Gilles' Outlet

March 26, 2007

Installing door casing

Filed under: Finish Carpentry — Gilles @ 6:05 am

Door jambs are prepared. Molding is cut to length and installed.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About Two Hours

Finish carpentry is very rewarding because results are highly visible.

Left: the door around which casing will be installed. The yellow substance around it is expanding insulating foam. It was allowed to cure over several days. It prevents cold air infiltrations around the door frame.


Right: the molding we will use. It is pre-primed MDF and was purchased at a local lumberyard for about $3 a piece.

Before installation, it received two coats of good quality satin latex paint. 

Left: close-up detail of the bottom left door jamb. I decided to install the molding all the way down to the plywood step at the bottom. The molding will need to be cut to clear the fondation.


Right: close-up detail of the bottom right door jamb. The molding will have to be cut on the right side too.

Left: I marked a 1/8” reveal (amount of the jamb edge that will be visible) using a combination square. This $15 tool is worth every penny.

It is only necessary to mark the top corners.

Right: I measured the width of the door opening. That is the inner distance between the left jamb to the right jamb. It ended up being 31 1/2”

I measured the width of the molding. It was 2 1/4”. I calculated the length of the top piece of casing along the longest side by:

L = Door Opening + (2 * Reveal) + (2 * Casing Width) = 31 1/2 + 1/4 +  4 1/2 = 36 1/4”

I always use the longest edge when miters are involved. It is much easier to hook up the tape measure to the longest edge of the piece. 

Left: I used a power miter saw to cut a 45 degrees miter at one end of a piece of molding.

I hooked up the tape measure to the longest end of the miter and marked 36 1/4”. I used the miter saw to cut the second miter to length.

It is easy to cut the miter on the wrong side so do not hesitate to make a sketch on a notepad before actually cutting.

Right: The top piece cut to length. It is exactly 36 1/4” on the longest edge, that is the top edge on the picture. 

I checked the drywall around the door to ensure it was flush with the door jamb. It was flush. 

If the drywall is not flush with the door jamb, there will be large gaps between the wall and the molding. When faced with this situation, I peel the drywall paper at high points and use a rasp to remove enough gypsum for the wall to be flush with the door jamb so the casing can rest flat on the wall and the door jamb. This kind of attention to detail is what makes the installation look "professional".

Some carpenters just caulk these gaps but the result does not look as good.

I positionned the top piece in place and made sure the reveal was the same everywhere. I used a pneumatic nailer to drive 1” brad nails (18 gauge) in the door jamb because they need to penetrate the door jamb to hold.

Nails are usually driven in a groove of the molding. This helps conceal the small hole left by the brad nailer.

I first secure a corner and then the other corner. I then drove a few more brads in between. That is approximately 4~5 brads total.

The top of the molding should be secured to the framing with 2” 16 gauge finish nails. This requires me to switch nailers so I’ll do it later.

Left: for the right piece of the casing, I cut a piece of molding 1” longer than needed.

I laid the necessary notches with a pencil and used a Japanese pull saw to notch the molding. A pull saw cuts on the pull stroke. It is easy to use and mine is fine toothed so it makes very clean cuts.

Right: The bottom of the molding after the cut was finished.

I prepared and cut the left side the same way.

I then positionned the left side and aligned its miter with the miter on the top piece. I checked the reveal was about the same over the whole length. I secured it using brad nails, starting with the top corner then the bottom. I added about 6 brad nails in between, spaced at regular intervals. I repeated the procedure for the right side of the door.

Left: I used a pneumatic finish nailer with 2” 16 gauge nails to secure the molding to the house framing. I drove about 4~5 finish nails equally spaced.

I repeated the procedure on the right side of the door. I also secured the top piece with about 3 finish nails.


Right: the finished door. Nail holes were filled with lightweight spackling paste. The paste was left to dry and paint touch ups were made after a light sanding.

It is also possible to fill nail holes with caulk, for instance DAP Alex Plus Siliconized Latex caulk.

Left: detail of the bottom left of the door with the molding installed. It fits snuggly around the fondation.


Right: detail of the bottom right of the door with the molding installed. It fits snuggly at the hinges and around the fondation.

