Chair rail molding has an elegant look to it. It’s not something you see in every house, but when done right, can really set apart a room from the others. If you are installing chair rail in, for example, a bedroom, you can nail it to the walls and stop at the door casing. In that way you have a clear beginning and end point. But what if you don’t have a clear beginning and end point? The answer is that you can make a return for that point.
A return is an attractive way to begin or end molding. The final appearance is that the molding’s profile carries all the way to the wall. Imagine cutting the molding and what you are left with is an ugly straight cut. With a return you don’t see the flat cut.
A return is done by making miter cuts. On the long piece of molding is a 45-degree miter cut from the wall to the outside of the molding. This will leave you with a pie shaped piece that needs to be installed.
This gets tricky and it is dangerous. Don’t be foolish and risk injury by placing your fingers next to a spinning blade. Use hold downs to keep your fingers out of the way. I generally take a long piece of molding and first cut the mating 45-degree miter in it, then cut that piece off.
Once you have the mating piece, I usually glue it in place and hold it there until the glue dries with some painters tape. If you try to nail it, it may split.