LLVLR: Working with Wood- Part Two

I know, I know . .  it doesn’t look like we’ve done much to this room.  To be honest, you won’t get the full appreciation of the board and batten/built ins until everything is painted.  We had parents come over during the different stages and it wasn’t until they saw the room painted that it made a huge impact on them.

But back to the task at hand—playing with wood (in a non sexual way.)

Board & Batten

When conducting our research on board and batten (aka googling it), we noticed many people using MDF board.  After spending over $400 on wood, MDF makes sense if you are going for a more basic look of board and batten.

I should probably back up a bit—this look is a basic board and batten.

We wanted to fancy it up.  To fancy up our board and batten, we chose a detailed/ornate chair rail to have as our top horizontal piece.  To determine its height, we marked the couch level on the wall and worked from there. We had several tape lines going in the room to determine which level we liked best.

Side note:  If you are going to have a couch against a wall, please check the chair rail height/ average person sitting on couch’s head height.  You don’t want them to be ducking from the chair rail.

The other aspect we utilized to fancy up the board and batten was adding second horizontal slat.  In traditional board and batten, it’s one horizontal and verticals coming off of it.  For us, we decided to have two horizontals with the verticals running through the two of them.

Know what that means?

Lots and lots of cutting and measuring.

Oh and leveling.

So let’s get started with the top chair rail.  We divided the room into seven segments and their appropriate edge cuts:

  • Between the two bookcases- straight cuts for edges
  • Bookcase to dining room doorframe- straight cuts for edges
  • Dining room doorframe to corner- one angled edge
  • Corner to hallway doorframe- one angled edge
  • Corner to window- one angled edge
  • Window to bookcase- straight cuts for edges

We then measured the height we wanted the chair rail to be at and measured from the newly installed baseboard.  Remember with all homes, nothing, not even the floor is level.  We again chose to go mostly level but kept the height mostly even.  After drawing our lines fully around the room, we noticed it was about ¾ of an inch higher in one spot, so we moved it down to make it even with the chair rail closest to it.

Once we had all our measurements—Greg wanted to retake our measurements for an exact cut.  He’s so smart when it comes to this.  To do our cuts, we wanted to maximize our wood, so we had different wall sections on each piece and also tried to match the angled ends.  We started with our straight edge cuts and then moved on to the angled cuts.

We began on wall with the bookcases but before we installed our first piece of wood, we wrote ourselves a message.


Sure, it’s dorky but we did it in the dining room and wanted to continue the tradition.

Greg cut the wood to length, we tested it and then we liquid nails up the piece of wood and brought it to our line on the wall.


Soon after, Mrs. Level came out to see if we were mostly level.  Once that was verified, I got to use the nail gun.


A few nail gun tips:

  • Don’t put your head too close to the nail gun because you will have a ringing in your ears for a while.
  • Ear plugs are a good idea.
  • The safety is your friend . . . no matter what Tommy says.


We slowly worked our way around the room and “smidge” became our new favorite term.  “The chair rail was a smidge too big for the section.”  “ It’s about two smidges too long.”  “ It’s a smidge too short.”  This term followed us around until we finished with all the wood.

Side note: When we developed our wood game plan, we decided it would be best to install both horizontals and then install each vertical as two pieces.

After we installed the chair rail, we moved on to the second horizontal.  For the second horizontal (about 6″ below the chair rail), we used a piece of lattice—the same lattice we will use on the vertical.  To install the second horizontal, we followed the same method as the chair rail but I had much more fun with the nail gun.


At times, I felt the need to do the Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunt.

Now it’s time to talk about the verticals.  If we were smart, we would have drawn the lines before installing the second horizontal but we were not very smart.  For the verticals, we had them positioned 12 inches apart but wanted to have an equal space on either end of the wall section.  For example (these are not the real measurements):

  • Between the two bookcases- start first one 4” from bookcase and then every 12 inches ending with a 4” gap between last vertical and bookcase
  • Bookcase to dining room doorframe- one vertical evenly spaced
  • Dining room doorframe to corner- and corner to hallway doorframe- 6.5” away from edge and then every 12” with a 6.5” gap between last vertical and doorframe treating two walls like one wall.

