Over the summer, I was contacted by the Christiansburg Community Center (formerly the Christiansburg Industrial Institute) to duplicate some existing 19th century trim around windows to aid their restoration efforts. The Christiansburg Community Center is on the National Register of Historic Places partly for its role as the African-American school in Christiansburg where Booker T. Washington was once the adviser. It’s always an honor to work with historic buildings, especially ones that are so important to the local community’s history.
The building had six windows where the trim had been removed previously to accommodate a drop ceiling. During the renovations, the drop ceiling had been removed exposing the missing trim around the top third of each window. Given that the new trim would be butted up against existing trim, the match had to be perfect which was the ultimate challenge for this project.
I sourced lumber for this project from Hill City Hardwoods in Lynchburg, Virginia. I bought 24 board feet of the two widest boards of southern yellow pine they had in stock so I could make the trim from the sides of the board and use the middle-third of the board for scrap. This gave me the tightest, straightest grain possible which is necessary to prevent the board from warping and twisting as the seasons change. It also more closely matched the grain pattern on the existing trim.
To begin, I made a rendering in SketchUp of the profile of the board to use as a guide throughout the project. I then cut the left and right sides from the original boards to the width of the trim then jointed an edge and face before running it through the thickness planer to get a perfectly square board. To add the grooves on the trim, I used my router table and a 90-degree V-bit and cut four V’s into each segment of the trim. Using a 19th century 1/4” hollow hand plane, I rounded over the V’s to make the space between each pair of V’s arched. I went back to the table saw to cut the 45-degree bevels on each side of the trim. To finish up, I fine-tuned some rougher spots with medium grit sandpaper before going over everything with a fine grit sandpaper to make it smooth to the touch.
Special thanks to the Christiansburg Industrial Institute for choosing me to help with this project. They’re a wonderful group of people doing great work. Donations to the Christiansburg Community Center can be made through Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Church at 580 N. High St., Christiansburg, Virginia 24073, or by calling (540) 382-0562.