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Author Archive | Ken

Neil’s New Victorian Home

new victorian home

Hi Ken,

I wanted to thank you for your molding page and share what we are trying to do.

We are in the long process of building a Victorian home in San Jose, CA (10 years in the works now — it’s a long story.

We finally are about to build and I’ve established a few direct contacts of HDPU molding manufacturers in China. However my original architect (who was an expert in Victorian architecture) turned out to be very unreliable and new architect has limited to no experience with molding, so the weight of picking the molding has fallen upon my shoulders and I know nothing about molding.

My primary worry was that I could not find anyone who made baseboards that were more than 8″ tall until I found your page. Since we have 11′ 3″ ceilings in the house, we needed at least 12″ baseboard and crown.

So you cannot know how much of a relief it was to find your site and to realize that the taller baseboards could be made with a mix of shorter ones. I really liked your BASEBOARD-103 (See also How Do I Make this Large Baseboard?).

Does the lower piece have to not taper off so that there’s no bump out between the two? Or do you cover that with a bit of half round or something? One of the problems I’ll have is that I can’t physically see the pieces ’till they get here. So I have to figure it out based on their catalogs.

Thanks so much again.

— Neil

Ken’s Answer

Hi Neil,

I think you are asking if you can install a base shoe molding at the seam between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard. PM-006 is just such a molding.

And if that is what you are asking, then yes, you can install a base shoe there. Here is a picture of a similar baseboard where I used a base shoe at the bottom.

From a design standpoint, base shoes are always an option and are never mandatory. A base shoe’s primary purpose is to cover uneven gaps between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard. But if you don’t like the look of a base shoe but you have uneven floors that you want the baseboard to sit flush against, then you or your finish carpenter will have to scribe the baseboard to the floor, and that is a very time-consuming process.

Architectural Ornaments Teaser

compo appliques

I thought you might enjoy this teaser photo of some compo appliqué projects that I’m working on.

Most of these designs I’ll be using to create models of ornate corner blocks, while others will be used to create ornate center blocks, like this simple one I made years ago.

Only my new designs will be even nicer!



The Masters and the Moldings

traditional moldings

Hi Ken,

I am both a golf fan and a molding fan. And since it is Masters weekend, I thought I’d send you this shot of the inside of Augusta National Clubhouse. Amazing moldings and a terrific group of players.

I am also finishing a closet makeover and so will be sending some pictures and the included story very soon. Just need to put on the last finishing touches.

Thanks for a great site.

Andrew LeRoy


Thanks for the great and timely picture, Andrew. I look forward to seeing your closet makover!



Example of Expensive Crown Molding Separating at Scarf Joints

The Willits

[This is part of my How to Install Crown Molding Series.]

The Problem

Buildings are designed to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. And because rooms breath over the seasons, the crown moldings — if not properly installed — will separate at the joints where two piece are spliced together.

For example, the room in the image above is the lobby of one of the most sought after addresses in Birmingham, Michigan. The moldings were all professionally installed back in 2002 when the building opened.

And yet once or twice every year, the crown moldings have to be re-caulked to hide the 1/8 inch gaps that appear at all of the splices.

crown molding scarf joint

Above  A crown molding scarf joint that’s been pushed up and over its mating piece.

Below  This scarf joint (along with all of the others in the building) was filled with caulk only four months ago and yet has already separated.

crown molding joint

Two Crown Molding Scarf Joint Tips

1. Install a three-piece crown molding instead of a single piece. Here are two posts I’ve already written that will help you get started: Why I Don’t Install One-Piece Crown Moldings and How to Install a Three-Piece Crown Molding Series.

2. Use a 45 degree miter for your scarf joint rather than a 22 degree miter. The example above shows a 22 degree miter. When glueing the two pieces together at the joint, the 45 degree miter gives you more surface area to hold the two pieces together. Also, a 45 degree scarf joint allows you to sink a few 23 gauge pins across the joint to help hold it in place.

Hope this helps you with your own crown molding installation!

Joseph’s New Appliques

woodworking ornaments

They came in and I’ll have to say is, wow, the resolution is amazing.

— Joseph, The Joy of Moldings reader

I agree, Joseph. And you can’t go wrong with the beautiful urns and swag ornaments you chose to use in your design.

Please send us some pictures of your completed work, I’m sure my readers would just love to see what you’ve created!



door trimTraditional Style

I found this beautiful door surround last summer gracing the hall of an historic building in Grand Rapids Michigan.

I think the building is an art college of some sort, though I don’t remember exactly because we were looking at all of the wonderful art displays during Art Prize. This year, when I attend Art Prize again, I’ll find out the name of the building and what it’s original purpose was.

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