Several months ago, I took on a job installing frame-and-panel wainscoting in a client's new home office. Unfortunately, the walls in this room were among the waviest I'd ever seen. Rather than pull out my hair trying to make the joints between the stiles and rails look good on an undulating surface, I decided to make the "frames" by cutting out sheets of 3/4-inch MDF, and use 1/4-inch MDF for the panels. Each panel would be trimmed with a rabbeted panel molding to finish cut edges and hide any small gaps.

I began by moving the wall-mounted registers to the floor. Once that was done, I did the panel layout right on the walls with masking tape and a pencil; I had to balance aesthetics with the need to accommodate existing electrical outlets. I would have preferred to have moved the electrical boxes so that the outlets would be centered in the...

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