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The Money Pit

The Money Pit
By Bob Filipczak, Online Editor: Woodworkers' Journal

Some houses are fixer-uppers, and some are designed to suck all your time and money into their hungry maws. This woodworker was currently wrestling with the latter and her e-mail message was titled, "Burned out, overwhelmed, and need to begin moldings..."

She was really tired of working this house because everything was more complicated and more costly than it should have been. The last thing that needed to be done before she sold it was the baseboards and crown moldings, and she wanted to know how much of a hassle this would be.

First off, a lot of people on this forum were very supportive and commiserated with her experience. Seems like a lot of us have faced really tough houses. They talked about walls that aren't even close to straight, about measuring things three times before cutting, and going out and renting the movie "The Money Pit."

The task itself got mixed reviews and she got mixed messages. Most agreed that it wouldn't be too tough if she got a compound miter saw. Some advised that she should start with one room, rather than tackling the whole house at once, and most thought she should start with the baseboards because they would be easier.

A couple of woodworkers mentioned getting corner blocks, especially for the crown molding, thereby taking a lot of miter cuts out of the equation. One person suggested nailing a small strip of wood along the tops and bottoms of the walls that she could then nail the moldings to. This would avoid the hassle of constantly finding the studs, especially when they aren't evenly placed. He also suggested cutting the moldings 1/16" to 1/8" longer than necessary and forcing them into place (because the wood would shrink over time and leave gaps in the corners). Finally, he wrote that he when had made an offer on an old house, he showed up later in dirty coveralls and asking for the location of the crawl space. "The buyer suddenly 'remembered' a couple of things he hadn't mentioned," he wrote.

Some suggested that a new nail gun would be helpful, but others thought she would end up splintering a lot of moldings this way. Some said to start with her bedroom, but others said she should start with an out-of-the-way room so she could develop some expertise. Finally, the book "Trim Carpentry Techniques" by Craig Savage was strongly recommended.

(c) 2002, Woodworkers Journal. All Rights Reserved.