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March 20, 2022

TCL Episode #24 -Talking Trim Carpentry with Gary Mares of Mares Carpentry

Show Notes

Carpentry is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the construction industry. It is said to hold society together. It is because of carpentry, that we have homes, buildings, churches, construction.

Gary’s father started when he was 9 with his father, he served as his motivation, giving him the drive to work in this field and how to work in this industry. His father moved to Canada when he was 18. He worked under a very reputable tradesperson and became a master of his trade. Gary was very connected to his father, he was with him all the time, and learning the trade with him. He is handling his father’s business. Gary fought with cancer 14 years back and has three ribs missing, but his passion for his work is exemplary!

Time-Efficient & Strong Work Ethics

Gary tells how he used to wake up at 5 am in morning even when he was young. He tries to reach the site by 6 or max 6:30 am. They take a coffee break by 9 am, and by 12 they leave everything and eat lunch. They complete their work by 5-6pm! It’s very good that they complete their work in time and know the concept of time management, work ethic, and time-efficient.

He works with his dad, and they don’t try out new people, because they have strong work ethics, and they like people with them to follow those ethics too. They work from 7 to 5 on weekdays, 7-1 (or 7-3) on Saturdays, and on Sunday they are at the shop maintaining tools, getting ready for Monday. Gary tells it how it is to his wife who is also from a construction family so she understands his routine.

Cleaning Up

Gary only does custom homes with custom builders, he does less but quality work, usually 1 home a year, he takes up work that is challenging. Gary says that whenever they work, they leave everything clean and proper. Painters come in and they are good to go. Being the finishers, miracles are expected from the carpenters, they are stuck with cleaning up other people’s work or lack there of.


He wants glue on all the baseboards behind the base that are running along the seam. He uses LePage white glue because it is faster and strong. It’s cost-effective too. He runs it all along the baseboards all along the back, the upper and the bottom to get that adhesion, and then all the miters, never ending amount of glue on his projects.

MDF, Poplar, and Staining

Gary likes MDF when it comes to panel work, wall units, firework mantles, he doesn’t think it is good for trim. He is a wood lover in general. Carpenters, just like his dad, are called craftsmen because of the woodwork they do.

Not a lot of people are not staining wood anymore, they are painting it. But everything has its pros and cons, staining also requires expertise and hard work, because the samples provided come from the controlled environment, they didn’t get a nail in it. Stained sometimes doesn’t turn out good and the price is too high 2-3 times more.

Poplar is good for the bathroom, laundry, or where there is moisture!

Gary says that because the miter joints are soft, the nails get the blowouts caused by the compressor. Mdf is very fragile to work with, you have to know what you’re doing.

No shoe mold anymore

Nobody wants to use shoe mold anymore nobody they just want straight baseboard

they think it’s cost-effective but it actually takes more time it takes a lot more time you have to scribe everything. One thing leads to another. However, it looks nice at the end!

Getting the right equipment

One of the biggest constraints in carpenters’ work is not getting the right tools people just don’t realize how much material you need to do a good job. So, a lot of these carpenters out there aren’t getting really the tools and the equipment to do the job and forgetting the skills or improving on skills and relying on the tools. A highly skilled finish carpenter is the best tool.

Gary’s relationship with his father

As Gary works with his father, he says that because he is a bit old-school, he wants to do things his way, but it is worth it, as he is always thinking about his work, how to do things, as he loves his job. This teaches him a lot! Every day on site, at the workshop with the Old Man is a day of learning and Gary stays on his best behavior to pick up any tips and tricks his Dad may offer during the project.

Gary’s Sprinter Van

Gary has insulated the van so it keeps it quieter keeps. With an 80-gallon tank inside, they run the pneumatic hose from the back of the truck and a 220 cable to the stove or dryer plug in the house.

That’s their demand that they need a 220 plug because they don’t like the blowouts of the nails. Also, they use a lot of pneumatic sanders, so the air is always replenishing and why bother having that noise on the site? Park it outside and keep your trade friends happy.

Tool Theft

To avoid theft of their tools, they keep all their tools near them, on the floor they are working. People don’t realize how valuable the tools are and they sell them for nothing. It is every contractor’s duty to not buy such tools, because if you are buying them today, it will create a ripple effect, and one day someone will steal from you too!

Other takeaways from the episode

  • Gary says the perfect order to work is
    • Prime
    • Sand
    • Caulking
  • Try to achieve what the owner wants to achieve…and the results will be amazing.
  • When asked about how do they get hired? Gary replies it’s mostly from the positive word of mouth. The work and the workmanship speaks volumes.
  • Instead of seeing the drawings, Gary prefers to see the site before taking up the project. He wants to see what previous trade had done. He also wants to know what he is dealing with, what are the challenges or scope of the work.
  • You want to have a drive for this work, to survive in Carpentry and Construction.
  • Permit for parking must be financed by the homeowner.
  • Don’t leave before the end of the day, as traffic time is lost.
  • He is a Mikita lover, has every generation of Saw from Mikita! Go MAKITA!!
  • Sharpen the blades, buy new ones when stained. A trained carpenter is only as good as his cuts. A lot of these guys are cutting and it can’t even cut like butter! So, sharpen those blades!
  • Don’t let anyone use your tools.
  • Gary doesn’t recommend a specific store or brand for tools or materials, but he likes Doorland. Usually, people provide tools because they think carpenters will make money out of it. But Gary says they are professionals, they work hard with what is provided, but if he is not comfortable with something he lets the clients know its implications and potential results.
  • Gary was asked about the worst and best part of his job, to which he replied
    • The worst part of your job
    • The trade is dying. No one wants to be part of it. New guys who join, either are non-serious enough or leave the job because of the hard work involved. They want to make mad money as soon as they start. We need people who love carpentry and tools and have a passion.
    • The best part of your job
    • It’s the feeling of making something out of your hands. You do it from your hand, you are a problem-solver as you use your knowledge to figure it out. Every work is different, everything is challenging, and you can be proud of the end product.

Save for your retirement

Gary fought with cancer and realized that a contractor has no backing from Government, don’t expect them to be there willing to help you the small business owner. He paid his medical bills and realized that a contractor should have a retirement plan and savings in hand to survive. You must be smart with your money. This is the reason; Gary works so hard to provide for his family!