Tools Used:  

  • Power Miter Saw
  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer
  • Pneumatic Finish Nailer 
  • Tape Measure 
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • MDF Molding (3 x 7ft)
  • Finish Nails (2”, 16 gauge) 
  • Brad Nails (1”, 18 gauge)
  • Sating Latex Paint
  • Splackling Paste
  • 400 grit sand paper


March 25, 2007

Installing fittings on a compressed air hose

Filed under: Shop Projects — Gilles @ 3:44 am

A quick connector and studs are installed on a new compressed air hose. A stud is installed on a blowgun. The assembly is tested for leaks.


Skill Level: 0 (Trivial)

Time Taken: About 15 Minutes

I once witnessed a brand new Crafstman jigsaw die hours after beeing purchased (and it was not even used for heavy duty stuff). Since then, I have been avoiding Crafstman products. However, I was in need of a compressed air hose for a while and today, Sears had a sale where I found this Crafstman 50′ 300 psi air hose for $19.99 so I though I’d give it a try. I also purchased blow gun, on sale too.

Left: the new air hose, a roll of teflon tape (bottom left, still shrink wrapped), the blow gun (above the teflon tape). On the right of the blow gun, the brass looking fitting is a quick connect coupler. It allows to easily connect and disconnect air tools. It is basically a "female" connector.

The two chromed fittings on the left of the blow gun are quick connect studs. These are "male" connectors.

The hose comes with threaded fittings but no connectors. This is a common practice and not specific to Crafstman. 

Right: I started the assembly by rolling teflon tape around the quick connector side of the hose. Since the diameter of the pipe is less than 1”, I made sure to make at least 3 full turns of teflon. I also rolled the teflon clockwise around the threads so it won’t jam when the quick coupler is screwed later on.

Left: I threaded the quick connect coupler and tightened it with two adjustable wrenches. It needs to be very tight but not to the point where the threads will break.


Right: I repeated the same operation on the other end of the hose (the stud end).

The air gun with the stud already installed. I followed the same procedure: at least three full turns of teflon. However, there was no place for me to put a crescent wrench on the gun so I held it tight by its handle (on the bottom left in the picture).

I then hooked up the quick connect end of the hose to the gun and the stud end of the hose to an air compressor. I pressured the gun and tried it. It worked fine.

I put a little bit of soapy water on all connections to check for leaks. Any air leak will cause the soapy water to bubble, making it very easy to locate any leak. It is important to ensure there are no leaks when fitting an air hose.

Now, I can use two airs tools at the same time instead of switching as I used to before. We will see how the Crafstman hose holds up.

Tools Used:

  • Two Crescent Wrenches

Materials Used:

  • Craftsman 50′ air hose 300 psi 
  • Blow Gun 
  • Quick Connector Coupler 1/4” NPT
  • 1/4” Quick Connect Studs (2)
  • Teflon Tape
  • Dish soap and Water

Custom framing artwork

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 2:49 am

A piece of artwork is custom framed. Hanging hardware is added.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: A Couple Of Hours

For most, custom framing is one of the best way to compliment artwork. In my specific case, it was the only option. This piece of art has been designed to fit standard, off the shelf metric frames. None of the off the shelf frames available at my local crafts store worked so I decided to custom frame the artwork myself.

Left: the artwork to frame. It is made out of thick paper, just like most posters readily available in the USA.


Right: A piece of 3/4 wide by 1/2 thick solid hemlock I used for the frame. I purchased this 8ft piece of wood at my local lumberyard for approximately $4.

Left: I setup my router table with a 3/8 straight bit and cut a 3/8 wide rabbet, 1/4 deep.

Note the usage of the two featherboards to keep the stock tight against the fence. I fed the stock from right to left to avoid climb cutting, a potentially dangerous way of using a router.

Router bits are designed to cut when the workpiece is fed against the direction of the rotation of the bit. When the stock is fed in the same direction as the rotation of the bit, the cutting edge can grab the wood and eject it with tremendous force, leaving your hands dangerously close to a spinning bit.

Climb cutting offers some advantages (minimizes wood chipping and provides a smoother cut in certain conditions) but for me, the dangers far outweight the advantages.

You should never attempt to climb cut on a router unless you are a trained professional. 

Right: Close-up of the rabbet. The artwork will rest in the groove on the right.

I used a power miter saw to cut the four pieces of the frame to length. Cutting mitered corners can be quite a brain teaser. It helps to write a sketch on a notepad before cutting. As always, measure twice and cut once.

Also, for mitered corners, I always calculate and measure the longest dimension because it is much easier to hook up the tape measure to the longest border on a mitered corner.

