Hello, my name is AshleyAnne and I’m a DIY-aholic. I get these crazy spurts of desire to do a “project” (that’s what I always call them regardless of whether they’re a major reno or just some light painting) and it’s the only thing I can focus on until it’s done. Most recently, it was a custom wooden vent hood to cover up the spaceship that hung between my kitchen windows.
A little background for ya in case you’re new here – we bought a 1960s ranch from a “flipper” in 2017. It had great bones, but he’d totally missed the mark on breathing true life back into the house. He’d come in and made several cosmetic updates, many of which were spaceship-y fixtures (just wait till you see the ceiling fan in one of the guest rooms). Just in case you need a history refresher, we were just beginning to visit outer space in the 1960s…people certainly weren’t hanging futuristic lighting and vent hoods in their homes! It was time to bring this space back to life with an age-appropriate update. No more croptops on 50 year-old soccer moms!
So began another one of my epic Pinterest searches for all sorts of glorious inspo…
I knew wanted my new hood to span between the windows, have the trapezoidal shape from the first inspo pic and the more rectangular base trim from the second. Aleisha’s post really helped with framing component of the project and getting started building off the wall. Keep reading for the recap of how I brought our wooden vent hood to life!
PREP: Tools + Materials
Kreg Jig (or other pocket hole tool) & Kreg Jig screws
clamps (both corner and regular)
nail gun & collated nails
1/4″ birch plywood in 4′ x 8′ sheet
trim of choice (I used 3/4″ MDF, lattice, and two sizes of crown)
Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-based Primer
paint of choice
paint brushes & 4″ rollers for cabinets
120 grit sand paper
STEP 1: Measure + Sketch
I started by measuring the span between my windows and all the dimensions of our current vent hood. Then I translated those dimensions into a sketch. I felt like our hood looked like it was really high above the stove (especially when we switch to gas one day because we won’t have the knobs along the back wall), so I researched the recommended spacing. It’s 20″-24″ for electric and 24″-30″ for gas, if you’re wondering. Since I was leaving our old vent in place and just building around it, I knew I needed some way to be able to access the controls along the front. Enter Young House Love’s tutorial for their vent hood! I figured in a 3/4″ finger space in my initial plan, and ended up making it larger during the actual build.
From here it was just a matter of sketching out what I wanted the final build to look like. Based on the distance between my windows, I decided on a 50″ length and 6″ height for the base. The top expanded from the original 12.5″ wide to 18″ wide and I did away with the rectangular chimney between the trapezoidal base and the ceiling. I drew the front of the new range hood cover to scale on a sheet of graph paper so that I’d have a visual reference as I started building. I didn’t sketch the depth off the wall, but that dimension didn’t change much. The top depth stayed the same at 12″ and the base increased from 23.75″ to 25″ off the wall.
STEP 2: Build the Frame
We started by taking the metal sheeting off of the chimney because it’s really just decorative to cover the exhaust flume. We cut a 1×2 board to length and screwed it into two studs beneath the existing hood. Then we built the ceiling frame. It’s a U-shape held together and to the wall with pocket hole screws. You can see where we anchored it into a ceiling joist on the front with a pocket hole screw as well. Next, we pulled up this online trig calculator (welcome to having an engineer hubby) to determine the angles we needed to cut off the ends of the 2×4 side braces. After cutting them with the miter saw, we anchored them into studs all the way up with construction screws.
Admittedly I didn’t do a great job of photographing the next part, because I did it by myself while J was at work. In the picture below you’ll see where I built the base frame (the vertical brace was added with J’s help after
he got I called him at work crying for him to come home). I needed two U-shaped frames for the base. One to run along the top of the 6″ base and one to run along the bottom of it. I inverted them, though, so the top one is a U with the flat part running along the front and the ends anchored into the 2×4 side braces. The bottom was just two side sticks anchored into the wall brace under the old hood, making the flat part of the U run along the wall on that one. I assembled the front of the top brace with pocket holes by clamping one end and attaching the other to the side brace (I had already attached the side braces to the wall braces). The bottom brace was easier – I just screwed straight through the 1×2 into the 2×4 wall brace with construction screws. Make sure to drill a pilot hole first, though! Those 1x2s will split on you in a heartbeat! I added two vertical braces at the ends of the top and bottom side braces to keep that 6″ height. After assembling the base frame, I stood two 2x4s up between it and the countertop to hold the weight until we could anchor into the ceiling box.
This is where I got
stuck totally frustrated and had to call J to come home, so it seems like a good place to pause and give you a disclaimer. Please be sure to stop and measure dimensions/check that it’s level in each phase of building the base frame. If you’re off on one dimension or not level in one spot it can throw everything off causing you to have to start over.
Don’t ask me how he did it, but J pulled up his trusty online trig calculator again and cut the ends off of these 1×2 vertical braces at just the right angle. There are two on the front and one on each side. The bottom of each of the vertical braces ties in behind the top brace on the base of the hood cover. He just screwed straight through the 1×2 horizontal frame up into the ends of each vertical stick. As far as the top of each vertical brace, they meet the ceiling brace along the bottom of the box and are screwed straight through the angled end from below. These vertical sticks serve two purposes: disperse the weight of the load and provide anchors for attaching the plywood cover.
Next order of business was covering the frame with the 1/4″ birch plywood. Before you have any horrible flashbacks to high school geometry, no angles were actually measured in this process. I wish I’d taken a picture of the pieces drawn on the large sheet of plywood, but we were in work mode and I just didn’t think about it. I do have sketches of each side, though, so hopefully they give you enough of a visual!
