Flat Panel Wainscoting #1: It's going in the Dining Room

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 10-01-2014 04:18 AM 3417 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Flat Panel Wainscoting series Part 2: When In Doubt, Go For the Duck »

Posted a few pics of this dining room remake in other forums here on LJs, decided on a separate blog series to give others an idea or two on what’s possible. There are three other rooms in the house done up with wainscoting, but none of those are this specific style; for those I used T&G beadboard (labor intensive, lots of wood used) on one and 4’ panel’d sheets of beadboard on the other two. Went surfing on the TOH website and found a number of styles compared side-by-side, and like the flat panel look the best.

The room, three pictures from left to right, stripped of flowered wallpaper and ready for improvement.

And here’s my ‘inspiration picture’ for the wainscoting we’re after.

First challenge was to set the panel size. There are examples out there that use larger ‘reveals’ to fill walls, but I was after a look that had the rails, styles and flat panels looking identical around the room. Four wall segments, two of them on the wall that included a non-centered window. And the panels would top out at the same height at the half wall that separates the dining room from the parlor. Excel to the rescue, telling me with just a little variation in the stile width, I can get the look I want.

But before we get into the cutting of MDF (and the dust, agck!) it’s time for a disclosure. There are no pics of the treatment done under the window sill of the room. I watched an on-line video of Norm doing wainscoting where he built out the area under the window sill for a great look. I did that in my room, but took no pictures of the 1×4 framing build or install. But you’ll see the result in the pics that follow. So if you like it, seek out Norm Abram’s video. If not, no harm, no foul. Okay, back to the action.

Prep of the room, besides clearing the Hoosier cabinet and table from the space, included cutting and pulling drywall from the window wall. Why? The house was a complete renovation over six + months when we bought it over 20 years ago. We drywalled the interior spaces as walls were moved, chimneys removed and plaster was too far gone to rehab. Without going into too much detail, the face trim of our windows does not sit proud of the finished walls. To add 1/2” of paneling to that situation didn’t appeal to me at all, so on the window wall I removed drywall at a level line marked around the entire room for reference.

Pulled the carpeting (new wood floor coming) and the room was ready for working.

We’ll cut material and show the installation methods I used in upcoming blogs. As always, thanks for looking.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

12 comments so far

View Mosquito's profile


7924 posts in 1709 days

#1 posted 10-01-2014 05:08 AM

It looks like a lot of work ahead… I’m betting it’ll look great once done ;-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Don W's profile

Don W

17870 posts in 1985 days

#2 posted 10-01-2014 11:15 AM

It looks like a great improvement.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Brit's profile


6569 posts in 2260 days

#3 posted 10-01-2014 11:41 AM

This will be good. I’m in.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13569 posts in 2036 days

#4 posted 10-01-2014 11:47 AM

Your shop build out inspired me to try this in MDF, Andy.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View GrandpaLen's profile


1643 posts in 1690 days

#5 posted 10-01-2014 12:54 PM have my undivided attention.

The restoration and cosmetic facelifts of ‘Well Seasoned’ homes is one of my favorite endeavors.

MDF is born from dust, if you disturb it in any manor, dust is what will result. may quote me on that. ;-)

Work Safely (with a respirator) and have Fun. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View terryR's profile


6229 posts in 1726 days

#6 posted 10-01-2014 02:15 PM

Wow, what a huge task, Smitty!

Your home will be so much more YOURS when completed, though!

Count me in for a few lessons…:)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View AnthonyReed's profile


8569 posts in 1857 days

#7 posted 10-01-2014 03:29 PM

Great stuff. Thanks Smitty.

-- ~Tony

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2751 days

#8 posted 10-01-2014 03:40 PM

I’m sure this will look wonderful when finished Smitty. They sell MDF wainscoting here. I’m sure it isn’t cheap, but it does eleminate working with dust. the most dangerous part of working with MDF besides inhaling the stuff for me is that it can make a smooth floor very slippery. I almost took a couple of falls from it the first time I worked with it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13569 posts in 2036 days

#9 posted 10-01-2014 03:46 PM

Appreciate the input guys. And Mike, I discovered first-hand the slippery nature of MDF dust; caught myself a couple of times, actually, walking on a slick concrete floor further ‘slickified’ by said dust. Very good tip.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View pintodeluxe's profile


4824 posts in 2230 days

#10 posted 10-01-2014 03:52 PM

Ohh, you know it’s about to get serious when the spreadsheet comes out.
Good luck. I have had fun with (and been challenged by) wainscoting application.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Mean_Dean's profile


4928 posts in 2564 days

#11 posted 10-02-2014 12:04 AM

Looks good so far! Looking forward to next part!

-- Dean

View Tugboater78's profile


2430 posts in 1609 days

#12 posted 10-02-2014 02:24 AM

Big job ahead or in progress Smitty, will keep an eye out, my woman likes that look too and before long I have to rip out some more walls to finish insulating this old house. Will need to remake to her specs I am sure, and do something similar. Glad you know how to use Excel, I was taught how to use it back in 96-97 but have never needed to use since.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

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