How to Make your own Crown Molding (moulding) with a table router.

Step by Step Instructions

Step by step instructions for making your own Crown Moldings. Duplicating unavailable antique moldings or just making your own unique designs.

What is Crown Molding? What does it do?

Crown Molding is the ornate looking trim you see that typically joins the walls in your living room to the ceiling. (also used in cabinet facings)
Lets face it.. no one wants to look at the rough sloppy looking corner angle left behind by most any Sheet Rock Crew. "Leave that for the Painters to fix" is there favorite Motto... and their second favorite Motto is normally... "Don't worry about that.. the Crown Molding will cover it" or...
"Crown Molding, Caulk and Paint Covereth a Multitude of Mistakes"
If you want to know how well your house was put together... just take some of the trim or kick boards off and look behind it.

Crown Molding from scratch

This article will teach you how to make your own Crown Molding from scratch.
It is not "How to Install Crown Molding" as that is the answer to an entirely different question. 

If you need a specific crown molding that is commonly available in most Home Improvement stores.. My advice would be to just go ahead and buy it. 
But if you are working on your daughters doll house or doing a project that "Making it yourself" adds to the enjoyment of... and if you have the tools and some wood available... This article is just what you are looking for.

Things you will Need:

  • Table Router
  • Router Bits
  • Table Saw
  • Supply of long wood strips of correct width and thickness (resized with table saw)
  • Working knowledge of the tools you are using.
  • Think Safety First.

Considerations

Consider your use: In most cases you are better off Buying ready made moldings in the long lengths that are preferred for most uses.
However... when matching some older patterns on Antique Furniture, Picture Frames or in Restoration of Old Homes... you may be left with no choice but to "make your own" I am advising you to consider the use at this point because there is a considerable amount of work involved in producing your own moldings. If you are still wanting to produce your own... Follow along.

Materials

Choose your material: Clear Pine is one of the easiest woods to use for molding and is fine for many uses but Hemlock, and some Hardwoods may be a better choice if you plan to stain them and leave them natural.

You can buy the Hardwoods in pre-sized cuts and long lengths that are preferable for moldings in the same isle of the lumber store that you would buy the pre-made moldings. Purchasing hardwood this way may be necessary if you are trying to match a no longer existing pattern. Re sawn lumber from older sources is also available from www.appalachianwoods.com

Choosing Bits

There are many router bits to choose from.. Literally Hundreds of different styles for many different uses.

It is possible that with a little creativity (and some planning) for you to make several different styles of your own Crown Molding that is specific to the needs of your projects.

From a very ornate and original pattern that used several different Bits and multiple passes on the table router... all the way down to a simple little "Plain Picture frame" style or even a ¼ round that was made from a single pass.

I would advise you to start with something simple...
Use at least a 4 or 5 foot Test strip. This will allow you to safely put them through the router without endangering your fingers. (See Warnings Below!!!)
Start with a Roman Ogee Bit (Pictured at left)
Make some test runs to practice and get the feel for the work you are doing.
Try some different height and depth settings on your router with the Roman Ogee bit. Do some single pass patterns made from some small Pine strips (3/4" wide X 1 ½" tall X 4 or 5 feet Long)

(Be sure to keep your hands away from the Router and Use your protective accessories.)

Spring Angle
Spring Angle

Matching the Patern

One of the important considerations you will face at about this point is matching an existing molding. Moldings come in different sizes and widths... But they also come in different angles. The most common angles are 45 and 38 degrees.

Look at the picture to the left and notice the "Spring Angle" This is the angle that the piece of molding "Springs off of the wall".

Now notice that with a 45 degree spring angle you will also have two 45 degree Contact Angles. The Contact Angle is the angle at which the molding must be cut in order for the molding to properly Contact the ceiling and wall when it is at its proper Spring Angle.

In the case of a 38 degree Spring Angle your Contact Angles will be 38 and 52 degrees respectively. (NOTE: Make sure you cut the angles with the molding on its "Back" and put the proper angle on the proper side of the Molding. In the picture at left you will note that the 52 degree angle is on top.