Left: I assembled the frame, applied glue on mitered corners and clamped it in place.

There are special clamps, called "miter clamps" or "corner blocks" designed to maintain mitered corners in place tightly as the glue sets. I do not own such clamps so I made my own out of scrap MDF moldings.

Right: Detail of an home made clamp. It allows me to push both pieces of the frame in place and to face clamp them. It also leaves the mitered corner accessible from the side so I can drive nails in corners with a pneumatic brad nailer.

Left: I left the frame dry overnight. The next day, I removed the clamps and used a pneumatic brad nailer to drive one 18 gauge 1” long brad nails on both sides of each corner.

The brad nailer leaves tiny holes which no one usually notices. It is also possible to fill them with wood putty.


Right: I sanded the whole frame with a finish sander equipped with 400 grit sandpaper. All sides of the frame were sanded to erase all visible defects.

Four coats of clear stain urethane top coat were applied to protect the wood and give a shinner appearance.

This is a 0.093 thick acrylic sheet. I purchased it at the Home Depot for about $8.50. It is stronger and much lighter than glass. It provides a good UV protection. It is also much easier to work with than glass.

Left: I measured the sheet and laid the cut. I then  clamped the sheet and an aluminium straight edge to a table.


Right: Using an utility knife, I repeatedly scorched the acrylic along the straight edge. The idea is to cut a groove deep enough (about 1/16) so the sheet can be snapped clean along this line.


Clamps and straight edge were removed. With a firm movement of the wrist, I snapped the sheet cleanly along the line.

I cut the other side of the sheet to length using the same procedure.

Left: I checked the fit of the acrylic sheet in the frame. I removed the protecting paper, installed the acrylic sheet and the artwork on top of it, facing out.


Right: Using a pair of scissors, I cut a piece of 1/32” thick cardboard to dimension and placed it on top of the artwork. It will ensure that the artwork is maintained tight against the sheet. 

I purchased the cardboard at Aaron Brothers for $2. I like it as backing material because it is stiff yet flexible and very light compared to other candidates (masonite,  1/”4 plywood..).

Left: This is a box of "Framer’s Points" by Fletcher. The point is the small piece of steel at the bottom.

They are designed to permanently secure the backing material to the frame and therefore are very stiff. When these points are installed, it is difficult to change the artwork.

There is also a similar artwork framing fastener called "Flexipoint". It has the same shape and is flexible. It allows to change the artwork by bending the points. Most off the shelf frames use flexible points.

I ordered these points on the internet thinking they were loose (non collated) flexible points. I was surprised to receive collated stiff points. I decided to give them a shot. I paid about $16 for a box of 3000.

Right: These points are designed to be driven with a special tool which looks like a stapler. I do not own such a tool and I do not want to own one so I devised a way to drive these points using only basic shop tools.

I folded two sheets of kitchen paper towel together to build a pad. I placed a point in contact with the frame and drove it using a pair of pliers.

Left: A driven point. I installed it flat on the backing material. It took less than 5 minutes to drive about 15 points equally spread around the perimeter of the frame.

Right: This is a sawtooth hanger with its two nails. I installed it at the center, on the top piece of the frame. It allows the frame to be hung on the wall. I purchased this item at a local hardware store for about $1.50.

This is pretty much all there is to custom artwork framing. I have used many expensive tools because they offer flexibility and save me a lot of time but none of them are really needed.

Instead of routing your own profile, you can purchase pre-made moldings from most stores (home improvement and / or arts and crafts). You can cut pieces to length using a miter box. You do not need a pneumatic nailer: finish nails can be driven with a hammer and counter sunk with a nail set or the tip of a fine screw driver. Sanding can be done without a power sander by securing sandpaper on a piece of scrap wood to make a sanding block.

Tools Used:

  • Router and Router Table
  • Power Miter Saw
  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer
  • Finish Power Sander 
  • Utility Knife  
  • Tape Measure 
  • Clamps
  • Pliers

Materials Used:

  • Solid Hemlock 3/4 x 1/2 (8ft)
  • Premium wood glue 
  • Brad nails (1in, 18 gauge)
  • Acryclic sheet 0.093 thick (20” x 32”)
  • 1/32” thick cardboard (bcking material)
  • 400 grit sand paper
  • Framer’s point
  • Sawtooth hanger
  • Clear urethane top coat

Blog at