Merry Christmas everyone! I decided to take a break from playing with all my new cool Santa gifts and instead put a check mark next to this month’s to-do item. Unlike most of my projects, this one is hot off the “reveal” night. Note, the emphasized reveal word was purposely used to keep from misleading you into thinking this was a quick project – nothing of sorts. I almost called this project Massi Procrasti because of the amount of time that passed since starting this project. In fact, it has been so long I absolutely forget how long it has been and can only guess it is upwards of 1 to 1.5+ years in the making.
It all started as a result of a slight case of OCD that I’ve battled since childhood. Normally it is kept in check but I allowed my wife to hang our photography pictures on a long wall facing into our great room. Hanging is a scientific, highly mathematical and sometimes requires massive engineering (link here and here). Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t have those same convictions, her mantra – eyeball it, smack it, hang it, admire it. I might have been able to struggle through her output better had that wall not led directly into our master bedroom – yes, at least twice a day my alarms would blast forcing me to muster everything I had to dampen it below eruption levels. For the legal papers it should also be stated that she recently took to purposely tilting the pictures – feel free to ask her to explain herself in the comments!
Like I said, 10’s of months back the inner voice told me to rid myself of this daily stress. That spark initiated a trip to Menards in search of some nice trim molding. Hours of searching later this specimen revealed itself. Note, I couldn’t find the original progress shots so these were taken during the build and finishing stages that were completed recently – these trim pieces were not stained or finished.
Hit the jump to see how this project came together!
They were 1.5 inches wide by 8 feet long. They were made out of oak which matched the rest of the house trim. Once two straight pieces were located I moved to the stock solid oak boards. There I located a 1.5″ wide by 3/8″ thick board that was supposed to be 8′ long. You can ask my wife, but I probably spent 2 hours in that store trying to plan out how I wanted this to work – generally, my designs are planned out well in advance of hitting the home improvement stores, but I wasn’t that familiar with the options that were available so winged it. Remember, this was 1 to 1.5 years ago. Once the exact configuration was determined, they were purchased and deposited in my basement. From there they were continually moved almost on a weekly basis as Project Auuuurnnnnnoooold was in flight – moving them so I could frame the walls, moving them so I could dry wall, moving them so they wouldn’t get messed up plastering, moving some more to keep them from getting paint on them and then again so the floor could be put down. Every single time I picked them up I told myself to get my butt in gear and get that done…. then I’d play forward all the steps that were needed to accomplish that and .. well let’s just say they were moved to another place in the basement. At some point in the process I did find time to pull out the drill press and put 3/8″ holes through the plain straight oak board and then half way through the molding (at the thickest point).
That is the routine that was playing out until last Sunday when it occurred to me that Christmas was days aware and I didn’t have a creative gift to give Linda – that and having to stand for a TWO DAY binge before that where Linda was once again purposely shifting the pictures off center (damn you evil lady!!!!) Time to get this project into the books. While Linda was off with the dogs I pulled out a set of horses, the orbital sander, tacky sheets, sanding discs, sanding squares, shop rags, stain, varnish, sponge brushes and unfortunately a chop saw – it was once again clear why I hadn’t worked on this project up to now. I’ll spare you the details, but I did manage to get everything sanded (including hand sanding the molding curves) and stained.
The next day I applied the varnish putting a wrap on the prep phase of the project. There were two approaches to the project which directly corresponding to which side I put up during the install. If haven’t already made an assumption on how this was designed, the decorative molding laid on top of the flat oak piece. One side had a shallow dip in it …
the other side resulted in a channel due to how that edge of the molding was made – basically made an “L” shape 1/4″ deep and 3/8″ wide – not really sure what the real use for this molding was, but an excellent feature for what I wanted to do with it. You can see how that channel is formed when lined up with the solid wood piece below.
I also located my 3/8″ wood dowels – a miracle seeing as how much disarray my tools are in thanks to the other project.
