Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bending Baseboard

I've been in the process of milling and installing 1x6 oak boards for the downstairs baseboards that were ripped out long ago. Fortunately there was enough evidence left to piece together the original design. Most of the install has been straight forward and one remaining original section survived on the curved wall of the dining room.... but the parlor curved wall didn't fare to well. It was ripped out and nailed above the dining room baseboard to serve as a nailer when the dining room window seat was ripped out and boxed in with panelling. It was too far messed up to be put back plus the ends were cut shorter so I would have to add pieces anyway.

So how do you get a 1 inch thick piece of oak that you can't even nail into to form into a curved wall and then actually stay there?? Well first of all I didn't have anything long enough (about 14 ft.) to do in one piece so I milled two 8 ft. long sections. Using the radial arm saw I made a series of kerf cuts about every inch or so half way through the board. This will give the board some place to compress and allow it to bend easier. It was still tough to bend now but at least doable. To form it to the wall I would need to use some bracing to hold in place and slowly work it into the curve. So I wouldn't have several hundred holes in the floor I screwed some boards in to the floors and then screwed my braces into these as I worked the baseboard - so all the holes would be in these and the floor would end up with just two holes at each brace.

Over two days I was able to get the board tight against the wall and then mist the board a few times a day for several days to help "warp" the board. Finally I was able to nail it which ended up being just as hard as bending itself because the walls are stone and there are no studs, just furring strips which don't have much meat to them for the nail to bite to. After this side was done I repeated the same procedure with the second section. After finish sanding and staining it came out pretty good - maybe not up to the quality of the one piece original that was once there - but I'm sure I'll be the only one to notice.

.... all I can say is thank goodness the other original curved section is still there!

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