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Thread: Cutting off the bottom of baseboards without removing them from the wall?

  1. #1

    Cutting off the bottom of baseboards without removing them from the wall?

    What would be the best way to cut off the bottom of baseboards before installing hardwood floors? Has anyone tried the dremel ultra tool for this?

  2. #2
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    First question, why not remove them? If you must cut them then the best option may be a jamb saw. They use it to cut the door jambs when you install thicker floor covering like a laminate over a floor that had just vinyl or you install ceramic tile on a floor that had some other floor covering. You can rent one at HD tool rental.

    https://www.homedepot.com/tool-truck...amb-Saw/10-55/
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  3. #3
    This is what they invented shoe moulding for

  4. #4
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    If you do end up pulling them off, pull the nails out through the back by levering with end cutting nippers. That way, no damage will be done by backing the nails out, and won't leave much to do after putting them back on.

  5. #5
    A track saw could do it, within half a inch or so anyway. An oscillating saw would do it too. The oscillating saw is great for a short space, like a door jamb and the casing, but I wouldn't try and do a run of baseboard. Much easier to pull it and place it higher up.

  6. #6
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    Remove them and re-install later. Your current idea is going to be hard work, difficult to get accurate and neat, and in the end impossible as you are trying to scribe to something that isn't there yet as the new floor will not follow the old exactly. No short cut on this, only the long way round. Cheers
    Every construction obeys the laws of physics. Whether we like or understand the result is of no interest to the universe.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    If you do end up pulling them off, pull the nails out through the back by levering with end cutting nippers. That way, no damage will be done by backing the nails out, and won't leave much to do after putting them back on.
    You mean some of these kind of things?

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Channell...-357/100049589

    I have a ton of nails to pull, I never even thought to pull them out from the back.

  8. #8
    Here's a quick technique that works. Use a metal detector (Harbor Freight $17) to locate the nails. Mark the spots with a pencil. Take one of those carbide scribers with the magnet on the end to find the exact location of the nail (the metal detector isn't precise enough). The magnet will stick to the baseboard over the nail. I used a broken 1/8" drill bit on a cordless drill to remove any filler overlying the nail. Then use a nail set and a hammer to punch the nail through the baseboard's thickness. This last step keeps the nail head from preventing the board from being freed from the wall. Also prevents cracking the baseboard and needing to apply a lot of force on the baseboard with prying. Drilling out the filler also leaves a hole to center the nail punch so that you are not wandering all over the board trying to hit the nail. The filler just crumbles away from the wood. The board is essentially free of the wall except for any caulking. Sounds like a lot of work except that most people don't put that many nails into the baseboard. I did this for door trim as well as baseboards.
    One last detail, you can determine if the nails were in the studs by their spacing. If not, use the metal detector to locate the fasteners in the drywall and to locate the studs so that you can securely re-nail the base board. This latter might be a consideration if the baseboards were nailed to the plate instead of the studs, since the new floor might make the plate too low to use for refastening the baseboards.
    Last edited by Floyd Mah; 10-15-2018 at 12:16 AM.

  9. #9
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    All this sounds like so much extra work, unless the current baseboards are so narrow that removing the flooring's thickness will make them look awkward.

    The jamb saw is the easiest solution if there is any significant length to cut. For short distances, a multi-tool vibrating cutter with an aggressive wood cutting blade cutting flush above a scrap sample of the flooring works surprisingly well -- especially for most painted baseboard materials (pine, fir, poplar, MDF, etc.), but slower for harder materials like oak. I trimmed 3/4" off of about 12 feet of poplar, and was pleasantly surprised.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Cannon View Post
    All this sounds like so much extra work, unless the current baseboards are so narrow that removing the flooring's thickness will make them look awkward.