If possible use your router with the proper bit for this cut... These Cuts must be done AFTER the pretty face cuts.

Large Router Bit set = Very Good Value for $$$

Matching the existing pattern... If you are trying to match an existing pattern, you must first understand that it may have been made on a large machine that could have used as many as 5 or 6 different Bits in single pass process that produced what you are seeing.

If possible take a piece of the molding that you want to duplicate and go to the Router Bit isle at your local supplier and physically lay each Bit alongside the molding looking for a match.

You may find that one Bit that is "Off the shelf" comes real close... If so write down the name of that bit and check the other brands of Router Bits looking for an exact match. From Company to Company there are copyrights and specific patterns that are owned... But the Next company may have a Bit that is very close to that of a competitor... If you find a bit that is close to what you need it may be that the molding was made by a competitors version of the same bit.
There are many Companies that make Router Bits... Freud, Bosch, Ryobi, and Skill to name but a few.

While you are checking... watch for Bits that duplicate one part of the pattern as it may be that you are in for a two or three pass ordeal to make your duplication.

Practice Passes First.

Practice on some subsized pine lumber: Lets say your desired molding is a one about 1 ½" by ¾ " thick. (Actual finished size will be a little smaller than the lumber you start with... remember you are reducing the lumber size with each pass through the router.... The final thickness of your molding may be only 5/8" for this scenario after the router carves out the face.

You can take a pine 1" x 12" that is 10 feet long and run it through your table saw a few times and make the strips you need...
By properly setting the Rip Fence on your table saw at 1 ½" You can then make short work of producing your own stock.
Just Remember that the accuracy of your cut is very important and you need to produce a high quality strip at this point in order to make a good quality molding at the router phase.
Be sure to check the distance between the blade and rip fence with a tape measure at the front and back of the blade before making the first cut. Never assume your Rip Fence is properly positioned... Always manually check it first.
(Measure the Front and Back of the Blade)
Have a second person (who also knows what they are doing) to receive your piece and support it as it comes off the other end of the table saw. This helps to keep the cuts even. (Use your safety gear!!! And Keep hands out of danger)
It is also very important to have your saw set up in a place that gives you enough room on both ends of the saw to feed and receive the lumber without bumping into things... This not only affects safety but could make a mess of your job. Give yourself plenty of room.

If you have a table planer... This is one of the best uses for it. Cut your strips a little large and then use your table planer to reduce the strips to the favored size... This will make your strips not only uniform one to the next but also make them smooth and easier to use with your table router.

Final Adjustments and lock down

After finding the proper Bit or Bits for the job, you will need to set up your router with the Bits and make some trial and error passes to find the right combination of Height and depth settings.

Make sure router is OFF, Unplug your router, and remove the Safety Key from the switch.
Now...
Take your sample piece that you are trying to duplicate and hold it next to the bit as you raise and lower the router to match it to the piece. When that is exactly matched up, Tighten the screws that lock your routers position into place.

Depth of pass

Your next obstacle will be the depth of pass which is determined by the adjustment of your Rip Fence.

To keep your piece steady during the pass and make every pass exactly like the last one... I recommend that you use not only the rip fence but also a Side feather board and Top Roller (or second Feather Board) which will ensure that your piece stays in contact with the blade, table and Rip fence at all times with no damaging wobble or play. This also helps to prevent the piece from kicking back on you which may result in injury.

Router Pass Logic

Router Passes. Make your first pass with the face cut. If you are making a molding with more than one face cuts, do all simular cuts at the same time while you have the bit set up for it. Do not try to make one piece of molding completely when you need several.. if you try to make them completely one at a time you will have minor differences between pieces instead of them being identical.
Do all of the first cuts then change the bit.. do all of your second cuts and then change the bit... and so forth until you are finished.

After your face cuts are complete lay a practice piece on its back and set the router up for the Contact angle cuts. When you have your router set up and ready. Do all of the top cuts first (as in step 10)above and then do all of the Bottom cuts...

