Wood Working

How to scribe a cabinet filler strip – with diagrams

While wrapping up my living room built-in cabinets I had to make a few filler strips – narrow strips of wood to fit in between the cabinet and wall. While I eventually figured out how to do it I was surprised to not find any diagram-style pictures of the process. Here goes!

Step 1 – measure the widest gap between the wall and cabinet side.

Step 2 – rip your filler strip to that size. Now you can visualize how, if you carved the strip to match the wall it would fit right into place. Position the strip into place making sure that it’s square/parallel with the cabinet. This is pretty important, don’t just butt it evenly against the wall. While keeping the strip parallel with the cabinet move it towards the wall until it bumps into it. Note that at this point the strip overlays the front of the cabinet.

Step 3 – Set your scribe distance – this will be the largest gap between the wall & strip. Should be at the same location where the widest wall/cabinet gap was.

Step 4 – With the scribe tool, transfer the wall’s shape onto the strip. Then make the cut right along the line. Obliterate the line, don’t try to get too cute with this cut. A tiny bead of caulk will fill that final gap, don’t worry about it.

Step 5 – We’re done! Sandpaper, a block plane, or extra trims from your saw will finish the job if needed.


I’ve had very good luck with the Milescraft ScribeTec tool. It’s much easier to use than a compass because the flat base keeps it square to the cabinet. There’s no worry about keeping a compass properly oriented.

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