About now is when I figured out that the straight board pieces were longer than the molding boards. To fix this I chopped off the end to match with each of the molding boards – of course this meant more staining and varnishing – ugh.
Okay, the next step was to glue and seat the dowels into the back of the decorative molding (from the drill press phase mentioned earlier). I wish I’d gone deeper with the drill but was worried at the time it might poke out the other side. Due to the shallow depth I had to put extra glue to make sure they didn’t pop out during the install.
In all, there were 9 holes put along the 8′ foot length of the boards making sure the molding and the straight board were lined up perfectly during the entire process.
Since the hole was put all the way through the straight board, I knew exactly how long each of the dowels could be to sit flush with the wall. Each of the dowels were cut to the 3/8″ thickness ( for ease I just used a Dremel and a cutoff wheel).
Now it was time to start hanging the boards. With the two boards, I had 16′ to deal with. I grabbed the stud finder and went to work locating all the available studs along that length of the wall. This was done in a somewhat depressed stated because Linda wasn’t around so I couldn’t do my standard take the finder, point it at myself and make it beep resulting in the traditional Linda eye roll – hey, it’s the little things that make life interesting. Once again all the pictures I took during the house construction paid off as I used it as a reference to verify what was behind the wall – there are a bunch of pipes that run through that section and glad I could validate where those were before taking any chances. During this process I also figured out how high to hang the board (the lower horizontal tape).
Now Linda’s assistance was needed and not just to help hold up the straight oak boards so I could get them perfectly level down the 16′ length. She also had to help make the decision on which side of the molding to face up – the gentle slope or the deeper groove. Discussing the pros and cons of each we ended up going deep groove side up. This was important because it dictated how the solid wood piece needed to be hung since the holes were aligned with the crown molding. Through a process of drilling a pilot hole, switching the bit out for a bigger one to countersink the screw and then putting in the driver bit to actually drive the screw in we were left staring at this.
Yes, I know there are drill bits that pilot and countersink (and I have them) but this way I could test Linda’s strength .. and patience. With the solid pieces hung now I could work on affixing the decorative molding. Hope you figured out by now that the dowels allowed me to hang the molding without any exterior nail/screws. Slap in some glue in the solid board holes, wrap some around the dowels on the molding and run a bead down the middle to help hold it between the rods and I was ready to pop it on. There was some stress involved not knowing if the plan would actually work not to mention the holes had to be perfectly placed/aligned between the two boards. No worries, the molding pushed on like a well machined LEGO. Give the molding a strong push at each of the dowel points along the length and one by one they popped into place. What I didn’t expect during the design phase was imperfections in the straightness of the wall – something that wasn’t noticed until the boards were installed. Clearly the solid oak board was going to follow any curvatures being screwed directly to the studs. This meant waves were transferred to the molding. For the most part the dowels took care of that and kept the two pieces of wood snugged up.
Once spot near the end fit perfectly between the dowels so I had to add an extra bit of glue and then wedge a piece of wood against the opposite side of the hall to get them pushed together – left that there for 8 hours until the bond was nice and tight – no more gapping.
All that was left was to grab some pictures, place them in the grooves and slap a Christmas tag on it – project DONE!
I told Linda my OCD was ratcheted down at least two notches now that the bottom of the pictures were perfectly aligned – what a relief. For the curious, we switched to the core backing for our gallery prints. It only costs a few dollars more and helps keep the prints from bending (both at home and in the mail). That is the reason the deep groove side was placed up since it allowed the prints to sit down in it preventing them from falling out if the boards happened to get brushed. I am very pleased on how this came out and excited to now have a means to display our favorite shots and change them out easily based on company, the seasons or new offerings – granted I’m going to have to share the shelf in the future hehehehe – right now all the prints we have with the core backing are mine except the flower on the far left and a couple that for some reason didn’t make it into the shot – oops.
I do have some more posts in the hopper for December, but good to know that my quota is in … which comes to think of it means I met my quota for the ENTIRE YEAR – Merry Christmas to me, yeah.