Master Miter-cuts on Crown Molding
You've seen examples of crown molding topping kitchen cabinets or adding interest to an entertainment center. Learning how to properly miter-cut crown molding gives you the confidence to include this classy trim in furniture projects as well as throughout your home. And the best part? You'll do all this without buying a jig or modifying your compound mitersaw.
Work the angles
Crown molding tilts forward from the cabinet or wall to add the rich look of depth. That 38° tilt is called the spring angle. A 52° bevel on the top edge of the trim complements the spring angle. Most store-bought trim comes in this 38/52° style.
The trick is making compound cuts (both bevel and miter at the same time) accounting for the spring angle, so that the corners meet at 90°. One method miter-cuts crown molding "upside down and backwards" to its installed orientation while using a jig or a fixture to support it during the cut. Although this technique works, it can be confusing and lead to mistakes. Plus, cutting long or wide trim this way can be difficult.
Flat is where it's at
Cutting crown molding while it lies flat on the mitersaw table allows easy cutting of both long and short pieces; an unwieldy piece can be firmly clamped to the mitersaw because it doesn't rest at an angle. Cutting the trim flat calls for some rather complex math to determine the proper settings for the bevel and miter cuts. But don't worry—mitersaw manufacturers have done the math for you and placed markings on the tools for the proper angles: 33.9° on the bevel scale and 31.6° on the miter scale [Photos below]. You'll see these numbers or some other obvious markings that indicate the "crown" settings. You may have wondered what those markings or stops were for. Now you know.
Templates make it easy
The first step in cutting molding flat is making a simple set of templates, then using them to set up your saw for cutting the correct angles. Just follow the steps in Photos below.
Placing and cutting crown molding on the saw is now a snap! Simply place a template on the saw (for example, template R-IC for the right side of an inside corner). Knowing that the bevel is always set left at 33.9° and the black edge of the template always goes against the fence, you only need to pivot the table left or right to align with the cut end of the template. Place your stock on the mitersaw to match the template orientation and, ta-da! You've just earned your masters in cutting crown molding.
Managing short pieces
With the saw tilted left, clamping on that side to cut short pieces can be difficult. For safety and accuracy, miter one end of a longer piece. Then, move and reclamp the stock to cut the opposite end to length.