The first wall was easy to do—once Greg got the measurements, we just marked the wall and measured those spots.  Since we winged it with our horizontals (kind of level, kind of straight), the verticals would not be the same measurement across the wall.  He cut one and it didn’t fit—just a smidge too big.  This is when we started playing “Let’s see where it fits!”  We would try it in the different spots to see if it fit better in one of those spots before recutting. Then we would level it and nail gun it in.


First section went great.  Second section went even better.

Ok, it was a section with one vertical but still.

Third wall was not so much fun.  Greg drew the lines but realized his math was off.  Then we both attempted to do math at 11pm.


DO NOT DO THIS.  Be smart and wait until the next day.  We finally figured it out and drew those lines.  Then we called it a night.

When we got back to the verticals the next day (we did the crown molding that morning), we decided to bring the saw inside due to the freezing temperatures in the garage.  This worked out much better for us because Greg did not have to keep running out to the garage to recut a piece of wood.


We followed this method (after figuring out the rest of the maths)- I measured each vertical and wrote it’s measurement on the wall.  Greg started cutting the pieces and handed them to me.  I played around with them to fit in the vertical spots.  I would level and nail gun in and move on to the next piece Greg cut.


This method worked perfectly for both sections of the verticals.

For the bottom section, Greg used the long level to extend the line from the top vertical through the second horizontal to the bottom vertical spot.


Again, I measured all of them, Greg started cutting, would hand me the piece to fit in and then nail gun.


Level first

Nail gun second

Nail gun second

This is when we realized I did not order enough wood.

Le sigh.

Even though it was 10PM, Greg didn’t want to stop so he started caulking the board and batten.  Around midnight I made him stop and go to bed.

The next day with our new measurements, we went back to Rittenhouse Lumber for more lattice.

Then it was time to go back home with our new wood.

We repeated our process and finished all the verticals.  With the new wood, we only had one vertical where we patched it out of two pieces since we ran out of length.  We knew this would happen, so Greg placed it under the window since we planned to place a couch in front.

Of course, in installing the verticals, we ran into another issue– outlets and vents.  We easily worked around the vents by marking where they rested on the wall and cutting the wood to size above and below the vent.

For the outlets, Greg placed the slat where it was going to be and then screwed in the outlet cover as much as he could (the verticals never fully covered an outlet) and traced it on the lattice.  He then cut out the lattice with his dremel, installed the outlet cover, and placed the vertical on the wall to ensure it would fit. After he was assured of the fit, he removed the outlet cover (because we still have to caulk and paint), and nail gunned in the vertical.


Measure, cut, and sand


Fit with the cover on and then nail gun in

Billy Trim

Billy need something to make him look more built in along his edges.  We journeyed to Lowe’s to look at their wood selection.

I know after my gushing over Rittenhouse Lumber, why did we go back to Lowe’s?

Simple, we had items to return and figured it would essentially be free.

We needed four pieces of concave shaped wood (cove moulding) to fit into the corners and then two pieces of V shaped wood (outside corner moulding) trim to go on the free edge of the bookcases.


If we were smart, we would have installed these before installing the horizontals.


You live, you learn, you pull out the dremel.


Five minutes later, we had our solution and installed the concave pieces and then the v shaped pieces using finishing nails.


Since the full v shaped piece could only go down to the top of the cabinet doors, we then cut it in half (so it was flat) and continued it down the bookcase edge.  If we didn’t do that, it looked unfinished.


And the nail gun.


Did I tell you how much I love using the nail gun?  It’s better than going to the shooting range to kill zombies on date night.

Yeah, we’re classy like that on date night.

Adding the trim to Billy really gave him a built-in/finished look.  It doesn’t look that way unpainted with the various wood colors but once you see it painted you will believe me.

D4-billy-trimmed-up2 D4-billy-trimmed-up

I bet you all think we are ready to start painting.

Nope, we had six hours of caulking to do.  Every piece of wood needed to be caulked.


Hours and hours of caulking.

More cuts on my fingers than I’d like to remember.

Three tubes of caulk later we were finished.

D4-finished-wall1 D4-finished-wall2

Next up painting the room!


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