Introduction

install wall frames
Photo: Kolin Smith
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We'll let you in on a little secret: A lot of the fancy woodwork you see inside old houses is nothing more than deft layering, bits of simple molding combined to mimic ornate profiles. Consider, for example, the wall frame, the thin rectangle first used by the British in the 1750s to give the illusion of wood paneling after plaster walls came into vogue. If you have a plain room, you don't need to hire a pro—or be one yourself—to get this bit of custom carpentry. As This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows on the following pages, all you need is a miter saw and a nail gun. Then, in just one weekend, you'll be able to add timeless character to a house of any age.
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    Tools List

    • random orbit sander
      random-orbit sander fitted with 150-grit paper
    • combination square
      combination square
    • framing square
      framing square
    • pneumatic brad nailer
      pneumatic brad nailer (rents for $55 per day with compressor)
    • miter saw
      miter saw
    • hand clamps
      spring clamps
    • caulk gun
      caulk gun
    • hot glue gun
      hot-glue gun
    • putty knife
      small putty knife
    • paintbrush
      paint brush
    • paintroller
      paint roller

    Shopping List

    Molding Typically, base cap or panel molding works best for creating frames. Make sure to get 10 to 20 percent more than you think you'll need, to accommodate offcut waste.

    Scrap Plywood and Wood Blocks to make a jig for building the frames

    2-Inch Brad Nails

    Wood Glue220-Grit Sandpaper for smoothing mitered corners and filled nail holes

    Panel Adhesive to secure the frames to the wall

    Hot-Glue Cartridge

    Wood Putty

    Paintable Caulk

    Primer and Paint