Maybe a roof rack?

Not counting the 12 year-old Pontiac wreck I owned for all of four months and on which I managed to put maybe 400 miles before I donated it in disgust to a charity, my 2001 VW Golf is the first car I’ve owned. I’ve been a motorcyclist since I was 18. When I lived in Manhattan, it was all I needed, or wanted. But when I moved to a suburban house with a garage, I had to get four wheels, if only for lumber runs. That’s pretty much all I use it for too. I’ve had the car for six years and it just broke 14k miles on the odometer. I put more miles than that on my last Harley in the first year I owned it.

Whatever, the Golf is perfect for me. I hate SUVs and the VW is small, quick and nimble — something like a motorcycle. And it can carry a surprising amount of stuff with the rear seat folded down, like the ten eight-foot boards I hauled home today. What it can’t carry is plywood. Not even half sheets. And that’s a bitch on a day like today when I needed a sheet of birch ply to build the drawers for my bedroom cabinet. The nice manager at Lowes kept slicing it up for me till it fit.

Speaking of which, Lowes sells pre-cut plywood. But how come a 2×4 piece of red oak ply costs $29 and a full 4×8 sheet costs $43? That’s a $37 surcharge per cut!

Anyway, I completed the wainscoting shelf and final trim. The next time I touch it will be to sand it prior to stain and finish.

This isn’t exactly a wizard’s trick, but I thought I’d mention it anyway for the folks who are new to woodworking. When you need to butt joint two boards in the same plane, like a long baseboard moulding, use a diagonal miter to join them. It hides the seam better. In an application like this if the boards shrink you’re less likely to see a deep gap on the edge. Here, I used a 15-degree miter and bevel, with the miter facing away from the most visible vantage point (the doorway into the room).

Okay, one tip: when you make that miter cut, cut the other board on the opposite side of the blade before you change the blade setting. The reason is because even a quarter of a degree of difference can be visible on a wide board.

I’m really not looking forward to the sanding job I’ve got ahead of me.


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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.