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Trim: Craftsman Update to Interior Door Openings

In our master bedroom closets, the existing bifold doors were installed into drywall-wrapped jambs with no trims.  This is a pretty common installation in our area (and many others), however, as part of the house remodel, the objective was to improve the vernacular of the interior design by using Craftsman-style trim detailing.  One area of focus has been to install matching trims at all window and door openings, and using the same Craftsman vernacular in trim detailing elsewhere.  My approach, outlined below, involved a custom refit of the door jambs and straightforward biscuit joinery to bring out a Craftsman update to an older home.

New Trims – Old (and Variable) Openings

The original 1/2″ drywall was installed with a very heavy plaster and orange peel spray finish coating, adding anywhere from 1/8″ to 3/8″ to the thickness of the drywall, making for a very odd width door jamb for the master bedroom closets. The problem of installing new doors in the old openings was complicated by the fact that the original framing rough opening was slightly undersized, meaning you had to slightly bind the doors to close them in the opening. Once I ripped off the drywall, it became clear that I had to choose one of several options to make the rough opening the correct size for new doors – 1) reframe the opening (too much mess involving demo and wiring), 2) cut down the new doors to fit (okay, but it meant refinishing the doors), or, 3) making custom door jambs to a thickness that would bring the finished opening to spec.

New Custom Door Jambs

After installing the new linen closet door in a newly framed doorway, we found that the pre-finished door was a close match to the existing trim color, and would not look any better with a brushed on topcoat. I made the decision to go with option 3. But, there is no trim stock available in the appropriate thickness.  I found 1/2″ X 3 1/4″ finger joint base trim at HD. If I edge glued two pieces it would give me the appropriate sized stock I needed to cut the custom 5 3/8″ wide, 1/2″ jambs to size.

Biscuits to the Rescue

Attached are photos of the steps taken to make the finished board stock using biscuit joinery. Setup for the biscuit cuts was a little tricky since the biscuit joiner mouth is not capable of adjustment for thin stock.  I set the boards on top of thin plywood and clamped the entire setup with a strong back (clear 2 X 4 used to mount my outriggers for the miter saw).

Board Clamp Setup for trim

Board Clamp Setup

Board biscuits

Board biscuits

Biscuit cut

Biscuit cut

Biscuit Joiner

Biscuit Joiner

Board setup

Board setup

Removing Pencil Marks

 Well, you could sand away pencil marks, and hope you don’t gouge the wood or go through the thin veneer of expensive plywood. But, there is a better way! – Alcohol!  No, not that kind  – this kind – denatured alcohol.

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

Building cabinets, I try to minimize layout marks since the surface will be either clear-coated or stained, and marks can easily show through. Nonetheless, some marks are needed, such as these to layout a course of shelf pins.

Pencil Mark

Pencil Mark – Before

Soak a small rag in the denatured alcohol, and give the marks a good rub until they fade and disappear. It doesn’t take too much.

Wet

Allow the alcohol to dry

After

Pencil Mark – After

Take a good look – marks are gone!  There may still be some faint marks left, but they can easily be lightly hand sanded and they will be history. The denatured alcohol method works well also to remove most yard markings and small smudges from the surface of the wood, or fade them well enough to facilitate a light sanding.

Credit to Wood Magazine