Springfield Antique Show

Last Friday, my wife and I, went to Brimfield, Massachusetts for their antique show. This Friday we headed to Springfield, Ohio for their Extravaganza. Even though the amount of vendors attending is a third of who sets up at Brimfield (2000 vs 6000), I was hoping to find better deals as I usually don’t do too bad at the Extravaganza.

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There are a lot of professional dealers at Springfield, however the majority of them are concentrated in the center of the fairgrounds. As you venture out onto the outskirts of the show, that is where you’ll find people just setting up tables to sell some of their junk. These are the places where I find the best deals. It’s always nice to visit the tables with a bunch of tools from tool collectors, but that’s not typically where the deals are.

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On this table were a Stanley BedRock No 604 for $150 and a Stanley No 8 for $100. Not bad prices if you wanted to pay retail, but I’m always looking for a deal.

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Occasionally you’ll find good deals at these tables. Here were a couple of Stanley planes and a Keen Kutter No 5. The two No 5’s were $15 and the Stanley No 4 was only $21. I passed up on these planes as I wasn’t feeling it for some reason. I only had $40 left in my pocket and still wanted to walk around and see what else was available before I spent all my cash, so I walked away.

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I always love checking out old anvils even though I haven’t set up my blacksmith shop yet. The big boy anvil in the front was a mere $1000. Too rich for my blood.

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After we walked around the fairgrounds for six hours, I came home with a few nice tools. Two Stanley miter boxes, two Stanley No 3’s and two Hartford Clamp Co clamps. The clamps are the most interesting thing I bought as after I researched them, they were primarily used for gluing up thin panels. The bars ride on both sides of the panel so the wood won’t bow while being clamped. I’m going to clean them up and see how well they work.

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As far as deals, I believe I did better at Springfield than I did at Brimfield even though I spent a little bit more money. Now I need to go back to the bank and get some more cash for the Burlington Antique Show in Kentucky on Sunday.

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Saving a Millers Falls No 9 Plane

Last month my wife and I were at an antique show in Columbus, Ohio when I passed by this Millers Falls No 9 plane. I looked at it and decided that the rust on the right side was too much to deal with, so I walked away. About ten minutes later, something told me to go back and examine the plane better to see if it was worth saving. I thought to myself if nothing else, it could be used for parts as the handles and frog were in good shape. I asked the dealer how much he wanted for it and he told me $10.00 so I handed him a ten-dollar bill and walked away.

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The first thing I do when restoring an old plane is to take everything completely apart spraying PB Blaster on the parts if necessary to break free the rust.

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Once apart, I soak the plane in a citric acid bath for a few hours. I use an old planter box as my tub and fill it half way up with water. Then I’ll scoop out about a cup of citric acid and spread it over the water. Sometimes you can buy citric acid at the grocery store in the spices section, but I buy mine by bulk on eBay. I buy about ten pounds worth for $30.00 which is much cheaper than the grocery store which is usually about $7.00 per pound.

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After a few hours, I take the parts out of the bath and use a wire brush to scrub the residue off the parts. The acid does a great job of removing the rust from the tool.

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I then polish all the parts with sanding sponges and apply my own homemade rust protection solution which contains, mineral oil, orange oil, and beeswax. I also steel wool the handles of the plane and apply a couple of coats of shellac to them.

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Once everything is cleaned and polished, I put the plane back together to see how it looks.

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If all the plane was to do is to sit on a shelf and collect dust, then I would be done. However, I want this plane to be used again, so I needed to focus on the blade. As you can see in the picture, the blade was roasted and desperately needed a new edge. Some people feel a blade that is in this bad of shape would automatically need to be replaced, but I like to see if I can get it to work again first.

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I took the blade over to my high-speed grinder and ground a new edge making sure not to overheat the blade making it lose its hardness.

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After the major grinding was done, I switched to my slow speed water-cooled grinder and worked on the edge some more. I also flattened the back of the blade on my grinder at the same time.

