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I've made a small frame with a 'front door' to cover an electrical fuse box. I went to great pains to get the frame flat and square.

However when I came to fix it to the (plastered/stucco) wall it turns out the wall of far from flat.

I'd welcome some suggestions on how to try to adapt my frame to fit the wall profile better (Other than a load of silicone filler)

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What you're looking to do is called scribing to fit and it's a standard part of most fitting of wooden elements to uneven walls.

At minimum it can be used to get the edge to mate neatly against a wall that's a little out of plumb, next level above that would a surface that's slightly wavy and at the extreme end a very irregular or bumpy surface like a brick wall. In each case the basic marking-out technique can be very simple and straightforward, it's just the amount of work needed, and possibly the tools required, to remove the excess wood that changes.

Here are a few of the common ways to scribe an edge:

Scribing to fit

For removing the excess wood the tools needed change depending on how much and what type of shaping is required. At the simplest end just a hand plane will do (or a saw), for wavy edges a spokeshave, rasps and/or files, and for extremely irregular edges it's now common to use a jigsaw.

The basic scribing process is simple but the details of applying it to various situations can take a bit to get your head around so it's best to read through a few detailed guides so you're clear on what's involved:
How to Scribe for a Perfect Fit on The Family Handyman.
How to scribe timber for a perfect fit on Carpentry Tips and Tricks.
Learn how to scribe on The DIY World.

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  • Thanks. That's just the technique I was looking for. I was uncertain of how best to transfer the wall profile to the wood. Your detailed post and images give me just what I need. I'll get the profile scribed and then go about picking the right tool for the job. – Gavin Hill Mar 6 '17 at 4:05
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If your frame is made of wood you could plane the areas that keep the rest of the frame out from the wall. Or you can trim the wall.

I had this same problem installing oak trim around windows. The interior edge detail was sheetrock jambs meeting sheetrock walls with spackled beaded corners. I removed the metal corners. But, mostly due to use of green studs in construction, the trim would not lie flat against the wall. I dealt with it like so. I lightly marked (erasable) the boundary of the trim piece. Using a straight edge, I determined which areas were high. I then cut along the wall, along the edge of where the trim would fit, in the high regions. Using a Stanley Surform "rasp-plane", I carefully sanded away the high spots. I stayed away from the very edge with the Sureform, trimming it by hand with a chisel.

This worked very well for me. I suppose it depends on how much out of true your wall is. Also, in my case, the trim was about 5/8" thick so the difference in projecting out from the wall would be less noticeable than if your frame was only, say, 1/4" thick in projection. Needless to say, this is a rather permanent fix.

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  • Thanks for the advice. Given my wall is brick and plaster I'm not comfy making adjustments to it. I'm bound to run into other (more permanent) issues. – Gavin Hill Mar 6 '17 at 4:04

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