Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mini Plinths To The Rescue!

I had an epiphany of sorts last night about my marble/backsplash/casing dilemma. I had decided to do the wood backsplash, but the problem was still with the casing. Even with the marble backsplash, the problem was with the casing. It has always been the casing. The issue with the marble was that it was too thick and heavy for the backsplash. Even if I got thinner marble, or switched to thinner wood, the casing would still come down and meet the marble. This is an inappropriate, and an inelegant way of doing this sort of thing.

Extending the backsplash out to the edges and having the casing come down on top of it does not really solve the problem either. I can’t just have the casing come down on top of the backsplash because the backsplash would have some sort of routered detail on the top. Even if it is just a simple round over, the square casing can’t come down on to the round-over. It just wouldn’t look right.

I started think more about how casing is usually dealt with. In this style of house – High Victorian Queen Anne – trim work just doesn’t come to end. There is a transition piece of sorts. For casing, it is usually a plinth block. Ding! The light went off. Why not have plinth blocks on top of the marble. The casing and backsplash can meet the plinth blocks, just as casing and baseboards meet the plinth blocks for a traditional doorway.

I got lucky in that the plinth blocks in this house are fairly simple raised panel blocks. The plinth blocks in the rest of the house are 12-inches high. Too high for the top of the counter. The backsplash is only going to be 6-inches high, so keeping with the reveal in the rest of the house, the mini plinths for the marble should only be 6.5 to 7 inches high.

The reveal is very important. This is the portion of one piece of trim work that sticks out a bit farther than the adjoining piece. It gives a shadow line and adds definition to the trim work. It makes it appear more substantial, or more correctly, it defines just how substantial it is.

If the casing is ¾ of an inch thick, then the plinth blocks and corner blocks should be at least a full-inch thick. Just as well, the plinth and corner blocks should be a bit wider than the casing and baseboards. Also, the plinth blocks should be a bit taller than the baseboards. The plinth blocks should “sit proud” of the casing and baseboard.

As I said, the plinth blocks in the rest of the house are 12-inches high. If I did 12-inch high plinth blocks on top of the counter I would need an 11.5-inch backsplash. You want the plinth block to sit proud of the adjoining trim, but not so much that it is offensive to the eye. I could not have 12-inch plinth blocks and a 6-inch backsplash. It would just look odd. Instead, I made diminutive sized plinth blocks to go with the smaller backsplash.

The plinth blocks are 7-inches high and the backsplash is 6.5-icnhes high. The plinth blocks are a total of an inch and a quarter thick, but there is a quarter inch raised panel in the center, so the outside edge is 1-inch thick. This meets up with the three quarter inch thick casing and the three quarter inch thick backsplash. The proportions are correct…..or, as correct as they are going to get, given the circumstances.

I’m really very happy with this. I think the design of the corner cabinet was problematic to begin with, and had I been able to think all of this through to begin with, I might have done the whole thing different. As it is, I think it will look ok. I had to remove the casing and cut it done, so I went ahead and pulled out the marble, and polished it up a bit. I never really finish the edges, and just sort of slapped it in there for the party.

I think I’m go to like this. Here is a “before” (not really “before”, because I never finished the marble) and the After.

Meaty Marble Before

Mini Plinths After!


Kevin said...

Brilliant and beautiful.

Kathy from NJ said...

WOW! It is perfect, Greg. It's time to invite those 20 people back again so they can see the new & improved corner piece.

J Auclair said...

Good job!

Janet said...

That looks it was always there.

Greg said...

Thanks everyone. Yes, it would have been nice to have this finished before the party. Oh well, there will be more parties.

Anonymous said...

It looks very nice! I'm hoping that my comment about the rosettes (which doesn't appear to have been published) helped you decide on the plinths.

Jocelyn said...

That's MUCH better. You are a woodworking genius Greg. (I mean that as a compliment)

Greg said...


That is a big compliment coming from you because I've seen Steve's work a number of times and thought to myself, "Man, someday I want to be that good"


I published every comment relating to this project. I don't recall a comment about rosettes, but it is a good idea, none the less.

Looking at it now, I think it was inevitable as to how this was going to tunr out.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, Greg. Looks like it has always been there. Now finish it off with a nice purple vase sitting on the marble (to match the window) or a bouquet of flowers and you're done!

Becky said...

Smart and sharp looking!

Bones said...

Wow. Nice work, dude.

Sandy said...


Jennifer said...

Exactly right! That looks perfect!

Hayduke said...

Great job Greg. Can't wait to get back and see it in person. Complements the marble perfectly.