• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to build a radiator cover.


    1. Measure depth of radiator, then add 2 1/2 inches to that dimension.
    2. Cut two MDF side panels to size with circular saw and straightedge guide.
    3. Stand side panels beside radiator allowing for proper clearance, then measure for length of the front panel.
    4. Cut MDF front panel to size.
    5. Mark front panel for cutting out the legs and large opening.
    6. Use circular saw and straightedge guide to cut opening in front panel; complete cuts into corners with handsaw.
    7. Make curved radius cuts along legs with jigsaw.
    8. Nail together the two side panels and cut out their openings with a circular saw; finish corner cuts with handsaw.
    9. Use power miter saw to cut cove molding to fit around inside of openings in front panel and side panels.
    10. Glue and nail cove molding in place with pin nailer.
    11. Fasten decorative metal grille to back side of front and side panels using hammer stapler and 5/8-inch staples
    12. Screw the side panels to the front panel using glue and 2-inch drywall screws.
    13. Fasten a 1x4 brace between the upper, rear corners of the side panels.
    14. Cut the MDF top to size and trim its edges with base-cap molding.
    15. Attach 1x4 cleats to underside of top so they fit within the assembled radiator cover.
    16. Fill all nail and screw holes with wood putty; sand the surfaces with 120-grit sandpaper.
    17. Apply two coats of primer and a topcoat of paint.
    18. Staple a piece of galvanized sheet metal to the back of the cover to help reflect heat into the room.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Must be comfortable working with portable power tools, including circular saw and jigsaw

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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • 100-foot tape measure
        Tape measure
      • circular saw
        Circular saw, used to cut MDF to size
      • wetdry vac
        Wet/dry vacuum, used to collect sawdust
      • hand clamps
        Clamps, used to secure MDF to sawhorses
      • speed square
        Speed square
      • miter saw
        Power miter saw, used to cut moldings
      • jigsaw
        Jigsaw, used to make curved cuts
      • hand saw
        Handsaw, used to finish corner cuts in MDF
      • brad nailer
        Pin nailer and air compressor, used to attach moldings
      • Hammer stapler
        Hammer stapler, for securing metal grille
      • drill

      Shopping List

      1. ¾-inch MDF (medium-density fiberboard),
      used to build radiator cover

      2. Homemade straightedge
      used to guide circular saw

      3. Sawhorses

      4. Cove molding
      used to trim openings cut in front and side panels

      5. Base-cap molding
      used to trim top of cover 6. Metal grille
      forms decorative screen for front and side panels

      7. Carpenter's glue

      8. Quart paint can
      or similar size round object used to draw radius cut lines

      9. 2-inch drywall screws
      for attaching the MDF parts

      10. Pine 1x4
      for making top cleats and rear brace 11. Galvanized sheet meta
      for making heat-reflective back panel

      12. Wood putty
      used to fill nail and screw holes

      13. 120-grit sandpaper

      14. Primer and paint topcoat