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bergerdude 07-21-2010 10:20 AM

Chair rail dead end treatment?
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I got some great advise about recycling some chair rail, and that is almost painted. It was cherry, so I had to paint it with stain blocker to get it to match our white trim in the cookie-cutter house we have.

Anyway, this room I am going to hang the chair rail in has three walls, and open on one end. The other wall has two windows without any casing.

I have seen many posts on doing a 45 return, very nice look by the way, but I would have to do 6 of these with the windows and the ends where there is only about a 6inch wide partial wall (the open side).

If I simply beveled the edges....what angle is normally used?
A 45, with a 90 cut midway down the slop (double angle end).

Do I simply cut it with a 30 or 22.5?

Again, the finished ends look disputing that, but I need to get this done and being painted white, the grain shouldn't be an issue, so balancing what is easiest versus best looking, what are your suggestions.

Please remember I am not a skilled carpenter, so what might be easy for y'all here might be complex for me!


BigJim 07-21-2010 10:44 AM

I also always did returns but if I were not doing returns I would go with the center one of your sketch as the 90 degree will represent the thickness of your door and window trim. The angle cut I would go with a 45 degree.


Willie T 07-21-2010 12:14 PM

I would turn the corner at each window, put on a 4" return (or whatever it takes), and end the chair rail flush up against the window frame if it's wide enough.

Ron6519 07-21-2010 02:23 PM

Cutting 6 returns is nothing. The other solutions will look half assed by comparison. And if you follow Willie's advice about the windows, it's only 4 returns.
Rushing through a finish carpentry job is ill advised.

bergerdude 07-21-2010 05:17 PM

no casings around the windows.....

Willie T 07-21-2010 05:33 PM

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Originally Posted by bergerdude (Post 473120)
no casings around the windows.....

I didn't say anything about casings around the windows. If there were casings, you couldn't make the returns I suggested.

jogr 07-21-2010 07:25 PM

You probably could have given the cherry to a carpenter in exchange for him putting up painted pine. Then you'd have nice chair rail for no effort and he'd have nice chair rail and no one would have to go to carpentry crime court for painting cherry.

BigJim 07-21-2010 08:37 PM


Originally Posted by Willie T (Post 472966)
I would turn the corner at each window, put on a 4" return (or whatever it takes), and end the chair rail flush up against the window frame if it's wide enough.

I agree with Willie, I didn't read the original post very well as I took for granted that there was window and door trim installed. I too would cut the returns to go into the windows.


bergerdude 07-21-2010 10:35 PM


Originally Posted by Willie T (Post 473128)
I didn't say anything about casings around the windows. If there were casings, you couldn't make the returns I suggested.

Ah! That makes sense now. Thanks!

WirelessG 07-21-2010 11:05 PM

What Willie has suggested at the uncased windows will look good provided it works with your windows , which it should (If your windows tilt in and you are using heavy rail, there may be an interference issue - just have a quick check of it to be certain). If you opening is cased, the I would suggest you go with your 45/90 combination. Make your 45 degree cut, then square cut it square at a distance from the tip equal to the thickness of the casing (I don't know what kinda/size of trim you are dealing with, so I can't be more specific than that).

If you are worried about making precise cuts do the following:

1. Make your marks with a .5mm or .7mm mechanical pencil. Don't try to mark perpendicular to the trim - place you pencil on the trim and pull back quickly to the left, then place it on the point again and pull quickly to the right. This way you'll see two lines converging on a point.

2. Cut your rail a little long (say 1/2"), fit it in place on the wall, and mark it about a 1/16" beyond (long) of what it needs to be, and cut it (with a power miter saw). Take it back to the wall and mark it again. Hopefully it's 1/16" long. However, it's been my experience that people who don;t routinely make these sorts of cuts measure a little long and cut a little short. Eventually you will mark it and cut it with a mental note of whether or not to "leave the line" or "take the line" - which is simply a matter of whether you leave the .7mm width of the pencil line or whether you take it. All of your converging cuts should be on the corner ends where you are cutting a 45 for the wall corner. That way you don't need to fool with the bull nose 45/90 detail.

3. You might want to check the corner for square before you start cutting just to make sure it's not running wild. Chair rail is relatively thin (as compared to a corner shelf), so if gaps result from out of square issues, you should be able to patch them with spackle or caulk.

I hope I didn't over explain this and tell you a bunch of stuff that you already know, but you cited a little hesitation with your skill level, so I put it all out there.

Willie T 07-22-2010 02:51 PM

Be very careful about this one thing........

I think myself (and maybe 100 other people in America) are the only contractors who try to get D/W window returns a true 90 degrees.

I will almost guarantee you that you probably won't find even one window in your house with exact 90's. Watch out for this when you set your miter saw. You will have to compensate.

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