Ed Williams is a one-of-a-kind carpenter who does one-of-a-kind work in one-of-a-kind houses near Dallas. His business, the Great American Carpentry Co., is a full-dress cabinet shop and 24-man custom trim crew. But his real job description–other than payroll conduit–is problem solver.


Big time miter box: The box's bottom and side hold the huge crown in position. Plywood gussets a saw-kerf apart are screwed into position at the exact cut angle to act as a saw guide.

Credit: Photos: (bottom) Ed Williams; (top) Dan Sellers

Williams is the guy you call if you need a jig, template, or way to solve a "this can't be done" problem–which is exactly what he did to cut this 2-foot-tall mahogany crown molding (inset). Using scrap plywood, Williams built a massive "miter box." Sure, lots of carpenters do that these days, especially for Las Vegas–style polyurethane moldings, but this trim was solid wood and the joints had to be glue-line tight. Add to the equation that the boxes were too big for a handsaw. So Ed solved that problem by standing the crown in position in the boxes then precisely installing two plywood plates that acted as saw guides. This allowed just enough room for the molding to sit in position and enough room for the saw to make a perfect cut.

With a setup like this, even a homeowner could cut a perfect miter in oversized crown. The difference, of course, is that it would take a homeowner a hundred years to figure it out. When you're Ed Williams, it's just part of a day's work.

–Gary Katz