It’s easier to patch imperfections and holes in baseboards than to replace the entire piece. In older homes, replacing it entirely risks damage to the plaster, and can be a difficult process if the baseboard is tucked behind the wood floor.
Also, finding a molding profile that matches the existing trim can be challenging at best – and costly if it requires having the trim custom made. For these reasons, Tom Silva prefers to patch the baseboard with a dutchman – a wood repair patch that is glued into a custom-cut hole.
Instead of cutting the patch to match the hole, Tom cuts the hole to match the patch. He uses a simple custom-made template and routers to cut the hole.
Steps for Patching a Baseboard:
1. Cut a piece of wood that is large enough to cover the patch you need to make. Make the patch thinner than the thickness of the baseboard. In this case the patch is approximately 3/8”-1/2”.
2. Cut a template that matches the size of the patch out of ¾ stock – plywood, MDF, composite board; any scrap stock that is rigid and perfectly flat will work.
3. Screw the template over the area.
4. Using a router equipped with a top-bearing flush cutting bit (or a guide bushing and straight bit*), cut out the area inside the template. It’s best to make a shallow cut in lieu of cutting full depth. This will give the patch more glue surface, making it more stable. Cut the hole the depth of the patch made in Step 1. Use a vacuum or dust extractor to capture the dust as you go.
* Note: If using a guide bushing, make sure to increase the size of the template opening based on the bushing’s offset.
5. Square the corners on the hole using a chisel.
6. Glue the patch and tap it into place. No need to nail it; the glue will hold it in place.
7. Sand the patch smooth. Prime, and paint.
- Wood glue
- Wood for patch (match species of trim as best you can)
- ¾” plywood, MDF, or similar large enough to cover hole and provide a shelf or the router to ride on
- ½” or ¾” top-bearing flush cutting router bit or guide bushing and straight bit