Flush-trimming a Hardwood Floor

Pros weigh in on a remodeling problem: how to flush-cut around the perimeter of a hardwood floor (the baseboard can't come off). August 29, 2005

I have to remove a 8,225 square foot 1/4" thick hardwood floor installed over concrete from a clothing store to make way for a new epoxy floor. For a number of reasons the millwork can't be removed, so I have to cut the hardwood flush with the base. There is close to 700 L.F. of perimeter that has to be cut and I have been thinking about buying a Crain 795 Toe Kick Saw to cut it. Does anyone have any suggestions on cutting this floor? Has anyone used a Crain 795 toe kick saw, and are there other comparable saws on the market that I should be looking at? Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor R:
If I read you correctly you want to cut the bottom of the baseboard flush with the flooring? If that is the case then a door bottom saw would be better than a toe kick saw.

From contributor D:
To contributor R: That's not the case. I have to remove a hardwood floor that has buckled due to the moisture content of the slab below. Around the perimeter of the store there is millwork installed on top of the flooring Due to site conditions it is not practical to remove and reinstall this millwork

What I have to do is cut the hardwood flooring flush with the base of the millwork, remove the existing flooring, have a new epoxy floor installed and then install new baseboard to the millwork to cover the edge of the old hardwood flooring. This is a large store so I am looking for a way to cut the flooring flush in a safe, but timely manner.

I have been considering the Crain saw mentioned in my previous post however since there is no toe kick on this millwork. I was also thinking of modifying a biscuit joiner to cut the flooring.

From contributor H:

I can only think of two so far: set a circular saw to the thickness and you'll end up with 1 1/2"-2" left at the end that could be chiseled or pulled right out from underneath. The other is a laminate trimmer - countertop type and put a couple of bits in (you'll eat the tips off).

From contributor R:
You can use a reciprocating saw and a long blade, just let the blade bend so that it runs flush against the base. Make sure to replace the base or use laminate or metal strip to protect base.

From contributor J:
I'll second Contributor R's use of the reciprocating saw with a long blade. I recently removed some laminate flooring - about 70 lineal feet of cutting, some of it under the kitchen toe kick. It goes pretty fast and cuts up close. You may try a carbide tipped blade, but I used a bi-metal. Get one of the long blades with aggressive teeth.

From contributor B:
To the original questioner: The reciprocal saw with carbide blade may work, but the Crain looks perfect if you do one thing. As the depth of cut is fixed, you will be into the slab unless you make a simple wood sled for it to ride, holding it up enough to save the blade. You may find though that the strip floor isn’t glued so well at the edges and pulls right out.

From contributor S:
I would suggest trying this. By using a runner strip and a circular saw held at approx 45% to the baseboard, you can undercut the base thus leaving no visible flooring. You will have to experiment with the distance from the base to the strip and the saw depth of cut and angle, and it also helps if you have a left handed saw or helper.

From contributor G:
I have used my biscuit cutter to cut baseboard, and it works better than a circular jamb saw because the blade is carbide. You won't be quite flush to the floor, but the cut will be consistent and it is easier than using a sawzall. Just apply shoe over your new floor.