crown moulding

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  #1  
Old 12-07-00, 10:51 AM
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How do you figure the angle to set your miter saw to make
your 90'cut and any odd angle? I know that their is a certain way to line up your piece in your saw but can't figure it
out without wasting all my material on practice cuts.
Is their anyone who could give some advice on the matter
it would be greatly appreicated. thanks.
 
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Old 12-07-00, 12:00 PM
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Hello,

How exciting for me! I just took a crown molding class 3 weeks ago! There is much to learn that I can't
cover here so I will be brief to avoid long winded posts. I am sure others will post even more on this topic
as it is hard to describe with words, and difficult to understand until you really see someone do it firsthand.
There are tips on; measuring exact lengths (which are needed); rolling (twisting to fit uneven surfaces);
nailing when there is no ceiling stud; cope cuts (the masters way to cut inside corners), joining two
lengths together; orienting miters to the viewing perspective of the entry door,etc.

First you need to know that crown molding does not have a 45 degree angle as many people think. The
compound angles present at every corner are always the same angles regardless of what crown you buy,
and it is something like 34.x and 32.x degrees since they are compound angles. I say 34.x because I don't
know the fraction of a degree, such as 34.8 or whatever. If you buy something that looks like crown but is
not, I think you will never get it cut right. So always buy crown molding, not just anything to save money.
Crown molding is made special with the ceiling and wall sides cuts to different special angles, and you
need to know which is top and bottom.

There are 2 ways we were taught.

The first way is to simply hand hold the molding in the miter saw at the same angle as you will install it,
then simply cut it with a 45 miter saw position. More in a sec on how-to. There are pro's and con's to this.
For this to work, you need to know that the cove profile of the molding is always the base(bottom) of the
crown moulding, and you must orient the molding in the mitre saw such that the mitre fence(back) is your
household wall, and the mitre table surface is your household ceiling. They call this, 'upside down and
backwards'. It may help to make a wood jig to hold the molding at the same angle for all cuts. In other
words, do not lay the molding flat, instead prop it up to imitate the angle it will be installed, keeping in
mind the fence is the wall, table is ceiling. The pro's for this method is that you don't need to set your mitre
saw at any unusual or compound angles. Just set at 45 mitre and cut. This will produce the odd angles of
34.x and 32.x degrees that are standard for ALL crown molding cuts. The con's are that you might want to
make a simple jig, extra work. This method, called 'upside down and backwards' is how the master
carpenter who taught the class, does it. Another con is that errors in holding the piece at an angle while
cutting may produce errors due to slippage.

The second way, called 'flat cutting', is to lay the molding flat on its back, face up and set the mitre saw to
the 2 odd angles needed for this special compound cut. Most power mitre saws,(mine is DeWatt), have
these 2 angles as presets on the saw!! Isn't that nice! Just find them and set your angle and compound
angle to these presets. If you have been paying attention, you will know to look near the 34 and 32 degree
marks. Do not set the saw to exactly 32 and 34 because that is not the correct angle. Find the presets on
the saw. If you don't have them on your saw, then don't use this method (I guess). At least, I wouldn't. The
con's here are that your saw may need to be calibrated for accurarcy. Always cut some scrape first to
avoid mistakes on the costly crown molding.

You can cut all your molding using these methods and most DIY's do. But, you know the saying, ".. it looks
like they did it themselves..." meaning, it don't look right. This truth is magnified for crown because it is
highly visible and even pro's recommend that you hire it out. Here is why!! For the job to look 'right' you
will want to cut all the inside corners with what is called a 'cope cut'. If you don't, you will probably never be
happy with your project results.

I will not go into detail on how to perform the cope cut because even books with pictures have a difficult
time describing it. I will cover it only briefly, but you should know I took the class just so I could see it
firsthand and that is how I learned. Here goes. First cut an inside corner as though you would for the
regular compound mitre cut described earlier. Then clamp down that piece and use a hand coping saw to
'backcut' the exposed wood backward about 45 degrees, along the face edge of the profile, while not
cutting into the edge profile itself. Needless to say, if you ever understand what I just said, you will know
that you had better understand how to measure the length accurately for this type of cut. You will now take
this odd looking cope cut piece and align the profile with the profile of the opposing piece of molding on
the opposite wall. The opposing piece of molding is simply a butt cut end, (no effort there thank
goodness). I can't explain it any more without a typist and a manuscript. This cope cut is what separates
the DIY's from the masters and makes the job look 'perfect'.

I hope this info helps get you launched with some of the basics! Good luck and as always, do it yourself!

Mark
 
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