Finish Carpenter's Manual

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Everything you need to know to be a finish carpenter: assessing a job before you begin, and tricks of the trade from a master finish carpenter.



Easy-to-follow instructions for installing doors and windows, ceiling treatments (including fancy beams, corbels, cornices and moldings), wall treatments (including wainscoting and sheet paneling), and the finishing touches of chair, picture, and plate rails. Specialized interior work includes cabinetry and built-ins, stair finish work, and closets. Also covers exterior trims and porches.



Includes manhour tables for finish work, and hundreds of illustrations and photos.

Weight 1.0800
ISBN 0-934041-82-2
Page Count 208
Author Jim Tolpin
Publisher Craftsman Book Company
Dimensions 8-1/2 x 11

Everything you need to know to be a finish carpenter: assessing a job before you begin, and tricks of the trade from a master finish carpenter.

Easy-to-follow instructions for installing doors and windows, ceiling treatments (including fancy beams, corbels, cornices and moldings), wall treatments (including wainscoting and sheet paneling), and the finishing touches of chair, picture, and plate rails. Specialized interior work includes cabinetry and built-ins, stair finish work, and closets. Also covers exterior trims and porches.

Includes manhour tables for finish work, and hundreds of illustrations and photos.

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Finish Carpenter's Manual
by Jim Tolpin

Contents
Chapter 1
Modern Finish Carpentry, 5
Finish Carpentry Skills, 5
The Scope of Modern Carpentry, 6
Chapter 2
Finish Carpentry Hand Tools, 7
Clothing and Safety Equipment, 7
The Tool Belt, 8
Additional Hand Tools, 9
Sharpening Hand Edge Tools, 11
Chapter 3
The Power Tools, 13
Hand Power Tools, 13
Stationary Power Tools, 19
Chapter 4
Site Fixtures, 21
Tool and Fastener Storage, 21
Getting the Power You Need, 23
Work Supports, 24
Chapter 5
Prep Work, 26
Site Inspection, 26
Job Sequencing, 27
Selecting the Materials, 27
Chapter 6
Preparing the Rough Frame, 31
Adding Blocking, 31
Door and Window Frames, 34
Stair Carriages, 37
Manhours for Rough Framing, 38
Chapter 7
Installing Doors, 39
The Door Assembly, 39
The Interior Passage Doors, 40
The Latch Mechanisms, 46
Non-standard Doors, 48
Exterior Doors, 50
Manhours for Door Installation, 52
Chapter 8
Door Trim, 54
Prep Work, 54
Mitered Frames, 55
Butted Frames, 58
Block and Plinth Door Casings, 58
Manhours for Door Trim, 58
Chapter 9
Window Trim, 60
Prep Work, 60
The Full Surround, 61
Installing Extension Jambs with Stools, 63
Stool and Apron Frames, 67
Arched Window Molding, 69
Manhours for Window Trim, 72
Chapter 10
Ceiling Treatments, 73
Scaffolding, 73
Strip Ceilings, 74
Panel Ceilings, 76
Beams, Posts and Corbels, 78
Manhours for Ceiling Treatments, 82
Chapter 11
Cornice Moldings, 83
Prep Work, 83
Crown Moldings Cornice, 84
Sequencing Installation, 88
Manhours for Cornice Moldings, 89
Chapter 12
Wall Treatments, 90
Tongue and Groove Wainscot, 90
Frame and Panel Wainscot, 93
Chair and Picture Rail, 96
Sheet Paneling, 97
Manhours for Wall Treatments, 100
Chapter 13
Base Molding, 101
Fitting Baseboard, 101
Installing the Baseboard, 104
Dealing with Rounded Wall Corners, 106
Manhours for Base Molding, 107
Chapter 14
Closet Interiors, 108
Clothing Poles and Hat Shelves, 108
Shelving Around Corners, 110
Site-Built Closet Storage Units, 112
Manhours for Closet Interiors, 116
Chapter 15
Installing Cabinet Work, 117
Preparing for Installation, 117
Installing the Base Units, 120
Installing the Upper Units, 122
Installing Cabinet Components, 122
Manhours for Cabinet Work, 124
Chapter 16
Fireplace Surrounds, 125
Surround Moldings, 125
Installing the Mantel, 128
Installing a Prefabricated Unit, 130
Manhours for Fireplace Surrounds, 131
Chapter 17
Flooring, 132
Flooring Types, 132
Preparing for the Job, 133
Laying Out the Floor, 136
Tongue and Groove Flooring, 138
Plank Flooring, 142
Surfacing the Floor, 143
Finishing the Floor, 148
Manhours for Flooring, 150
Chapter 18
Stair Trim-Out, 151
Stair Systems and Components, 131
Preinstallation Procedures, 153
Skirt Boards, 154
Treads and Risers, 158
The Balustrade, 160
Manhours for Stair Trim-out, 171
Chapter 19
Troubleshooting, 172
Door Problems, 172
Fitting New Trim to Existing Trim, 175
Fastening Problems, 177
Joint Closure Problems, 178
Damage Control, 180
Tool Adjustments and Tune-ups, 183
Manhours for Troubleshooting, 188
Chapter 20
Setting Up a Subcontracting Finishwork Business, 189
Establishing a Legal Identity, 189
Finding Work, 194
Bids and Contracts, 195
The Contract Forms, 199
Hiring and Managing a Good Crew, 202

Finish Carpenter's Manual
by Jim Tolpin


Chapter One

Modern Finish Carpentry

Finish carpenters today do some of the same work their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did 50 or 100 years ago. But construction changed dramatically during the 20th century. Techniques changed. Materials changed. The trades became more specialized. And some types of work simply vanished. For example, how long has it been since you carved the gooseneck for a handrail, built cabinets on site, or milled window sash?

