One thing that a person doesn’t get a chance to do as a day to day construction professional creating fancy profiles. Unless you work on remodel jobs on classic older homes where you have to recreate a piece of trim, there is little justification for spending the time and money to custom make pieces for a job. There are so many different fancy moldings available over the counter that the concept of spending the money to create something unique makes not sense unless the customer has really deep pockets.
If, however you do happen to run into a deep pockets type of project, the process of replicating and old trim can be a fulfilling project. If you have been around the trade for a while and/or have been a dedicated hobbyist, it is likely that you already have the tools and training to undertake a project like that.
Matching an old profile is often not just a matter of finding out which bit to use on which piece of wood. It is often a matter of being able to see multi dimensionally. You have to think in three dimensions in order to understand how two or three different bits can be used and in what sequence in order to make a new piece that will match up perfectly with the pieces already in place.
Though you can often get away with a less than perfect reproduction – if the piece is in a position at some remove from the pieces already in place. Especially if you are working in another room. But this is often not the case.
Reproducing old wooden trim pieces is often a complicated task involving several pieces of equipment. Old boards are almost always thicker than the ones commonly available today. That means buying a board that is thicker than what is needed and then planing it down to match thickness. Then the board will have to go to the table saw, because not only were thicknesses different in the past, they were also of different widths, if they were standardized at all.
Only then can one begin to think about using a router or shaper to get the profiles correct.
If more than one bit and one step is required, the sequence of operations becomes important. Often the first step is to set up a full sized router and bit combination in a router table. If there is only one other bit involved, it might be wise to use a smaller hand held router like a trim router, so that the setup in the table doesn’t need to be changed. Once you manage to get the setup exactly right, which can take a lot of time to nail down, the last thing you want to have to do is to spend the time to set it up again.
Every step of this process is enjoyable if you keep the end result in mind. Especially if you enjoy the chance to utilize some skills that you have built over the years and seldom get a chance to use.
The planing to thickness, the ripping to width, and both of the profiling steps are tactile pleasures. Especially the final step. Being able to hold the router in your hand and use it for the final step that brings the piece fully into view, is tactile in a way that just pushing wood through a more powerful tool is not – though those steps are not to be discounted.
Once you finish all of those steps and get to the point where you can finally nail those pieces in place, stand back and see the results, results that only a true professional can achieve, you will have the true sense of satisfaction that comes rarely in a career made up of day to day repetition of a limited set of operations.