Perfect mitred baseboards - a tutorial

by brae  

One of the best ways to achieve realism in a miniature setting is to add baseboards.  But, nothing ruins that illusion more than big gaps at the joins.  With a little patience, there's a relatively quick fix to achieve perfect mitre joins, even if your cuts are off.


living room in Baxter Pointe Villa

Note: for my tutorial on the electrical outlet above, see this post.

Here's the process I followed in the Heritage kitchen, where the uneven angles of the bay window left rather noticeable gaps in the cut baseboard.  Dollhouses are not often square, even with the best of intentions.

I use an Easy Cutter to make my mitre cuts in the first place, though this tutorial doesn't cover that part of the process since I can't photograph myself working on something that requires two hands!  :D  I'm starting at the point where you already have the best mitre cuts you could make.  The baseboards need to be finished, cut and glued in place, matching the mitres as best as possible.  I've left my baseboard relatively rough to reflect the age of the house.

Inside corners usually have minor gaps, if any, and are the easiest to fix.

I take a tiny paint brush dipped into the same paint used on the baseboards and dab small amounts of paint into the crease.

Be sure to blend the paint outward to eliminate bulk and obvious brushstrokes.  In the photo, I could see I missed the very bottom - so I went back and filled that in.  :]

Be careful not to get any paint on the wall or the floor.  If I get some stray marks, I usually wait until the paint has dried and gently chip off the paint from the wallpaper or flooring with the tip of an X-Acto blade.  Wiping it while wet can often cause a bigger mess that's harder to clean up.

For outside corners, minor gaps can be filled in the same way, with paint.  For larger gaps, I apply spackling compound into the gap using a palette knife.

I then smooth the material with my finger and reapply as necessary.  It's better to build it up a little than to use too little.

Before the compound dries, I use a toothpick to mimic the grooves of the baseboard.  It doesn't have to be perfect since sanding will take care of that.

Once dry, I sand the spackling to a point at the corner.  I do this by sanding the flat surface of each board toward the corner without sanding directly on the corner.  I also fine tune any routed details with sandpaper in the same manner, though this time I follow around the corner.

I make sure the top is level by sanding.

Using a clean, dry brush, I remove the excess dust from sanding and refine further.  You can add more spackling if needed and sand more.

I use a piece of masking tape to pick up the dust.

Since this is an old house, I decided to leave the baseboard a little imperfect as though the corner has been knocked into repeatedly over the years.  ;]

Once I have good form to the corner, I paint over the spackling compound, blending the paint along the baseboard.

Now, the gaps are nearly invisible and won't interfere with your miniature scene.

Your furniture and accessories become the focus, not bad mitre cuts!  :D

This method is for painted baseboards, though it might be possible to use stainable wood filler to achieve the same results on stained wood.  I've not tried that yet, though.  :]

15 comments

Comment from: cockerina [Visitor]

Brae, your suggestions are always helpful, thank you so much! even if I do not I will never be able to do baseboards in my hut, collect the excess powder with adhesive tape is great! ha ha!!
kisses, Caterina

01/10/12 @ 17:38
Comment from: Kathi [Visitor]

THIS is one of the reasons YOUR houses win contests! Your attention to detail is awesome!

Thanks for the tips. Using a toothpick, dry brush and masking tape are really helpful!

01/10/12 @ 18:00
Comment from: PATTI [Visitor]

Thank you for showing this tutorial . Your baseboards are one of the first things I noticed and how they gave it such a realistic finished look! ~Patti

01/10/12 @ 19:25
Comment from: rosanna [Visitor]

Thank you Brae, this is something which I appreciate so much.
I always waist ages to cut perfect mitres and usually waste a lot of material. Your way is much better and so sensible.
Since I shall have to cut metres and metres of them you have done me great favour :o)) Rosanna

01/11/12 @ 00:18
Comment from: Fabiola [Visitor]

It’a a good idea for a perfect work.
Bye Faby

01/11/12 @ 03:42
Comment from: Lucille [Visitor]

Thank you so much for this tutorial, Brae. I have always loved the way you do things.

01/11/12 @ 07:19
Comment from: rosa margarita [Visitor]

Como siempre, un trabajo impecable. Gracias por compartir
Un abrazo

01/11/12 @ 12:36
Comment from: Plushpussycat [Visitor]

Very helpful post! Thank you! I’ll be putting molding in my lovers cottage very soon, so this info is really timely for me! :-) Jennifer

01/11/12 @ 19:03
Comment from: roxygirl88 [Visitor]

Your attention to detail is so amazing! I’m just beginning to get into miniatures and working on my first house, and your blog has been a big source of inspiration to me - so thank you. Question for you - I have an Easy Cutter, but don’t understand how you can use it to angle the baseboard for corners… can you explain? It seems like it works to make angles on the face of the baseboard, but not to change the angle on the thickness of the baseboard (if that makes sense….) Thanks for your help!

01/12/12 @ 10:53
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thank you!

For using the Easy Cutter, this is why it’s hard to photograph while working. I cut them from top to bottom, not on the face. So, in one hand you hold the board straight up and down against the Easy Cutter guide. Then you cut down from top to bottom very slowly while holding the board tight. Does that make sense? :\ Sometimes the wood will split; sometimes it won’t cut evenly, either. It’s the nature of wood grain. Cutting as slow as possible helps a lot.

01/12/12 @ 11:01
Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]

Thank you so much for this tutorial and for helping to answer the question about initial mitre cuts. So if I understand you correctly, you hold the strip of moulding up and not flat as you slowly cut onto it with the Easy Cutter., right? I will have to try this soon. Baseboards and crown moulding really finish off a room so nicely. You rock!

01/12/12 @ 20:03
Comment from: brae [Member]

Aw, thanks! Yes, hold the baseboard up not flat. :D

01/12/12 @ 20:25
Comment from: marilyn colvert [Visitor]

THANK YOU, THANK YOU! i have been just about ready to pull my hair out over this one!

02/10/12 @ 21:40
Comment from: Q [Visitor]  

ok… maybe I need not have mentioned my comment about you apoligising for things others wouldn’t even notice. You might be able to turn me into a stickler for the little stuff &#59;)

11/21/12 @ 20:03
Comment from: Katy Arland [Visitor]

I love this tutorial..Your baseboards..literally make me hate mine! I spend hours trying to make my stuff half as good as yours, Keep up the perfect and fantastic work!

01/23/16 @ 09:20


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