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Installing Crown Molding

While this article won’t teach you everything about crown molding, it will get you started on the right foot!

Cutting Crown-1-1

(Click image to enlarge)

This is the crown molding demonstration we’ve been using at the Katz Roadshow. In fact, you may have seen Mike Sloggatt and Rick Arnold doing the same presentation. If you missed a point or two, or need a refresher on the fundamentals of cutting and installing crown, these videos should help a lot.

Measuring Crown

Saw Setup

Cutting Crown

Coping Crown

Pre-assembly & Installation

Comments/Discussion

43 Responses to “Installing Crown Molding”

  1. Mike McDermott

    Do you have a link for which collins coping foot you are using? Looks like you are using a Festool jigsaw, which model is it? I remember long ago it seemed the coping foot worked best with the Bosch barrel grip jigsaw – did you have to modify the coping foot to work with the festool jigsaw?

    Thanks,
    Mike – PA / USA

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Mike,
      I’m using one of the older Trion barrel-grip jigsaws. I prefer the barrel grip over the D-handle. I kind of think the D-handle is meant for cutting from the top, where you squeeze the trigger; the barrel grip is great for cutting inverted, where you just turn on the saw with the switch and leave it on.

      There isn’t a lot of difference between the Festool and the older Bosch saws. The Festool saw is a little quieter and a little smoother. The biggest difference is in the blades: the Festool saw using a blade that a few 100’s of an inch thicker than the Bosch, so it’s stiffer and you can ‘lean’ against it more.

      David Collins modifies the coping foot for the Festool Trion saws, and he also has a foot out now for the new Carvex saws, which snaps off and on ‘tool free’ and instantly.
      Gary

      Reply
  2. Carl Duguay

    I just finished watching all 5 videos – the best primer on crown molding that I’ve seen. Here’s a guy who knows what he’s talking about! Great job Gary.

    Reply
  3. Glen Martin

    Gary, your timing is perfect. We’re just beginning our Spring quarter here at Green River Carpentry Program which covers both Interior and Exterior Finishing. We’ve been using your Miter Series since they first came out which includes working with Crown and within a couple of weeks students will doing just that.
    I appreciate that as an instructor, your skills and knowledge that you pass on thru your videos I can use to pass onto my students who are entering this craft we call Carpentry. I’m certain you and I would make one heck of team teaching together as you use the same teaching methods that I can prove work.
    I’ve used all your videos for several years not to supplement the training I give to my students and their value to my program and teaching is beyond measure.

    I also have appreciated your generosity to my program through your donation of the videos.

    Thank you for all you do for our Craft. Believe me when I say, my students are better entry level carpenters due to your time, energy and expertise that you share so easily

    Thanks for “hitting the nail on the head” with these new videos.

    Glen Martin
    Carpentry Instructor
    Green River Comm. College, Auburn WA

    Reply
  4. Don

    Gary,
    Great demonstration on how to use the cope foot, as well as nesting the moulding in the jig to cope it. What blade do you use?

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Don,
      For the Festool saw I use a S 75/4 FS.
      For the Bosch saw, I use a 244D blade.
      Both blades are similar: very few teeth, and big teeth with deep gullets, so they pull the waste out of the kerf as you cut. And both blades have teeth with a very wide set–if you rub your finger along the shank of the blade, the set on the teeth will cut you fast. That’s important. You need to cut a kerf that’s much wider than the shank on the blade, otherwise you can’t maneuver the tool to follow the profile.
      Gary

      Reply
  5. Seamus McGoldrick

    Really enjoyed the videos, I have learned a lot. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Jonathan carr

    I appriciate all you do gary!!

    A few questions.

    The guy I just started working with ( a year ago) wants all his crown mitered…. Which was a big learning curve for me.
    That said, do you always cope all your crown, stained included.

    Do you have crown profiles that when you cope it “zeros out”? Meaning it falls below the zero point ( does that make sense?)