I started by measuring the width of the base from inside to inside of each brace. Then I did the same thing at the top – measuring from outside to outside, though, of the ceiling brace. Then I measured down from the bottom of the ceiling brace to the top of the bottom brace. I translated those measurements to the plywood by drawing the base dimension first (48″). Then, I marked the center of that line at a point 26″ up from it. From that center mark, I went out 9″ on each side to give me the 18″ width for the top of the trapezoid. Going out from center like that put the top line in the correct position over the bottom line. Then I just connected the end of the top line to the end of the bottom line on both sides using a level as a straight edge, and voila!
Repeat for the sides, except you’re able to use a right angle at the top and bottom where it meets the wall (see sketch above), which makes life so easy. We used the edge of our sheet of plywood and measured out 12″ for the top, 24″ for the bottom, and connected the end of each of those lines using a level as a straight edge. The bottom face on all three sides is the easiest of all – you’re just making rectangles. We cut out the pieces with a circular saw, checked for fit (remember you’re covering with trim so it doesn’t need to be perfect), and nailed them in using 1/2″ brad nails in the nail gun.
STEP 3: Trim It Out
Surprisingly, the trim was one of the easiest parts of the whole project. It was all nailed in with the nail gun and various length nails based on the thickness of the material I was securing. I started by putting the cap on the base. I used left over 3/4″ MDF we had from another trim project and ripped it to a 2.5″ width using the table saw. I cut each end off at 45˚ (on the front, the sides have one end that’s square and the other is cut back at 45˚) and sanded down the edges to make them smooth. I doubled these cuts so that I could have a flat board running along the top and bottom edges of the base. Next, I put on the smaller crown that went under the upper flat board by following the same process. When J got home from work he helped me cut the lattice that frames each face. My dad had to help us figure the angles, because you have the cut the edges of 4 of the thin pieces of lattice back with a table saw so that they meet at a point along those two front edges (those aren’t 90˚ angles – they’re obtuse so you have to cut two acute angles that meet up and create the obtuse dimension). I think we cut back at a 33.5˚ angle down the whole length of lattice for those, but this is the part where you’ll have to do a little geometry coupled with trial and error. Even if I told you the exact angle we used, it’d most likely be different for you based on your dimensions. I used my bevel square in all phases of the trim where I didn’t have 90˚ angles. I’d never used one before, but that thing is a $6 lifesaver! If you’re unfamiliar like I was, this YouTube tutorial was super helpful.
On the long flat board that went along the bottom edge of the base I cut a notch so that we could access the controls that are on the front of the hood. I just held the board up there after I’d cut it to length and marked the ends of the control panel. I drew out the rectangle using a straight edge and cut it with a jigsaw. That brace sits 3/4″ off of the hood and the notch is another 3/4″, giving us a total of 1.5″ of finger space to access the controls.
STEP 4: Paint
My favorite primer for woodwork is Zinsser’s B-I-N. Its a white shellac-based primer and I love it because it seals the wood and gives you a nice enamel finish. That means no bleeding through of knots or grain. Once that puppy is dry and sanded it will be as smooth as a baby’s bottom! You do have to sand, though. The first time I used it I totally panicked because once it dried my trim work felt like sandpaper! I immediately started googling and found that it seals the wood which means it pushes out any grit or impurities and those have to be sanded away to get that super-smooth finish (Similar to what polyurethane does if you’ve ever used it.) I just used 150 grit paper I had on hand, but you can certainly use a finer grit if you want. I’ve found you only need one coat of the B-I-N and can move straight to paint.
After the primer had dried and I’d sanded, I wiped the whole thing down with a Swiffer and then with a couple wet paper towels just to be sure all the dust was gone. Then I caulked ev.er.y.thing. I’m talking every seam, every nail hole, everything.
Now, let’s chat paint for a second. I use BEHR paint from Home Depot for everything. You’ll hear people rave about those other suuuuper expensive brands, but I had a pro (who worked for one of those high-end brands) do some painting for us in our old house, and when he started rolling on the BEHR he was shocked. He raved and raved about it and was in disbelief that it was Home Depot paint. So, to each their own, but I’ve got firsthand confirmation that they’re really not that different…except in price.
The only thing I’d change (and I am actually considering going back and sanding it all down to do it) is the kind of paint I used. I used some BEHR Premium Plus Ultra (in “Pure White”) that I already had had on hand. It’s latex (or acrylic) based and I really wish I would have used an oil-based paint instead. Oil-based paints are self-leveling so you don’t get that “orange peel” look from a roller or brush strokes like you do with latex paint, and they dry to a hard enamel finish. It’s not that noticeable on mine, but I think it would have just had more of a smooth candy coated looking finish if I’d used an oil instead. Again, to each their own. No one is ever going to know if you used oil or latex based paint, I’m just hyper-critical of myself and my work…the joys of perfectionism 😉
It took us about 5 days (2 full days and a few partials) to completely finish the wooden hood. Probably a full weekend project if you want to get in and knock it out. I’ve had several people ask how difficult it was, and, I’m not going to lie, there was a point in the framing phase where I seriously considered taking it all down and just patching the walls. Getting the angles and measurements right in that phase was definitely the hardest part. The DIY level on this one is probably moderate. If you’ve done trim work before and have a general grasp of framing, geometry, and/or woodworking you can totally end up with something like this:
That’s it, friend! As always, sound off in the comments below! I’d love to hear if you use this tutorial to build something similar or to help answer any questions. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! In the meantime, let’s take a moment and appreciate the glow up our little ranch has had in two short years…