Master Carpenter: Tame Tricky Transitions
How one carpenter resolves conflicts between trim design and installation around the stairs.
Synopsis: After the framing is done, it’s time for the trim carpenters to do their work inside the house. Frequently, they’re called on to do work to compensate for places where the framing is unsightly. In this “Master Carpenter” article, Boston-area finish carpenter Tucker Windover outlines his process for resolving issues when installing trim around stairs and when trim designs conflict. Windover illustrates how to do continuous crown and how to use a continuous cap to tie a stringer to a baseboard. This article also includes sidebars about how to level a wall so that the chair rail can be installed properly and how to use a miter-saw jig for cutting obscure angles.
Often, a builder or a homeowner hires an architect or designer to provide plans that include only enough detail to obtain a permit, which means that a lot of the design is left to work out in the field. Framers tend to focus on the bones and the structure, and it’s not until the trim carpenter is on the job that the final details are resolved.
There might be a window installed close to the ceiling, and no one notices that the casing almost touches the ceiling until the trim guy tries to install the crown molding. Or the walk-in shower is framed, and no one has considered how the tile, the baseboard, and the curb to the shower will tie together. Another tricky spot is where a window is set close to an entry door — so close that they cannot be trimmed separately, meaning the trim carpenter has to make sense out of trimming them as a single unit.
Trim carpentry is the icing on the cake, and everything shows. Every house has some funky corner or door opening where I just stop…