    Have you had issues with warped crown where it doesn’t matter how you cut it, it just won’t mate up? Therefore being forced to chisle it together like you would a stair rail fitting?( a nightmare I just went through last house)

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Jonathan,
      I cope all inside corners on all moldings, unless the pieces are small and I’m pre-assembling them, unless the crown is going in a kitchen on cabinets which I know are square, unless I’m installing it on a bay pop-out, unless I’m running crown around columns or pilasters, unless….I think you get the picture. There are no hard and fast, black and white, rules in carpentry.

      And I think you’re talking about ‘uncopable’ crown. Yes, there are many custom profiles that aren’t copable and must be mitered.
      Gary

      Reply
  7. Chris Hoover

    Hi Jonathon,
    If the material is giving you problems you can massage the cuts with sanding blocks, files, etc and then glue the cuts up if possible with spring clamps before installing.
    Not sure if that helps. :-P

    Reply
  8. mark e

    Thanks for the videos, Gary!

    So what method do you use to adjust the crown angles when the corners aren’t right at 90 degrees? When some are, say, 88 1/2 degrees and others are 91 or 92 degrees? Remodel work is rarely square.

    By the same token, what method do you use to account for peaks and valleys in the ceilings and walls? Those places where the ceiling or the wall isn’t running perfectly straight but tends to undulate up and down or in and out?

    Thanks,
    Mark

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      I always check outside corners, first with a mockup–that’s what I use to establish the line of the crown, and the mock-up tells me if the corner is square. I use a protractor to find out how out-of-square the corner is, and I adjust my miters accordingly (remember, 46 degrees on your miter saw is really 44 degrees on a protractor!!! etc.).

      And if the ceiling is way out, I like to install a bed molding, similarly with the walls. Sometimes it’s best to install a bed molding on the walls and the ceiling. Something with a large fillet or flat, so changes in the fillet reveal aren’t so noticeable.
      Gary

      Reply
  9. E Ley

    Hey there, cool series, any reason you didn’t use p2-10 instead of titebond?

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Good question. I don’t use 2P10 if I need wiggle room time to adjust the fit of the miters. And I don’t use 2P10 for common joinery–it’s too expensive, and cyanoacrylate adhesive is a ‘surface’ bond–it doesn’t penetrate the wood grain. And I don’t use 2P10 because I like to seal the endgrain of the wood, which helps control moisture content and stops stain from wicking into miter joints and darkening them.
      Gary

      Reply
  10. tim

    Band saw coping
    A few years ago I saw the custom lumber supplier making profile cuts on 4 X 6 beams for a grape arbor. He had the band saw on a 4 wheel heavy dolly and handle bars on the saw. The beam was mounted on large sturdy sawhorses and the band saw was steered to make the cuts. When helping my son do interior trim, we set our 12″ band saw on a dolly and support the moulding with adjustable support stands and use the same technique. Make the cuts and rotate the saw as needed, cut again. We only have a couple cheap jig saws and the steady band saw operation works better, to relieve the back of the cope cut he lowers the stand to have the moulding at about a 10 – 15 degree angle, side shaving the back.

    Reply
  11. chris

    Thanks for the videos! very informative, but does no one use a coping saw (hand) anymore?

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Sure, I use a hand saw for coping frequently, when the material is so small that using a jigsaw is silly. But I rarely install anything that small, other than base shoe. I also use nail guns instead of driving nails by hand; I also use lasers instead of water levels; I also use calculators; I also use….well, I think you get the point. ;)
      Gary

      Reply
  12. tony cerrito, the house carpenter

    Gary your the greatest. Got a few for you. #1 jointing pieces of crown on a long wall where two or more pieces are needed whats your procedure .#2 I usually put the pieces in place and mark like running base ? is it more efficient to measure. Could i ask you where i could get a idea of what to charge customers for moulding work. i mean i would like to have a per foot labor cost for base casing and crown . i do a lot of crown work and people like those shadow boxes with the o.g. that i really have no formula for. thank you

