Trimming household baseboard can be a difficult task for anyone, from do-it-yourselfers up to skilled craftsmen. This is especially true if you remove the baseboard – trimming in place calls for greater care and precision so as not to damage anything else in the structure of the wall. Baseboard often needs to be trimmed during installation so as to achieve a good snug fit with the wall, but the difficulty comes in when you have to avoid damage to the work area.
Fortunately, there is a very versatile tool available at all hardware stores called the oscillating multi-tool, which can be used to do the job and it can handle this as well as many other jobs that used to be very difficult. Here is a step-by-step guide on how the task can be done using this wonder tool, even by someone who has never attempted it before.
Step 1: Select the Right Blade for the Job
Since this is a job calling for precision, you’ll need a fine-tooth metal-cutting blade accessory for your oscillating multi-tool. This is the best blade to use in order to avoid damaging the baseboard itself, the drywall behind it, and possibly even the floor beneath the baseboard. The multi-tool is especially good at providing the kind of precise control you need to do this job without affecting the structure all around it.
Step 2: Draw the Cut Line
Using a carpenter’s pencil and straightedge, draw a cut line on the baseboard which will be used as a visual guide for the multi-tool to cut through. This would be a good time to observe the old carpenter’s adage, ‘Measure twice, cut once’, since a measurement mistake might make a section of baseboard too short, and potentially unusable.
Step 3: Monitor Cut Progress
Align the blade of the multi-tool with the cut line you drew on the baseboard. Using a very light touch, cut in a downward direction toward the floor, allowing the multi-tool to cut through any paint, caulking or nails in place. It is important to not apply much force during this part of the procedure, and to simply let the oscillating tool do most of the work.
The potential for having to cut through nails is one of the reasons that a metal-cutting blade must be selected for this task. When a nail is encountered, be extra cautious and let the multi-tool do what it is designed for. Speaking of caution – as you continue the cutting action, keep a sharp eye on the blade’s progress, and stop cutting when you reach the drywall behind the baseboard. A little extra attention here will avoid damaging the drywall and compromising its effectiveness.
Step 4: Cleanup
Once you’ve trimmed the baseboard down to the appropriate length, you’ll undoubtedly have some trimmings on the floor which need to be cleaned up and disposed of, but this is the easiest part of the whole job. Remove your multi-tool cutting blade, clean it, and if desired, apply a light coat of oil to keep it in tip-top shape for the next household task you undertake.
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