how to scribe skirting boards blog post by metres direct

How To Scribe Skirting Boards

Scribing skirting boards is a common process used when fixing internal skirting corner joints together. The idea of scribing is off-putting to many casual DIY-ers but the reality is that it isn’t actually as difficult as you first think – so long as you have the right tools and you don’t rush the job.

In this guide, we are going to take a look at how to scribe skirting boards. We will cover a couple of different methods and will look at standard 90° cuts as well as trickier angles that are often found in domestic UK homes. 

Tools and Materials List: 

  • Compass and pencil
  • Coping Saw
  • Mitre Saw
  • Profile gauge (optional)
  • Angle finder (optional)


What Is Scribing (for skirting boards)?

Scribing for skirting boards takes the same meaning as it does in most other forms of English language – it simply means to mark a piece of skirting which is usually performed by scratching the surface or marking it with a pencil. This guide will show you not only how to scribe skirting, but also how to cut the scribed piece of skirting board to create the perfect interior angle join.


Scribing Internal Joints

The process of scribing skirting boards is usually carried out when attempting to join two pieces of skirting together across an interior angle. The alternative to scribing would be to simply cut an interior angle using a mitre saw, however the join on this type of cut will not be as tight as if you scribe and use a coping saw. 

For the best finish, we recommend scribing and following the methods shown on this page. 

Most internal joints are going to be 90° corners – these will typically be found where one wall meets another to form an interior angle. There are times when the walls will not be exactly 90° or when you are creating joins at wider angles – typically these can be found around bay windows in the UK – these are often found to be angles of 122.5° or greater.


Step 1: Practice

If you have never scribed and cut an internal angle with a coping saw before then it is highly advisable to practice with a couple of off-cuts before you use your longer piece of skirting. 

Using a coping saw is a skill, but it is one that can be fairly quickly mastered – a couple of practices on an off-cut should be enough to enable you to take on the real piece that will be fitted. 

Follow the steps below as a practice until you feel 100% confident.


Step 2: Cutting a 45° Angle

Start by measuring and cutting your skirting board to length – to do this, take the measurement and add around 1cm. If you have a 90° interior angle start by setting your mitre saw or mitre square to 45° and cut down the top part of the skirting board moulding. As your blade hits the flat part of the skirting stop cutting.


Step 3: Scribe The Flat Surface

Now you will need to scribe the skirting board. To do this, take your compass with pencil and lay the flat edge of the compass against the skirting board that is already in place. Run the compass from the top of the existing skirting down along the flat surface so that the pencil scribes a cutting guide on the new piece of skirting board in line with the cut you have already made. The scribing should start from the point you finished cutting and run down to the bottom of the skirting.

If you prefer not to use a compass and pencil there are tools such as profile gauges that do a similar job.


Step 4: Completing The Cut

You now need to complete the cut following your scribe as your guide. In some circumstances the scribed piece may require a perfectly straight cut – if this is the case then you can continue to cut with a mitre saw.

In most cases it will be more appropriate to use a coping saw to cut away the skirting to make the interior angle along your scribed piece. A fine bladed coping saw is easier to operate at an angle – if you do this then be aware you will be removing more of the back of the board than might be necessary – this is fine but don’t go too far as you may cause the skirting to lose some of its strength.

Check your cut fits the two interior angles tightly and lightly sand to finish smoothly.


Scribing & Cutting Angles Greater Than 90°

As stated earlier, if you have angles that are greater than 90° such as 122.5° then the process is slightly different. 

Start by fixing your first piece to the wall having used a bevel to find the angle for the cut.


Step 1: Find The Angle & Cut 

Once your first piece is fixed to the wall you will need to determine the exact angle of the wall. Don’t assume that it is 122.5° so use an angle finder to find the exact angle and set your mitre saw to the bisected angle.

You can now make the cut the same as we did for the 90° angle by using the mitre saw to cut down from the top of the moulding to the flat surface.


Step 2: Scribe With Compass

Like the process for the 90° cut we now need to scribe the join using a compass and pencil. 

You can now either use a handsaw, coping saw or the mitre saw to complete the cut at the angle of your first cut.


Step 3: Finish The Cut

Once you have cut out the board so it looks like a normal corner you will now want to use the coping saw to cut the rear of the moulding out in to shape. Don’t worry if you have removed a lot of the back of the board as this will ensure you get a tight fit. If the fit is not quite tight enough you can always remove a little more.

You should now have perfect internal joins between your skirting boards no matter what the angle.

If you have any questions about your Metres Direct skirting board order then please feel free to ask us as we are always happy to help.

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