Make Your Own Molding With a Table Saw

Not much posting this week as we’re racing to finish the home restoration project we began in May. I spent the past week installing another wood floor and replicating 1920s era molding that is no longer easy to find. My companion in this quixotic journey has been my table saw.

I held off getting a table saw for many years thinking I could get by with a circular saw. I’ve learned, in the past year, that a table saw is capable of much more than just rip cuts. While labor intensive, you can use a table saw to make many kinds of molding.

Pacific Ready Cut houses feature a simple molding that I replicated with a series of 45º cuts followed by a pass over a dado stack and/or a router. I’ll provide specifics in a later post if requested.

You can also make cove molding by moving wood diagonally across the blade. This was easier than I thought it would be (once you figure out the right angle–the not easy part). Since you raise the blade just 1/16th of in inch at a time, it can take a long time to spit out 100 feet of molding, as I discovered. And you’ll need to sand away the blade marks.

I also took some Home Depot door casing molding and cut a groove on the back with a dado stack on the table saw to make an improvised picture rail. I’m not sure why picture rail fell out of favor (though you can still find it if you hunt around online). Who wants to make holes in the wall every time you want to hang up a picture? I’m guessing it has something to do with the use of drywall after WWII. Lath and plaster walls, like we have, don’t take well to nail holes. That said, even a house made with drywall should have picture rail just for the convenience of being able to easily hang and move around pictures without making a lot of holes.

Should you wish to join the table saw cult, I’d recommend getting a SawStop table saw. I have an inexpensive Delta table saw that works fine, but I had a chance to use a SawStop during a class and they seem well made in addition to their unique finger-saving safety feature.

If you do not have space for a table saw or other power tools, one of the best YouTubers out there, Paul Sellers, proves you can make just about anything with hand tools.

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11 Comments

  1. Looking good, Erik and Kelly! I look forward to a virtual tour of the finished spaces.
    PS Kelly, I miss reading your perspective on this blog. Also, how is the scent training going with Ivan?

  2. Very nice work!

    I’m not sure how you handled the baseboards, but it looks very similar to what I did in the front room of our 1925 bungalow:

    (1) Ripped out nasty, narrow 1960’s MDF baseboard, then removed bottom six inches of crumbling plaster and lath, which was beyond repair.
    (2) Nailed little 2×6 3/4 inch plywood shims to each exposed stud to bring nailing surface up to level of existing plaster and lath.
    (3)Had the lumber yard rip 3/4 inch birch ply into 7 inch baseboard strips.
    (4) Nailed baseboard strips to shims.
    (5) Nailed 3/4 inch cove molding toe trim to cover gaps between baseboard and uneven floor boards.
    (6) Nailed 3/4 inch quarter round molding top trim to cover gaps between baseboard and uneven wall plaster.
    (7) Filled, sanded, primed and painted.

    OK, so I should have used expensive Douglas fir baseboards, but the birch ply was on special offer and the lumber yard ripped it for free!

    • Hey Peter, I used poplar and just turned over the top with a router to match the old baseboard. Miraculously, the plaster is in good enough a condition that I did not have to shim it, but that’s a great idea.

  3. To match the 10 inch baseboards in the rest of the house, my remodeler nailed up a ten inch board, then nailed trim at top and trim to finish area where floor and board met. It certainly looks great.

    I think I love these posts best.

  4. Wow! This is beautiful. I hope that the spirits of the original builders are around to admire your work:)

    • One of the things that makes restoring an old house rewarding is finding the marks and comments that the old carpenters made on the framing lumber and realizing that the craftsmen who made them probably died before I was born. The quality of workmanship and materials is amazing, especially as our house was very ordinary and was built in 1925 to be rented to mill workers. We’ve even found newspapers from this era in the framing. Never found a 1925 ham sandwich though.

  5. I’d love to know how you recreated the molding in the first picture with the 45 degree angles. I also live in a 1920s building and need to replace some of moldings but haven’t found it at the lumber stores. Thanks!

    • Hey Ed–you still in East Hollywood? Why don’t you drop by and I’ll show you how I make this molding. Email us at [email protected]. Other locals are welcome to come by too. It’s pretty easy to make.

  6. Hi, This is cool.I hope that the spirits of the original builders are around to admire your work. This is the sort of inspiring idea that keeps me coming back.Thanks for the sharing this.

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