01 of 10
Mark Direction of Cut on First Baseboard
Press the uncut first baseboard tight into the corner. It doesn't matter if you begin with the left or right side, but we'll just start with the right side.
You will be cutting the baseboard at a roughly 45 degree angle. Mark the general direction of your first cut on top of the baseboard. It's just a little mental Post-It Note-type of reminder that will help you know which direction to cut when you get to the miter saw.
Tools and Materials
Continue to 2 of 10 below.
- Baseboard: You can buy this in the form of real wood, medium density fiberboard (MDF), or plastic.
- Electric Miter Saw: I heartily recommend buying, renting, or borrowing an electric miter saw. Cuts are not only faster but more accurate.
- Electric Brad Nailer: If you don't have a nailer, don't want to buy one, and only have 30 linear feet or so (or less), then you can get by with a hammer, finish nails, and a nailset. But I strongly recommend the electric tool over the manual one.
- Measuring Tape
- Stud Finder
- Painter's Tape
02 of 10
Set Saw Before Cutting First Baseboard
Move your miter saw's fence to a 45 degree-ish position (see below), conforming to the line you earlier drew.
Tip: Not Quite 45 Degrees
While it seems like 45 degrees should work, cutting it just a hair less than 45 degrees (44, but no less) produces a better fit later on when you piece up the two sides of the baseboard.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Cut the First Baseboard
Cut the baseboard. Make sure you're wearing safety glasses and hearing protection. With electric miter saws, it's not a "good idea," it's downright critical.
Tip: Positioning the Material
Are you left-handed? Right-handed? I am right-handed, and as you can see in this picture, I am holding the work piece with my right and operating the saw with my left: not a natural position. Still, I find it produces a better cut than turning the baseboard upside-down and cutting it that way, and no risk of cutting it the wrong direction.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Remove Melted Plastic from Cut Area
Real wood is real, and a lot of homeowners prefer it because of the idea that it is real. But how does it function, as opposed to MDF or plastic baseboards?
My theory: as long as the baseboard will be painted, you might as well buy the plastic stuff. Painted wood and painted plastic look exactly the same. Yet plastic bases will never rot.
Tip: How to Remove Plastic Burrs
One unfortunate side effect of cutting baseboards is the lip of melted plastic caused by the friction of the saw blade. Wait at least one minute after cutting. By then, the plastic will be brittle enough that it easily snaps off. If you try to do it before then, you might burn your fingers and the lip will not remove as cleanly.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Set Saw For the Second Baseboard
Move your saw's fence to the opposite 45 degree-ish side. Same idea of cutting just a degree short applies here.
Now, as a right handed person, you will find that the cut will be easier and safer.
Tip: Electric, Not Manual
It's great to have a manual miter saw and box around. They work well for angled cuts on small material, like quarter-rounds. But larger pieces don't fit in most miter boxes. The main reason, though, is that the work piece wiggles around when hand-cutting, thus producing a less-than-sharp cut.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Cut the Second Baseboard
Cut your second baseboard. You know the drill.
It looks like I'm faking this picture, but that's actually the flash catching this blade in mid-spin at 3,600 RPM.
Tip: Change to a Fine Blade
The blade that came with your electric miter saw? Not appropriate for trim. It's a general purpose blade, a catch-all for everything from trim to 2x4s. It doesn't cut trim all that well. Instead, invest in what is called a finish miter saw blade.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Measure Straight Cuts on Site
Here, I've got the opposite end of one of my boards, and it butts up flat against a piece of molding. I take my baseboard from the miter saw, back to the site, and measure it there.
Tip: Measure In Place
Why measure something with a tape measure when you can measure the actual material on site? You can never measure as accurately with a tape measure as you can when laying the baseboard against the place where it needs to be cut.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Set the Two Baseboards Together
Voila! This is how the two baseboards should look when they come together.
Tip: Corner Fixes Don't Work
So maybe the angles are wrong. Or maybe the angles are right, but they're just a bit short of each other. Fix it with wood filler or caulk?
No. Those patches will eventually pull apart. I am sympathetic to the fact that you don't want to buy a new baseboard; they are expensive.
If you have foot-long or greater scrap pieces laying around, a more invisible fix is to cut out about 8" to 10" from the middle of the baseboard with two parallel 45 degree cuts. Then cut your scrap piece to fit that section. It's called a scarf joint.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Find and Mark Location of Wall Studs
With a studfinder, find your wall studs and mark their locations with squares of painter's tape.
Studs usually will run every 16 inches on-center. Your stud finder probably won't detect studs at corners; you'll just have to know that corners are guaranteed to always have studs.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Nail the Baseboards in Place
Tack the baseboard into place by shooting brads at an angle into the wall where the studs are located.
Like the electric miter saw, this is another instance where the electric tool works far better than the manual one, and not just because it saves you work.
With an electric nailer, you can hold the baseboard in place and affix it instantly--without risk of moving the baseboard around. By contrast, when you nail manually, every strike on the hammer is another chance for the baseboard to rattle out of position.