How to Cut Wood Trim to Fit in Corners

Written by kevin mcdermott
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The two basic ways to fit wood trim into inside corners is with a mitre saw or a coping saw. With a mitre saw, both ends of the trim are cut at 45 degrees so they butt against each other in the corner. This works if the corners of the room are perfectly square, but in older homes, they often aren't. In those cases, use a cope cut. A special saw cuts one of the trim pieces to fit around the other in the corner, so it looks like a mitre cut, but won't show a gap if the corner is out of square. A coping saw looks like a small hacksaw with a very thin blade.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Mitre saw
  • Coping saw
  • Finishing nailer

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  1. 1

    Measure the wall at the floor level, from one corner outward. Transfer the measurement to a piece of trim. Cut the trim on your mitre saw at 90 degrees (straight across) at both ends, so it fits against the wall butted up to both corners. Set the piece in place, but don't nail it yet.

  2. 2

    Measure the wall from the same starting corner in the other direction. Transfer the measurement to a piece of trim, putting two marks on it, at the upper edge of the trim.

  3. 3

    Set the trim on the mitre saw, in the way it will be positioned against the wall. Move the trim so the end that will be in the corner is in front of the blade. Line up the mark. Turn the blade to 45 degrees pointing inward, toward the middle of the trim. Make the cut.

  4. 4

    Slide the board so the other mark is in front of the blade, swivel the blade to 45 degrees in the other direction (again facing inward), and cut it.

  5. 5

    Hold the trim in one hand, with the angled side of the first mitred cut facing you. With your other hand, use the coping saw to saw around the perimeter of the mitred cut, following the contours where it meets the face of the board. Angle the blade as you cut it, so it's back-cutting from the face. The completed cut should mimic the profile of the trim.

  6. 6

    Set the trim on the floor along the wall, putting the coped end over the first piece that you set along the adjacent wall earlier. The cut end of the mitred pieces should hook around the front of the first piece. The result should be a clean, tight corner joint.

  7. 7

    Repeat the process to cut the remaining pieces of trim around the perimeter of the room, fitting each corner with one straight cut and one mitred and coped cut. Once all the cuts are correct and the pieces fit tightly in each corner, secure them all with a finishing nailer, shooting nails along the top and bottom edges of the pieces, every foot or so.

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