Door casing--need some help

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Forum topic by DrTebi posted 03-26-2010 06:37 AM 7226 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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265 posts in 3234 days

03-26-2010 06:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I decided to do all the trimming in my house by myself. I have studied a few books and have a pretty good idea how it should be done. But I have never done it, so bare with me please…

My Questions:
1) Plane or sand door jamb flush?
The door jamb and dry wall are not flush in most places (old house). It’s off by about 1/8” here and there. Since my lumber is just plain Douglas Fir boards, I figured I will route a recess into each board to accommodate for the irregularities, as they do with ready-to-go door molding:

That works great with a test piece, but when the door jamb is sticking out instead of the drywall—what do you do? Plane down the door jamb to make it flush?

2) Nails or Screws? How many?
I suppose that in order to get the boards nice and flat against the wall/jamb, nails or screws will provide the necessary “extra” push to do so. I wonder though how many I should use? One per foot or so? Which finishing nails would you recommend?
I also thought that it might be nice to screw the trims on, with counter-sunk screws and some contrasting plugs. Any advice against this idea?

3) Finish before or after?
I am going for a natural finish (linseed oil and shellac), and I assume it’s best to do the finishing after the trims are installed. At least I don’t see why I shouldn’t do it afterwards?

Thank you, and sorry for being so “green,” but only by trying I can learn :)

15 replies so far

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3959 days

#1 posted 03-26-2010 08:12 AM

ok so for #1 when it comes to the dri wall if its a little over i just tend to knock it down with a hammer close to the door jam so that the trim looks flush. that’s what you are trying to accomplish with the trim, a good appearance. now for the door jam it all depends on what side is sticking out if its say the hallway or out side you can just plain and sand it down but if its the inside you may have to re install the door.

as for fasteners i like to use brad’s they are small and easy fill but if they wont hold, and on older homes with plaster and old dry wood they often wont you will have to use finish nails or even liquid nails.

“don’t use screws” they are impossible to cover up with a natural finish.

and for finishing i would do the linseed oil and 1 or 2 coats of shellac before hanging it then do a few coats of shellac after its all up.

remember tho that the linseed oil is going to need plenty of cure time before putting on your film finish.

also before your last coat of shellac is the time to fill any nail holes.

good luck and hopefully there is going to be some more good advice

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View DrTebi's profile


265 posts in 3234 days

#2 posted 03-26-2010 08:29 AM

Thank you, that was great advice already. Could you tell me why you prefer to finish—most of it—before installing? Should I oil and shellac the pieces on all sides, to avoid uneven moisture absorption?

Oh, and by the way, I am using boiled Linseed oil, it dries fairly fast.

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3959 days

#3 posted 03-26-2010 08:47 AM

the reason for doing as much finish before hand is the smells more than anything, that and you can finish all sides to prevent uneven moisture absorption.

That and finish on saw horses in the garage is far easier the while its hanging on the wall .

In terms of the boiled linseed oil it does dry fast what you need to worry about is curing time. they are 2 separate thing dry means dry to the touch, cured means dry all the way down to the molecular level. you will want to read the back of the can to figure out how long to let the wood cook for before applying any sort of clear/or film finish.

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3167 days

#4 posted 03-26-2010 07:51 PM

Older home be careful to make sure it is drywall and not lath and plaster.

Buy yourself some #6 and #8 finishing nails. Don’t drive them home, but use a nail set to sink them.

Use a smooth faced hammer not a checkered face. And make sure it is clean.

Only thing about prefinishing trim, is when you install it, you can never miss the nail or you end up with damaged finish and not just dimpled wood.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View DrTebi's profile


265 posts in 3234 days

#5 posted 03-26-2010 08:23 PM

Thank you again for the replies.

It is an older home, however the drywall is new.

It doesn’t sound like anybody liked the idea of using counter-sunk screws with plugs… I am still a bit unsure about how many nails are needed though, e.g. drive nails into the jamb and drywall as well, or just where ever I know I will hit a stud?

A nail set is certainly on my list, and thanks for the tip to use a smooth hammer.

I think I will go with the advice to do part of the finishing beforehand, and put final coats of shellac on once things are in place.

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 2986 days

#6 posted 03-26-2010 09:02 PM

If you prefinish all your trim you won’t have to stand on your head to do the low stuff. Also you won’t have to wory about getting wood stain/finish on you walls. I would be sure to either paint or walpaper the walls first so you don’t get paint on your trim. Divide the nails out evenly one on top one in the middle then one between them and so on untill you have enough so the trim ain’t loose. Use #4, #6 & #8 finish nails also use a nail set. A 16oz hammer with a smooth face will work fine. (I prefer a 12oz hammer for trim).

