How To Scribe For A Perfect Fit The Family HandymanScribing is one of the key techniques for installing cabinets, countertops and built-in woodwork. Learn how to perfectly transfer odd shapes and wavy walls to your work piece, creating a perfect fit every time.

Scribing is a simple technique that lets you fit cabinets, countertops, moldings and almost anything else to crooked walls. Using little more than a cheap compass fitted with a sharp pencil, you can easily transfer odd shapes or the profile of a wavy wall to your work piece. Once the line is scribed, it's a simple matter of filing, planing or sanding off the excess material to create a nearly seamless fit.
Of course, there are a few techniques you'll need to know for successful scribing. But they're easy to learn, and with a little practice you'll be scribing like a pro. We'll show you how to scribe countertops, cabinets, shelves and paneling and even how to fit a panel to a brick chimney. Once you learn how to scribe, a cheap compass will be an indispensable part of your tool collection.
The compass in the photo (available at home centers and hardware stores) is my favorite scribing tool, but you don't even need that for many jobs. Photo 1 shows how to scribe a line with just a carpenter's pencil. Photo 6 shows how to scribe an even wider gap by adding a scrap of wood.
Slide shims under the base of your cabinet until it's level across the top and the side is perfectly plumb. Slide your carpenter's pencil along the wall to scribe a line on the cabinet.