Trim carpentry Tips

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My drill bit broke. Now what?

Emergency drill bit

When pre-drilling hardwood trim (to prevent splitting), if you break the small drill bit, you can make an emergency bit by cutting off the head of a finish nail and drilling with the headless nail.

How do I make screws easier to turn?


When joining two pieces with screws, rub the screws on a bar of soap to lubricate.

How do I cut casing to fit tighter?

Mitered corners

When fitting mitered corners in casing or base, after you make your miter cut, you can back cut the material with a block plane to get a tighter fit. Shave the part of the cut surface that will not be visible when installed.

How deep do I set nails?

Setting nails

When using a nail set to drive finish nails below the surface of your project, set the nails to a depth equal to the thickness of the nail head.

How do I fit inside corners without coping?


To avoid coping inside corners when installing base (and save some time), butt the base to a small block nailed into the corners. I make my blocks 4"X3/4"X3/4", but you can experiment to find what you think looks good. It's quick, easy, and adds a different touch.

Do I want a left hand or right hand door?

Right hand or left hand?

When you buy a prehung door, you will be asked if you want a right or left hand door. To determine which you want, stand in the doorway facing the direction you want the door to move (into the room or out of the room). Fold your arms in front of you. Make one arm act like the door as you want it to swing. If you swing your left arm, you want a left hand door.

How do I save time installing trim?

Hardwood trim

When installing hardwood trim (oak, hickory, etc), you can save time and possibly money by renting a nail gun and compressor instead of pre-drilling each nail hole.

How do I make a coat rack?

Easy coat rack

You can make a simple coat rack by dowelling old door knobs to a 1X4 screwed to the mud room wall.

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Sherril Steele-Carlin