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Create Your Own Window Molding

Here's a relatively inexpensive and simple approach to get that old-home restoration look. Window trim molding can be made using your table saw with a cutter head installed. The wood can be pine, spruce or any wood of your choice. Generally software woods are best when using the triple-head cutter. Common 1x4 lumber is generally a good choice, as shown here. Avoid knotty wood, as this will not take the molding edge. Also spruce tends to fray and feather more than pine.

The corner "rosettes" can be purchased or be created if you have a wood lath. The commercially available rosettes generally have less depth of cut and are available in limited sizes.

To make the rosettes, you can use a drill press or wood lath. The drill press requires an expensive cutter and, like the manufactured ones, offers limited sizes. The drill press is fast, but with a little care and patience, you can do better with the lath. Using a wood lath, the rosette can be created in a variety of patterns and sizes. A good choice for wood is 5/4 clear sugar pine. This can be cut into 3-1/2" blocks or larger 4-1/4" squares as shown. It cuts easily and cleanly using a face plate. A thicker rosette adds definition and richness to the finished look

Making the Molding

For this project you'll need to replace the blade of your table saw with a triple-head cutter. There are several interchangeable heads. The triple bead cutter allows a one-pass operation. With the blade installed and the rip fence set, the board passes over the cutter, face down. Don't forget the pusher, blade guard and eye protection!

To set the rip fence, first set the distance from the middle of the blade to half the width of the stock. Then, using a scrap piece of stock you can flip the board and split the difference to set an exact center location.

The cutter depth should more than recess the triple bead cut. Allow almost 1/8" of recess from the bead rounds to the board face. This will allow for sanding the board without damage to the bead cut.

It is best to cut the molding on the entire length of the stock. Occasionally the ends may not be square, so use a cut-off miter saw to trim the beginning edge first. After measuring twice, cut the stock to length.

Installing Trim Molding

Now it's time to install the molding. First you need to prepare the existing window or door jambs, ensuring these are flush to the wall. In an old house, like this, you may need to use a wood file/rasp or belt sander.

First measure the length of the stock required. The length depends on the rosette and reveal of the window/door jamb. I prefer a 3/8" reveal of the jamb. Bringing the trim flush to the jamb will show a crack and with imperfect jams, it will be nearly impossible to match the two. With a reveal or recess, you will be able to split differences due to warps in the jambs.

If you walls are not plumb, one trick is to trim the back of the molding. This can be done with your table saw and/or belt sander. Be careful not to remove too much stock as this may come through the front bead recess groves!

Attaching the trim requires finishing nails (1-1/2 or 2"). In old house renovation with existing plaster walls, you may also want to use construction adhesive. The corner rosettes are best glued in place because of the dimensions, nailing may cause the block to split.

If you are staining and finishing the wood, it is probably best to wait to fill in the nail holes and cracks until the final varnish coat is applied. I prefer to use colored stick putty to match the satin. After stain and varnish you rub the crayon-like stick over the holes and fill the voids.

Conversely if the molding is to be painted, I generally use latex painters caulk to fill the cracks between the molding and the wall and putty to fill the nail holes.

There you have it! An old-house look trim molding you made yourself!

Copyright 2000,

Replacing the table saw blade (guard not shown)

Depth of cutter

Miter box cut-out




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