How to Cut Baseboards with a Miter Saw

Arguably, the best way to go about achieving a clean crosscut across a piece of wood or similar material is by using a miter saw. Baseboards are essentially thick pieces of wood, which does not help if you are looking to saw one up by hand.

Attempting mitered cuts by hand can be arduous and time-consuming. It is a highly inefficient method to go about achieving a mitered cut, to say the least.

Whether you are a newbie attempting a DIY project or want to attempt a baseboard run or trim around your home, a miter saw will significantly improve the quality of your work. So today, we are going to take a look at how to cut baseboards with a miter saw and help you achieve that professional level of finishing.

Baseboard

Before we get to sawing, we must first understand our material. A baseboard is essentially a “cover-up” material used in modern homes. It is traditionally used to cover up the gaps between two surfaces, namely in floors and walls.

They are basically several planks of wood or similar material attached to walls using adhesives. And they can be either made of wood, plastic, or vinyl, each differing in physical property and thus have different use cases.

How to Cut Baseboards with a Miter Saw

Before We Begin

It is important that we learn about bevel angles, corner types, and miter angles before we proceed. Before we begin sawing away, we must first decide on which side of the material we are going to attempt our cut. We do not want to end up with the uneven side of the material on display.

From here on onwards, we are going to assume that you, dear reader, know how to safely operate a miter saw.

We then look at where we would place our baseboards. Depending on the location, we have to utilize one or both of the following joint types for joining our baseboards:

  1. A Scarf Joint: This is used to join two 45-degree crosscuts between two distinct boards.

  2. Coped Joint: This one is used to join two baseboards in an inside corner or an outside corner of two meeting walls. 

The Things We Will Need

A measuring tape, a pencil, safety goggles for protection (very important), dust filter masks, sandpaper, a combination square, a ruler, and most importantly, a miter saw.

Now we get to cutting up the baseboards.

Performing the Different Cuts

Here’s how to perform different types of cuts;

Scarf Joints

By far, this is the easiest one to perform. We perform scarf joints to join two adjacent boards with 45-degree angled crosscuts. These cuts oppose one another. We begin with two separate boards with 90-degree cuts on either end. Using a pencil, we mark a 45-degree cut from a stud corner. 

We then use our trusty miter saw to cut along our mark. Then we proceed to smoothen the crosscut using fine-grit sandpaper. Take care to not over-sand the cut, else we risk messing up the angle of the cut.

Draw a 45-degree cut on the other board using the previously cut board as reference. Saw and sand accordingly. Now we have two pieces of baseboards that fit together snugly like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle! Simply glue the ends together with wood glue, and we have one continuous length of baseboard.

Coped Joints

As stated before, we perform these coped joint cuts on baseboards linking the inside corner or outside corners of two walls. For inner joints, we place the flat cross-sectional end against the corner wall. We set another piece of baseboard flat on the floor.

Using a pencil, we trace the length and shape of the edge of this board by placing another piece of baseboard, perpendicular to the flat piece on the ground, and adjacent to the corner wall. The perpendicular piece serves as a facilitator for the coped joint by providing a reference for our mark.

Then using our miter saw, we etch away a bevel cut just short of our trace mark at an angle that is at least 90-degrees. A cut around 1/12th or 1/16th of an inch deep is ideal.

For outer corners, the method is slightly different. Against the wall, set a baseboard that extends beyond the corner. Using a combination square, trace out the position where this baseboard piece would meet the other piece and mark it with a pencil.

Proceed to cut away from the stud corner at a 45-degree angle and sand for evenness. Repeat this step with the other piece of the baseboard. Be sure to run a test fitting to make sure they line up all nice and smooth. Proceed to glue them together.

Conclusion

Remember; always mark your baseboard before sawing away with a miter saw. Try not to make any cuts against the grain of the paint (if there are any) on the baseboard. 

If you follow the steps we have discussed carefully, it will be a very simple process of cutting through baseboards and have a professional-looking baseboard lining in no time at all! Happy sawing!

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