Q: Our 1930 house has beautiful original moldings, except in the dining room where they were removed by the previous owner. I can't find anything to match them. Any suggestions? —April Harwell, Chatham, N.J.
Brent Hull, millworker and owner, Hull Historical, replies: When none of the offerings at the home center or the lumberyards measure up, then it's time to go the custom route. A millwork shop can make special "knives" and turn out an exact duplicate of your existing moldings. The problem is, you have to pay setup fees, which increase the linear-foot price significantly and may not be cost-effective for a small order like yours.
The way to avoid those charges is to make your own profiles using a table saw, band saw, and router. On the next page, you can see all the steps I follow in order to copy a short piece of baseboard cap. The process isn't difficult, as long as you're familiar with and respectful of these powerful tools.