How to Cut Quarter Rounds with Expert Precision

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Quarter round or shoe molding is a type of finishing trim with a cross-section in the shape of a quarter circle. It consists of pliable wood pieces joined at the corners to conceal gaps.

If you think your room requires the lovely finishing touch of a quarter round, you don’t need to seek any outside help.

Yes, you’ve read that right. With a handful of tools and our extensive guide, you’ll be effectively cutting quarter rounds without breaking a sweat!

When to Use a Quarter Round

A quarter round is usually used as decoration and to enhance the architecture of a house. It can also be used at the corners of baseboards to conceal any gaps between the wall and the floor.

A room that used a quarter round cut with expert precision

It’s a necessary installation in various types of hard surface floorings such as hardwood, softwood, plastic, and even tiles.

Sometimes caulk is injected into the spaces between the floor and wall. While it’s true that such baseboards are easy to install, they’re not the most effective solution.

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Installing a quarter round or shoe molding is a much better and permanent solution for those pesky gaps.

Materials Required

Every task concerned with carpentry requires certain specific tools and gear to ensure maximum precision and accuracy.

Basic Tools

Protective Gear

To shield yourself from possible dangers. Do invest in safety goggles to make sure that while cutting, no splinter or material gets into your eyes. While painting, wear a mask so no toxic fumes get into your lungs.

Buy a protective mask if you have asthma or breathing problems and thick gloves for further safety.

  • Latex Gloves
  • Impact-resistant goggles
  • Mouth mask
  • Ear protection
A protective mask

How to Cut Quarter Rounds

Cutting quarter rounds isn’t the hardest job in the world, but it can appear daunting. Especially if you’re a novice at handling electric saws.

We recommend that you quickly read the following steps before beginning anything, just to wrap your head around the process. You can do that now and return here once you’re finished, we won’t go anywhere.

1.   Measure

Using a tape measure, select the space where you’ll install the molding and mark the width of your walls. Note them down.

If the surface you’re working on is tile, make sure you measure the exact area where the tile wraps around the wall to eliminate confusion.

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2.    Purchase Quarter Rounds

These pieces are easily and widely available in many home improvement stores. They’re usually about 8 feet long or 16 feet long.

Purchase them according to the measurements of your wall.

Additional tip: Purchase the pieces that are the same material as your flooring to maintain consistency and aesthetics.

3.   Pre-Finish the Pieces

Some carpenters prefer finishing their quarter round pieces before installation rather than after they’re nailed down, which is a comparatively more difficult task.

Touch-ups will obviously be needed after installation. However, that can be done in mere minutes. Again it’s your choice to go ahead without pre-finishing the pieces.

  1. Ensure the moldings are in good condition, which is smooth and clean.
  2. Sand them further for an added smoothness.
  3. Wipe away the sawdust with a soft cloth.
  4. Wear your latex gloves and bring out your paint and varnish pots. 

Apply the desired color all over the moldings. It’s better to match the colors with the baseboard molding and coat with varnish. Nude colors are a good match and they’re super trendy too.

Let it dry all over before installation.

Man painting the corners of a room

Additional tip: Be cautious while buying paints and stains. Ensure they’re good quality chemicals that won’t fade away or harm the moldings in any way.

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Also, choose materials accordingly. The surface will determine whether the paint will stay or not. Softwoods are usually convenient for painting.

4.   Mark Your Quarter Rounds

Line your quarter round pieces on the corner wall and using a pencil or blue tack to mark the places to make cuts according to which you will make trims. Make sure there is no error in your markings.

5.   Gauge the Location of Trims

The quarter round pieces must end at a corner and will always be trimmed at an angle of 45 degrees.

Both pieces must line up properly like joints and must coincide with the markings you just made.

Joint pieces should be cut at 45 degrees in one direction.

Additional Tip: Measure corner angles with a protractor for added accuracy.

6.   Use a Miter Box or a Hand Saw for Trimming

Slip pieces of your moldings into the miter box and secure them. Use your dominant hand. Hold the blade down and apply pressure, then slowly move it forward and backward until the cut is finished.

If using a miter saw, move the blade slowly and with extreme caution. Try to fit your pieces on the wall and gauge whether the length is appropriate. If the piece is too long, trim it with a carpenter’s knife.

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Additional Tip: Test-fit both pieces to ensure the lengths are appropriate for nailing. Again the material used must be gauged beforehand. It must be easy to trim and yet not super pliable.

7.   Nail Your Quarter Rounds

Use an electric nailer to put the pieces in place. The moldings must line up with the corner at an angle.

If an electric nailer is unavailable, do it manually with a hammer. The nails must be in line and both quarter rounds should be fixed properly.

Make sure you wear appropriate gear to protect yourself.

Men using a miter saw to cut wood pieces while fixing a house

8.   Finishing Touches

After installation, flatten any nails that are protruding and sand any sharp corners. Using a flat brush, touch up any paint that may have chipped during trimming and apply a fresh coat of varnish.

Additional Tip: Install a return or an end-cap after finishing the quarter round installation. Gather any scraps of leftover wood and create a little cap from the material.

Feed it into the miter to make appropriate trims and cut it to a very short length. Make sure it’s not very long, or else it might be difficult to nail properly.

Adjust it accordingly and then use woodworkers glue to temporarily attach the casing as a test-fit. Finally, nail it using a hammer or an electric nailer.

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Now you can sit back and enjoy the lovely new quarter round in your house. Great job!

Advantages of Cutting Quarter Rounds

1.   Save Money

Hiring someone to do a task as simple as cutting a quarter round can milk the dollar out of your pocket, not to mention the cost of buying materials and tools, so it’s preferable that you DIY to save your money!

2.   Save Time

Instead of waiting around for a crew to arrive and fix your floor corners, why not grab your tools and do it yourself? Much simpler and saves you a lot of time!

3.   Customize to Your Preferences

Doing your own quarter rounds will give you the liberty and flexibility to choose the materials and coloring without pressure.

You get to customize your floor according to your own preferences without resorting to anything other than this guide!

Disadvantages of Cutting Quarter Rounds

A newly finished room that used quarter round cuts with expert precision

1.   Precision & Accuracy

Cutting quarter rounds requires some mathematical calculations. There can be some errors if not done properly.

2.   Safety Hazard

If you don’t have experience with tools, this may be a difficult task for you. You need to take some safety precautions. If you’re not experienced with a handsaw, buy protective gear like goggles, latex gloves, and such.

Closing Thoughts

With this guide and the appropriate tools, anyone can install fresh moldings!

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If you read this guide and you’re still hesitant to try it yourself, start practicing on a piece of hardwood.

When you see how easy you can implement what you’ve learned here, you’ll be applying the finishing touches to your flooring without wasting any more time or money!

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.