Friday, January 29, 2010

Hammer King!

I just had to put this up. Check this guy out. He has to be fun at parties!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crown Tip for Box Beams

Here's another crown moulding tip that really makes for
uber sweet miters. When you're building box beams
with crown in them, like these here.

Assemble the crown pieces on the floor first
and then install them assembled.  Be sure to under
size your measurements by at least 1/8" to insure they
fit into the beams.  No one will notice a little slack, but
if the beams aren't perfectly square, you'll never get the
crown into them.
Note the two assembled crown units at the top of
the photo.  I use the pinch clamps mentioned
earlier to help assemble these.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Media wires in Panels

Heres what HE loved. This guy was a Home theater nut. Before the panels were installed he had wires everywhere. When I left, they were all hidden in the base of the panel wall system. it was a ton of extra work, but in the end, this really cleaned up a bundled mess of wires running across the floor and made the man of the house love the project too.

Cherry Mantle with wall panels to match

Heres a shot of a real sweet build I did a few years back. This was a great job even though I lost my ass on it. I really enjoyed building it and the lady of the house absolutely loved it. Even her husband, who just couldn't fathom spending so much money on gasp the house, loved it when I was done. Turning him around was a very rewarding experience and made the fact that I only made about $25 an hour on the job worth it in the end. The fireplace is floor to ceiling brick and the panels cover all that 1975 ugliness.

This build is cherry and the finish is a waterbased polyurethane.

And the Mantle I built for my house

What is unusual about this one is that it is actually for my house, thats right dude, this one is all for me. It's funny how much more accepting I can be of flaws and defects when its for my own house. Don't look too close! This one, like all the trim in my house is made from Knotty alder and finished with brushing laquer. Simple and rustic. ... and mine!

Mantle Shelves

Just downloaded my camera last night and have a few of my last mantle jobs I thought I might share with my (1) follower! Here you go dude! Mantle shelves aren't all that exciting but they really finish off a fireplace remodel, but whats unusual about the this one is that it had to bend around a crazy pop out in a corner. Of course it was all out of wack so I built a template and took that back to the shop so the turns would be just right. Sorry didn't get any shots of the template.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Crown Moulding Tricks

OK, going through the showroom pics I found one that gives up a tool set I've been keeping a secret cause it's just that good. I've been pretty protective of my discoveries that really make a difference in quality and speed of install in the past, simply because I invest alot of time researching, testing, and developing these techniques. Why should I just show them to some jackass I'll bid against one day? Well, not too likely I'll bid against guys around the internet, and since I can't take the knowledge with me, I might as well at least document my own path to find it. Besides, if you found this blog, chances are you're a guy like me on his own knowledge quest and probably someone I'd like working with anyway. You are afterall, spending time at a computer looking at carpentry techniques so you must be into the artform too...So here you go, another tool and technique that really makes a difference in your work.

Pinch clamps. These clamps were developed for the picture frame industry but they work killer for holding crown moulding outside corners and small casing miters tight. Basically anytime I need to clamp together a miter while the glue sets, I'm reaching for these. I often will build a crown assembly on the table with these clamps and let it set up before I install it. Real slick.

We sell these in our store. Call us at (925) 935-8400. Our website sucks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yep. I built this.

This could be my most magnificent entry casing design to date. I've built alot of stuff I'm really proud of but this one just really came together. I started with a sketch the owner really liked so I went to work. This one crossed the line from work to fun, I lost track of the hours but I didn't even care. It's almost done here with a few mouldings missing in the facing panels. The keystone in the center will have a lit up sign with the company logo on it, and more dentil crown around the top of it. People just stop and stare at this thing. That gives me incredible satisfaction.

Showroom Work.

Well, got a chance to get back to some showroom work recently and snapped off a few shots while I was up there. This is an AWESOME project that I have been picking away at for over a year now. Its in Piedmont Lumbers Lakeport yard. Piedmont is expanding thier Architectural Millwork Division up into Lake County and to better showcase the products they sell, I was asked to design and build 'a showstopper'
My pleasure.
Here's a shot of me working on an arched collonade. I'm using the best ladder made, Stokes ladder, and a super cool new portable Co2 unit from Powertank to air up my gun. This is a real slick 'side arm' tank that hangs on my belt letting me run around without having to worry about a compressor or hose. Quality is top notch, and this little 1.25 pound tank will shoot about 200 finish nails. I did a review for these products in the Journal of Light Construction. The Powertank ranks amung my favorite tools. I don't even own a little compressor anymore.
For more info on these products go here:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Better Finishing Equipment

The Alder pair in previous posts brought a glaring reality to light. I've been tracking my time in these prefinishing jobs and once its all said and done I'm not making very good money, and worse, I'm never truely satisfied with the finished product when it leaves for install. I know spraying would cut down the labor and up the quality. I have spray equipment, but it's automotive stuff and not good for materials I use on doors so I hit the internet and researched a unit that I thought would best suit my needs. I wanted an HVLP system that could shoot both latex and oil based as well as varnishes. I wanted something that had high efficiency of material transfer and was self contained. Graco had just the right unit in thier FinishPro series of sprayers. Its awesome. Better yet I found exacly the unit I wanted on Craigslist back east, called the guy up and we made a clean deal. I got this little beauty for half price, brand new. The finish Gods have begun to smile upon me.

Better Finishing Enviroment

After the miserable struggle I had keeping the dirt out of the finish with the last door set I decided to step up the game a little.
I was able to get a 'decent' topcoat on the alder pair by resorting to my old automotive garage painting tricks. Wetting the floor, sanding the night before and letting the dust settle, ect.
It just became blatantly obvious that until I could design and build a proper spray booth (which I have a slick design going for), I was going to have to start tenting. This temporay tent set up using zipwall poles and visqueen will help provide a cleaner enviroment for finishing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Damn Dust!

The next hurtle I have to conquer is the dust issue getting into the finish. I just know I can do better and want to give my customers my very best. I can't stand seeing these teeny flaws in the finish. Despite my efforts to keep a clean shop and the dust down, I just can't keep it out of the finish. I guess a spray booth will have to be constructed..

The Secret Sauce

Alright so I'm thinking that in an effort to make this blog a worthy read for guys who are into this kind of stuff that I would share the results of a recent discovery and expose a great breakthrough I have had recently in my quest for the perfect finish. What you see here is my new super secret cold weather quick dry formula. By using the Napthia to reduce the Epifanies and add the Japan Dryer (I think I'll just keep the ratios to myself at least until someone asks) I have been able to reduce the dry time of the Epifanies from 24 hours down to about 16, by adding heat I can get it down to 12. That means two coats in a day. The mixture is also super flow-y and lays out like glass. Awesome.

This post has been edited to keep some of my secrets to myself.

More Doors...

Welp, Im up to my ass in doors. My brother in law, Bill is truely as talented at upselling as he is at building. Since bringing him in to take over the installs he's been very effective in selling the prefinish program. The result? He's got me so busy prefinishing the doors we install that I can't even take a holiday, or keep up with him. I got a few days off at Christmas but New Years was spent in my shop putting a finish on these beauties...