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Following up on my last post, here’s what worked for siding around the windows and doors when my template didn’t.

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This is what I started out with.  I followed several steps for applying the siding.

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1) Measure.    In most places I could hold a siding strip in place and mark it from behind, as in the photo above.  Where that was not possible, I held the strip in place and marked it from the front.

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2)  Sand.  I chose the smoothest edge of the strip and sanded lightly with 220 grit sandpaper for a cleaner look to the siding.

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3)  Cut.  I used a scissors to cut along my marked edge.  Whenever it was difficult to get an exact mark because of awkward placement, I cut a slightly longer piece that I thought I needed.

4)  Try out for size.  This was the time to shorten too-long strips or even up crooked edges.

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5)  Apply glue.  I applied a wiggly line of hot glue and got ready to quickly apply the strip.

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6)  Glue down.  As soon as the glue was on I carefully positioned the strip and pressed it down quickly before the hot glue cooled.  Careful positioning is important as it’s extremely difficult to remove these thin siding strips.  They tend to shred as you pull them off, and you need to end up scraping them off with an exacto knife.  (I know this because when I got a bit tired I got careless with a couple of strips!)

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I tried to be as exact as possible in my work, although I knew that when the windows go in they will hide minor imperfections like the one at the top of this window.

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One final tip is that when you apply siding you will find that one whole strip us too short to cover certain runs.  In the case where you need two strips on one length of siding, be sure to stagger the joins so they do not all occur in the same place.  If you observe real houses, they never have a “seam” up one side where all the lengths of siding join.  To avoid an awkward seam, start succeeding runs from opposite sides of the house.  If your house should be exactly double the length of your siding strips, just cut them randomly to avoid creating a seam.

In this photo you can see a seam at the lower corner of the right hand window.  The others are hidden under the porch roof because that’s where the longest runs are.

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It was a long, tedious process to get all the siding measured and applied around the windows and doors, but it was worth it in the end when I tried on my windows and door and got a glimpse of the finished house.

My final judgment on templates is this:  They work fine to cut angled shapes like gables where one or two straight cuts are all that are needed.  But when you’re working around windows and doors, there’s no method better than what a real carpenter would do–measure twice and cut once–for every single strip of siding!

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