When you embark on restoring a room, one of your first challenges is how to carefully remove door and window trim, baseboards, and other woodwork so they can be put back later in their original positions. Perhaps you need to pop off a strategic molding to run new wiring or recover lost window weights. If you’re taking the walls down to bare studs in order to replaster, add plumbing, or insulate, then “taking it all off” may actually save time. Another reason to remove trim is to strip paint in a safe, ventilated space, instead of the rooms you inhabit. Layers of paint come off faster, and your back feels better, when you place the work across sawhorses.
Take care though. Moldings split, even when you approach the job methodically, and you won’t find identical patterns or woods at the local lumberyard. Here’s how we suggest you approach the job of delicate dismantling.
Forget about screwdrivers! They gouge the wood. Even so, dismantling woodwork is a job well within the reach of a beginner. Hand tools are all you’ll need. Two 16″ pry bars, flat on both ends, are necessities. The other tools include:
• Two 6″ putty knifes
• Claw hammer
• Leather work gloves
• Utility knife with retractable blade
• Hacksaw blade, one end covered in a holder or adhesive tape
• Half a dozen wood shingles
• Nail puller
• Metal file
• Twine for bundling trim
• Indelible pen (to mark the original location on the back of trim)
After this small investment, sweat equity will take you the rest of the way.