Building Confidence

Volume 13 Issue 10
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter of questions from our members on their construction projects, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

What's New

This is the first newsletter to use the new designs. We hope you like it!

Tip of the Month

To find out if a wall is bearing or not look for the following - The wall will be 90 degrees with the floor joists. If the wall is parallel to the floor joist it is not a bearing wall, unless it supports one end of a beam or girder, which would have a post over it.

And a Bonus Tip:

Recycle used paint thinner. Place it in empty paint thinner containers and let stand for a month or two. Pour off the clean paint thinner carefully — a bonus.

Ask Dave!

Dave, Working on some crown molding. Using your instructions for the wide stuff. Your scale for left, right, interior, exterior joints confirms the instructions in my owners manual. However, the joints are not right. I'm wondering if the irregularities of the popcorn ceiling may be the problem. I'm tempted I take a belt sander to the perimeter but I'm afraid this may cause even bigger problems. What do you think? Thanks, Trace

Hi Trace,

Put a framing square up in the corner to see if the corner is actually a perfect 90 degrees. You may need to miter each joint a slight amount. Remember, if you need to "adjust" the miter always trim both sides of the joint.

I've found with a popcorn ceiling to install the crown as usual, then caulk the ceiling line and/or the wall line with paintable latex with silicon caulking. If the surface is really rough, try scraping the popcorn off. It is usually quite soft and comes off easily. Wear a dust mask!


Dave: This is more of a design question than straight carpentry but I'll give it a shot and hope you have a solution. I'm not quite sure how to finish the crown that currently terminates where the family room meets the kitchen. I live in a 1979 suburban ranch. Nothing fancy, maybe even a little plain-Jane rustic. The only option I see is to continue the crown on both sides until I hit a termination point. But I'm certainly open to suggestions. Got none? That's OK too. As I said earlier, I know you're a carpenter, not a designer. Take your time, I'm not in a big hurry to tackle this. Thank You, Trace

Hi Trace,

This is a common issue with crown - how to end it. What I think is important is to maintain the line. You have that ugly board on the ceiling which defines a line. My suggestion is to remove the board, obviously, (Sorry Ha!) end it on the right hand wall by going around the corner to where the board was. On the other side, the left hand wall which is longer, do the same thing, go around the corner to where the board was. Don't terminate the crown flush with the end of the wall. Leave a slight reveal - 1/4" or so. To terminate a crown, make an outside miter and return the crown back into the wall.

Hope this helps,


Dave Looks great. Sounds easy. Will give it a shot after work tonight. What kind of cut (straight miter, no bevel?) is best for the inside of the end piece going against the wall? Why do I suspect the piece fitting into the outside miter cut will have me slitting wrists by 9 PM? Rhetorical need to answer. Thanks, Trace

Yes, the piece against the wall is a butt cut. This return is a very small piece. It is a miter 45 degree cut on both pieces, just to hide any end grain on the long piece of crown, giving it a finished end. We do the same thing for baseboard, as well.

No slitting of wrists allowed!


Hi Dave: I have not been able to pull this one off yet. I would be very grateful for a set of instructions similar to those you provided for crown. I tried a few cuts with bevel angles, then no bevels. finally got down to this: 1. Starting with the long piece on the left, we're terminating with a straight 45 degree miter cut, no bevel? If so, did that OK. 2. Taking the next piece, which I'll call the lid, cut it at a straight 45 degree miter. In my hand, off the wall both pieces fit nicely. 3. Put both pieces up against the wall to figure out the butt cut and it reminded me of all the crazy angles of the walls, floors and corners of the Fun House at the amusement park, No matter how I tried to match them - nothing even close a nice clean, tight fit. So, if could trouble you to spell out "Crown Termination for Dummies" I'd be most grateful. I'm from Missouri and about half hillbilly. If this doesn't work, I'll take it around the corner into the kitchen then around another corner so it runs towards a "back" wall; a corner where the ice box sits, This is a dead end. It would leave the unfinished piece pointing away from everyone's line of sight. This would "work", i.e. the unfinished end would not be visible. but I won't feel especially good about it and the other half of me will always fret I didn't wrap up the job correctly. Thanks, Dave. No need to rush to get to this. I'm not on a drop dead timetable so fit this in when it's convenient for you. If this is addressed in detail on your web site, shame on me for not looking. Trace

Hi Trace,

How wide is your crown molding?


Hi Dave, It's 4 3/8" Thank You, Trace

Hi Trace,

Here is a drawing for you.

Drawing of crown molding return with miter cuts.

The small return piece, as shown, is what I'm referring to. The butt joint goes against the wall when the two miter joints are tight. This leaves a nice finish at the end of the molding.

This is the finished look.

Photo of crown molding termination.

Hope this helps,


PS Your problem might be the wide molding with laying it down on the crosscut saw. Be careful with short pieces like this, especially with compound miters. Always cut the 45 miter out of a longer piece first, then cut the butt cut last. Remember also you need to use the same compound cuts listed on the website list that you were using for the outside miter cuts on the crown already installed.


Hi Dave I have a concrete exposed foundation which has been painted. The paint is flaking off and the concrete is crumbling on the surface. How do I repair this.

Hi Vic,

I would scrape or wire brush the flaking paint and loose concrete off. There are heavy round wire brushes that fit an angle grinder that would do a good job, or rent the tool.

Then parge the surface of the wall with a rich mixture of sand and cement, a topping mix would do. Make the mix stiff, with a little water, dampen the concrete surface with clean water and apply the mix with a trowel.


Thanks Dave I've heard of white glue, hydro products and a whole slew of Home Depot products, so I told myself to contact the expert. Thank you

Thanks, Vic.


Hi Dave, Been doing some trim work. I got help from a buddy on the floor boards but he couldn't stick around for the crown. I really appreciate the common sense instruction you provide for cutting wide crown molding. It helped immensely as I put up the trim depicted in the attached pictures. It was a struggle matching up at times and no corner is perfect but would never have gotten through it without your help. Still need to do the touch up with the nails and flaws (don't zoom in too close!) but overall I'm very pleased. My mom stopped by last night to check my work. She asked how I was learning to do all this and I told her about Dave's on-line carpentry club. She agreed that at fifty bucks a year it's a real bargain. Best Regards, Trace

Thanks, for the email and pics, Trace, very nice job.

I didn't know I was that good a teacher! Ha!


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 1: Mold and What to Do About It

While answering a question from a member on the subject of mold in her home, I came upon this article written in March 2001 by the Workplace Safety and Health Division, Manitoba Department of Labour & Immigration, Canada. This article tells it all, so I want to share it with you. Keep in mind that this report is mainly for contamination in large commercial buildings; however, information contained in this report can be helpful if problems arise in your own home as well as the office.

Click here for a good vinyl siding cleaning solution that gets rid of mold, algae and mildew... Read more at Remodeling 1: Mold and What to Do About It.

Almost the End

Hope you enjoy the Newsletter this month.

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Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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