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After I was satisfied with the grinding process, I switched to my water stones to hone the edge. I sharpened the blade with a series of 800, 2000, and 5000 grit water stones.

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I set the cap iron about a 1/8″ from the edge of the blade and put it back in the plane. After adjusting the blade up and down, I was able to get the plane to cut off a nice thin shaving.

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I took one of the shavings and measured it with my calipers. The shavings produced were .002 of an inch thick.

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The shavings are nice, but the real proof is the way the plane leaves the wood with a nice sheen. No sandpaper needed. Not too shabby for a rusty $10 plane.

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Building a Shed Part IX

I’ve been as motivated to work while it’s 100 degrees as I was when it was 30 degrees, so the shed has been sitting the past few weeks acclimating to the sun. The good news is that it has given me time to work in my nice cool basement workshop building the doors and corbels. I bought ten more 8′ long 8″ wide siding and slid five of them together to figure out how much to cut off the end boards to make a nice centered door.

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After figuring how much to trim off the end boards, I clamped them together and stapled 4″ cedar trim across the top and bottom. I used 1/4″ crown galvanized staples 1 1/2″ long.

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I attached the sides and center rail the same way. I used a liberal amount of Titebond III exterior glue to help hold everything together.

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I flipped the door over and did the same thing on the other side. I left the door over hang the inside trim about 2″ so that the bottom of the door would be flush with the bottom of the siding. I attached one board on the back at the diagonal to strengthen the door.

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I built the other door exactly the same way with the only difference being the diagonal board was going the other way.

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After the weather cooled down a bit, I took the doors out to the shed to see how they fit. In a perfect world they would fit perfectly, however I don’t live in a perfect world and I’ve never built anything perfectly. So, I had to trim the doors down to size about 1/4″ and shave down one end about 1/8″ less than the top.

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After fiddling around with the doors, they fit well enough for me to be happy. I used large hand screw clamps and clamped the inside of the doors to the frame opening. I then attached three hinges per door while they were clamped.

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After they were hung, they stuck a little bit at the top. I grabbed my block plane and shaved away the tops of the doors so that they would open and close freely.

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Installing the locking handle was a breeze. A simple hole drilled through the door allowed the stem to pass through. I then attached the inside handle with a set screw.

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I needed the left door to stay put while the right door was locked, so I drilled a 5/8″ hole through the floor and used two-part epoxy to glue a small piece of 1/2″ copper pipe inside the hole.

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I then attached the door hardware to the left door so that the bar would fit nicely in the hole.

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I did the same thing for the top of the door except I used a 1/4″ copper coupler instead of a 1/2″ pipe.

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I trimmed out the inside of the door the same way I did with the windows. I took a 2 x 6 and ripped into three pieces that were 3/8″ thick by 2″ wide and attached them with finish nails.

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I’m happy with the way the doors turned out. Now on to the corbels.

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Restoring a Stanley No 10 Carriage Maker Rabbet Plane

Several months ago I picked up a Stanley No 10 Carriage Makers Rabbet plane with a welded sole at a local auction. I wanted to restore the plane and make it usable again so I took it all apart and soaked everything in a citric acid solution for a few hours.

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Even thought the weld was done fairly well, the plane’s sides were no longer straight. Not the best situation for a plane that needs straight sides in order to cut a clean rabbet.

Fortunately, because the plane cracked only on one side, the bed was still relatively flat when it was welded back. If the bed would have been out of whack, I may have resorted to the garbage can as it would have been too much work to fettle flat.

I wanted the black removed from the sides as the previous owner painted the sides to cover up the weld. I spread some paint remover on it and let it sit for a few minutes before removing it with a putty knife. I then needed the sides to be straight so I started to fettle them with sandpaper on a marble base. Rubbing the bed back in forth, I could see the high and low spots on each side.

There was a lot of metal to remove, so I decided to take the bed to my stationary disc sander and carefully grind the bed using 80 grit sand paper.

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Using the disc sander saved a lot of time, but it scratched the hell out of the surface. I made sure I moved the bed back and forth so that I wouldn’t do more damage than good.

