marking joist areas with painter's tape
Photo: Ryan Benyi

Step 1: Locate the Joists.

Work out your design on graph paper, mapping lights and major features of the room. We centered our nine-coffer grid around an existing chandelier. Measure and mark where your "beams" will meet the walls, and use painter's tape to simulate them, to see how the pattern fits the room. Use a stud finder to locate the ceiling joists. Mark both ends of each joist where it meets the sidewalls. Put a -inch drill bit in your drill/driver and make test holes near the walls—they'll be covered by the beams—to verify joist locations and make sure you catch their centers.
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    Tools List

    • 30-foot tape measure
      Measuring tape
    • Painter's Tape
      Painter's tape
    • studfinder
      Stud finder
    • 1/8-inch drill bit
      -inch drill bit
    • drill
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
    • pneumatic finish nailer
      Pneumatic nailers (16 gauge and 18 gauge)
    • chalk line
      Chalk line with nonstaining chalk
    • Rafter Square
      Rafter square
    • small plastic putty knife
      Putty knife
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun
    • 2½-inch sash brush
    • paintroller
      Small paint roller

    Shopping List

    1x6 primed finger-jointed pine. Get six 16-footers.

    Cove-profile shoe molding

    Panel adhesive

    2-inch 16-gauge pneumatic nails

    1 inch 18-gauge pneumatic brads

    Wood shims

    Wood glue

    Wood putty

    Latex caulk

    Semigloss paint