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Custom Woodwork – It’s Affordable

custom woodwork for base boards

How to Make Custom Baseboard |This is all custom baseboard and woodwork. Look at the fancy inside and outside corner pieces.

How to Make Custom Baseboard - You Just Need a Knife

Have you ever walked through a distinctive older home? Perhaps you grew up in one. Undoubtedly it had hardwood floors, smooth plaster walls, larger windows and a smooth plaster ceiling. It's my guess you have walked through new model homes that have all of these same amenities but something just isn't quite right. The new house just doesn't look like the old home. The difference is just skin deep. In almost all cases, the new home builder failed to mimic the woodwork that you see in those fine older homes.

Is custom woodwork affordable?

Custom woodwork is affordable if you run hundreds of feet of it. You have to spread out the setup fee and the cost of grinding the custom knife over lots of trim  for it to make sense.

Were you told by your builder or architect that you could get custom woodwork for your home? Or, as in many cases, were you told it is prohibitively expensive? In either case, you were quite possibly shortchanged. Not only can you copy the style and profiles found in older homes, but it can also be done with little or no pain to your pocketbook. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that you can actually draw your own pattern for any door or window casing, baseboard or toestripping.

How is custom woodwork made?

Door and window casings, baseboards and other wood moldings are created very easily. They start off as regular rectangular pieces of wood not much different than a stock 1 x 4 or 1 x 6. This wood is fed into a machine that has a high-speed rotating knife that cuts the profile into the stock piece of lumber. The knife has a special shape that is a mirror image of the finished profile you see on the finished wood trim. Creating a custom knife takes very little time and this tool can be used to cut thousands of linear feet of wood without being re-sharpened.

Why is the Woodwork at the Home Centers Cheap?

The woodwork at home centers is usually cheap because it's finger-jointed crap.

hardwood floor inlay farmcrest fireplace

How to Make Custom Baseboard | That green stripe on the wall is custom baseboard. This hardwood floor, with decorative inlay, is also customer work.  It was in my own home I built. The installer I hired used a straightedge and shingles to make the hardwood perfect. © 2020 Tim Carter

The cost issue is a moot point for the most part. Don't be fooled by many of the moldings you see at lumberyards or home centers. They may be imposters. Often these moldings are made from scrap lumber that has been joined together to make long pieces of trim. Some of these are even cover with a paper-thin layer of wood veneer to simulate a solid piece of wood. These moldings are often cheaper than custom solid-wood molding, but always keep in mind you are not comparing apples with apples.

Is the extra cost for custom woodwork worth it?

The cost per linear foot to create custom solid-wood trim is often just a little bit more than what you might pay for humdrum molding you see in all of the other houses in the sub-division. Keep in mind that the custom woodwork in a home makes an enormous statement. Think of it as the gleaming necklace or bracelet or earrings a woman wears. Women are beautiful without jewelry, but the accent jewelry produces simply enhances their beauty.

Why is Scale Important?

The scale of woodwork is also very important. If your new home will have 9 or even 10-foot ceilings, the trim must be larger than normal so that it looks good to the eye. A smaller trim with a dashing profile will appear skimpy in a room with tall ceilings.

If you or your architect is in doubt about how to achieve the proper size, don't experiment. The easy thing to do is to visit older homes and find one that has woodwork that looks and feels right. Get out your measuring tape and mark down the sizes. To visit older homes, pay attention to open houses hosted by Realtors in the older sections of your city.

Where Do You Find Custom Baseboard or Trim?

The wonderful custom woodwork in my own home was readily available. Just about every major city has several discreet woodworking mills and businesses that take rough lumber and turn it into things of beauty. Within moments of doing a search on the Internet using Woodwork or Custom Woodwork followed by your city. You should discover any number of local companies that can make any trim you need from just about any lumber species you desire.

How Can I Save Money Making Custom Baseboard and Trim?

If you intend to paint the woodwork in your new home, you can save substantial money by ordering your new woodwork as paint grade material. This type of lumber is very affordable as it often has slightly irregular grain coloration that detracts from the wood when stained. But since paint can mask these defects, it makes sense to use this lower grade for your home.

Should I Order Extra Baseboard and Casing?

Be sure you order extra trim for your home. Accidents can happen and you do not want to be 8 or 10 feet short when trimming out the last room of your home. Once you or your builder calculates the total linear footage required, be sure to take the time to see how the custom trim compares in pricing with the stock trims your might have chosen. You'll probably be shocked to learn it only costs several hundred dollars to get a personalized and unique look for your fabulous new home!

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