While this article won’t teach you everything about crown molding, it will get you started on the right foot!
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.
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?
Mike – PA / USA
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.
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.
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.
Green River Comm. College, Auburn WA
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?
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.
Really enjoyed the videos, I have learned a lot. Thank you.
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)
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.
Do you have examples of uncopable crown molding? And/or how to tell if the crown molding is copable?
I’m having trouble getting a tight fit across the cope joint. It butts up tightly at the bottom of the The crown molding and a gap gradually opens up and is max gap at the top where it interfaces with the ceiling. What would you recommend doing?
Thanks in advance for your help.
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
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?
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.
Hey there, cool series, any reason you didn’t use p2-10 instead of titebond?
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.
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.
Interesting. No comment.
Thanks for the videos! very informative, but does no one use a coping saw (hand) anymore?
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 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
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!
I have no idea.
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
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?
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!
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
I’m not sure if you’re serious about the Jawhorse or if you’re joking, so I won’t comment on that…but a quick google search turned up this:
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.
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…
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.
Great article! What saw stand are using for your kapex?
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/
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.
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.
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.
How long do you guys let crown climate before installing it?? Thanks, 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 you know any training institute in Los Angeles, I would like to get practical training, Your videos are great
Thanks, Gary, for an overload of goodness. Fun to watch and sooo informative.
Just started cutting some cove crown using your techniques and I tried to save time by skipping the coping clamping station – bad move. Suffice to say, you were right (again) to recommend using one – it makes using the coping foot much easier.
For an old house where none of the inside corners are 90 degrees and the walls a a bit wavy, what do you think of installing a backing strip with shims where needed to square the molding at least with respect to the corners? The molding is a two-piece, red oak, stain-grade cove crown and bottom cap. I’m thinking that the cap “should” be able to mostly hide the gaps between the crown and the wall that result from shimming the backing strip. Hope that makes sense – I can provide a pic if needed.
Any thoughts or other approaches to dealing with old wonky walls much appreciated.
Yeah, I know that experience. I did the SAME THING and David gave me a pretty hard time about that, too. Previous to that, he chewed me out for not reading the instructions about the type of blade to use.
Yes, I’d install a bed molding, like an inverted basboard on the wall, and maybe even a three-part cornice, with a piece of bed molding on the ceiling, too, if the ceiling is really wacky as well. That way, you can straighten out the walls a little with the bed molding, and twist the crown a little, too, splitting the difference. Even if the crown and bedmold are stain grade, you can still mask the bottom edge and caulk them to the wall. In other words, don’t hesitate to shim the bedmold off the wall a bit if you need to, then chop off the shims, mask the edge of the molding, and caulk over the gap and the shims. Done it many many times.
Thanks, Gary, for the quick reply and great advice. My bungalow only has 3 rooms with crown – living, dining and a very small entry area. I figured I’ll just try it out in the entry area (four 4-foot long pieces, easy to handle and install) and see how it goes. Nothing to lose, and who knows, I might actually make it work (miracles do happen).
I have a 135 degree inside corner but the corner of the wall is rounded by what I guess would be a 1/2-1″ radius. So that walls don’t form a nice tight corner, but the radius is too short to be able to bend the crown molding to conform. Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with this situation?
I’ve thought of gouging out the corner drywall where the crown moulding would go, but that seems messy. The other idea I had was to do the equivalent of a bull nose but for an inside corner. I haven’t found anything out there that discusses this particular issue.
Hi Doug, sorry for the delay in responding! YES, I’ve done three-piece inside corners, too. Doesn’t look back with the inside corners are radiused–and sometimes, the drywallers float so much mud even in a square inside corner, that it’s cleaner to use a three-piece corner.
I went with the three piece corner and everything worked out great. Thanks for the input!
iam a retired 75 year old man who learned before i did to build cabinetry. iam not math genius ,and the long aritcles that are wrote get me lost about half way thru.my problem iam trying to solve before my divorce me for not finishing yet is finding the angles from the wall to a vaulted ceiling.it is so fustrating to say the least.if you can help me i would really be thankful for it and put a smile on my wifes face.