Monday, November 11, 2013


This place is a straight up disaster, right?

I love coming home to this

We've got a situation on our hands here, and I do not have a great picture for it either.  The transition between the old baseboard and new trim is going to cause us some issues:

  1. Depth: The baseboard is a true 1x (1" depth).  Most modern trim is 3/4" depth (true 11/16"); visually there will be 5/16" gap between the new door trim and existing baseboard.  To that end, what I like to call the 4th piece of baseboard overlaps the door trim which will make said gap even more deplorable.
  2. Width: Even without any reveal at all on the door jamb, the dimension from edge-of-jamb to edge-of-baseboard is a variable that hovers are 2 7/8".  Door trim typically comes sized as 2 1/4", 3 1/4" or 3 1/2".  That means we are in for some customization.  
My first idea was to use a thinner trim.  A fluted+rosette casing would bring the trim dimension down to an even 3 1/8".  However, it still leaves a couple issues on the table

  1. No reveal:  It just looks bad.  I'm not going to explain.
  2. Door hardware adjustment for larger casing depth: Fluted casing is 3/4" depth on both sides of the casing.  Why does that matter?  The door hinges and strike plate are set up to lay against really low profile clamshell casing.  This means I have to get into moving (or replacing) the hinges so that they do not hit high profile casing, and probably replacing the strike plates.
  3. Plinth width:  Fluted casing usually is capped at the bottom with a plinth block.  That is fine as it solves problem #1 above as I can make it whatever depth I want.  Unfortunately, if the plinth width can only be 3 1/8" as dictated by problem #2 above, I can only use door casing that is smaller than 3 1/8".  Likely, I need to use something 2 full 1/4" smaller on both sides of the plinth (to include a decent reveal and create some symmetry with the door casing.  
  4. The connector door between the middle bedroom and master bedroom butts right up to the closet leaving only 2 3/8" to 2 3/4" for trim (yes, it varies that much).  Which means a rosette would be cut in half and the fluted trim would need to be scribed across vertical lines.  I'm just guessing here, but I am imagining it would look hideous.

(The next to pictures are not occupy, do not be alarmed!)

With Plinth
(Used without permission, someone else's weblog)

Without Plinth
(Use without permission from someone else's flickr)

I thought I had a good solution with the fluted casing.  Back to square one.

Sure I could go down to 2 1/4" casing after the plinth.  But the wall are absolutely hammered. I need to use the trim for precisely what it intended to do: Hide imperfections and gaps.  In my case, the imperfections on the existing plaster extends beyond 3" from the edge-of-jamb.

From archives: wall damage extending outward from each jamb.  It goes past 3".  I need to use a larger door trim.

I am kind of screwed here.  But I came up with a compromise solution.  I will make skinny plinths (3 3/16" width) with a height that overcomes the existing base cap (7"+).  Then, I will create a crown piece that makes a platform to transition to a wider standard casing size.   Thus, I will be able to use 3 1/4" colonial or 3 1/2" colonial like I did in the master bedroom.  Its cheap ($9.99 for 16' piece), and then I do not have to make any hardware adjustments at all.  Furthermore, the scribe cut on the pass through door will disappear A LOT better over the rounding portion of the colonial vs. the vertical lines of a fluted casing.  Its all about the optical illusions.  A break in vertical sight line with the crown piece will hopefully conceal this dirty trick of using wider casing than plinth.


I'm not even sure if I understand! Let's just get to work.

The players:  Fluted casing (on the left) you're out.
Tag in some pieces of 5/4 stock I have laying in the basement.
First, 5/4 is too thick.  We need to cut this thing down a bit to the 1" depth of the existing base.  It's actually more like 7/8".

Now cut it to width

Make a quick-n-dirty cross cut sled, paying close attention to professional architectural specs provided on scrap shim.

Put stop block on sled (top), begin cross cuts 

Dimensions are true to design.

With the jig working well, the 6 cuts take about 10 seconds.. and now we have a stack of plinths.  All the same size.

Now, let's take a piece of 3/4" preprimed and route a profile into. I personally feel the ogee profile has a ton of portability: it almost always looks good and can be squeezed in anywhere.

I'm going to work directly on a scrap I found at the bottom of the stairs to basement.  Route down one edge and around each corner
My table saw also acts as a workbench..  My tools also double as a dangerous obstacle course.

Corner detail

Another view

I won't bore you with the details any more than I already have.  But I need to cut these into smaller pieces, then scribe them to the wonky walls to give the illusion of level and parallel to the naked eye.

Scribing back side

Also, since I like to make my life impossibly hard... I am going to put a tiny return piece on the my plinth cap, just so there is no end grain exposed at all. It wouldn't be proper.

Well, here's how it looks mocked up with a scrap of colonial trim on top.

Its hard to tell, but you can tell if you look close, that the trim on the top is wider than the plinth block.  I would pull a Mike Ditka and draw on this like a NFL playbook to help highlight the vertical lines,  but I'm too lazy.

I think this is going to turn out OK.  Lets go ahead an install the rest of the room.

I'm very lucky to have a neighbor who is 85 years old.  She can't here the nail gun going past 10 pm on a weeknight.

Difficult corner.

Middle bedroom to master bedroom door
That's it!

Did I go overboard? Probably.
Was I kind of screwed? Definitely.
Will I ever do something like this again? Maybe.

In the end, this was all an attempt to save my existing baseboard.  Next time, I will probably just take it out.  All in all, its tough to repair the plaster at the intersection to the baseboard cap anyway.  It's a lose lose situation as always... but I tried my best to turn it into a win.

Who knows? I may actually look nice when its all painted up.

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