Trim contractor Jim Chestnut has seen his share of base-boards and casings. Since 1978, he's been running trim and now specializes in custom finish in a high-end Connecticut housing market, where a job may run anywhere from 5,000 to 12,000 square feet. Translated into linear feet of board stock and moldings, that's a lot of trim. "Sometimes I think we should be measuring it in miles," Chestnut remarks.
      Needing to spit out miles of trim, while also providing the quality expected in a high-end market, has forced Chestnut to streamline his procedures. He has developed a technique that relies on biscuit joints to quickly align casing miters, and hold them tight permanently - not just until the next heating season
      " Too often, people dislike mitered casing because the miters shrink," Chestnut explains. " But you add a biscuit and the miter - the one place everyone looks - stays closed."

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Tools of the Trade Article
Running Trim, Production Style
RUNNING TRIM
continued from page 8


Now he can measure and cut each leg to the exact length without using a tape measure. Once cut to length, each miter angle can be slotted with a plate joiner - another good job for the apprentice.
       Chestnut begins gluing up on a full sheet of plywood on sawhorses (his sheet is covered with an old piece of "putrid orange, 1950's-style" matte Formica). He sets out glue, biscuits, Clam Clamps, hot water and a toothbrush for cleanup, and an air hose, which he uses to dry off the joint after cleaning. For glue, he uses red-capped Titebond (not to be confused with the thin, waterproof Titebond) in a Lamello glue bottle. Chestnut typically glues up all the casings for the job in one session.
      Because of the Clam Clamp's flat profile, Chestnut can nail the clamped casings directly to the jamb, if needed. He routinely adds a thin bead of glue to the jamb (especially near the miter) and brings the casing and jamb together with Quick-Grip Clamps. Using Paslode's maneuverable, cordless trim gun, Chestnut nails the inside edge of the casing. The carpenter running baseboard is responsible for nailing the outside edge.
      "The man running baseboard has the right length nails," Chestnut explains, "and the lag time allows the glue to set and strengthen the joint before the legs get pushed and twisted flat to meet the drywall."
      Chestnut has sold hundreds of his clamps, many to carpenters in the area who have seen them in action with his crews. Clam Clamps run about $55 each. For more information, contact Chestnut Tools, Box 320094, Fairfield, CT 06825; 203/384-0888.

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      To speedily glue up plate-joined miters, Chestnut needed a miter clamp, but could not find one that met his needs. So he built one. The Clam Clamp, as he calls his invention, works by applying pressure through the clamp's teeth, using a simple, rugged cam. A single, 180 degree turn is all that's needed to apply full pressure. The entire clamp is made of a hardened alloy steel, which has been nickel-plated to prevent rust stains when the glue joint is cleaned with water.
      Here's how Chestnut works with the clamp for casing out doors: He starts by setting up a cutting station near his stock, and checks that the miter saw is cutting an exact 45 degree angle. He then appoints an apprentice to cut the left legs for all the doors. At this point he is only cutting the miter, leaving the length long. Then the apprentice moves on to cut the left end of all the head stock, then on to the right legs.
      Meanwhile, Chestnut makes up a cut list. He starts by numbering each door as #1, #2 etc. The legs are marked as #1, #1H, #2, #2H, etc. "H" stands for hinge side. Each leg is measured to the long point. Chestnut carries along a spare piece of leg stock to check the bottom fir, and notes any special cuts that are required on his list.
      To speed up cutting the legs to length, Chestnut sets up a stop on his cutting table at a distance that's a couple inches longer than the average leg length (for example, the stop is set at 87 inches if the average leg is 85). He then whips out a Quick Rule (another Chestnut invention). A Quick Rule is a simple, 4" sticker marked out in 1/16th-inch increments that he slaps on the saw fence.

Reprinted from "Tool of the Trade Magazine" Spring 1997 pg. 9
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