Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coping baseboard in an inside corner

Trimming an inside corner the right way.

If you are doing a little home renovation or you have a professional tradesmen working at your home and you are wondering how they were able to get the inside corner joint of the baseboard to look so tight, keep reading and I’ll tell you how they did it.

First things first you need the right tools;

You need a “chop saw”, if your doing baseboards of any good size then you need a sliding compound saw. This is basically a powered mitre saw that will cut any angle that you need.
You will need a good sharp pencil.
Air powered trim gun.
A jigsaw.
A coping saw. This is the important tool that is not expensive to buy but is essential to making proper inside corner joints.

When you are trimming an inside 90 degree corner most people will just cut two pieces of baseboard on a 45 degree angle and butt them up in the corner. The problem with this is that no corner is perfectly square. Most houses in North America have drywall on their walls, when you drywall an inside corner you tape it and then mud over it. When the drywaller is done the corner is no longer square. Because of this when you attempt to simple butt the two 45 degree joints together then you end up with a gap at the front where the two pieces of trim are suppose to meet. Because of this it is quicker, easier and looks world’s better when you cope the baseboard joint in the corner.

Here are the following steps to coping a baseboard inside corner;

1. Measure and cut one piece of baseboard so that it runs straight into the corner. You do not put any angle on the cut; a straight 90 degree cut is what you want. Nail it in place.

2. Measure the next length of baseboard that will be running into the corner from the other direction. If the baseboard you are cutting doesn’t have to end any where specific then you simply cut a 45 degree angle on that far end so that your next piece of baseboard can overlap it making it look professional. If you need an exact length of baseboard because it meets another piece of baseboard or it meets an outside corner or door trim then you are going to have to add a couple of extra inches to your measurement. This will insure that your piece of baseboard does not end up to short once you cope the corner.

3. Cut your piece of baseboard to the desired length, making your cut at the opposite end where you will be doing your corner coping.

4. Then cut a 45 degree angle on the corner that needs to be cooped. Your 45 degree angle should be cut so that the back of the baseboard is longer than the face of the baseboard. This is the same procedure if you were going to try and do two 45 degree corner butt joint.

5. Now take your coping saw and cut along the face of the baseboard. You will be cutting at the exact edge of the 45 degree cut. Because you have cut the baseboard on a 45 degree angle your cut will not be straight at the top of the baseboard where the detail is. So you keep cutting until you have removed the 45 degree angle cut. At the bottom of the baseboard where there is no detail you can use the jigsaw, this will make it faster and should allow you to make a straighter cleaner cut then doing it by hand.

6. Now that you have coped the baseboard your probably looking at it thinking this is looks weird! Take the baseboard and slide the cooped end of the baseboard into the corner. If you cooped the corner properly that cooped end should fit over all the detail of the other piece of baseboard that you already installed. This will give you a beautiful corner and minimize shrinking, allowing the baseboard to stay nice and tight.

7. Nail it in place when you have it fitting like you want too. If the baseboard had to fit in an exact location then this is the time when you mark the other end with a pencil where it meets the other corner or trim. Cut to length and nail in place.

It’s that easy. The first time you do this it will take you sometime, but once you get the hang of it then it will not take a lot of time at all.

If you hire a handyman and he doesn’t trim your inside corners like this then you should be a little worried. This is step one in becoming a carpenter when learning to trim. My apprentices will spend weeks in a custom home and all they are allowed to do is cope baseboard that the master carpenter has marked for them.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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