Installing Wood Panels

Learn how to add the allure of Arts and Crafts woodwork to your home with paneled walls.

Intro

If you enjoy the allure of Arts and Crafts woodwork, you'll find a lot to like in this project. In fact, this basic design is the springboard for several installations.

The spacing of the stiles is a matter of personal taste. You may choose a dimension that's slightly larger or smaller than the 16-inch centers shown. However, you risk losing the Arts and Crafts flavor if you spread the stiles too far apart. The 3-1/2-inch stile width also could vary. In this case, you'll be safer narrowing the stiles rather than widening them.

Quartersawn white oak is a traditional material for an Arts and Crafts project, but you can substitute a softwood if you're going to paint the wall components. Whichever finish you choose, you'll save time and trouble by applying the finish before installing the parts to the wall.

Checklist

Time
About 1 hour per linear foot of wall

Tools
Tape measure, combination square, stud finder, biscuit joiner, table saw, miter saw, level, hammer, deadblow mallet, tin snips, screwdriver, nail set

Skills
Checking for level; driving nails; using a biscuit joiner, table saw, miter saw

Materials
Quartersawn white oak for wall components, pine or other secondary lumber for baseboard spacers, 3/4-inch plywood for stile spacers, 8d and 10d finishing nails, 1-inch brads, #20 biscuits for joiner, #6x2-inch roundhead screws, masking tape, stain and finish, panel adhesive and caulking gun, white glue and applicator brush

Step 1

Prepare 3/4-inch-thick stock for the baseboard and 5/4 stock (about 1-inch thick) for the rails. Cut these parts to length. Rip 1/2-inch-wide spacers from pine or any other wood. You need two spacers for each length of baseboard. The thickness of the spacers equals the thickness difference between the baseboard and the rail. Don't attach the spacers to the baseboard yet.

Step 2

Cut the stiles to width and length. Be certain that the end cuts are perfectly square and that all the stiles are identical in length. Join several stiles into a bundle with packing tape, and cut them all at once. Keep the bundle straight against the fence by using the same number of tape layers for each wrap. For square cuts, always have two tape locations touch the fence. You can also use a stopblock setup.

Step 3

Select which face of each stile will face the wall, then mark a centerline near each end. Pencil marks on masking tape assure precision marking.

Marking the Centerline

The linked capital letters C and L are the symbol for centerline. It's standard practice to place the actual mark for the centerline above or below the symbol. The direction of the centerline is parallel to the two edges of the piece of lumber from which the center was determined.

Step 4

Rip 3/4-inch plywood into 3/4-inch-wide strips, and crosscut a supply of them. Their length equals the horizontal distance between stiles. Lay out the bottom rail, pine spacers, and stiles. Position the end stile. Lay in a plywood spacer, then mark the stile's centerline on the rail. Repeat down the length of the rail.

Step 5

Put the top edge of the lower rail against the bottom edge of the top rail; make sure the ends of the two pieces are flush. With a combination square and pencil, transfer each stile location from the lower rail to the upper rail.

Step 6

Set up your biscuit joiner with the fence down to register the cut from the upper surface -- in this case, the back face of the rails and stiles. Approximately center the cutter in the thickness of the 3/4-inch stock. Cut the slots into the edges of the rails and into the ends of the stiles.

Step 7

Combine glue with brads or headless pins to attach the pine spacers flush with the edges on the rear face of the baseboard. (Actually, you can cheat the spacers 1/16 inch or so toward the center of the base to make sure the spacers don't overhang the edges.) The spacers make the baseboard as thick as the rail and also create the effect of a back cut so that the molding bridges irregularities along the wall.

Step 8

Place the upper edge of the baseboard against the bottom edge of the lower rail, with both pieces face up. Also make sure that the ends of the two parts are flush. Make pencil marks onto masking tape about every 12 inches along the joint. After registering your plate joiner against the front face of these parts, cut biscuit slots at each marked location.

Step 9

When you nail the baseboard to the wall, make sure it's level. Then add the lower rail to the assembly by gluing the biscuits into their slots. If necessary, tap the lower rail with a deadblow mallet to close the joint.

Step 10

Squeeze a bead of panel adhesive onto the back of the first stile, add glue to the bottom biscuit joint, plumb the edge of the stile, and nail it in place. To add the next stile, repeat the construction adhesive and glue and add plywood spacers at the top and bottom between stiles.

Step 11

To hold the top end of the stile against the wall while the glue and construction adhesive set, use a modified biscuit. Drill a 3/16-inch hole through one end of a #20 biscuit and cut 1/2 inch from the other, using tin snips. Insert the clipped end into the slot, but do not glue it. Then drive a roundhead screw through the top of the biscuit into the wall; drive the screw by hand so you don't tear a hole in the drywall.

Step 12

After the adhesive and glue set, remove the modified biscuits and the plywood spacers. Test-fit the upper rail, then glue it to the tops of the stiles with biscuits and to the wall with construction adhesive. For added security, drive nails through the rail into studs.

Step 13

Test-fit the cap rail on top of the upper rail. If your wall is wavy, you'll have to scribe the cap rail to get a tight fit. With your stud finder, locate the wall studs, marking their centers onto pieces of masking tape. Drive nails diagonally through the top of the cap rail into the studs.

Step 14

Attach the 1/2x3/4-inch trim with brads, centering this molding over the joint between the baseboard and the lower rail. Attach the base shoe.


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