Overview

running baseboard
Illustration by: JW Taylor
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When starting from scratch, Tom Silva prefers the look of a base that's at least 6 inches high and ½ to ¾ inches thick, topped with a separate, deeply profiled cap molding. But if he's remodeling a house graced with good-looking baseboards, he tries his best to match the new trim to what's already there.

Making a new baseboard the same height as the original isn't difficult; finding a cap molding with the same profile can be, especially on an old house. Sometimes he'll get lucky and locate the profile he needs from the 100 or so that good millwork shops keep in stock. Sometimes he'll combine two or more of those moldings to create a shape that is close. But when an exact replica is needed, he'll have custom molding milled up.

PLANNING AHEAD
To determine the amount of baseboard material you need, measure each straight section of the wall and round up to the nearest whole-foot dimension divisible by two. A week before installation, bring the wood inside to acclimate. Start running baseboard against inside corners and work toward outside corners.

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    Tools List

    • miter saw
      Compound miter saw,
      for straight and angled crosscuts
    • coping saw
      Coping saw,
      for cutting copes in the ends of molding
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level,
      for finding low spots on floor and marking height of baseboard
    • circular saw
      6-inch circular saw,
      for ripping back-bevels in trim
    • speed square
      Speed Square,
      for guiding crosscuts made with a circular saw
    • 30-foot tape measure
      25-foot tape measure
    • pencil compass
      Compass (for scribing
    • block plane
      Block plane,
      for tuning the fit of a scribed piece
    • biscuit joiner
      Biscuit joiner,
      for cutting slots in miter joints
    • chalk line
      Chalk line,
      for snapping the lines that establish baseboard height
    • hammer
      Hammer or pneumatic nail gun
    • nailset
      Nail set

    Shopping List

    1. BASEBOARD MOLDING

    2. CAP MOLDING

    3. SHOE MOLDING

    4. 6D AND 8D FINISH NAILS

    5. NO. 10 COMPRESSED WOOD BISCUITS
    (for holding together baseboard miters)

    6. CARPENTER'S GLUR
    (for adhering joints)