Because the disc sander made a lot of scratches on the sides, I took the bed back to my marble base and used a variety of sand paper grits to remove as many scratches as I could.

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I then focused on the bed, fettling it flat. I used a variety of sand paper from 150-400 grit. I worked on it for a few minutes until I was satisfied with the results.

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Once the bed was done, I sharpened the blade using my Tormek sharpening wheel and water stones.

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Since I ground some of the thickness of the sides away, you can see where the blade protrudes farther out of the side than normal. I could grind away the sides of the blade, but I wanted to wait and see how it performs first. If I was able to cut a clean rabbet with the way it was, I would just leave it alone.

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Here she is after all the work has been done. It looks a lot better than the way I bought her, but I still needed to see if she works.

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After setting the blade to the right depth, I tried it out on a scrap piece of wood. It cut nice little shavings with ease and can now be put in my arsenal of planes for use. Even though I spent a good day tuning this plane up, it gives me great satisfaction resurrecting an old tool back to life. Plus it saved me a ton of money versus buying a new rabbet plane.

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Stretching a Board

I’m in the process of building a new cabinet for our bathroom to hold towels and toiletries. I work on it in between work and building my shed. Because I work on it only when I have the time, it opens up the opportunity for brain farts to happen. Last Monday, I went back into the shop to start making the top of the cabinet and grabbed a board of maple, looked at the 31 1/4″ measurement I had written down on a scrap piece of wood on my bench, and cut the board into 32″ segments. As soon as I cut the board, I realized my error. The top of the cabinet is 33 1/2″ long. The 31 1/4″ measurement is the width of the 1/4″ back for the cabinet. I didn’t measure twice and cut once like Norm Abram would always tell me to do. After spewing a few cuss words, I had to decide what to do next. I had two options. I could either go back to the lumber yard and buy a new board for $15.00, or somehow make these boards work. So, I decided to “stretch” these boards.

Stretching a board is often a gag placed on an apprentice in a cabinet shop.  One of the veteran cabinet makers will ask the newbie to go get the Board Stretcher. The newbie will look around the shop and then ask other cabinet makers where the board stretcher is. After a couple of minutes, everyone in the shop will turn around and laugh at the apprentice making him feel like a dumb ass. I know this story first hand.

However, you can legitimately stretch a board if you know the trick. There are a couple of criteria that makes board stretching possible. One, the board you’re stretching has to be wider than the final width you need . The second, is the grain of the board should not be pronounced highlighting the fact that the board has been cut and re-glued. This cabinet will be painted white, so I wasn’t concerned about the grain. And, the width of the three boards together is 16″ while the top only needs to be 13 3/4″ wide, so I was good to go.

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The first step in stretching a board is slicing it diagonal down it’s length on a band saw. Try to make sure the cut is as straight as possible so you don’t lose more of the board’s width than necessary.

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Next, plane the diagonal edge straight with a jointer plane to get a nice tight seam where the two halves are glued back together.

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Bring the two diagonal halves together and slide them so that the length of the new board is where you need it. Since my top is 33 1/2″, I glued the board 34″ long. I’m sure there’s a mathematical formula that can determine how much width of board you lose for every inch you lengthen it but, I haven’t taken trigonometry in twenty years, so unfortunately, I can’t help you with that.

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After the glue dries, you’ll have a little triangular shaped area you’ll need to remove with a hand plane. After you plane that area away, joint the whole edge straight with the jointer plane, and rip the other side straight on the table saw.

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After I stretched all three boards and trimmed them square, I edge glued all three pieces together. This board is now 34″ long x 15″ wide.

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Here’s the board after it was sized to the final dimension of the top of the cabinet and sanded to 220 grit sand paper. This top will work perfectly fine and no one will ever know I screwed up.

