How to Scribe to Fit Drywall and Wood Molding

Use these techniques to solve the need for angled pieces of trimwork by scribing to fit. Also learn how to scribe uneven surfaces onto drywall.

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When you're installing drywall or wood moldings, you might run into situations that seem difficult at first glance. Textured surfaces or not-so-straight walls make putting up drywall a challenge. Luckily, measuring out your drywall cuts doesn't have to involve complicated math or skills at all. Scribing is a method homeowners can use to transfer a surface's edge onto a piece of drywall or wood. This ensures a snug fit and can even be fun to do! Below, we've laid out several common scenarios in which you may want to consider scribing. Take a peek and see which one will work for you. 

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Scribing Drywall to Fit

One example of scribing is hanging drywall next to the irregular stonework of a fireplace. Trying to measure and transfer all of the irregularities to a sheet of drywall would require saintly patience and a lot of time. But if you know how to scribe, you'll produce accurate results within minutes.

To cut a piece of drywall to fit against an irregular surface, hold the piece near the surface and trace the outline onto the sheet, using a wood scrap and a pencil as a scribing tool.

Scribing a Wood Molding

Scribing also works well for sheets of wood products, countertops, moldings, and other trim boards. If a wall has a slight bow to it, for example, you probably won't be able to muscle a 1x4 applied flat into the arc. Although pumping a caseload of caulk into the gap is one solution, scribing is more sensible and less expensive.

Step 1: Make Cut Line

Place the wood near the wall and parallel to it. Lock your bow compass at a setting that spans the gap, even at the widest point. Holding the compass at a consistent angle, draw it down the wall, marking the board. In this case, the edge of the compass, not its point, rides along the wall.

Step 2: Sand to Fit

Securely clamp the scribed board to your worktable, then sand to the scribed line. Tilt the sander slightly backward to undercut the line for a snug fit against the wall. A coarse belt works best. If you have a lot of stock to remove, cut with a jigsaw just to the waste side of the line, removing the bulk of the material before sanding.

Fitting Angled Pieces

Another common problem deals with fitting angled pieces of sheet goods. Die-hard engineers will reach for their calculator and trig tables. But the rest of us will get faster results with a tape measure, straightedge, and no math with the following procedure.

Step 1: Get Measurements

Rather than measuring the angle at which a piece must be cut, measure the length of the horizontal run and the vertical rise.

Step 2: Make Cut

Transfer the measurements to the drywall, then draw a cut line between the two marks. Cut and snap the piece along the line.

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