Sunday, October 14, 2012

Remodel, Finale

I should really say Finale; we still have a few small things to do, but yesterday was the end of the trim work. We hung the crown molding.

As a devoted fan of This Old House I have watched crown molding go up many times. I knew the tricks. or so I thought. My son was willing to try it on his own, until after he had cut and hung the first piece. Then he called me. I figured we would start about 10 and be done about 12. Its a small bathroom; just 5 feet by 8 feet; shouldn't take long.

Well; except we ran into a problem or two.

Crown molding didn't seem that difficult to hang, and the last few pieces weren't. But that first piece; WOW.

Maybe a few explanations are in order. Most molding on walls is hung flat; like baseboards and chair rail. Where two pieces meet a simple miter joint is used. I say simple, but they are not simple to cut, sometimes. But a simple miter basically divides the 90 degree angle into two 45 degree angles, one 45 degree cut on each piece to be joined, and when put together they fill the 90 degree corner.

A miter will work well on either an inside corner or and outside corner (an inside corner is like one in the corner of a room; an outside corner is one that protrudes into a room). But there is a second method of creating an inside corner called a cope joint. A cope joint is where one piece of molding is left at a 90 degree angle and the piece that joins it is cut on the end to match the profile of the molding it is meeting. It sounds hard, but in practice isn't, because of a few tricks.

Coping crown molding is very similar, but completely different. I worked at least an hour on the first cope cut; cutting, test fitting, cutting again; test fitting again. Cutting AGAIN, and test fitting AGAIN. I could never get the joint to match up. Then I tried matching my cope cut up with a piece of molding  not mounted on the wall. It matched perfectly. Then I moved my piece of molding around on the wall until I had a perfect match. I the realized the molding my son had hung wasn't at the right angle.

Crown isn't hung flat; it forms a 45 degree angle around the 90 degree angle of the wall and ceiling. The piece I was working off of wasn't at 45 degrees. By now I had a perfect left miter and a perfect right miter, so we pulled down the piece that was up and used our cut pieces to align it perfectly.

From then on it was smooth sailing. The first cut took over an hour; the last one took about 5 minutes. Because we put crown in the shower stall as well as the rest of the room we wound up with 6 cope joints and 2 outside miters. From first cut to final nail was about 4 and a half hours; twice what I originally thought. But from second piece of molding to final piece of molding was about an hour and a half. So I guess I have a 3 hour learning curve.

It was also made easier by my son having hung the first piece. If I would have hung it it would have taken a couple extra hours to convince me I had done the first one wrong.

All the while we worked my son kept telling me he could never be a carpenter; he didn't have the patience. Well; I didn't either at his age.

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