DIY Wainscoting – Part 2 – Cutting The Frames

In the first post I went over how you go about designing the wainscoting, what things you should consider and how you go about laying it all out.

Now that you’ve designed the layout of your wainscoting, it’s time to get cutting!!

The cutting is one of the two areas where you can save TONS of time… if you use the tips that you’ll find here.

 In this post we’ll cover cutting the moldings for the rectangular wainscoting frames. Since these are either rectangular, all the moldings used for these frames will have 45 degree angles.

 I’ll probably do a post on the non-45 degree angle cuts later. Those are much trickier.

Anyways, Let’s get to the tips!



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The Shopping List

Tools List

Here’s a list of the tools we used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Cordless Finish Nailer

Extra Battery For Finish Nailer

Miter Saw 

Supplies List

These are the supplies used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

4″ Polyester Synthetic Brush – 4 brushes to apply the poly

6 Gauge 1 1/2″ Finish Nails

Why You Need To Make A Jig

I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but when doing wainscoting you are going to be cutting A LOT of molding. Many of the pieces you’ll be cutting will also be the same length.

By spending a little time in the beginning creating a jig, you’ll save a TON of time cutting those same sized pieces to length.

The jig basically extends the miter saw platform and allows you to add stoppers at the length of the molding you want to cut.

By using the jig you’ll only need to measure the molding size for the first piece of molding.

Then you’ll use that piece to set the stopper and all the other pieces of the same size can be cut by butting the end of the molding against the stopper and cutting.

No need to measure after that. 🙂


Making The Cutting Jig

This is what my jig looked like. Here’s a breakdown of the pieces of wood used:

A scrap piece of plywood acts as the base of the jig. The plywood keeps everything lined up. The miter saw and the pieces of wood used for the jig are all screwed into the plywood.

A 2×4 standing on it’s end acts as an extension to the miter saw base.

A 1×4 screwed into the 2×4 acts as an extension to the miter saw backstop.

There really is no right or wrong way to make the jig.

As long as:

  • it’s longer than the molding pieces you’ll be cutting
  • the base extension is at the same or similar height to the miter saw base
  • backstop extension lines up with the miter saw backstop

Using Your Cutting Jig

Now that you have a jig made here’s how you use it.

1- Cut The First Molding

You’ll need to cut your first piece of molding to the size you want first. Once it’s cut you’ll use that molding to set the stopper.

Once the stopper is in place you’ll be able to cut all the other same sized moldings without having to measure again.

2- Use The Closed Blade To Keep Molding In Place

To set the stopper, place the miter saw in the closed position and place the molding you cut in step 1 against the blade.

3- Set The Stopper

With the molding placed snug against the saw blade you can now set the stopper on the other side of the molding.

I marked the end of the molding on the back stop with a pen and lined up the edge of the stopper with the pen line and screwed it in place.

Now that the stopper is in place you can cut all your other same sized moldings without measuring.

Tip:  I also wrote the molding measurement on the backstop (as you can see in the picture) That way if I needed to cut another piece of molding the same size again I’d already have the stopper placement without having to measure again.

4- Cut The Angle That Will Be Against The Stopper First

I’m finding it tough to explain, but you want to cut the angle that would end up against the stopper first, then place that angle against the stopper and make the cut to size.

With my jig, since the jig is on the left I needed to do the left angle on my molding first.

So I set my miter saw to the 45 degree mark to the right and cut the left 45 degree angle.

5- Place The Molding Against The Stopper To Cut To Size

Once the left angle is cut, spin the miter saw to the 45 degree mark on the left, place the molding against the backstop and the left angle against the stopper.

Now cut the second angle – which also cuts the molding to the correct length.

Tip:  Instead of cutting the left angle then the right angle on each molding, it’s faster to cut all the left angles first, then spin the miter saw to the other side and do all the right angles.

Otherwise you spend a lot of time just spinning the miter saw left and right.

There You Have It

Now you can cut all the moldings you need for the rectangular wainscoting frames. In the next post I’ll share how I nailed the moldings to the wall.

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Hi, I'm Steve. My wife Sandy and I have been doing DIY projects for years now and we finally created a blog to help share our projects and ideas. We hope you find these posts useful. :)

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