Step 2: Establish the baseboard height

Tom Silva taking measurements for baseboard installing
Photo: Craig Raine
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Set a 4-foot level on the floor next to the wall to see if the floor is level. If not, move the level across the floor to find its lowest point. At that point, tack a scrap piece of baseboard to the wall with a nail.

Using the top of this baseboard piece as a benchmark, make horizontal marks every few feet at the same level on the walls around the room. Snap a chalk line between the marks around the perimeter of the room to show where the top edge of all the baseboards should land when they're installed.

Starting at an inside corner, hold the first board against the wall, level it, then tack it in place with a nail or two.

Set your compass points to span the vertical distance between the chalk line and either of the board's top 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)