Fit and Trim

David’s dogs did a number on the trim pieces around some doorways in his old house. The scratch marks were unsightly and he wanted to get rid of them before renters move in for the winter. I agreed to help him replace the trim.

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The damage.

Step 1 was to assess the damage. Determined they may be, but the dogs can only reach about three feet off the floor. I proposed to cut out just the lower, damaged portion of the trim, and then to spackle and paint over the joint after I installed a new piece. The partial replacement won’t be aesthetically perfect, but it saves a lot of time and material cost compared with replacing an entire length.

Step 2 was to remove the damaged trim. It looks like a single part, but the trim for one doorway actually consists of NINE pieces of wood! There are three lengths (left side, top, right side) with three faces each (facing outside the room, across the threshold, facing inside the room). The pieces are typically held to the wall’s structural frame using tiny finish nails, which are nearly invisible once a painter covers over them. I worked a cat’s paw behind the wood and pried the damaged areas out from the wall. Then I took a sawzall and cut out the damaged areas, careful not to nick the wall or the undamaged areas.

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Damaged trim removed from the doorway. I had to take the door off, too, for access.

Step 3 was to cut and install new trim. David brought the cut-out pieces to Allen Lumber and came home with stock lengths of trim having the same shape. Then I performed that familiar sequence: measure, cut, install. For each doorway I had to install the threshold piece first, since the outside and inside pieces sandwich the threshold piece in. I also needed to shim out each threshold piece from the jack stud anywhere from ½ inch to 1½ inches to match the width of the doorway.

One threshold piece presented an additional challenge: the door itself. I unscrewed the hinges from the trim and set the door aside. When I replaced the portion where the bottom hinge fits in, I needed to carve out a new niche for the hinge. There’s probably a tool out there that cuts perfect hinge niches, but I don’t have one, so I did the best I could with a hammer and chisel. The result was an indentation one sixteenth of an inch deep in the rounded-rectangle shape of the hinge.

But I haven’t reinstalled the door yet. I want to paint the new trim first, and before I paint it I need to spackle it smooth. That is a tale for another time.

 

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