Finish Carpentry and the Pursuit of ExcellenceIt's been almost 10 months since we took on the custom build of a home in the Toronto area. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into every inch of this house, all 5,100 square feet of it. It's a great experience to see every aspect of a structure form right in front of your eyes from blueprints to reality especially if you're the one building it - from hands-on general contractor through the finish carpenter.

We are finally at the best part we dearly enjoy doing, finish carpentry.

Buzz words like dovetails, finger joints, rabbets, dados, end grain, returns, and rout will make any woodworker by trade or hobbyist stand to attention. We are using paint-grade poplar for our casings, baseboards, sills, jambs and aprons. In addition, the project involves tongue and groove paint-grade pine for a V-groove paneling accent wall in the laundry room, installed horizontally.

Finish Carpentry and the Pursuit of ExcellenceThe smell of wood and glue just does something to the senses only few can comprehend. The sounds of the mitre saw, table saw, compressor, nailer, biscuit joiner and sander gets the blood flowing. Add to this the sight of bar clamps, wood clamps, quick clamps, plus the feel of 60-grit, 120-grit and 240-grit sand paper and - last but not least - the occasional taste of sawdust and shavings. We are all too familiar with it. It's in our nostrils, in our hair, in our pockets anywhere you can think of, even our corn flakes!

Those who know us know we always go Hardcore when we renovate. We set up a workbench that's called the woodworker's dining table. It's 4 feet wide and over 16 feet long. Believe it or not there's still not enough room as we constantly keep moving tools, clamps, sanders to make space for assembling.

Classical Trim Work Approach
For this project we decided to use a classical traditional approach to our trim work. Nine-inch baseboards with the receptacles inside instead of being on the walls contribute to “Wall Acne.” A 4-and-a-half-inch casing with a chunky sill that’s an inch-and-a-half thick is complemented by a nice elegant apron on the bottom to marry all the pieces together.

There are 13 components per window we have to cut, glue, nail, clamp and assemble. We have 31 windows! Sounds like a lot? Well that’s 403 measured twice and precisely cut pieces not including all the trips to the saws tweaking just to get it to fit exactly right.

There is a general rule for wood: You can always cut it off, but you can't add it on if it's too short! Well, you can, but that wouldn’t be Hardcore. The measure twice, cut once rule does not always work with fine carpentry; it's more like measure a few times and cut, trim and trim a little bit more, dry fit, then glue, nail, clamp and install. Sounds tedious? Well it is. That’s why some guys love rough framing because being 1/4-inch short is no big deal if it's “good enough.”

It sure isn't with finish carpentry especially with all the patience and meticulous detail needed for finer work. Caulking or wood filler is not an option. Please cut a new piece and use the old one for test scraps or smaller projects.

In Praise of Hand's-on Work
Don't get us wrong, we're not perfect but we set the bar very high so we will achieve the highest level of quality. Of course you can't compete against the speed of CNC, it does take longer by hand but it also allows you to appreciate what you've accomplished.

When you stand back and look at the masterpiece and deep down in your heart you know everything within you made this materialize it stimulates the ego. That's how you take your skill, expertise and work ethic to the next level. Woodworking is all about challenging your skills, one project at a time. We always love a challenge when woodworking and when we figure out exactly how to achieve our goal its off to the races and its no longer a chore especially when you set up a system and get into a groove.

 Read More Hardcore Renos: 

Renovating a Kitchen? What's Your Plan for the Waste

Before Your Customer Says 'I Do' to a Contractor

The house is almost complete and we are looking forward to finishing and letting everybody see what we’re all about. When we build, it's built for the long haul. How many of you like taking a part your own work? Some do and have no problem doing it, and can even use the same pieces over again! It would be a nightmare for us to deconstruct what we've put together because after all it's Renovations That Last Generations!

Friends from high school, brothers from another mother, and now the duo behind the Toronto, Canada-based Hardcore Renos, Manny and Anderson combine precision craftsmanship, creative flair and comedic antics to a variety of stunning reno projects. Each with a keen eye for detail and a perfectionist’s approach to everything they do, Manny and Anderson apply their years of experience in building and design to create custom spaces – transforming simple powder rooms into sensory experiences, starting with a small bungalow and emerging with a home that is big, beautiful and timeless – in every single thing they do, with every product they use, Manny and Anderson take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. In short, they make it as only they can… HARDCORE. Renovations That Last Generations


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