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How to Cut Crown Molding with a Compound Miter Saw?

Are you looking to add a stylish accent to an existing room? Done properly, there is little that can have a more profound effect on a room’s appearance than adding crown molding. Trimming a room with crown mold can, however, present a big, but not an insurmountable challenge.

To cut crown molding with any degree of speed or accuracy, a compound miter saw is the tool of choice. While learning how to cut crown molding with a compound miter saw is one of the more challenging home-improvement jobs you can take on, the results will be well worth it.

Become Familiar With Crown

Become Familiar With Crown

Before attempting to cut crown molding, before getting anywhere near a saw, take a long few minutes to examine a piece of crown mold. Notice the width of the crown, the height, and the taper. The decorative edge will fit flush to the wall. Dry fit the crown molding in the crease where your wall meets the ceiling.

Slide the piece of crown into a corner and try to picture what you will be doing. The majority of headaches with crown mold come from cutting miters or joining two pieces of crown on walls that oppose at a ninety-degree angle. Take a few minutes to visualize what you’ll need to do to join the two pieces of crown, drawing a line on the molding if helpful.

Inside Joint or Outside?

Inside Joint or Outside

Consistent with the previous step, you’ll need to know precisely what type of joint you’re cutting. Where two walls join in the interior of a house, you’ll be cutting an interior corner. Imagine the corners of a bedroom where two walls join.

An outside corner forms when crown joins on the outside edge; imagine putting crown around the top of a bookcase and you’ll recognize similar situations in your home. In both cases, inside and outside joints, you’ll be cutting a left and right component.

Option One: Make a Jig

There are two ways to cut crown molding using a compound miter saw. The first option involves building a jig to hold the crown molding in a vertical position with the bottom of the crown mold facing up, flush to the fence.

The decorative edge will always be the bottom of the mold when it is installed. To build the jig, you’ll need to extend the miter table, covering it in either direction with a long piece of MDF or plywood. You’re essentially creating a new miter table.

Next, extend the entire length of the miter fence upward with a piece of MDF or similar scrap wood. The fence needs to be taller than the crown mold when held vertically. Take the beveled edge of the crown mold and place it tight to the fence.

The crown should run at a 45-degree angle between the fence and table. Mark where the crown rests along the miter table. Place a stop block that will hold the crown mold flush to the table and fence.

Option One: Cut Miters as Usual

With your jig in place, you’ll be cutting the crown mold in the position it mounts to the wall. Outside joints require you to cut the right component by placing the crown mold to the left side of the saw, decorative edge up, between the stop block and table. Swing the miter saw 45-degrees to the right.

Make your cut. To cut the left component, place the crown mold to the right side of the saw, swing the miter saw 45-degrees to the left. Cut as usual.

To make an inside joint the process is very similar, the only thing that changes is the placement of the wood. For the left component, place the wood to the right of the saw, and swing the saw 45-degrees to the right. Make your cut, decorative edge up. For the right component, place the stock to the left, then swing the saw to the left. Cut as usual.

Option Two: Make Compound Cuts

This option works best if the walls are precisely ninety degrees and you have neither the time nor ability to build a jig. The disadvantage to this method is that walls are rarely ninety degrees, and unless your setup is precise, you’ll probably need to adjust your cuts with a coping saw.

Set your level to 33.85 degrees and the angle of the cut to 31.62 degrees. For an inside corner, cut the left component by cutting with the decorative edge of the molding against the fence. Cut the right component by cutting with the decorative edge of the molding opposite to the fence.

To cut an outside corner, cut the left component by putting the decorative edge of the molding opposite the fence. To cut the right component, put the decorative edge of the molding tight to the fence.

Have Plenty of Scrap on Hand

Here’s a pro secret: keep wood scrap on hand. Very few rooms have perfectly square corners. Walls, especially older walls, are never flat, and it’s difficult to consistently make the incredibly precise measurements when cutting crown mold. As a result, many professionals prefer to cut and fit pieces of scrap before touching the actual molding.

Think of it this way, if you miscut a piece of scrap, you were planning on throwing it out anyhow! No big deal! I’d suggest taking this approach, at least until the process of cutting crown molding becomes second nature.


And there you have it! With practice, you’ll be cutting crown mold like a pro! Hopefully, this article convinced you to try trimming a room yourself before hiring a professional. Not only will it save you a bunch of money, but there’s a sense of accomplishment from solving your own problems. And you’ll have proof of your work every time you step into a room you trimmed. 

Did you find this tutorial helpful? Are you going to try trimming a room with crown mold? If so, please let us know how it turns out in the comments below. Also, if you know someone who’d be interested in this article, please feel free to share it.

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