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Installing a chair rail


Flat panel wainscotings, like the type shown on the facing page, are usually topped with a chair rail. Traditionally these boards were installed to protect walls from damage caused by chairs. These days, chair rails are considered decorative and donít always have to be built as part of a wainscoting job. They can also stand on their own. When they are installed this way, the wall below the chair rail is often painted a different color than the rest of the wall, or covered with a different color and pattern of wallpaper.
 

Step 1. Snap a chalk line on the wall at the planned height; then nail a 1 x 2 or 1 x 4 to the wall underneath this line. Apply glue to the top of this rail board; then cut and nail the cap board to the top of the rail. Use either a hammer and finishing nails or a finishing nail gun if you have one (inset).

 

Step 2. Finish off the chair rail installation by nailing a cove molding underneath the cap board. This molding is both decorative and structural; it helps support and strengthen the wider cap board.

 

MAKING TIGHT MITERS

A properly adjusted miter box with a sharp blade should provide clean-edged cuts. But you can gain an advantage (and improve slightly inaccurate cuts) by undercutting the miter with a block plane. That way, the surfaces of the boards close first and close tightly.

Clamp the board, and shave the lower part of the edge with a block plane.

 

Leave the top edges of the boards intact so that they meet in a tight joint.

 

 

 

 

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