them to length.
Once I had them cut and fit, all it took was a little glue and a pin nailer to secure them to the frame.
If you’re wondering what’s up with the white paint, that was Jim’s idea. I hadn’t really thought about it, but the panels aren’t really attached to anything — they “float” between the back of the frame and those little strips of molding, to allow for expansion and contraction. Jim knew I was going to be painting the whole piece, so he told me to prime the edges of the panels before installing them; that way, if they move around a bit, you’ll never see little bits of raw wood. Good thinking.
Anyway, here’s the finished product:
It’s a pretty damn good match to the original wainscoting in our dining room.
It’ll be even closer once it’s all the same color.
Not bad for 7 hours of work. I must say, I am way more proud of this than I am of all that trim I made. Which I’ve already put 50+ hours into, and still haven’t sanded and installed. But let’s not think about that. Let’s think about this…
…and the fact that I can cross another item off the list.
Finish the cabinets Makeand install casing Makeand install baseboard and toekicks Install bathroom door Install closet door and organize closet Refinish and install basement door
- Refinish and install pantry door
- Organize the pantry
- Tear up carpet and refinish the stairs
- Clean and seal the chimney
Install a transition strip Finish the peninsula
I have actually started sanding and priming the casings and baseboards. And I still have hope that this list will be finished by the end of the month. Which means the kitchen will be done by the end of the month.
And then what will I do for fun?
Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with American Workshop. They have generously allowed me to use their space for this project, but have not told me what to write. All projects and opinions are my own.