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 45Âș 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.

Shed Factoids and Resources

Henry David Thoreau‘s cabin at Walden Pond.

After hours of research attempting to find a kind of grand unified theory of sheds I gave up realizing that the topic is so deep, thanks to the tiny house movement, that the best I could do would be to corral a few of my favorite shed resources and factoids. So here it goes.

Average shed construction costs range from around $1,200 USD for a DIY 8 by 12 foot shed to more than $50,000 USD for a modernist pre-fab shed/mansion. You can, of course, build one for almost nothing if you’re the scavenging type. Derek “Deek” Diedricksen has a great website with lots of videos and resources for keeping costs low and creativity high. I used some of the building tips from his book Micro Shelters when I built my ridiculous neo-classical garden shed.

Here in Los Angeles you don’t need a permit for a shed that’s less than 120 square feet,

One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the gross floor area does not exceed 120 square feet, the height does not exceed 12 feet, and the maximum roof projection does not exceed 24 inches, are exempt from building permits. However, any electrical, plumbing or mechanical equipment installed in these structures do require separate permits. In addition, all structures regardless of size must comply with applicable zoning requirements. Please refer to the Department of Regional Planning website for more information on zoning requirements.(1)

We can thank the late artist Chris Burden for that 12 foot height limitation. Your local building code may be different, but I know that the 120 square foot limitation is common in the US.

Add a dry toilet and you’ve got a functional, if illegal, living space.

Inexpensive Pre-fab
Johnny Sanphillippo, a guest on our podcast mentioned a shed he installed in a rental property he owns. He went with Cedar Shed but, for his second shed project he’s getting a Tuff Shed from Home Depot.

Modernist Shedcraft
Though not a modernist myself, I really like what this YouTuber did with a Tuff Shed:

I also like this modernist shed from the, sadly, defunct Readymade Magazine:

You can still download the MD100 plans for free here.

Curbed did a roundup of five sheds if modernism floats your boat. And there’s an encyclopedic searchable database of pre-fab sheds at Prefabcosm (with a traditionalist search option).

Spinning Sheds
Lastly, let me sing the praises of The Idler Magazine (you should subscribe!) for introducing me to the world of rotating sheds. George Bernard Shaw was the most famous of rotating shed owners, but not the only one.

Do you have a shed tip, resource, story or photo to share? Did you have your shed installed? If so how did that go? What do you use your shed for? Leave a comment!

An Improvised Roof Rack for Lumber and Sheet Goods

Lately I’ve had to transport 4 x 8 sheet goods on top of our undersized chariot. Thanks to YouTuber Dan Pattison, I now have a handy method.

It’s as simple as attaching 2 x 4s to an existing roof rack. Following the instructions in Pattison’s video, I notched the 2 x 4s and attached them with metal plates and bolts to make the rack sturdy and easy to remove. A pair of brackets keep the sheets from sliding forward during transit. And I use this handy online calculator to make sure I don’t exceed the weight capacity of my rack.

Pattison’s rack is not just for sheet goods. In fact, I use it for transporting lumber much more often than plywood. Put those 2 x 6s on the roof, strap them to one of the 2 x 4 cross pieces and you’re ready to roll.

One Great Blooming Buzzing Confusion

Let me just say how much I hate living in a house that’s all torn up and full of boxes and dust. This explains the desperate carpentry marathon taking place at the Root Simple compound. I’ll spare you the dull details other than to say there’s been much replication of 1920s molding details that nobody will ever notice as well as weatherizing and floor installation.

We said goodbye to a battered douglas fir floor:

That got replaced by a new oak floor:

Painting prep revealed a layer of ugly 1920s wallpaper:

And I found a pair of safety glasses lost in the bathroom wall in 2002 (along with a dated Home Depot receipt):

When this is all over Kelly and I might just decide to rent out this old house and move into one of the sheds displayed in the Cypress Park Home Depot parking lot:

We’ll be the first parking lot garden hermits.

Getting Ourselves Back to the Garden

Image: Environmental Changemakers

Our cities and suburbs abound in underused, wasted space. What if we transformed those empty, never used lawns and parking lots into gardens and community spaces? This is exactly what the Environmental Changemakers did in collaboration with Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester, a suburb of Los Angeles near the airport.

This past weekend a 10th anniversary party was held to celebrate the collaboration and recognize the leaders of the two organizations, Joanne Poyourow, founder of Environmental Changemakers (and a guest on episode 33 of the podcast) and The Rev. Peter Rood, Rector of Holy Nativity.

The garden has since metastasized from the side of the church’s building to the front and worked its way into the fringes of the small parking lot. A large adobe oven was added and bread and pizza baking events and classes take place on the second Saturday of the month. Recently, part of the front lawn became a community playground.

Many church grounds sit idle during the week. Not Holy Nativity. As Rev. Rood put it to me once, “This is a community center that just happens to have a church attached to it.” While the word “community” gets overused in this case it manifests as a genuine openness to collaboration. Poyourow, not a member of the church, put many years of work into the garden as well as hosting lectures and events.

We have a lot of underutilized space in our communities. Congratulations to Poyourow and Rood for showing us what Charles Eisenstien speaks of, “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” That possible world is right in front of us, here in the present waiting for us to put down our phones and get to work.