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Simple Frame & Panel Trim - Continued

Scribing Panels

Four of the columns butted up against walls. Though there were no backs to those columns, we still made all the panels the same size as the columns in the field, which allowed an extra 3/4 inch for scribing the frames tightly to the walls.

We used the same scribing technique we would use to scribe a door casing that butts a wall. We started by installing the jamb panels first (the inner panels that formed the jambs of each archway), then temporarily clamped the "casing" panels in place. Whenever you scribe casing to a wall (or to anything), it doesn't matter how far off the wall you hold the casing. What matters is that the casing be parallel with the jamb. We positioned the inside edge of the casing panels in line with the jamb panels, then spread our scribes the exact distance from the face of the jamb to the edge of the casing (Figure 4).

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Figure 4.Pilaster columns are scribed to the wall (left), then trimmed to the line with a Makita panel saw (right), held to cut a slight back-bevel for a tight fit at the wall.

Our 4 3/4-inch Makita panel saw (model 4200N) works great for cutting scribes: The little monster spins at 11,000 rpm, fast enough to cut without tear-out, and it's small enough to follow even the wiggliest walls. We always clamp the workpiece to a table before cutting a scribe, so we can concentrate all our attention on the job. Following a scribe line seems a little easier, too, if you tilt the blade slightly and undercut the workpiece. The slight bevel also makes it easier to get a tight joint at the wall.

Layout for the Arches

Scribing a few panels on the columns caused only a small wrinkle in our production schedule, but my real fear was the arches. I figured they'd slow us to a crawl. Fortunately, clamps and a pocket-hole jig solved that problem. The panels for the head jambs were easy because we assembled them in rectangles, just like the panels around the columns, then we cut the miters at the spring lines with a sliding compound miter saw. The panels that cased the openings went much slower because we had to dry-fit all the pieces in place.

We started by cutting and mitering all the heads together, then secured them in place with clamps. Next we cut and fit the angled stiles, labeling and marking the location of each piece. We took the marked pieces to the bench, where it was easy to fasten them together with glue and screws, using a 9-inch Kreg pocket-hole clamp. We used the same bearing-guided router bit to let the panels into the frames, cutting the tightly angled corners by hand (Figure 5).

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Figure 5.The routed inside-corner rabbets on angled panels (left) were finished by hand (right).

The panels on the entry side of the room posed their own problem, because the 1/4-inch paneling had to be mitered in every corner (Figure 6).

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Figure 6.Some of the columns have miters in two directions, requiring careful dry-fitting (top). Even the 1/4-inch panels are mitered (bottom).

We left each panel a little long, then scribed the pairs to fit perfectly. Some of the panels on the hallway side were even more troublesome, because they were longer than the available alder stock (alder isn't available in lengths longer than 10 feet). To ensure a tight-fitting mid-span joint, we used pocket screws to preassemble the entire span in one piece. We used the same technique we'd perfected on the front side, temporarily fitting the pieces in place, assembling them on the bench, then installing the completed panels (Figure 7).

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Figure 7.Some arches were wider than the length of available alder stock. These sections have pocket-screw joints at mid span.

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Figure 8.The column plinths were assembled from 3/4-inch alder-veneer plywood. Baseboard followed flooring. The finished paneling is reminiscent of early 20th-century Craftsman-style woodwork (right).

The finished result was a Craftsman look on a production schedule (Figure 8). It's ironic to think how efficiently we accomplished the job, considering the old-world handiwork that would have gone into original Craftsman style. In this case, it took modern tools and good planning. Gary Katzis a finish carpenter in Reseda, Calif., a frequent presenter at JLC Live, and author ofFinish Carpentry