how-to

How Do You Cut Baseboards

Andrew Grill

Baseboards are cut using miters saws designed to cut quickly and create different angles as needed. By definition, a miter is a joint between two separate pieces of wood, or trim.

How to Use a Miter Saw

Safety: Before you start to ensure that your work area is clear. Always wear goggles to protect your eyes from debris.
Operating: Most saws can be powered from the handle. Compressing the handle engages the blade to begin rotating. Before engaging the blade, make sure your boards are secured and supported by a table or stand if needed.
Cutting Baseboards:  Line up your measured and marked baseboard. Engage the blade by holding the handle down. With the piece in place, lower the blade in the chopping motion. Let the blade run entirely through the board. Disengage the handle to stop the blade. Once it is done rotating, raise the blade up and remove your cut.

For cutting angles, most pieces can be cut by sliding the saw or rotating the head. All miter saws are different; it is best to review your manufacturer’s recommendations for your model. Learn more about miter saws, below.


What Saw to Cut Trim With

The most common miter saws are electric and use a chopping action to intersect two boards. Non-electric miter saws are known as miter boxes and can be equally as effective and significantly less expensive.  More about miter saws:

The biggest differences between miter saws are the features they provide. All of them cut baseboard; however, some have additional functions like a bevel or rotation that allows for cutting different angles. These four types are most common for cutting baseboards.

Chop Saw: Pivots from a single location, or point (straight up and down). It is used to make repetitive cuts that do not require any angles besides 90 degrees.
Compound Miter Saw: In addition to sliding from one slide to the other, they offer a single bevel mechanism that allows the head to rotate to one side. This is used in more complex trim work including crown molding.
Dual-Compound Miter Saw: Similar to the compound miter saw. However, with a dual, or double bevel, operators can pivot to both sides – left and right – of the board. This gives the operator more flexibility in making cuts without moving the boards to accommodate.
Sliding Compound Miter Saw: Offer an additional sliding mechanism that lets the operators pull the saw back to cut wider boards.

Many new miter saws have additional features like lasers that are intended to help visualize the location of cuts on the board before completing the sawing action.

Finally, most experts opt to upgrade their miter saw blade. Despite miter saws being the best option for cutting baseboards, the blades they come with are often not designed for trim work. Instead, many professionals upgrade to 60-tooth blades.  The higher tooth count the blade is the ideal it is for finish work, this is because higher tooth blades create a sharper, cleaner cut and limit tear-out. Before going to purchase, be sure to check the size of your blade – common sizes are 10’’ and 12’’.

Miter Box

A miter box is the pre-electric version of the miter saw. Today, it is usually purchased while packaged with a plastic box and saw. The box contains slots for common angles (e.g., 22.5, 45, and 60). While it requires more effort from the operator, the miter box is a less involved option for making quick and common cuts. Older versions included what we would now consider a hybrid of the two with a hand saw that had a sliding motion.

 

  • Miter Saw Handle

    Most miter saws are operated from the handle.

    Miter saw handle switch

  • Line Up Your Baseboard to Your Mark

    Use your blade, or a laser if your miter saw has it, to line up your cut.

    Line up your mark to the miter saw blade for a reference

  • Different Angles

    Miter saws have the option to rotate to different angles for vertical cuts.

    Use the rotation to find the angle you need.

  • Chop Saw

    Source - DeWalt

    Chop Saw

  • Compound Miter

    Source - Ryobi

    Compound Miter Saw

  • Dual Compound Miter Saw

    Source - DeWalt

    Dual Compound Miter Saw

  • Sliding Compound Miter Saw

    Source - Ridgid

    Sliding Compound Mitersaw [Ridgid]

  • Miter Box

    Source - Stanley

    Stanley Miter Box

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