Monday, January 21, 2008

Baseboards On A Budget

A good bit of thought went into finding a way to replicate the baseboards that originally were in the Hall house. Fortunately I found enough evidence to have a sample of what was - but duplicating it would not be that simple.... or cheap. They consist of a 1x6 oak board that is raised about an inch off the floor on block shims. The toe piece covers this gap and you end up with a full 7 inches of base before the cap is installed. The original toe piece was not your typical 1/4 round, but a stop moulding used in the door jambs. This piece is approx. 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches high. Finally the cap is a fairly complicated piece that overlaps the top of the base, protruding past the board a good 1/2 inch. The back has some relief cuts as well to help form to an uneven wall when being installed. This would be by far the hardest part to duplicate and most costly.

original cap and toe pieces

So I started out previously milling 1x6 oak boards and installed them a few months back. Next I work on the a solution for the toe piece. The closest stock lumber was a 1x2 oak that I would have had to rip in half, then rip shorter, then finally run on the router with an ogee bit to get the top profile - lots of work - and not very cheap either. I could also have made the piece from my lot of oak planks - adding even more work, but the cost would have been nothing but lots of time. Then it dawned on me that I had all the oak flooring I took up from the first floor that I had no idea what to do with. And these were already 1/2 inch x 2" - but after you take off the tongue and groove you're there. Plus I had these in up to 12 ft. lengths, so I could do some long runs in one piece.

So I went ahead running enough floor boards through the planer and then ripped the tongue (left the groove since it will sit against the floor), and then routered the ogee profile. In an afternoon I was able to make enough to do the three rooms downstairs and the staircase - and the cost was absolutely nothing. Plus I have plenty of flooring to make toe pieces for the entire house.

new 1x6 and toe piece

For the cap I convinced myself that I since I had no original capping in the house to match to (unlike the casing) it would be perfectly OK to use something close to the original if it was easier and cheaper - especially since nobody would ever no the difference but me. So I browsed the trim aisle and found the usual base capping, but nothing else. So I bought a piece and figured I'd see if it would look good enough to use. Unfortunately when placed on top of the true 1x6, the scaling was all wrong - since these are made really to be on top of a 3/4 board. So back to the drawing board.

what's wrong with this picture?

I though I might be back to milling the original, then my buddy John said try shimming out with another piece of moulding - after all lots of mouldings are made from several pieces in ornate woodwork. To make things look right, I needed to come out about 1/2 inch and maybe another 1/2 taller. Hmmm - my flooring stock is 1/2 inch thick..... so I grabbed a scrap of toe piece I made and placed it behind the cap I bought and things started to look much better.

on the right track...

At first I thought this is it.... but after looking at the cap for awhile the 90 degree angle at the joint between the two pieces just didn't look right. The profile should flow smoother than that. Then playing with the two pieces some, I shifted the front piece up until it was even with the beginning of the curve of the ogee on the toe piece. Now everything look right. I just needed to rip the toe piece down so it was shorter and the pieces lined up like this. Problem solved!

the solution

So back to the shop to make another run of toe pieces, this time shorter, to complete the cap. The front piece cost about 90 cents/ foot at HD. With the cost of the 1x6 at about $1.00/foot since I made them myself from rough oak boards - at the grand total of under $2.00/foot I have solid oak 8 inch high baseboards, that are a close enough match to original that I'm satisfied I did the house good.

not bad, eh?


Jen said...

Not bad at all. Quite pretty! and very creative.

Jennifer said...

NICE! I love repurposing things! They look great.

mike & rachel said...

Thanks! A lot of thought paid off in the end both in quality and on our budget.

Sandy said...

Very nice!