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Old 02-26-2011, 03:41 PM   #1
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Newbie needs help cutting crown molding!


Hi everyone. I am installing crown molding and I'm having problems making the correct cuts. I have watched videos and read lots of books and I seem to understand the basics but I am having trouble cutting the inside corners. The spring angle of the molding I'm using is 53/37. I am using the upside down and backward method on a miter saw. All the articles say to cut the molding at a 45 degree angle, but when i hold the pieces up on the ceiling they don't seem to fit after i cope them. do you always cut it at 45 degrees even if the spring angle is not 45? could it have something to do with my walls and ceilings? the house is 100 years old and i would not be surprised at all if things are out of square. i would appreciate any help, i am very frustrated. thanks.

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Old 02-26-2011, 03:52 PM   #2
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I find crown molding very frustrating too. Often despite my upside-down and backwards and math I end up with problems. Here are some of my techniques:

- I keep a couple scrap pieces and practice cutting and fitting corners before I do it on my finish stock. This is especially useful for corners that may not be square. (I did a bathroom that didn't have a single corner at 90 degrees ).

- Always buy 50% more trim than you expect to need to prevent making unexpected trips to the lumber place. You can always return un-cut pieces.

- I often cut a smidgen long and sand and cope to fit on tricky corners.

- When all else fails cut it close paint and putty to fit.

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Old 02-26-2011, 04:55 PM   #3
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Newbie needs help cutting crown molding!


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Originally Posted by TheDude77 View Post
Hi everyone. I am installing crown molding and I'm having problems making the correct cuts. I have watched videos and read lots of books and I seem to understand the basics but I am having trouble cutting the inside corners. The spring angle of the molding I'm using is 53/37. I am using the upside down and backward method on a miter saw. All the articles say to cut the molding at a 45 degree angle, but when i hold the pieces up on the ceiling they don't seem to fit after i cope them. do you always cut it at 45 degrees even if the spring angle is not 45? could it have something to do with my walls and ceilings? the house is 100 years old and i would not be surprised at all if things are out of square. i would appreciate any help, i am very frustrated. thanks.
Chances are you are not under cutting far enough back when you cope it. You have to hold the coping saw at a very steep angle to under cut the back of the crown out.
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:10 PM   #4
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I found this site really helpfull during my first time (very frustrating).
Much better at it now though. Keep at it..

http://www.installcrown.com/
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Old 02-28-2011, 03:24 PM   #5
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DIY carpentry trick for crown moulding: don't miter the inside corners, make cope joints instead. you need a coping saw and a set of files (cheap at harbor freight), and the joints are usually more accurate.

here's a how-to video on Youtube:
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Old 02-28-2011, 04:20 PM   #6
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use lots of scrap pieces to cut the angles. Cut both sides at the same angle and cope them
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Old 02-28-2011, 09:57 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TheDude77 View Post
Hi everyone. I am installing crown molding and I'm having problems making the correct cuts. I have watched videos and read lots of books and I seem to understand the basics but I am having trouble cutting the inside corners. The spring angle of the molding I'm using is 53/37. I am using the upside down and backward method on a miter saw. All the articles say to cut the molding at a 45 degree angle, but when i hold the pieces up on the ceiling they don't seem to fit after i cope them. do you always cut it at 45 degrees even if the spring angle is not 45? could it have something to do with my walls and ceilings? the house is 100 years old and i would not be surprised at all if things are out of square. i would appreciate any help, i am very frustrated. thanks.
Just for the record, the angles are 52/38, which along with true 45 degree have become the angles for almost all factory run crown. There do exist some odd angles in a few types of hardwood moulding or in some antique reproductions but they are very much the exception.

As advised, avoid mitering the inside corners. Leave the square cut end of the first piece unnailed for about 2' from the end , this will allow you a little room to cheat it by rolling up or down to get a better fit on the cope. Recheck you measurements for the reference line or stop that you are holding the moulding against when you cut. Yes when cutting with the moulding held in its true position as you are, the cut is a 45. Also check for enough back bevel as mentioned. It takes a much steeper angle than most people think, and it is very common for the cut to have a tendency to fade out as you approach the scotia profile at the bottom. And leave the piece about 1/16" long so that when you push it to the wall, it applies pressue on the cope and helps it fit tightly.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:30 AM   #8
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I have found that for most sizes of crown, skip setting your saw at 52/38 and hold the crown on the saw as it would sit on the wall/ cabinet. Make a jig as needed to help hold it. If your saw is only slightly off for the angles (like most saws are) you'll have a tough time matching pieces.

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Old 03-01-2011, 07:35 PM   #9
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thanks everyone! i think i figured it out. thanks jiju, you were right about the angle on the copes not being steep enough.
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:56 PM   #10
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I'm just wondering why you guys don't like to miter inside corners. Never had a problem, even with out of square. Practice on scraps to make sure you get it right. Use the guide for compound miter saws and set according to the angle. They are calculated for many angles, both bevel and miter
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by masterofall View Post
I'm just wondering why you guys don't like to miter inside corners. Never had a problem, even with out of square. Practice on scraps to make sure you get it right. Use the guide for compound miter saws and set according to the angle. They are calculated for many angles, both bevel and miter
I almost always cope and when I do, I never have to practice with scraps, which is exactly the reason why I prefer to cope.

Here's a 5 piece cornice we've been working on. These are mitered corners.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:29 AM   #12
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I almost always cope and when I do, I never have to practice with scraps, which is exactly the reason why I prefer to cope.

Here's a 5 piece cornice we've been working on. These are mitered corners.
No offense, Loneframer, but I don't understand which method you're advocating here. You say you almost always cope, but you proudly show the pictures which are mitered corners.
I always have scrap pieces with me on a crown moulding job. They're 18-24" long and give me an idea of how much, if at all, the cut needs to be tweaked. Whether a house is old or new, corners will vary greatly and caulk should not be considered a primary tool. True, I use it on all my crown mouldings that will be painted, but there is nothing like making an extra adjustment or two to get the joint just right.
The reason we don't like to miter, is because the joint will shrink at a different rate, rather like mitered door casing. Yes, coped joints will open too, but they will shrink at the same rate, which is why I cut the moulding a little longer and spring it into position
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:09 AM   #13
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I agree Mrgins- caulk is not a tool!
Not to mention that a coped corner will show less of a gap if it shrinks- just like base and shoe.

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Old 03-02-2011, 07:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mrgins View Post
No offense, Loneframer, but I don't understand which method you're advocating here. You say you almost always cope, but you proudly show the pictures which are mitered corners.
I always have scrap pieces with me on a crown moulding job. They're 18-24" long and give me an idea of how much, if at all, the cut needs to be tweaked. Whether a house is old or new, corners will vary greatly and caulk should not be considered a primary tool. True, I use it on all my crown mouldings that will be painted, but there is nothing like making an extra adjustment or two to get the joint just right.
The reason we don't like to miter, is because the joint will shrink at a different rate, rather like mitered door casing. Yes, coped joints will open too, but they will shrink at the same rate, which is why I cut the moulding a little longer and spring it into position
The 5 piece cornice in those pics is caulk free. The profile of the crown discounts coping as an option. Tinkering with the miters to get them perfect is time consuming and nerve wracking, especially when tipping the crown up or down a hair changes the margins on the reveals with the other layers of trim.

I posted the pics to drive home the point that I can and have mitered successfully. Which qualifies my opinion that coping is the way to go.

Here's another pic of mitered inside corners. Again, I only do it when coping is not a feasible option.



When I have the option to cope, it is the only option that makes cents.
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Last edited by loneframer; 03-02-2011 at 07:10 PM.
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