When I started out as a young building contractor twenty-five
years ago, I found that there were many things I could figure out on
my own. There's a wonderful commonsense accessibility to carpentry
that we first experience as kids playing with wooden blocks: "First
you build the floor, then the walls ..." It was different, however,
when it came to millwork, the collective term builders use to denote
all prefabricated woodwork, especially windows and doors. That's
where things got really complicated, so I needed help.
I was fortunate to have a millwork maven at my local lumberyard.
Jim Schlicting was a gentleman of vast experience in the business of
getting the right window into the hands of a builder or homeowner.
He probably couldn't hammer a nail, but he knew millwork from A to
Z, and he was a good teacher. "The width comes first, kid, then the
height. Door swing is taken from the outside, facing the door. Draw
a little diagram if there's any doubt," he told me. As the years
passed, Jim guided me through the arcane world of in-swing
casements, extended sill horns, and reversible prehung doors.
I had teachers in the field as well. Frank Kelly was a burly
Irishman who could open a six-foot folding rule to its full length
in one graceful flourish. He laughed when he saw me taking
measurements for the leg casings of a door. Tucking his pencil
behind his ear, he deftly mitered one end of the trim, stood it
upside down against the previously installed head casing, and ticked
off a cut mark. "Don't measure unless ya hafta," he instructed.
Frank was a door hanger of the old school; most carpenters today
shoot for a J-in. gap between the door and the jamb, but Frank's
standard was the thickness of a dime.
In this book, I'll share the gist of what I've learned about this
complex, sometimes tedious, but always critical aspect of building
and remodeling. Such a book cannot hope to be comprehensive,
especially considering the explosion of new options and materials in
today's rapidly changing millwork industry. But with such a valuable
commodity at stake, a primer on millwork seems eminently worthwhile.
Pound for pound, doors and windows are the most costly architectural
components in a home, with the possible exception of cabinetry. A
little knowledge will go a long way when you peruse the Andersen
catalog or Home Depot delivers your new patio door. Hopefully, this
book will shed some light on a difficult subject. The rest is up to