    Reply
  13. Bee

    Gary, this may be an entirely different topic but what do you suggest for priming and/or painting moulding AND should this be done after install or pre-install and touch-ups where necessary?? Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  14. Gordon

    Hey Gary, good job on the crown mold video. It’s amazing how you think you know something until somebody else does it. Have you ever worked in Hawaii? You look like somebody I knew. Thanks

    Reply
  15. Jason Leeker

    I much prefer cutting crown in position rather than on the flat, but with 7 1/4″ tall crown my miter saws are unable to cut this tall of crown in position. Was wondering if you knew of a miter saw that could cut this tall of crown, or of an efficient way of cutting crown with handsaw in custom built miter box that would keep crown at the proper spring angle. Any thoughts or suggestion?

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Jason,
      We used to use the old Hitachi 15″ miter saw for cutting 7-8″ crown in position. Then DeWalt came out with the 706, which was a 12″ saw but could cut 8″ crown in position! DeWalt stopped making that saw–too bad, it was very inexpensive, too–a Chop Saw, not a Sliding Compound Miter Saw. If you can get your hands on a used one, it would be worth it. I still have mine!
      Gary

      Reply
  16. Mack

    Thank you so very much. I learned more about crown molding in 30 minutes of watching your videos than I have by listening to everyone’s advise for the last ten years. You’ve actually inspired me to add a bunch of it to the inside of my house. And BTW……. your style of teaching reminds me of an old loving uncle, who just loved to teach, and from whom, anyone could learn and enjoy it. Thanks again sir. You truly are what I would refer to as a “master of your trade.

    Reply
  17. Mike

    Great videos. My question has to do with the setting on my Bosch barrel jigsaw. When using the Collins shoe and an aggressive blade for coping, would you recommend setting the blade angle of attack at straight up and down (90*) or one of the three other more aggressive angles?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  18. Kerry

    Thanks for the video, very informative. My question is on the coping portion. Wouldn’t adding a bevel to the 45 degree cut take away enough material as coping?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  19. Larry Seibold

    Hi Gary,

    Excellent overview tutorial for crown assembly and saw work. I see that you are using a set of wings that are about 6 ft long based on Lamar’s design. I am planing to make something similar. How do you normally handle 16 ft crown lengths? I would be interested in comments from others on this as well. Cutting everything to 8 ft or 10 ft is one option.

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Larry,
      I would never cut 16’s down just so they’d be easier to handle. Buy a roller stand and set that up a few feet beyond your extension wing. You need only one, and you need it only when cutting 16’s.
      Gary

      Reply
  20. Jacob A. Smith

    Thanks for the great videos. Have you ever looked at the Jawhorse in lieu of your jig? It takes about a second to get it in place and you can start coping. Also, are there any other jigsaw blades that you have used that work well with the Collins Foot? I haven’t been able to find the ones that Collins recommended at any of my local vendors.

    Reply
      • Jacob A. Smith

        I’m sorry if you thought I was joking; I definitely wasn’t. I’m very serious about my craft and I always spend top dollar when it comes to my tools. I’m not prone to gimmicky gadgets or late night tool infomercials but this tool really made coping a lot faster (as well as a lot of other tasks) well before I had bought my Collins Coping Foot. I used to cope off of the end of my Dewalt miter saw stand. It was always a little high and a little shaky. Now I can slide the piece a few feet off of my saw stand and it is clamped quickly and doesn’t move. I haven’t coped my trim-holding thumb in quite sometime…of course that’s probably because of the coping foot.

        Thanks again for your fantastic videos (especially your door installation videos). I hope to see you soon at a live event.

