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Here's How: Jazz Up Your Dining Room With New Wood Trim

James Dulley on

Dear James: I would like to add some decorative woodwork trim in my dining room, but I am having trouble finding a really unique trim profile. Where can I find the best selection, and how do I install it? -- Patty M.

Dear Patty: Decorative woodwork, baseboards, crown molding and window casings can enhance the appearance of any room. When you visit your home center store, you will find only a limited selection of trim profiles, as you have discovered. If most of your friends shop at the same store, one of them will likely have whatever profile you select.

There actually are very many stock trim profiles and styles available. The first step in selecting one is to review builder and custom home magazines to see what is currently in style and what you may like. You will be amazed at the numerous styles and the unique combinations of different profiles.

If you have a creative touch, you might consider designing your own trim profile. If you make a drawing or small model of it, a custom wood mill company can make the long trim pieces for you. They also have many custom trim profiles. Check under the woodworking listing of your local Yellow Pages or on the internet. Contact local lumberyards for names of local wood mills.

Your budget and desired finished look will determine whether you select finger-jointed or solid pieces of trim stock. Finger-jointed trim stock is often made from poplar. It is a durable wood, reasonably priced and easy to mill to most profile shapes. Solid trim can be made of any type of wood, depending on your specific decorating tastes.

Finger-jointed trim stock is made from shorter pieces of wood, which are finger-jointed together at the ends to create longer pieces. This makes it less expensive than solid wood. If you plan to paint the trim, the finger joints will be hidden.

If you plan to stain or clear-coat the wood, the finger joints will be visible. Some people do not mind this, but others prefer solid wood. If you are going to do the work yourself, you will likely need wood filler to correct inaccurate joints. In this case, painted finger-jointed trim stock will be your best choice.


If you decide on a custom profile, the wood mill will have to make a cutting knife to form your profile. This can cost up to $200. It would be wise to have about 50 feet extra of each type of trim made. This will take care of any installation errors you make.

Measure your room to make sure it is truly square, and check the angle of each corner. They may not be exactly 90 degrees. If they are not, you will have to miter them at angles slightly different than 45 degrees for a perfect corner fit. The door and window trim and baseboards are fairly easy to fit together.

Fitting the crown molding requires more hand-fitting. This is because it extends out at an angle on both the ceiling and the wall. There are special miter saw attachments to help with this. Getting the exposed edge to fit is all that is important because no one can see behind it. You may end up using some carpenter knives to carve away the back for a good fit.


Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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