Simple Frame & Panel Trim -
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
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
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).
Figure 5.The routed inside-corner rabbets on
angled panels (left) were finished by hand
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).
Figure 6.Some of the columns have miters in two
directions, requiring careful dry-fitting (top). Even the
1/4-inch panels are mitered
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).
Figure 7.Some arches were wider than the length of
available alder stock. These sections have pocket-screw joints
at mid span.
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