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How To Cut And Install Crown Molding And Trim

Construction How-To, Finish Carpentry, Molding, Trim Carpentry April 18, 2006 Sonia


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Have you ever wished that you could have beautifully installed crown molding and trim in your home but you simply cannot afford the cost of hiring a professional? Of course, the best solution would be to do it yourself. Almost every do-it-yourselfer becomes intimidated though, because there is so much confusion about how to cut the perfect-fitting compound miter joint. There are literally hundreds of gadgets and special tools available for cutting crown molding or trim, and they all claim to be the answer. In reality, almost all of these tools have limitations as to their applications. Not knowing these limitations can cause total disaster for the do-it- yourselfer. By using the correct tools and methods, however, you can save thousands of dollars by installing your own crown molding and trim in your spare time.

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Once you have decided to install your own crown molding and trim, you should spend some time researching the internet and magazines for ideas that you like and how you would like your room to look. Cathedral or sloped ceilings are not a problem. These are accomplished by making combination horizontal and vertical turns of your crown molding.

I use a miter saw (no blade tilt), prop the crown molding against the fence, and set the miter angle. This technique is commonly referred to as “upside-down and backwards.” You can also use a compound miter saw and lay the crown molding flat on its back (face up) and setting a miter and blade tilt adjustment. I prefer using a compound miter saw. (You can use a compound miter saw as a miter saw by leaving the blade tilt set at zero.)

 I am often asked which saw is best for cutting crown molding. Even the least expensive brand name saws will work. It is not necessarily how much the tool costs but knowing how to use it that makes the difference. The size of crown molding and trim that you will be installing will determine the size of saw needed. A 10-inch saw will usually cut 5-inch-wide crown/trim, a 12-inch saw will cut 6 inches, and a 12-inch sliding compound miter saw will cut up to about 10 inches wide. Not all saws are made the same. Some will exceed these guidelines, while others may not.

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Crown Molding on Horizontal Ceilings using a Miter Saw

Now let’s focus on cutting and installing your crown molding for horizontal turns. These are the most common cuts and they fall into two categories, inside corners or outside corners (Fig 1). The corner angle is not always 90 or 270 degrees. When using a miter saw to cut crown molding for horizontal ceilings, you must prop the crown molding against the fence as shown in Fig 2. The bottom of the crown must be held firm against the fence and let the top rest on the miter saw table. Crown stops are nice to have in order to

help hold the crown while making the cut.

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