LLVLR: Working with Wood Part 1

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years but now it’s time to get back to the task at hand, finishing our Living Room story.  When we last left off, we finished playing with Billy and decided he wasn’t a very good friend.

Our next step for the living room involved lots of wood and lots of calculations but first, a list of what you will need:

  • Nail gun
  • Nails
  • Liquid nails
  • Calculator
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Level
  • Wonder bar crowbar
  • Compound miter saw
  • Crown molding
  • Chair rail
  • Lattice
  • Baseboard
  • trim molding for the bookcase
  • box cutter
  • caulk
  • Tommy

To determine how much wood we needed, we took a multitude of measurements.  Since each wall was over 12’ long and under 16’, we knew the wood at Lowe’s would be useless since we’d have to do nothing but patch it up (we learned this after doing the dining room).

Ok, we did go play at Lowe’s to determine what we liked/didn’t like.

Then we went to Rittenhouse Lumber to see what they had.  Our conversation started out like this—“How much do you charge for delivery?”

“Twenty dollars.”

“Greg, we’re getting everything here.”

My original plan had us using ½ inch by three inch thick wood slats.  Mr. Rittenhouse Lumber kindly told me that wouldn’t work and would cost a fortune.  He recommended a quarter inch thick lattice and we decided to go with it in addition to a 4” crown molding and a 4” baseboard.

Now the complicated part happens—my maths.

As the child of a mathematician and engineer, you would think I had this part handled.  Nope, I messed up our maths.


I had this whole spreadsheet mapped out.


See lots of maths but I forgot the factor in under the window and messed up my conversions—the lattice was only available in 15’ lengths and not the 16’ length I planned for.

Sadly we realized we were wrong a few days into the project but I’ll get to that later in the post.

Greg went to pick out a baseboard from their wall of samples while I dealt with Mr. Rittenhouse Lumber.  When it came time to pay, he turned to Greg even though I was there with my credit card out.  Should I also mention, I was the one with the spreadsheet and numbers.  Greg was the one looking around.

Side note: Greg and I work our finances this way—with a running tab.  Since I pay Greg a lump sum everything month to cover bills and mortgage, I tend to pay for things and deduct them from “The Tab.”  This allows me to track our expenses a bit better since I tend to run most of the errands and stops us from constantly transferring money from one to another.

For any other project requiring long pieces of wood, I would recommend going to a lumber yard.  The selection and quality was much nicer than what you would find at Lowe’s/Home Depot.  They knew what would work best for our project and took the time to explain what to do.  Sure they might have been a bit sexist when it came time to pay but you couldn’t beat next day delivery or the selection.

Side note from Tommy: when you get wood, bring it inside to keep it warm.   Wood expands/contracts in different temperatures and it’s better to keep it warm so it doesn’t expand after you install all of it.


So the best way to do this is to break it up into different part—baseboards, crown molding, board & batten, and Billy trim.  We’ll start with the baseboards.


Our baseboards were old and beat up looking and since we were buying so much wood, what’s a little bit more.  Plus, we wanted to put the baseboard around Billy to make it look more built in.

To remove old baseboards (which we did before installing Billy):

1. Run a box cutter along the top to slice the caulk.


2. Buy a wonder bar (crowbar) and start prying the baseboards from the wall.


3. Move down a little and repeat.


4. Stare in amazement at how cheap the builders were when you notice they only used three nails for the room length piece of baseboard.

To install the new baseboards:

1. Get an amazing fiancée who knows how to do this type of stuff.

2. Measure your walls.

3. Cut the length on the miter saw with the appropriate angle. Greg would cut the two pieces for each corner to ensure they fit.

4. Watch Greg bend over.


5. Laugh when you realize he is wearing themed boxers for the day.


6. Place the level on the baseboard to ensure it’s mostly straight.  Since no floor will ever be perfectly straight, you have an option, level or straight.  We went with a combination of the two.


7. Once he cut all the pieces, we liquid nails them and then nail gun it.

Side note: Bottom of the book case, we added a piece of half inch wood to cover the gap between the bottom shelf and the baseboard.  We installed this before installing the baseboard.


Crown molding

I’m starting this section off by telling you this isn’t the order this project went and you will notice it in the pictures.  We started on the board and batten before the crown molding because we had the time and Tommy wasn’t coming over until the next day.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I went shopping while the men worked on the crown molding.

Greg’s family friend, Tommy, is a crown molding god.  He had Greg over to his studio before we started our project to teach him how to install crown molding.  Afterward, he had a few doubt/concerns about our ability to install it and feared for our engagement.  Since his lovely wife, Karen was looking forward to our wedding, Tommy didn’t want his instructions to be the reason for our fighting which would result in a breakup.  So he volunteered to come over to help install the crown molding, for which we were eternally grateful.

Crown molding is a tricky beast.  You have to cut it funky like upside down at a reverse angle.

The two of them got to work using Tommy’s saw.  As you can see from this picture, he built a ledge on it to help support the wood.


The two of them brought the piece in and checked the length.  Once they knew it fit, they nail gunned it in the middle of the piece, leaving a few feet on each end unnailed.  Then you do the next wall.



I know I was.

Tommy said you do this so you can play around with the corners better.  It’s easier to match the corners when they are both free.


Also you can cross hatch the nails to provide extra support.

Cross hatch?

It’s like forming an X with the nails in the wood.  You shoot it in on one angle and then an inch over on the opposite angle.  D3-crown-molding-final-piecThey did a ton of cross hatching on the final piece.

A few issues we dealt with:

  • The bookcase top edge has a gap where the top is recessed a smidge more than the sides.  We cut a piece of lattice to fit in there and then nailed the crown molding to the top.  If we didn’t do this, there would be a gap between the crown molding and the bookcase.


  • Our air vents are very close to the top.  We didn’t want to trim the crown molding around them, so we went with a smaller vent size for each.

Since I am well over 1200 words, I’m going to cover the Board & Batten and Billy trim tomorrow.  Until then, happy housing.


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