Learn how to build a plate rail, a traditional option for topping an Arts and Crafts wall treatment.
A plate rail is a traditional way to top an Arts and Crafts wall treatment. But instead of ending that wall with a cap, extend it with the ledger and plate rail.
Construction of the plate rail is quite straightforward; feel free to substitute construction methods that suit the tools you have. For example, if you don't have a biscuit joiner, simply make the L-shape assembly with glue alone or with glue reinforced with nails. There's plenty of long-grain to long-grain gluing surface, and the finished joint can actually be stronger than the wood itself.
Cut the components for the length of plate rail that you're building. There's a bracket centered over every stile in the wall system, so simply count the stiles and make an equal number of brackets. The molding is easy to make with angled rip cuts on your table saw.
About 1/2 hour per linear foot of rail
Tape measure, combination square, biscuit joiner, miter saw, table saw, hammer, drill with bits, nail set, clamps
Driving nails; clamping; using a biscuit joiner, table saw, miter saw
Wall surface should be painted; apply finish to all plate rail components
Quartersawn white oak for plate rail components, 4d and 10d finishing nails, 1-inch brads, #20 biscuits for joiner, masking tape, stain and finish, panel adhesive and caulking gun, white glue and applicator brush, colored putty for filling holes
After the plate rail/ledger assembly dries, attach it to the top of the upper rail of the wall. Biscuits align the ledger and rail, and construction adhesive on the back of the ledger holds the unit to the wall. For good measure, drive 10d (3-inch) finishing nails through the ledger and into a few of the wall studs.
Mark the location of the next bracket onto a strip of masking tape. Square-cut one end of the molding with your miter saw and butt it against the first bracket. Mark the cut line on the molding and install it with 4d finishing nails driven through pilot holes. Keep adding brackets and molding strips until you complete the installation. Make certain that the bottom edge of the molding follows a straight line.