Sunday, October 12, 2008


When I first started my home improvement life as a homeowner, I had very few tools. My first purchase was a $30 circular saw and you can do just about anything with a circular saw - except finish work. This was not a problem because I have not yet gotten into any type of finish carpentry. I had built a playground swing set attached to an elevated covered "fort" and a picnic table with benches with that saw. When it came time to start tackling some finish carpentry around the house I had to make a decision - pay someone else or learn. Considering how cheap I am, this was a no-brainer. Actually, I really wanted to learn and it was a great way to substantiate buying new tools. As I would explain to Dawn -"Listen, I could spend thousands to pay someone else or spend hundreds on the tools that could be used over and over." She never argued that logic. Before actually making a purchase, I would borrow a tool for a small project just to see if I could get the hang of it. Also, being cheap, I would take into consideration if I would be using the tool again and again - making it worth the investment.

I was able to borrow a power miter saw to do some molding work - simple 45 degree cuts for base molding and casement around doors. When it came time to intall the cove molding around the new kitchen cabinets - I had to decline. The molding was maple wood pre-finished from the manufacturer and very expensive to replace- I needed a real carpenter. I hired someone that came highly recommended. I should have bought the saw and practiced with some scrap cove molding - he did a horrible job - the corners didn't match up, the wood was too hard for his nail gun - I was convinced I could have done a better job on my first attempt. That was it - I haven't hired anyone since then. Yeh, it may take more time, but it usually comes out better and I'm the one that has to look at it.

A decent power miter saw will cost about $250. You can find cheaper and more expensive but I always find the middle of the road to be the best value. I now use this saw probably more than all my other saws combined and I've got a lot of saws. When Dawn was looking to dress up some entrance ways into our Dining room and Living Room, I purchased these French Doors.

What really makes the project is the finish. In this case it would be the moldings. After a few trial angles I had that cove molding going together like it was made that way.
I particularly like the meshing of the coat closet with the French Door - probably because it was my idea. Dawn wasn't home when I made that executive decision - very gutsey, I know! She usually has final say on anything that is visible. Anything hidden behing walls, floors and ceilings is my territory - things that need to work. Her area is the asthetic value. That's why we're such a good team - she couldn't care less how it works and I couldn't care less how it looks!


Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

I so agree with you ... the work I have paid someone to do I KNOW I could do a better job. I got tired of paying lotsa money for lousy jobs!

That molding looks one would have done a better bit of work than that.

I looove my mitre saw.

bj said...

Ummm, the molding looks did a great job!

Ken said...

Yep, you did a far better job than most guys who call themsleves pros!

If you need any more molding ideas, I've posted a bunch of my own work at my blog, It's all about affordable paint-grade moldings based on historic designs.

Cheers, Ken