Trim carpenters who learned how to install mitered door and window
casing one piece at a time should watch Jim Chestnut work. The Connecticut
finish carpenter figured out some years back that he got much better
results by gluing up his casing first and then installing the complete
assembly. His system for trimming out doors and windows is fast, efficient
and results in tight miters that stay together.
The trick is a special miter clamp
that gives a glued and biscuited miter joint a chance to set up. Although
Chestnut had a collection of iron clamps made for the job, he thought
they could be better designed. Chestnut, an inveterate tool tinkerer,
set out to make an improved version and the result is his nickel-plated
and stainless-steel Clam Clamp. It works.
Each leg of the L-shaped clamp (see
the photos at right) contains a row of four pins. When the clamp's handle
is turned, the pins engage the outside edges of the casing and force
the joint together. In no time, Chestnut has a casing that can be nailed
to a door or window as a single unit. Miters can even be clamped in
The sharp pins leave small holes
on the edges of the trim that must be filled later. Pins can be backed
out so that they don’t engage the work. So stain-grade trim can
be clamped up with two pins on each leg instead of four.
The clamps aren't cheap ($55 plus
shipping), but anyone facing the prospect of trimming even a few rooms
of doors and windows would find them a bargain.