Cheating Crown Moulding

When a sagging ceiling threatens to squeeze your mouldings down too low, there are ways to tweak the "spring angle" to make everything fit kinda sorta just right. October 25, 2007

I've come to a problem in a kitchen crown install. A refrigerator cabinet is giving me a hard time because the ceiling sags on the right hand side of the cabinet and does not allow me to install the 3 1/4" crown without protruding into the door space. The whole kitchen has 3 1/4" crown and this is the last spot, so going with a narrower crown is not an option. Does anyone have any tricks I could consider?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor J:
Sometimes it's like playing chess; we need to think 3 steps ahead to plan our next move. What is the reveal above the doors? How much does the crown protrude into the door opening?

From contributor L:
Hmm... Old house syndrome. Not much you can do. The house dictates what needs to be done. You either need to find it before the problem occurs or deal with it after you find it. Apparently you are at the latter. You will have to trim/scribe the top of the crown where the ceiling sags. If you do it correctly, you will be the only one to notice. It's either that or tell your client that they need to fork out $10k to get the structure fixed - not.

From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
Hang on just a sec... If the problem isn't too severe, there is a pretty simple trick. First, it helps if you're cutting in position, with the crown standing up at your saw. It's easier to alter spring angles quickly that way.

Measure the distance from the ceiling to the top of the door. Subtract 1/16 or 1/18 or whatever your reveal is. Measure up from the base of your saw and draw a pencil line on the fence at that height. If the cabinet doors are 3 inches from the ceiling, you'll be drawing a line on your fence that's about 2 7/8 or 2 15/16 up from the base of the saw.

That's the position you must hold the crown to clear the doors. For a refer cabinet, you'll have to recut the miters on both sides of the cabinet at that new measurement (spring angle), then start cheating the crown at the preceding corners. You have to cut both pieces that meet in a corner at the same measurement mark (spring angle), but you can vary that spring angle from corner to corner. It's easiest to do this over a longer run where you can twist the crown. But you can twist crown in a short run a little bit, too.

Sometimes I thin down the back of the crown using a power plane (David Collins taught me that trick and I put it on my Conquering Crown DVD, along with David), so it's easier to twist, but don't plane into the ceiling or wall shoulders.

Contributor L is right; it really helps to catch this stuff before you start. Next time, take two pieces of crown and pre-assemble an outside corner, then check all the cabinets and ceilings - you can also make a small gauge block, you can also... I think you get the point.

From the original questioner:
Thank you very much. I didn't think about these options. All I could see doing was to trim the base of the crown, but was wondering how I was going to make the joint look decent. I didn't get to measure it today, but when I put the crown at the correct spring angle, it is about even with the door opening.

Yes, this was my fault totally because I built the cabinets and installed, so I could have foreseen this problem. It takes things like this to learn what not to do so you do not make the same mistake. I am glad I didn't use an installer for this job because I probably would have got my butt whipped for this. Now I just kick my own butt and move on. Thanks - I will try it.

From contributor F:
This sounds like a situation where you actually should have used an installer. I deal with this exact problem constantly, and follow Gary Katz's solution to the letter (his DVDs are excellent). The real problem, however, is in your survey of the site prior to building the job. Get yourself a pocket laser like the pls2 and use it when measuring the job. Often you can design in enough flat below the crown to avoid having to twist at all- at the very least you can identify that soffit that is 1.5" out of level over 8 feet, and plan accordingly.

From contributor S:
If you get the perfect cuts program, it will help you cope that crown when you twist it a bit. Type in your new rise and spring dimensions, and it will calculate the swing and flop angles for your miter saw to make your cope line. I think it is at, but you found this place, so you can find that one. It is good for just this situation.