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“Dutchman” Door Repair

For the past two years I have been lucky enough to be a student in the Preservation Carpentry program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA. I’ve been in the building business for the last ten years, and a carpenter for around half that time, mostly working doing renovations, trim, cabinets, and the usual “stuff” that falls in the realm of modern carpentry. Occasionally, prior to deciding to become a preservation carpenter, I would encounter something that we all find from time to time—rotten or damaged wood in some part or piece of a structure that needed some attention beyond putty and paint to ensure it was going to last or pass muster. Read the full article…

MFS 8-1

Multi-Function Work Bench

If you’re a finish carpenter and have never incorporated a work bench with dog holes and vertical clamping into your onsite tool-kit, it’s time to change your thinking. Similar to the Fein MultiMaster plunge-cut saw, there are many tools available that you come across and wonder, “How often will I really use that?” But once you own it and use it, you think, “How did I ever live without this tool?” That’s how I feel about our “Multi-Function Slab,” dog-holed worktop. Read the full article…


Detail Sanding Techniques

The standard scarf joint. Every carpenter is expected to make this field splice to join two lengths of molding. How often does the joint match perfectly? Any number of variables can affect the quality of the splice: Imperfections in the millwork, waves in the wall framing, taping compound buildup, inaccurate miter saw setup… Read the full article…


Scribing Stair Skirt Boards Revisited

When I first read Norm’s article on skirt scribing, four thoughts immediately came to mind:

1) He and I both learned the technique from the same instructor, Don Zepp.
2) Norm’s explanation of the process was spot on.
3) I had a bunch of photos of a skirt board I had installed that I should share with others.
4) I felt exactly like Norm did: Don Zepp was absolutely the best instructor I’ve ever had the good fortune of learning from. Read the full article…


A Gooseneck Overhead Pin Router

If you’re routing a curved surface, or if you have to follow a curved template and you’re using a router bit with no guide bearing, then you need to use an overhead pin router. I had to make some curved gooseneck rails for an old house; several of the existing rails had rotted away. The goosenecks would have to match the profile of the rail—they all needed to be routed, and I didn’t own an overhead pin router. Read the full article…


Grate Idea!

When the old timers changed their homes from fireplace and stove heating, they used gravity hot air, steam, or hot water. Gravity hot air required large return air ducts in the floor, so they put a metal bottom on a joist space to create a duct. Code guys today would have a heart attack to see that done. These large returns needed a cover in the floor, and usually those covers were made out of wood. Read the full article…


Everything Moves

I’ve heard carpenters and trim installation contractors complain that PVC trim expands and contracts too much. My comment to them is: Yes, cellular PVC trim does move, but so do all other exterior building products, and many of them just as much as, if not more than, cellular PVC.
Read the full article…

The Sliding Dovetail Cleat

Hang a mantel shelf without visible fasteners

A recent article in THISisCarpentry—“Craftsman Style Mantel and Bookcases,” by Brian Cinski Jr.—referenced the book “Building Fireplace Mantels,” by Mario Rodriguez. Brian used this book to replicate a stunning Charles Rennie Mackintosh mantel and bookcase. I was intrigued, and ordered a copy of the book. Inside, I found many great tips, as well as a plethora of techniques I had never imagined. One in particular amazed me: the “sliding dovetail cleat.” Read the full article…

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