Building a Dr. White's Chest #6: Trim

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 05-05-2013 12:20 PM 1556 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Case Legs Part 6 of Building a Dr. White's Chest series Part 7: Raised Panel Doors »

Chests and wardrobes benefit greatly from the added visual detail of trim applied at the top of the case. Watch this video to see how I cut the cove for the trim on my Dr. White’s chest.

Trim after application and prior to final sanding.

Out-of-focus shot of the temporary fence set-up I used to make the cove cut. Be sure that your clamps have a good hold. Often, the areas under or near the edge of the table saw are difficult to attain a good clamp hold. NOTE: Years ago, I had a clamp slip while running a large piece of cove through a set of parallel boards and came close to cutting my wrist on the table saw blade when my push block rotated as the clamp let loose at the end of the cut.

I’ve used three different techniques to apply trim to a case. In all of the techniques, I glue the trim to the case across the entire front edge since wood movement isn’t an issue on the long grain. I also glue the first third of the trim to the side of the case and use a method that allows for wood expansion and contraction to fasten the back two-thirds of the trim.

First Method
Apply the back end of the trim with finish nails. I used a pneumatic finish nailer on the trim on this case and will plug the holes with a color-matched wax putty stick. An even more controlled option is to cut the head off of a brad nail, chuck it in your drill and pre-drill a hole two-thirds of the way to receive the nail. This doesn’t remove material like a drill does, yet it provides enough relief to prevent the wood from spIitting. This is more controlled than a pneumatic nailer, yet the nail is tightly held by the wood since the fibers are compressed rather than removed. I made the mistake of shooting the nails through the 3/8” wide upper flat edge. One nail blew through the top of the case. I was able to fix this easily enough. Another nail blew through the inside edge of the case. I should have used 1 ¾” nails instead of 2” nails. I could have shot the nails through the middle section of the trim with even shorter nails. I didn’t expect the 15 gauge nails to stray off course as much as they did on this trim installation. I used this technique successfully with 18-gauge nails on a book case. However, I likely won’t use this technique again on a fine case.

Second Method
Cut a key-hole slot with a router along the inside edge of the trim. Install two or three screws along the back two-thirds of the case. Slide the trim from front to back, pushing past the glue area. Apply glue and then slide the trim forward into the glue. Clamp the front third. This is the technique I used on my seven-drawer dresser and is likely the one I’ll use on future fine cases.

Third Method
This is similar to the second method. Cut a dovetail grove in the inside edge of the trim. Cut a matching male dovetail section about six inches long and screw it to the side of the case toward the back section. Slide the trim on the dovetail key (from the front and pushing back) and glue the front third. Making dovetails with the correct tension is a lot of tedious work. I used this technique on a previous wardrobe. However, I find that the screw head and key-hole slot method is much easier.

What’s Next?
In the next blog entry, we’ll explore the process of making raised panel doors.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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