I helped a friend put up a chair rail in his house yesterday. It turned out great, except that neither of us knew what to do about where it met the window. Since the window didn't have trim around the outside, the chair rail kind of dead ends without any end piece.

Here's a photo:

alt text

Any suggestions on how to finish this? I know it would typically be cut at a 45° bevel, but since it's hollow behind the rail, it wouldn't look right unless it was caulked or spackled.

5 Answers 5


You could do this as an outside corner, with just a little piece of rail.

I did this with some baseboard right beside a closet (that I didn't want to put trim around), and it turned out well. (Taking this picture also reminds me, I never did quite finish cleaning this all up).

baseboard outside corner

The hardest part of doing this is cutting the edge piece so you get a perfect corner.

  1. Cut the piece (usually there's a scarp piece around that will work). Go longer rather than shorter.
  2. Use wood glue or a construction adhesive (like No More Nails) and a clamp to attach it, with the edges meeting. Let it sit overnight to dry.
  3. Sand off any excess glue that came out.
  4. If needed, sand down the back side so it's flat (if you cut it a bit too long). A couple seconds on a belt sander is perfect.

That's really all there is to it. In your case, you may want to also sand down the front corner a bit so it's smoother, rather than sharp and likely to poke someone.

  • I like this solution, and would probably do it myself if it was my project. I'll pass the info on. Any suggestions on how to do the 45° cut without taking the already installed chair rail off the wall?
    – Doresoom
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 14:19
  • 3
    This is called a "mitered return" and it's how I would do it also. You might be able to cut it in place with a jamb saw, but it's going to be difficult to get a tight miter that way. I'd pull it down and cut it on your miter saw. Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 14:41
  • Like I said, to get it to look right, I had to glue it and then sand the back side flat -- otherwise it looks crooked or offsite looking top-down (unless you do a PERFECT miter cut, and I couldn't, anyways). I agree with Mike, you should take it down. Btw, looking at the paint, I'd guess depending on exactly how you mount it, you may need to make the top color go a bit lower - otherwise you'll see purple above the rail (notice in my pic how you can see the wall in the top half of the baseboard, where it curves)
    – gregmac
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 20:28

I have done this 3 different ways:

1) Bevel the edge and sand it to make even smoother rounded edges. This actually looks okay and is the easiest, unless there is the hollow back problem like you have. You'd have to fill it like you mentioned with a custom shim-type piece.

2) Cut and prepare the edge as in the post above by gregmac. That looks great and it's not a lot of work.

3) You can use a block piece to really add a decorative touch. This is great in formal areas like a dining room. Just add a block piece like the one in the link at the end of the railing.

I found a great picture of option 3 with a Google image search.

Good luck!

  • Good idea to make a feature out of the problem with the decorative block.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 14:19
  • The decorative block is also a great idea. No tricky cuts required!
    – Doresoom
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 15:58

In this case I'd be tempted to just fill the end.

Or, if that would still look a bit messy because the end of the dado isn't smooth, cut as piece of thin plywood (or mdf) to match the profile and stick that on the end.

  • Plywood/MDF is probably the easiest solution. I think my friend might go with this one.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 15:59

Put trim around your door, and then but the chair rail into the door trim. If it sticks up above the door trim any, miter the end a little.

Otherwise, cut a piece of chair rail about an inch long and mitered, then miter the end of the longer piece and glue them together to make a return.


You should have cut that piece longer with an angle overhanging the trim then cut and glued a small wedge to finish out the runenter image description here

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