How to Use a Coping Saw for Baseboard

If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.

When installing baseboard trim, one of the popular options is using a coping saw to cut ends. Coped baseboards produce professional, close-fit joints. If looking to understand how to use a coping saw for baseboard, this article answers all your questions about the process. We also included useful coping tips to help you get along. 

How to Use a Coping Saw For Baseboard 

If you are looking to make coped baseboards and have no idea how to do it, this guide will show you everything you need to know. We walk you through a step-by-step process together with and precautions to keep in mind while using a coping saw for the baseboard. 

What is a Coped Baseboard?

You can either miter or cope baseboards. While mitering is easier, it’s unsuitable for baseboard preparation. That’s because some walls do not produce perfect 90° corners. Installing mitered baseboards on them then becomes tricky. 

Coping saw

If you miter these corners, you’re likely to end up with gapped baseboard joints or unsightly connections that make your work look amateurish. That’s where the coping saw comes in. The saw uses a thin blade that allows you to follow curves when cutting wood. 

Therefore, coped baseboards are baseboards that you shape using a coping saw. The process involves beveling one piece of the molding so that one end fits the surface of the opposite wall. You then cut another piece to the profile of the first board, allowing it to line up without leaving openings.  

Also see how to cut your quarter rounds with a coping saw.

Christmas Scroll Saw Template Packs for Sale

How to Cope Baseboards

Having looked at what a coped baseboard means, let’s now dive right into the process itself. Here is how to go about shaping molding for perfect joints. 

What You Need

  • Coping saw
  • Miter saw
  • Round file
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps
  • Your baseboards

After getting everything you need to complete this process, follow the steps outlined below. 

Step 1: Cut the First Piece

The first board provides the basis for cutting the second board, so the two can fit snugly over each other. 

  1. Find the piece that will install along the wall’s length
  2. Position it against the wall
  3. Cut it square so that it lines up with the adjacent wall perfectly
  4. Set it aside

Step 2: Bevel the Second Piece

The purpose of this step is to reveal the profile of the baseboard so you can start coping it. We will use a miter saw for this. 

  1. Proceed to set the miter saw to 45° 
  2. Set the baseboard flat against the miter saw’s fence
  3. Cut a 45° piece off the baseboard end

You can also exclusively use a miter saw for cutting baseboards.

Man showing how to use a coping saw for baseboard

Step 3: Cope the Baseboard

After cutting off the end of the baseboard, it’s now time to shape it using a coping saw. This step is crucial to ensure that the two pieces line up perfectly.

  1. Clamp the piece that you need to cope
  2. Using a coping saw, cut the baseboard along its profile
  3. Throughout the cutting process, angle the blade slightly. This will help remove more material from the backside and ensure a perfect joint

Step 4: Sand and File Baseboard Edge

Sawing the baseboard inevitably produces a rough edge. To ensure a nice joint, you will need to sand it down.

  1. Gently sand the cut edge
  2. Occasionally fit the piece so you can find out parts that still need more sanding 
  3. Use the round file on the right curved of the baseboard where the sandpaper cannot reach with ease

Advantages of Coped Baseboards

A coping saw offers the advantage of flexibility, allowing you to cut wood without the restrictions of a regular saw. The thin blade also allows you greater control when working on baseboards for detailed cuts. 

Christmas Scroll Saw Template Packs for Sale

Coped boards easily survive situations where the walls shift slightly to produce joint imperfections. They are also good for conditions that cause the boards to shrink and separate, too, such as hot climates. 

Additionally, coped joints provide an aesthetic appeal that makes your work appear professional.

Tips for Coping Baseboards 

Coping a baseboard may not be as simple as it appears in the steps listed here. You need to take great care. Additionally, it’s advisable that you use the saw correctly. These tips explain the measures to take so your baseboard preparation becomes a success. 

Close up of a coping saw
  • When taking baseboard measurements, be sure to include the piece that you will cut off when beveling the pieces. If you do not, you are likely to end up with pieces that are too short.
  • Depending on your type of baseboard and style, you may encounter challenges when cutting through its profile. To make things easier, cut it in pieces rather than using a single cut all through.
  • Baseboards tend to splinter off during coping. To prevent that from happening, have your fingers press against the surface close to the cut and supporting the exposed tips.
  • For best results, keep away from the cutting line all through. You can always sand or file the extra piece away.
  • Do not overlook the importance of proper lighting. Coping your baseboards is more comfortable if you can see what you’re doing.
  • To ensure accuracy, support baseboards using clamps. Avoid applying too much pressure, though, or risk damaging the baseboard surfaces
  • Precision is key when coping baseboards. Always ensure care when cutting through the curves, even if it takes you a lot of time. To master the procedure, consider practicing using scrap boards first.
  • To avoid denting your baseboard on the clamps, use scrap wood or discarded baseboard pieces to protect it

Safety Precautions When Using a Coping Saw

  • Wear protective eyewear. The CDC estimates that each day, about 2,000 workers in the US sustain eye injuries that require medical attention. Using a coping saw produces particles that might injure your eyes so you should always wear protective eyewear. 
  • Check the blade before using it, if it needs changing.  Ensure that it has the right tension and the teeth are facing the right direction. 
  • Wear protective gloves. 
  • Check the saw for any damages before using it. 

Conclusion 

Without using a coping saw, your baseboard installation is bound to look sloppy. That’s in addition to the likelihood of the joints separating too soon and ruining your work. It’s essential, therefore, that you get everything right when cutting your baseboards in order to get the desired results. 

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.