If you are building or renovating a house, something you will need to install is crown molding, that small ledge of wood that often sits on the bottom of a wall, right on the floor (crown molding can also be on top of the wall, right by the ceiling).
Either way, if you have a miter saw, you are on the right track, because it’s a great tool to use for cutting this material. That said, you do have to do it the right way.
Is Miter Saw the Best Tool for Cutting Crown Molding?
When it comes down to it, yes, a miter saw is the best tool to use for cutting crown molding. The reason for this is, for one, because miter saws can easily handle crown molding stock in terms of size. Next, what is important to know here is that you do really want to be using a compound or dual compound miter saw for this task.
While a normal miter saw that can just miter (pivot the blade left or right along the horizontal plane) will do fine, you may also need to make bevel cuts (pivot the blade along the vertical plane). Dual compound miter saws are the most versatile of all.
With that being said, there are other types of saws that you may use for this task, although the miter saw is the best. You could use a circular saw, a table saw, a jigsaw, or even a hand saw, but none will be as fast, easy, and as accurate as a miter saw.
How to Cut Crown Molding with a Miter Saw
Alright, so now that we know that a miter saw is indeed the best tool to use for this task, you need to know how to use it. What is important to note is that cutting crown molding doesn’t just involve one type of cut. The type of cut you make depends on where the crown molding in your home will go.
There are four main types of crown molding cuts that you need to be able to perform, so let’s take a look at each of them.
Making a Square Cut
When installing crown molding, you will likely need to make some square cuts. This is the most common cut and the easiest to perform as well. This type of cut is used to cut crown molding that sits flush against the wall and against a corner. Follow the steps below to make a good square cut.
- Measure the distance from one corner of the wall to the other.
- Transfer that measurement onto the piece of the crown molding being cut. Use the appropriate marking utensils to do so.
- Set the miter on the miter saw to zero degrees, which means that the blade is perfectly straight from front to back.
- Make sure that the crown molding is in the right position and sitting firmly against the fence of the miter saw.
- Turn on the miter saw and move the blade down through the crown molding to make the cut.
Cutting Outside Corners
If you have a room that just has four walls, then you may not need to know how to do this. However, if you have more than four walls in a room, such as two walls that come to a point that point inwards into the room, you will need to know how to cut outside corners.
The molding comes to a point, almost like the bow of a ship. Follow the below steps to make this cut:
- Use a measuring tape to measure the outside edge of the corner, all the way along the wall to the end.
- Transfer this measurement onto your crown molding using the appropriate marking tools.
- Place the crown molding on the miter saw, with it resting against the fence, and in the same position as it will be mounted in.
- Now you need to turn or pivot the blade outwards by 45 degrees. Make sure it pivots away from what you just measured, not towards.
- Now you can make the first cut.
- Next, you need to measure from that same outside corner, but on the adjoining wall.
- Repeat the above steps to cut the second piece, the piece that will join with the first piece cut.
Cutting Coped Joints for Inside Corners
Inside corners are rarely a perfect 90 degrees, so a good method for using a miter saw to cut inside corners is to make a coped joint. Follow the steps outlined below to complete this process:
- For the first wall, cut crown molding into a butt joint, (square joint as described in the first type of cut).
- On the piece that needs to be coped, make a 45 degree inside miter cut.
- For this step, you will need a coping saw. Take the piece that has just been mitered and mark the profile of the crown molding with a pencil, so you can follow it with your coping saw. Use the coping saw to trim through the back of the molding.
- You should now have a good inside corner with a coped joint.
Cutting a Scarf Joint
Scarf joints are used to join two pieces of crown molding in a straight line (if you have a wall longer than the individual pieces of molding). To cut scarf joints, follow the steps as outlined below.
All you need to do here is to cut two pieces at opposite 45-degree angles:
- Pivot the blade of the miter saw 45 degrees to the left.
- Take the first piece of molding, place it on the saw with the scrap end to the right, and make sure it is upside down.
- Make the first 45-degree cut.
- Take the second piece of molding, place it upside down on the saw, and pivot the blade 45-degrees to the right.
- Make the second cut. You now have two pieces of crown molding that form a scarf joint.
Inside vs. Outside Corners: Differences to Keep in Mind When Cutting
The main difference that you need to remember here is that for outside joints, two pieces of crown molding need to come to a point, whereas with inside joints, you will need to make that coped joint for accuracy.
Refer to our above guides for making each type of cut.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Let’s quickly cover some crucial tips for the best results and safe operation of the miter saw:
- Only use a miter saw if it is securely bolted down to a work surface
- Always wear safety goggles when using a saw, and never wear loose-fitting clothing
- Although needless to say, always measure twice and cut once
- Make sure to have a really good blade with many small teeth, as crown molding can be fragile
As you can see, cutting crown molding with a miter saw is doable and not all that hard either.
That said, it might take a bit of practice, so it may be wise to start with some scrap wood, just to test your skills. You might also want to take a look at my general guide to using a miter saw.