To mark baseboards and other moldings for cutting, make a jig called a “preacher”:

  1. Cut a slot the thickness of the molding in a scrap piece of wood.
  2. Slide the marking jig over the baseboard, and hold it firmly against the side of the door casing.
  3. Use a pencil to mark the baseboard where it meets the jig.
  4. Cut the baseboard to length along the layout line, leaving the line showing for a tight fit.

Watch the video above to find out more.


Danny Lipford: Old-time carpenters didn’t have the luxury of all the power tools we have to use today, but they had some great tricks to make their jobs easier.

Joe Truini: That’s right, Danny. Unfortunately, most of those tricks of the trade have been lost over the years, but here’s one that works really great when installing baseboard molding up against a door casing like we have here. Now the trick is, when you’re installing baseboard you want to get a nice, tight fit against the casing.

Danny Lipford: Now this is real important on any molding, because the hallmark of any good, successful trim job is good, tight joints.

Joe Truini: Well, what the old-time carpenters used to do to ensure that they got tight joints was to make a guide block like this one. They used to call it a “preacher.” And all it is simply a block of wood—this is a short length of one by four—and they’d cut a notch in it. Now you’ll notice that this notch is exactly the same size as the baseboard itself.

In order to use it, you just set the baseboard in place. You push it tight against the corner, and you run it long, so that it extends past the casing. Then you simply set the preacher over the baseboard, and hold it right tight against the edge of the door casing itself. And then simply mark the baseboard. Remove the preacher and bring it over to your power miter saw, or even a handsaw in a miter box, and trim it to length.

Danny Lipford: And a good tip here is to leave the line. That way it’s a little long, you can snap it right in place, and you get a good, tight joint. Also, the preacher can be used on anywhere where you have a horizontal piece of molding hitting a vertical piece of molding—like chair rails or any other situation like that.

Further Information

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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