        Reply
        • Gary Katz

          Jacob,
          I didn’t realize that you have used the Jawhorse. I thought you were asking me, and to me it seems like another thing to carry when, like you said, I can clamp crown right to the end of my extension wing on my miter saw. I don’t find it very shaky. The jigsaw is doing all the work. But I’m with you. I’ve learned to ‘invest’ top dollar in my tools, too. It sure makes the learning curve easier, and they hold up longer. And really good tools are nice to hold and use–they make you happy, like a fine fly rod. And if that Jawhorse does the trick for you, then by all means…
          Gary

          Reply
    • David Tuttle

      Jacob, I’m surprised you can’t find the Bosch Blades at any good tool shop has them. I buy 2-3 packs at a time.

      Reply
  21. Anthony Day

    Gary,
    Great article! What saw stand are using for your kapex?

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      I’m using an old Sawhelper stand with homemade extension wings. I prefer that stand a lot more than the Festool stand for the Kapex, which is too low, too wobbly, and the extension wings are too narrow. I like to have wide wings so I can clamp crown stops to them, so I can clamp a coping jig to them, so I can clamp a piece of trim or a 1x to the stand and use the stand and wings as a work center.

      You can make your own stand and wings, too. Here’s an article: http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/2010/06/18/wooden-miter-saw-stand/

      Gary

      Reply
  22. Bill Peredina

    Hi Gary,
    I have all your trim carpentry videos and have benefited greatly from watching them. My latest project is a Hickory kitchen with crown on all the uppers. For some reason when I assemble the outside corners the corner is slightly greater than 90 degrees.
    If I lay a piece of flat stock and cut it at 45 degrees and assemble the corner is exactly 90 degrees. Also if I put the stock flat against the fence and cut 45’s I also get a nice 90 degree corner which seems to prove the saw is tuned correctly.
    The only source for this error that I can think of would be the material sliding up the fence slightly while making the cut but I’m sure I’m holding it tight against the stop.
    Have you ever had this error and if so how did you fix it?
    Also…..brand new blade installed and results are identical.

    Thanks,

    Bill

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Bill,
      I travel a LOT and hate it each time I leave home. I didn’t hate it so much when I lived in L.A., but boy, I can’t stand it now. But if I could leave and return in an instant, I’d sure like to stand and watch over your shoulder to see what the heck is going on!!!!!!!

      The only thing I can think of is that you’re cutting the crown in a different position than you’re installing it. OR…you might be cutting it wrong. Why don’t you shoot a few photos of your cutting setup, shoot another of the crown on the wall with the open miter.

      Gary

      Reply
      • Bill Peredina

        Hi Gary,
        Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
        I watched the saw setup segment again and think I may have found my error.
        When I attached the crown stop board to my extension wings I had screwed it rather than clamped it so this time I took great care to make sure the spring angle create by the stop was dead on.
        I cut three variations of crown starting w/ 2″ pine cove and working up to 4″ hickory. Great results on all test pieces.
        Then as an experiment I took the spacer board I used when simulating the spring angle of the hickory and shaved off a skinny 1/32…..adjusted my crown stop to this new (wrong) spring angle and got the exact results I had originally……an open corner.
        You were correct …….I was cutting the crown in a different position.

        Thanks again,
        Bill

        Reply
  23. Eric

    How long do you guys let crown climate before installing it?? Thanks, Eric

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Eric,
      It’s not a matter of ‘how long’ you allow material to acclimate. It’s a matter of WHAT IS THE MOISTURE CONTENT when it arrives on the job.

      Most moldings will come to the job at about 10% MC, which means they’re pretty good to install, unless it’s winter time and the home is heated with a wood stove, then I’d allow the material to ‘acclimate’ until the MC is 8% or lower, espeically for crown which is installed near the ceiling–the warmest, driest part of the home.
      Gary

      Reply
  24. Tri Gawra

    Gary you know any training institute in Los Angeles, I would like to get practical training, Your videos are great
    Thanks,
    Tri

    Reply
  25. Saku

    Thanks, Gary, for an overload of goodness. Fun to watch and sooo informative.
    Take care,
    Saku

    Reply

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