cutting the apron with a miter saw and an inset of the apron in place
Photo: Ryan Benyi

Step 11: Cut the Apron

Each run of molding will either turn a corner—in which case you'll miter the end—or meet an opening. At an opening trimmed with a deep casing, the apron can simply die into the casing. Otherwise, you'll have to create what's called a return to dress the cut end: Miter the run at 45 degrees as if for an outside corner, and then miter a second piece that will meet that 45 and die square into the wall or casing—turning the profile around the corner (as shown in the inset photo). Just be sure to cut the return's mitered end first; that task is made much easier when working with a long piece.
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    Tools List

    • utility knife
      utility knife
    • flat prybar
      pry bar
    • chalk line
      chalk line or straightedge to mark cuts on the plywood
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • circular saw
      circular saw
    • caulk gun
      caulk gun
    • studfinder
      stud finder
    • brad nailer
      nail gun
    • miter saw
      miter saw
    • japanese pull saw
      flush-cut saw to back-cut existing moldings
    • speed square
      Speed Square
    • cold chisel

    Shopping List

    Painter's tape

    ¼inch plywood.
    Get enough to cover the entire area of your wainscoting with the grain running vertically.

    1x4 for the stiles

    1x5 for the corner stiles

    1x6 for the bottom rail.

    1x8 for the top rail and baseboard.
    Get enough to cover each wall twice.

    Stool for the chair-rail cap.
    Choose a profile deep enough to extend beyond the layered depth of the plywood, rail, and apron.

    Casing for the apron

    Panel molding to trim the panels Base-cap molding

    Shoe molding

    Panel adhesive

    2½-inch finishing nails to install the stiles, rails, baseboard, apron, and chair rail

    1½-inch finishing nails to install the panel, base cap, and shoe moldings

    Wood glue

    Wood filler

    Adhesive latex caulk.
    Choose primed boards and molding to save time.