I made my living for many years working as a trim carpenter untill I messed up my back and had to take a desk job. “BUMMER” but it keeps the bills paid.

Good luck take your time and you will do fine.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3652 days

#7 posted 03-26-2010 09:06 PM

As for me, I use 4d bright finish nails spaced roughly 12-14” apart through the trim into the jambs. And 6d bright finish nails through the trim into the stud (through the sheetrock.) To prevent them from backing out—I toenail them. If you toenail them, you shouldn’t need screws or liquid nails.

Pay close attention to what doyoulikegumwood said about filling the holes!

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View DrTebi's profile


265 posts in 3234 days

#8 posted 03-27-2010 05:17 AM

Thanks tbone. I was looking at #6 and #8 nails today and thought they would be too large to nail into the jamb. I will follow your advice and use different sized nails, makes a lot of sense.

View Drew's profile


350 posts in 3067 days

#9 posted 03-27-2010 05:22 AM

Put your finish on last.
Sometimes you will need to sand your joints a little bit to get them perfect. If you install pre-finished case you will not be able to do this.

I shoot my case into the door jambs with 1 1/4” brads and nail them to the wall with 2” nails.


View DrTebi's profile


265 posts in 3234 days

#10 posted 03-27-2010 09:47 AM

Thank you Johnny,
it’s interesting to have two opposing opinions now about whether to finish before or after (actually, a partial finish before installation was the opposing opinion).

I too thought it might be better to finish afterwards. I wonder if moisture absorption really plays such a great role in an indoor environment? I am storing the lumber right now in the same room in which it will be installed, in order to have it adopt to the climate, which was a tip I read somewhere.

The wood is all vertical grain Douglas fir. Soft wood, but I suppose the vertical grain helps it to stay straight…

Maybe I will oil the wood first, but wait for the shellac until later. I am doing an Arts & Crafts style casing, and thus I won’t really have any flush joints to deal with…

I will post my results once I get to it (‘will be another two weeks or so until I have the time).

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2964 days

#11 posted 03-27-2010 01:13 PM

Space your finishing nails evenly – about 12-14 inches apart. (In Canada we do have a metric number, I still build in inches). I use a estwing 16 oz. hammer, I have one specificallyy for finish nails, I spaced my nails using the length of hammer as a measuring guide. Keep in mind. The average person will not recognize that nail holes are even or uneven, the finish carpenter will see it, RAREly say anything about other people work because they ARE PROFESSIONALS.
As far as using screws. DO NOT DO THIS ! The LESS filler you need to cover the holes , the more professional it appears !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2964 days

#12 posted 03-27-2010 01:28 PM

MORE about nailing.
If you are using casing. Put one nail on right side of casing, about 3/8 inch from edge, into door janb. Move up 14-16 inches and put one on left side of casing into stud or cripple. If a door or window is framed out correctly you should have a width of 4 1/4 inches wood material to hit. I AVOID putting nails into drywall only.(Remember using those PLASTIC plugs when you hang a picture into drywall only ?)

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View DrTebi's profile


265 posts in 3234 days

#13 posted 03-28-2010 12:55 AM

Thank you “Canadian Chips,”

that was all great info. I will have to adjust the numbers slightly though, because my casing will be 1” thick, and 5” wide. I am a bit worried about splitting wood, but it sounds like using #4 nails to go into the jamb and #6 nails to go into the wall/studs is pretty common. The jamb is also 1” thick, so I it should work out fine.

When I was thinking about screws, I meant to use them for going into the wall/studs, and plug them up (in other words, make it a feature…). But I believe it will be too much feature if I do that on all door casings. When I do wainscoting later, I will probably use those for the upper rail.

It may all make more sense if I post a drawing of the casing I am planning to install, so here it is:

The one thing I am still uncertain about is that strip underneath the header of the casing. I am thinking I should glue it to the header before attaching the header to the wall; I would have to be pretty precise about measurements though, or it would look awkward.

View levan's profile


472 posts in 2947 days

#14 posted 03-31-2010 04:43 AM

Yes i would glue the strip on the header first. Will it be a bead? It needs to be mitered on each end to keep the reveal the same

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View DrTebi's profile


265 posts in 3234 days

#15 posted 03-31-2010 07:24 AM

Yes, it will be a bead. I just realized that I should definitely not try to route the bead into the end grain of the strip… as I suppose that will not work. So it will have to be mitered.

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