Sunday, March 11, 2007

Custom beadboard ceiling, part 2

Building this beadboard ceiling meant I got a chance to do some work in my basement workshop. For the past couple of months this bathroom project has meant a lot tasks that are not all too enjoyable; primarily applying joint compound and then sanding it. Since I made the beadboard ceiling from a 4' x 8' sheet of beadboard plywood and 1" x 4" "clear" pine (that is, no knots) boards, I had the opportunity to use a variety of my woodworking tools. This was a good thing.

Again, the frame of the ceiling was made with 1" x 4" clear pine boards that had a rabbetted lip along one edge to hold the plywood in place. The sketch I mentioned in my Custom beadboard ceiling, part 1 post was invaluable when it came the time to start milling the boards. The photo to the right shows my router table set up with a 3/4" straight-cutting bit to create the lip. The board shown is one of the middle support sections.

Before I move on, I want to mention how invaluable of a tool a good router can be. With the right bit, and there are literally hundreds to choose from you can take a common board and turn it into a unique piece. To see what I mean, check out the router bit selection at; 9,033 bits to choose from at the writing of this piece! My router is a Bosch 1613EVS plunge router. I’ve had it about four years and consider it to be one of my favorite power tools. Every time I use it I walk away with a great sense of satisfaction. See the more modern Bosch 1617EVSPK Plunge Router kit at

OK, back to the project at hand. Once I had the four outside boards of the frame and the one middle divider milled, it was time for assembly. If my router is my favorite power tool, the next item I’m going to mention is easily the favorite jig I own.

The photo to the right shows the assembled frame in my workshop (notice the pile of dust on the floor under my router table from milling the frame’s boards). It only took me about 15 minutes to take the milled boards from individual boards to assemble, ready-for-use frame. How was I able to do it so quickly? The Kreg R2 Rocket Pockethole System.

Pocket holes have long been used by cabinet makers as a way to build strong joints with screws, yet conceals the screw heads below the surface of the board. Kreg Tool Co. makes a variety of pocket hole kits; mine is the Kreg R2 Rocket Pockethole System.

Here’s how the process works...
Clamp the Kreg jig to the board that will receive the screws and use the provided drill bit to drill the holes. The depth collar on the drill bit (seen on the right side of the photo) is positioned based on the thickness of your board (to assure you don’t drill through the face of your board.

With the jig removed you can see the clean holes that the Kreg Pockethole System produces.

Use the same clamp (which is provided with the kit) to hold the two boards together and drive the screws into their holes. I add a little dab of glue for added strength. Viola; you’re done. The trickiest part for a large project like this was finding a way to keep all the boards supported during assembly.

With the frame built, I cut the beadboard plywood down to size and installed the panels into position. To secure the plywood panels to the frame, I added wood glue to the lip of the frames and then drove 5/8" brad nails through the plywood and into the frame. To drive those nails, I used my Porter-Cable BN200A Brad Nailer. This might seem like a frivolous toy, and frankly, when I purchased it I thought I was being a little irresponsible. However, I’ve got so much mileage out of the brad nailer that I’d recommend it to any woodworker or home improvement junkie. It makes hanging trim or assembling special projects like this beadboard ceiling quick, neat, and solid.

As a write this it’s becoming clear why I enjoyed this project. Not only did the beadboard ceiling panels help us solve the ceiling’s problems; and not only did I get a chance to spend some quality time in my workshop; I also got a chance to use three of my favorite woodworking tools: my router, my Kreg pocket hole jig, and my Porter-Cable brad nailer. Finally; fun returned to a project!

Once the beadboard panels were painted, I secured them to the plaster ceiling with spring-loaded wall anchors. If you take on a project like this, you’ll have to determine what type of fastener works best for you.

With the ceiling complete, I can now go back to work on the light box I was supposed to be working on. For a recap of where that project stands, read my Custom wooden light soffit post.


  1. Wow! I'm glad I spoted your post on houseblogs as we are about to undertake a similar project in our kitchen. Your break-down of the project will be really helpful. :)

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