The process of cutting baseboards with a miter saw is relatively simple once you get some practice and do the proper research on the task. Where most people tend to get overwhelmed in the process is there are many variations in terms of the type of baseboard corner cuts required to install baseboard molding successfully.
However, this article will take you through the step-by-step process you need to take in order to finish the job successfully. Plus, it will give you some tips and mistakes to avoid throughout the task.
Is Miter Saw the Best Tool for Cutting Baseboards?
Yes, but specifically, using a compound miter saw with a 10-inch blade is the best tool for the job. The cuts are fairly simple and most baseboards are not so thick as to where you will need a 12-inch blade to make good cuts.
If you don’t have access to a compound miter saw, you can use an alternative like a coping saw. It is a handheld saw, so it will require more effort, but it will get you the cuts you need for your baseboards.
How to Cut Baseboards with a Miter Saw
With the fact that a miter saw indeed is the best tool for this task, let’s take a look at how to do it, step by step.
Step 1: Take Measurements
As the old adage goes, measure twice and cut once. For this step, you should use a measuring tape to take a measurement of how long your walls are at the base, from one side to another.
Be sure to measure all walls, from one corner to the next as this will give you the information on how long the baseboards will need to be cut. While doing this, try to find where exactly the studs in the wall are, as the studs are what you will be attaching your newly cut baseboards to.
Step 2: Make the Inside Corner Cuts
For four walls, you will need to make four inside corner cuts. Set the bevel for your miter saw to 45-degrees bevel and set the miter to 0-degrees.
Use a pencil to mark the back of your baseboard, so you can simply follow that line when making the cut. Then, once you have set the miter angle and bevel angle and you have the baseboard on the cutting table, you can turn the saw on and begin the cut.
Move the blade down through the wood until the cut has been made. Push the blade all the way through, but don’t apply way too much pressure.
Step 3: Make the Outside Corner Cuts
Here you can keep the miter saw at the same settings (0-degree miter and 45-degree bevel) and use a pencil to once again mark the baseboard. You now need to cut the baseboard so that the front side will be a bit longer than the backside.
This is so you can easily join the corners together once everything has been cut. Once again, remember to not use excessive pressure when making these cuts.
Step 4: Make the Square Cuts
Instead of angling the cuts to create angled baseboard corners, some people choose to cut straight and then join them to form a perpendicular joint. Some may choose to do this step differently, but this is possible with a miter saw and is very simple.
All you need to do is set the bevel to 0 and the miter to a 90-degree angle this time. In other words, just make a normal crosscut, which is by far the easiest one to make.
Step 5: Install the Baseboards
Possibly the easiest step of all is to finally install the baseboards in which, all you need to do is place them where they will be permanently and make sure that they match up properly.
Always check this before you start nailing or screwing your molding on and be sure to use the right length of nails or screws before attaching the baseboards to the studs in the wall. Any piece of baseboard molding should be fixed in position with finish or brad nails no longer than 2 inches. I wrote more about that in my article about what size nails to use for baseboard trim.
After this, you’re all finished, and all that’s left is a little sweeping and basic cleanup around your work area. Be sure if you’re using nails to not damage any drywall behind the baseboards as this can potentially derail the whole project if the damage is too bad.
Inside vs. Outside Corners: Differences to Keep in Mind When Cutting
Making these two different cuts is a very similar process. You use the same angle and bevel to make the cut and both finished products look almost identical.
That said, there is a subtle difference in that, the outside corner cuts will have a longer front side. This is so it can fit your wall properly, and when you put the two corner cuts together, they should match up perfectly.
The difference is very slight, and the front side will not be longer by much. However, this is an important difference to keep in mind when making these cuts.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Lastly, below are some more things to keep in mind before jumping at the task.
Measurements Are the Key
Improper measurements can wreck your whole project from the start. You can leave gaps from pieces cut too short, or you can’t get the corners to look just right because you got the angle and length wrong.
You have to know how to measure the pieces you need for success in cutting baseboards. Although, you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake and end up having to start the whole project from scratch because of it.
Sand the Edges for Nice Finish
Another easily made mistake is not getting smooth enough edges on your pieces of trim. The process of sanding the edges of each piece of trim is often overlooked or not thought about because the edges can look smooth but can cause problems in the future if they’re not.
If you don’t sand them, they can refuse to line up properly or leave tiny gaps in between pieces. Sanding the ends of trim can make them go together seamlessly and smoothly, as well as stay aligned and make any adhesive hold better.
To learn about the different types of sanders, check this article.
Hopefully, you’ve now learned all you need to know on how to use a miter saw to cut baseboards and install them. When it comes to building or renovating a home, baseboards should be one of the easiest tasks if you measure and cut your materials properly.
It might take some practice mastering the different angle cuts and understanding the type of cut necessary for each application. Nonetheless, continue to practice and it will become second-nature to you quickly.
Be sure to keep the mistakes to avoid in mind and be as safe as possible when operating miter saws. They are powerful tools and require the utmost attention to use. Happy building, and be safe out there fellow DIYers!