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Making door and window casing: three distinctive styles add character and charm.

What most people notice first in an older home is the beautiful woodwork. The rich details give these homes a certain character and structure. You can add that special touch to a family room, dining room or your whole house, even if you live in a newer home, by changing your door and window casing. If you're a seasoned DIYer with some router experience, you'll be able to make any of the three styles of trim shown in the following pages.


The one tool you'll need to make any door and window trim is a table saw. You'll also need a plunge router, special router bits and a router table (see Buyer's Guide, p. 101) to complete the classical flute style and the post and lintel style. The other tools you'll probably need are a drill, hole saws, sandpaper, clamps and drill bits.

Hardwood costs can be from $40 to $50 per doorway (per side) and about the same for an average-size window.

Before you begin, check the distance to any light switchplates. Some doorways have fight switches that crowd the casing. You may need to undersize the side casing from the dimensions shown, or move the electrical box a bit for the casing to fit.

To install your new trim, you'll need to drill pilot holes slightly smaller than the size of the nail shank. Use 6d finish nails to attach the side and head casing to the inside edges of the jamb, leaving a 3/16-in. reveal. Use 8d finish nails to install corner blocks, plinths and the outer sides of the casing. Keep in mind you'll usually find nothing solid to nail to 3-3/4 in. away from the edge of the door or window jambs.


Like Craftsman architecture and furniture, this trim has simple lines -- consequently, this door and window casing is easy to make. In fact, you'll only need your table saw to dimension the outside back band piece. The side casings are 3/4-in. x 3-1/2 in. and the head casing is 3/4-in. x 5-1/2 in. (both common sizes). The back band is an outside corner piece that you rip 1 in. wide from 3/4-in. thick stock. Then you make two cuts to remove the inner section of wood to make the inside corner. You finish it off by mitering these pieces to fit around the outside perimeter of the casing.


This multi-piece style is an adaptation of the styles used in homes around the turn of the century.

The 3/4-in. x 4-in. side casings (posts) have a rounded edge on each side, and the 3/4-in. x 5-1/2 in. head casing has squared edges.

The upper part (lintel) of this style is an assembly of smaller pieces of trim applied to the main head casing: The 1/2-in. x 1-in. fillet nailed below the head casing extends past the head casing 1/2 in. on each side. The 1/2-in. x 1-in. ogee molding is mitered on each end (these pieces are glued to the head casing). The 1/2-in. x 2-in. cap molding is nailed to the top of the head casing. The rap molding extends 3/4 in. past the ogee molding on each side. Make each lintel assembly before nailing it above your door or window. Each piece of these smaller moldings is cut to size and then shaped on the router table as shown in Photos 2 and 4. See the Buyers Guide on p. 101 for information on the router bits used to make the moldings.

The plinth blocks that fit below the side casings (see photo) are made exactly the same way and with the same dimensions as those shown in Photo 7 on p. 45.


This style is often seen in Colonial, Victorian and Greek Revival style homes. The decorative corner blocks are called "bull's-eyes." This style consists of three parts: the corner blocks with "bull's-eye decoration, the fluted casing, and plinth blocks (shown at left) that create a transition between the floor, baseboard and the side casing.

Before you can rout the corner blocks, you'll need to make a 16-in. long jig (Photo 5) from a 1x8 scrap of wood. The holes in the jig are for routing the bull's-eyes in the center of each corner block. Using a hole saw, cut holes in the jig in the center of the block, 5-1/2 in. from one end for the larger hole and 3-1/2 in. from the opposite end for the smaller hole. Sand the inside of the holes with 100-grit sandpaper so the bearing guide on the router bits can move smoothly as you rout the concentric circles that make the bull's-eye pattern on the corner blocks.

To make the actual corner block, rip a 3/4-in. x 4-1/4 in. piece of hardwood on your table saw and cut it about 20 in. long. This piece is big enough to make four corner blocks that you'll cut to length after you rout them.

Mark off each 4-1/4 in. square block with a pencil as shown in Photo 5. Then use a compass to mark concentric 1-5/8 in. and 3-1/2 in. circles at each center. Align the large hole of the jig with the larger circle you've drawn on the workpiece and clamp the jig tightly. Adjust your plunge router (Photo 5) so the top bearing of the bit will ride inside the hole of the jig (again, see Buyer's Guide, p. 101, for information on the router bits). Rout the outer ring of the bull's-eye, then align the small hole of the jig with the small circle drawn on the workpiece and repeat the process to finish the bull's-eye design on the corner block. Guiding the router bearing inside the template hole is like learning to hold your lane on a hairpin turn. Take your time and do a few practice runs on some scraps, then do the real thing.


Sand all the pieces with 100-grit sandpaper followed by 150-grit before finishing. The grooves in the fluted casing are tough to sand. I used a molded rubber profile (see Buyer's Guide) that I wrapped sandpaper around. If you plan to stain your trim, do it before you install it, then apply your
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Title Annotation:includes a related article on featherboards
Author:Radtke, David
Publication:The Family Handyman
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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