    The jamb saw is the easiest solution if there is any significant length to cut. For short distances, a multi-tool vibrating cutter with an aggressive wood cutting blade cutting flush above a scrap sample of the flooring works surprisingly well -- especially for most painted baseboard materials (pine, fir, poplar, MDF, etc.), but slower for harder materials like oak. I trimmed 3/4" off of about 12 feet of poplar, and was pleasantly surprised.
    That was the technique I used when replacing carpet with hardwood flooring. Plane a length of wood slightly thicker than the flooring and lay it on the subfloor. Rest the blade of the oscillating tool on that wood and go to town. I imagine a jamb saw would be quicker but don't know if I had even heard of such a thing when we did the flooring. It went quicker than I expected but the molding was painted so soft wood.
    Last edited by Curt Harms; 10-15-2018 at 6:31 AM.

  11. #11
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    I have one of these and couldn't live without it. It's the best tool that I've found for pulling nails and pulls finish nails out of the back side of baseboard when recycling the baseboard that I've ever found. You will also find it very handy for backing nails out if you can get hold of their heads with these. Not presently available through Amazon, so here is an alternate source. At a trade show, a demonstrator had a 2' piece of pipe to extend the handle and was pulling 8d nails through a 4 X 4 from the back side without breaking the tool, but sometimes the nail broke. I bought mine from him after that demonstration. Finish nails are easy to pull through from the back side.

    Charley

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Excalibur-T...oAAOSwdnZaG30l

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Lent View Post
    I have one of these and couldn't live without it. It's the best tool that I've found for pulling nails and pulls finish nails out of the back side of baseboard when recycling the baseboard that I've ever found. You will also find it very handy for backing nails out if you can get hold of their heads with these. Not presently available through Amazon, so here is an alternate source. At a trade show, a demonstrator had a 2' piece of pipe to extend the handle and was pulling 8d nails through a 4 X 4 from the back side without breaking the tool, but sometimes the nail broke. I bought mine from him after that demonstration. Finish nails are easy to pull through from the back side.

    Charley

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Excalibur-T...oAAOSwdnZaG30l
    I have one of those also and it works awesome. I bought mine at woodworking show.

    Pulling the baseboard and pulling the nails from the back is the best approach. You do not disturb the filler covering the nails so you only have the new nail holes for fill after reinstalling the baseboard. The nippers are another alternative.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  13. #13
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    I've always used water pump pliers to pull the nails through. Biggest problem is that light duty nails from nail guns sometimes snap / break if they are in hardwood.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Barry View Post
    I've always used water pump pliers to pull the nails through. Biggest problem is that light duty nails from nail guns sometimes snap / break if they are in hardwood.
    When they snap off I use my Dremel and grind off the remainder so I do not cut myself.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bert McMahan View Post
    You mean some of these kind of things?

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Channell...-357/100049589

    I have a ton of nails to pull, I never even thought to pull them out from the back.
    Yes, grab the nail near the wood. It doesn't need to be so tight that they cut into the nail much, but enough to grip good. Roll the nippers, which will pull the nail some. Re grab as needed, and walk it out.

    I've done so many like this that I can't remember, but I'm sure more than a thousand, over the years. A pair of nippers even has a dedicated pocket in my tool belt.

    Most baseboards later than late 19th Century are put on with finish nails, which can be pulled out through the back.

    This usually doesn't disturb any filler on top of the nail heads, and even better with many layers of paint. Even if the filler breaks free, there is a much smaller hole to deal with. Even backing out finish nails will leave a crater around a lot of them.

    edited to add: I have one of those fancy tools too, but I end up breaking more nails with it than the nippers. I wasn't sure if it was because I had several decades of experience with nippers before I ever saw one of those, but I only go get the new ones if the nippers won't quite do the job. The nippers I keep in my tool belt are 4". There is typically no problem pulling nail gun nails-even 23 ga. pins

    Never back nails out of trim work. Even when I pull 18th Century trim, the cut nails get cut off flush with the back using a metal cutting disk in a 4-1/2" grinder. Again, NEVER BACK NAILS OUT OF TRIM WORK if you want to reuse them.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 10-15-2018 at 9:50 AM.

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