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When Good Baseboards End Bad

by on Dec 4, 2006

It’s easy to spend the day setting new baseboards, making sure each mitered and coped joint is tight and clean, the whole time eyeing nervously that closet doorway with no door casing to butt the baseboard up against. Here’s what I’m talking about:

You could take the easy way out and leave the baseboards with a mitered edge, or even just a straight cut. Nobody would notice, right? There’s an easy and more elegant way out of this quandary that’s not hard to do right the first time—and it looks great on your wall.

It’s called a return, and here’s how it looks:

A white baseboard against a yellow wall is showing a problem.

It’s real easy to do if you’ve already been at corners and joints for a day, and you can use this technique for any kind of molding, whether it’s baseboards, crown molding, or chair railing. Here’s a step-by-step to help you end that baseboard right.

First, cut the baseboard edge with an outside miter cut at a 45-degree angle so the edge lines up with where you want the baseboard to stop.

Next, cut a scrap piece of baseboard with a matching inside miter cut. It is just the small angle piece you will use for the return. The matching scrap piece should look like this:

Easy ways to turn your goose baseboards into new.

Then, center the chop saw to a 90-degree angle and line up the blade to cut away the small angled piece you will use for the return. Notice how the saw blade is lined up to the right of the piece you want, just at the edge of the return corner.
A table saw with sawdust on it.


Now, test fit the small return piece with the baseboard edge. It should fit like this:


A bannister piece being molded and cut.

Finally, set the baseboard as you normally would. To install the delicate return piece, use wood glue just like you would for any other joint. It should not require a brad to hold it into place. With a clean return to go with the rest of your beautiful new baseboards, there should be no reason not to show off every inch of your hard work.

Digg it!

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