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Here’s a close up shot of the board. If you look closely, you can see the diagonal glue lines that pass through the grain. However, it still looks really nice even if the grain of the board would be shown in the piece of furniture.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Corradi Gold Rasp Handles

Last year I bought a couple of Italian made Corradi Gold Rasps direct from Italy; a 6″ round and a 10″ cabinet rasp. While I absolutely loved using them, they were painful to use without a proper handle. The tip of the tang would dig into the palm of my hand causing great pain. Corradi sells handles for their rasps, but I figured I could make my own easily enough.

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I use these rasps to shape and make new pieces of wood for the top of my rosewood plane totes. Their small size makes it nice to work into the tight curves of the handle and the small hole for the threaded rod. At a 6 cut, they are aggressive enough to make quick work of removing the wood, but with their advanced stitching, they don’t leave big tool marks on the wood’s surface. In the photo below, there is a small black line near the top of the tote that distinguishes the original Brazilian rosewood and the new piece of cocobolo. I use cocobolo because Brazilian rosewood is nearly impossible to get nowadays and cocobolo is in the same species of wood. While the color of the woods are not an exact match, they’re good enough to make the tote look nice again.

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I started making the handle with a scrap piece of apple about 12″ long and chucked it into my lathe.

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Then, using a template handle I had when I bought an old knife sharpener, I used my parting tool and calipers to mark and measure the details of the handle.

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After everything was turned to my satisfaction, I took some of my lathe shavings and burnished the wood to a nice sheen.

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In order for the handle to fit in the tang of the rasp securely, I drilled a small pilot hole as plum as possible down the center of the handle. The drill bit was the size of the very tip of the tang of the rasp so it would fit tight when driven into the handle.

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Next, I took my blow torch and carefully heated the tip of the rasp so I could burn into the handle. It took a couple of tries as I didn’t want to burn it in all at once. On the second burn, the rasp seated nicely into the handle and I was unable to pull it out.

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The final touch was to simply apply a couple coats of oil on the handles. These handles were extremely simple to make. In fact, it took less that 30 minutes to make both. Why I didn’t make them last year when I originally bought the rasps I have no idea.

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Revamping a Dining Table

About twelve years ago I built a dining table from the plans out of Woodsmith magazine. While it served it’s purpose, it wasn’t exactly the nicest thing in the house. I made the top out of a piece of low-grade oak plywood that I bought at Home Depot. Not only that, but the table was huge being 44″ wide. My wife Anita asked if I could make a new one, or at least make a new top that was more in style. We decided that making a new top out of southern yellow pine and try weathering it making it look aged.

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The easy part was buying four 2 x 10’s, ripping them 9″ wide by six feet long and gluing them together. After they were glued, I planed the tops of the boards straight removing all the mill marks in the process.

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After the top was planed and sanded with 150 grit sandpaper, Anita applied mixture of steel wool and apple cider vinegar onto the boards to tone down the yellowness of the southern yellow pine.

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We thought it would be a good idea to stain the top while it was already on the table. I removed the original top of the table and flipped over the base onto the new top to decide how much I would need to cut the sides down.

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After messing around with the legs for a few minutes, I decide that the sides should be 24″ wide.

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I cut the sides to 24″ and rerouted the dado on both boards for the corner brackets. I then used pocket screws to re-attach the sides to the legs.

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Using metal corner brackets, I simply attached the top to the base. The new top made the table look more like a farm table.

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Anita then stained the table with Special Walnut, then Classic Gray stain from Minwax.

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Once dry, she applied hemp oil and gave the top a good waxing. She then painted the base with grey chalk paint. When done, it looked like a completely different table.

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A close up the table you can see how the southern yellow pine took on a deep rich tone. You can also see how the original black paint shows through the grey paint after Anita sanded the base a little bit. This has been one of those projects we should have done years ago.

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One of my Favorite Plane Restores

Over the years, I’ve restored hundreds if not thousands of tools. In every instance, I usually think of the same thing. “I wonder who owned this tool and when did they buy it”? The question is something I can almost never answer until now.