Some tasks that were once considered finish carpentry aren't any more. Fitting exterior siding and trim were once finish carpentry. So was hanging windows and exterior doors. Now these jobs are usually done by framing contractors. And other jobs, such as hanging drywall or installing suspended ceilings, are now primarily done by specialty subcontractors.

Even so, there's plenty of work left for a good finish carpenter to do, and a good living to be made by doing it! It's important, however, to master (or at least have a thorough knowledge of) all the aspects of the trade, past and present. Even if you don't hang windows, you still have to know the difference between a window that's hung right and one that isn't. It's senseless to spend an hour carefully trimming out the interior of a window - and then have it yanked because the sash is misaligned. An old-timer who's mastered all the trade wouldn't make that mistake. And you shouldn't, either.

That's why I'll cover all the basics of finish carpentry in this manual. Some of this you'll use fairly seldom. But every professional finish carpenter (and that's you!) is expected to know it.

Finish Carpentry Skills

Finish carpenters need all the skills (and most of the tools) of a framing carpenter - and more besides. But, obviously, the trades are very different. For example, framers work in two dimensions - length and width. Cut it, stand it up, and nail it in place! Precise fitting is seldom practiced or needed.

On the other hand, we finish carpenters work in all three dimensions - length, width, and depth. Most of what we do requires precision fitting and careful installation.

A framer's work will be covered and forgotten long before a building is occupied. But what we do will be on display for the entire life of the building. The smooth, even surfaces we install have to fit right because they're always in full view. That means measuring and cutting must be precise. We have to calculate and cut compound angles exactly. We have to fit smooth trim pieces on rough textured surfaces that are neither plumb nor square. It takes skill to do that, skill to create a gap-free joint, skill to shape, smooth and fit wood until it's perfect. The finish carpenter carries a big burden. Dennis Calleson, a master of the trade, puts it this way: "A good finish carpenter is the conscience of the construction project."

Precise installation is the essence of finish carpentry. If you enjoy joining smooth, sleek surfaces to create a perfect match where materials meet, congratulations You have the makings of a true professional craftsman. You'll have no trouble absorbing (and applying) all the information between the covers of this book.

Scope of Modern Finish Carpentry

Even though perfect installation is the essence of finish carpentry, finish carpenters need more than installation skills. You'll find there are many times when the architect's plans and details won't show finish work details. It will be up to you to assume responsibility for layouts and joinery choices. You'll also have to write up bills of materials, develop cut lists, and on some jobs you may even have to design the trim elements from the ground up.

Here's a list of what I consider to be the scope of the modern carpenter's trade. It's also what I intend to cover in this manual.

1) Material take-off and layout of finish elements.

2) Preparation of interior surfaces to receive finish work.

3) Hanging and trim out of interior doors.

4) Trim out of interior window casings and jamb extensions.

5) Installation of running moldings such as base, cornice, chair and picture rails.

6) Installation of wainscoting, and other types of wall paneling.

7) Installation of wood strip or paneled ceilings, as well as applied beams,
posts and corbels.

8) Fabrication and installation of closet shelving and clothing poles.

9) Installation of wood flooring.

10) Installation of factory-made cabinetry.

11) Fabrication and installation of fireplace surrounds and mantels.

12) Installation of interior stairways and balustrades.

13) Installation and trim out of entry ways.

14) Installation of door and bathroom hardware.

Since almost nothing gets done in finish carpentry without the right tools, I'm going to begin by describing the tools you'll need. That's the topic for Chapter 2.

Finish Carpenter's Manual

Whether you're an experienced finish carpenter with sawdust in your blood, or just beginning in the finish carpentry field, this manual is for you! The seasoned finish carpenter who wants to keep up-to-date will find the latest methods and tools, time-saving tips and shortcuts - based on the author's successful career as a master finish carpenter. And the step-by-step descriptions of the professional way to do a job will save the beginner time, frustration, lumber, and money.

This manual will become your favorite reference for all of these finish carpentry topics:

  • Evaluating the job
  • Choosing the best tools
  • Selecting the right materials
  • Preparing framing for finish work
  • Installing door and window trim
  • Applying ceiling and wall treatments
  • Installing cabinets and fireplace surrounds
  • Selecting, laying and finishing flooring
  • Trimming out the stairs
  • On-site troubleshooting

Every step is illustrated with clear photographs and drawings that show exactly how each job goes together. You'll learn how to do high-quality finish work that will build your reputation and keep you up to your tool belt in work.

And so that you're not working just for the fun of it, you'll find manhours for each kind of job. You'll know just how long it will take you to hang a door, install a lockset, or set door or window casings. You can estimate your jobs accurately and submit bids that will get you the job and a fair profit.

The final chapter explains how to establish and run your own subcontracting finishwork business. It includes sample forms, tips on finding work, and hints that will help you find, manage and keep a good crew.

The Author:

Jim Tolpin has been a professional woodworker for over twenty years, specializing in finish carpentry and custom cabinetmaking. His company, Interwood, has installed finish trim and built staircases and cabinets for scores of homes and businesses on both the East and West Coasts. His articles on cabinetmaking and finish carpentry have appeared in Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, Journal of Light Construction, CabinetMaker and a number of other magazines and books. He is also the author of Working at Woodworking (published by Taunton Press).