Corner blocks and window aprons

karinlJune 30, 2011

Most of the original door and window casings in our old house are mitered, but we have decided to do one room - a later addition that was done with plain flat boards - in the symmetrical kind of moulding that uses corner blocks. So we know how to do the corners, but what we're not sure about is how the window aprons are usually done.

On our original moulding, the apron is simply a piece of the casing placed horizontally, thicker side up so tapering top to bottom, and rounded at the bottom corners. It doesn't seem to me that you could use the symmetrical casing this way at all, even if you did something fancy with more corner blocks.

I would appreciate any help with figuring out what the norm is (or was) for this.


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The bottom corners of window aprons don't normally have corner blocks, at least the ones I'm familiar with; the window sill intercepts (and sticks out a bit beyond)the vertical trim and the apron/stool is just underneath the sill and only as wide is the trim, not the sill. I'd stick to plain stock.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 5:40PM
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I agree, plain stock, the width of the trim, in line with the edges of the trim, which means the sill itself is longer at each end.

I find mitered trim a bit strange, having only seen corner blocks or butt joints with a backband around the outer edges, which was mitered. I thought mitered corners were something used in more modern houses...but I could just not have seen it as frequently in my pattern books.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 4:31AM
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Mitered corners are common as early as the 1920s, and I have seen a few houses even older than that with original mitered corners.

When the trim pattern changed from vertical reeding styles to more complicated (and sometimes built up) casing patterns the matching corner block seem to have disappeared.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 3:02PM
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Thanks, flat stock should be easy enough. Are there any fancier options? A central rosette or something? Just curious.

The mitres are definitely original to our 1905 house, and as a matter of fact are also the norm in most of the houses of similar vintage I've been in around here. Many do, however, have a backband on a profiled casing. Perhaps this sort of thing is regional.

The casings we are replacing in the addition are exactly as you describe, Columbusguy, the flat stock/butt joint/mitred back band. With about 8 coats of paint on them, they're not precisely showpieces! And I can't see my way clear to stripping flat stock for moulding.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 12:17AM
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It was common for some windows to be trimmed "picture frame" style, with bullseye corner blocks at all four corners. No window stool, the jambs were the same top, bottom and sides. This style was functionally preferable on staircases where the stool projecting into the space was not welcome or needed.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 1:39PM
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Karin, all my trim except for pantry, bath and attic are all original finish--just need to add some new shellac to the sills where they have faded. You are right that such flat stock with that much paint is probably more trouble than its worth to strip--unless it's really nice wood and some in the room isn't painted.

My stair landing window has the full array--trim, backbanding and sill...the fact that it is about 16" from the floor doesn't help, and that the ceiling height at the landing itself is about 6.5 feet. :) Thank god my bed is only a double--it's about 140 years old, and the springs folded so you could maneuver up such stairs!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 4:57PM
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FWIW, my pre-Civil War house in northern NY has original mitered corners on nearly all door and window frames.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 12:42AM
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Now that I recall, a house one of my sisters rented had very intricate moldings which were mitered...built probably in the 1840s since the joists were tree trunks with the bark still on them. It had been added to and remodeled into a mansard-style house. Very cool place, huge staircase with three sided balcony, double front doors, and two full height bays.
Thirty years ago, I was still in college, and not yet into houses much, but that house felt just so right to me--it also had four or five slate fireplaces.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 4:29AM
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In Petersburg VA, much of the woodwork is mitered - & the houses are from the 1840's & later. I'm 25 miles away in a larger city & mitered joints are rare until well into the 20th century.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 2:35PM
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This trim uses a miter only where the casing is molded, the flat portion is butted. I was copying the original 1817 style of trimming in this restoration. A mitered backband was applied after the plaster was done.

Some of these door casing sets had been mortise & tenon joined. Such craftsmanship. I stuck with biscuits.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:29PM
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Wow - such craftsmanship, and such creativity. So many options within the boundaries of the simple task of framing a door with wood.

Your album (nosily flipped through it) is a treasure trove, Casey; thank you.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 9:10PM
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My 1889 has:

-mitered frames (with crown/pediment above and a panel below that connects the window to the baseboard trim). Golden Oak (?)

- Pantry has reeded wood w corner blocks (they have little "horns" or curlicues on top of the square block) (Pine/Fir)

- rooms upstairs are like Pantry, and windows are not quite as tall.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 6:43AM
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