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I bought this Kruse & Bahlmann Hardware No 6C at the Springfield Antique Show last month. Kruse & Bahlmann Hardware operated several hardware stores in the Cincinnati area. The guy who had it had a couple of other bench planes for sale so I bundled them all up and offered him a price for all three. I knew the plane wasn’t a Stanley, but still felt it was worthy of a restore. A lot of competitors of Stanley like Union, Sargent, Ohio Tool Co, and even old Craftsman’s made quality planes back in the day. In fact, Sargent often private labeled their planes for hardware stores around the country so sometimes, I’ll end up finding odd ball “No Name” planes in the market. However, they are still Sargent planes.

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This plane was quite different from any other plane I restored in the past. Not in the way it was made, but when I took off the rear tote, I saw this little piece of paper in the slot.

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When I opened it up, inside it was written “Fred G W Meyer, Property of Sept 10, 1938”. It had to be a note from the original owner of when he bought the plane. It was like opening a time capsule that has been locked away for nearly 70 years.

Just think, in September of 1938, Hitler had just taken over control of Czechoslovakia a year before invading Poland starting WWII. Then it got me thinking again. I hope this poor guy wasn’t drafted into the army and was killed during WWII. The blade of the plane had been used, but the remaining length of blade remaining is about the same as if Fred would have used it daily for three years until 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I’ll never know the answer if Fred served in WWII, but the penmanship of the hand writing reminds me of someone who was young in age at the time. If Fred was a young man in 1938, it’s quite possible that he did serve in WWII.

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I loved seeing the note, so the only right thing to do was to fold it back up and stick it back under the tote where it belongs.

Installing Crown Molding

Last weekend I proceeded to work on the dining room by installing crown molding around the ceiling. I already built and installed bookcases that went on either side of the sliding glass doors a couple of weeks ago. Now I needed to complete the look by installing crown molding at the top.

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Before I began, I watched a YouTube video with Tom Silva of This Old House to give me the idea of how to cut the molding. The trick was flipping the board over and cut the trim upside down. Clamping a board on the saw table helped kept the trim at the proper angle.

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The molding around the bookcases wasn’t too bad as the sides were 90 degrees to each other. However, when I ran a piece down the one side of the dining room to the hallway, is when I got tripped up. I may be able to hand cut dovetails, but a trim carpenter I am not. I have no idea how they cope one end of the crown to fit perfectly, then make a perfect cut nine feet away to make a tight corner to a wall that is out of square. I gave it my best attempt and attached the crown to the wall. I then tried to figure out the other angle the other piece of trim would need to be to make the corner look nice. However, every cut I made was way off. I tried about a dozen times to make it work with no luck. I became so frustrated, that I decided to quit Saturday afternoon and reconsider continuing with the room or just take everything down except the crown around the bookcases.

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I woke up Sunday morning and decided to give it another shot. I messed around with the other side of the crown molding for a couple of hours until I was satisfied with how it looked. Below is a picture of the finished corner. I had to shave a lot of the molding away with rasps so each piece would match. I probably should have sanded the pieces better, but I was so frustrated with it I said “screw it”!

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Fitting the crown for inside corners was a bit tricky as well. Even after I coped the ends, I had to file the back of the molding so that it would fit in place. However, after practicing coping a few times, I got better at it.

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This was the final piece I cut to finish the job. It was a bit tricky as I had to cut the trim at the correct length as well as perfectly cope each end so everything fitted nicely.

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After everything was done, Anita started to apply the first coat of paint. Next I’ll be working on the chair rail and the faux wainscoting molding squares I made a couple of weeks ago. I’ll throw up a few pictures of the finished dining room and hallway when I’m done.

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Video of Making Trim

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was able to recreate trim that my wife wanted to put on our walls. I had some time this weekend to make all 36 pieces of trim each about 24″ long. It was fun making the trim, but after number twenty, it started to get old. Thankfully, it only took me a few minutes to cut the profile in the wood once I milled the rabbets into each side of the wood.

I decided to do a short video showing the process better than just showing it in pictures. Enjoy!