After completing your moldings, you will want to store them in a clean dry area if you are planning to stain them or seal them at a later time.
If you are planning to paint the moldings then this is a good time to primer them so they will be dry and ready for use when you need them.

Final thoughts

A word of caution here. I am the son of a wood worker... and still have all of my fingers (Praise the Lord)

My Father on the other hand has worked in his own wood shops for over 50 years and is still going strong in his 70's. He still has most of his fingers. Or maybe I should rephrase that to say... "After several reconstructive surgeries he still has most of each of his fingers"

On several occasions he had accidents. Three of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in the entire shop are in fact The Same two or three Tools you are using for this Project.

By far the most accidents in the woodshop occur in the use of Table Routers and Saws (either Table Saw or Band Saw) Next on the list would be the Jointer Planer...

In most every Case Study the number one scenario of Injury is: "Kick out" or "Kick Back"

What is Kick Out and how does it happen? Kick out is usually caused when someone is trying to work with a small piece of wood that typically "catches the blade" and "Kicks Out".

When the small piece of wood "kicks out"... You are still exerting pressure where the wood was just at. Now the wood has been sent flying, but your fingers are continuing to push in the direction you were formerly pushing... But now instead of the wood being Routed or Cut... it is the Flesh, Bone, Blood and Cartilage that is being Routed or Cut, If this happens to you, you will be in need of immediate first aid and requiring Emergency medical treatment.

Usually this type of mistake removes fingers completely, leaving you disfigured for life.

Take what you are doing VERY Seriously.

Other thoughts: No Horseplay in the Shop area... Small Children and Pets should be left in the house or somewhere so that they are neither a distraction nor the cause of Bumping, pulling or other accident causing situations.

If these things can happen to someone as careful and knowledgeable as my father.. It can and will happen to you if you are not careful and follow good safety practices.

As for all of my articles, If you have any questions, just ask and I will try to get right back to you.
Thanks Mr Maranatha

Answers

In the Comments section below a question was asked about Software to help in the design and production of advanced Moldings and trim projects...

I did some searching around and found this site... hope this helps some of you.

http://www.treecourt.com/docs/prod_details.asp?prod_ID=Custom&CatID=3223

http://www.treecourt.com/docs/prod_details.asp?prod_ID=DecMould&CatID=3225

One More link I want to add, is the Link to the Woodmizer Saw Mill company... One of the great Treats I have enjoyed in this life was a Woodmizer Sawmill that I aquired just after H. Katrina leveled the Gulf Coast area... I really enjoyed owning operating the mill... It was a great toy that augmented my ownership of a tree service at that time when logs were better than free and people were paying us to haul them away...

But Woodmizer offers so much MORE than just the Sawmill... Woodmizer also offers equipment packages for just about anything you want to make... From the Log to the lumber... from Green Lumber to drying facilities.. and even for MAKING MOLDINGS... this company has always been at the top of the game when it comes to small ownership woodmills.

http://www.woodmizer.com/us/

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Comments 5 comments

RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada

I was watching a HandyMan challenge yesterday - my goodness they sure could have used this hub!


MrMaranatha profile image

MrMaranatha 4 years ago from Somewhere in the third world. Author

Thank you... Originally I wrote this over in another site... I had a Bunch of How to articles there... but when wanted to stop paying the royalties on the articles and offered the writers a song and a dance for our work... So I pulled every article I had left on the site and moved them here. I don't make so much now.. but then Im not being taken for granted either:-) Honesty is a plus in my book.. I like Hub Pages.


Katie 4 years ago

Can you buy or download software to design crown molding ? I need to create a very large stack for a that will finish size 40cm by 40 cm plus a 10 cm drop from ceiling for lighting. Since this will take a walk piece, two stacked ceiling pieces to create the drop and the diaginal, I sm looking for design help and then best bits, cutting order. Any advise is welcome.


MrMaranatha profile image

MrMaranatha 4 years ago from Somewhere in the third world. Author

Katie check the Answers given at the bottom of the article.. I just added that for you... there are a couple of links that may guide you to what you are looking for.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

Oh, I so want to do this! Thanks! Great information. Thumbs up.

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