Machining Humongous Crown

Thoughts on the problematic practicalities of milling and installing 16-inch-wide crown moulding. September 19, 2009

I'm looking for a source and price for some really big crown. Just bidding the job and need quotes.

Red oak
380' of the smaller
240' of the bigger

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor G:
Can the larger crown be run in two pieces? I have a Weinig moulder that can run up to a 9 1/4" crown.

From the original questioner:
Or 3 pieces, with assembly on installation.

From contributor R:
The shop I work with here in Nashville has the software to run wide profiles like that on the CNC. We can certainly run both as a single piece.

From the original questioner:
The glue up could be 3-4 pieces to make the profile. 10' lengths would work.

Color match.... Close works for me, but I wouldn't stress over it. Just keep the really dark stuff away from the really light stuff.

At this time I do not have this job. I am looking for quotes for this crown.

From contributor T:
You realize the larger profile is drawn at about 3.5 inches thick. That's really impractical in solid wood for a litany of reasons. I suggest the profile needs to be modified to accommodate a multi-piece installation. Not sure what the minimums would be, but it might be possible in urethane if it was paint grade.

From contributor B:
That's insane, 17" - forget making it, which is feasible, but how do you cut it? By hand with a large box? Curious on the application where someone would require this size crown. The ceilings must be incredibly tall for it not to look out of scale. If I were to do this it would be in three parts and installed in two parts as well.

From the original questioner:
Running it as 3 parts and installing\assembling onsite is now desirable. I have one quote in and that is how they would make it.

I don't care what the back side looks like - the front detail has to be what the customer wants. If you want to make it thinner, make it thinner. This was designed by an architect. He\she has no real concept of what it will take to get this done. Don't take my attitude wrong - I like the current exchange here on this project.

As for cutting 17" crown, the finish contractor says he can do it. So, I say okay. How will it look in the room it is going in? Same color green to me as a small crown!

Oh yeah - red oak, stain grade, no paint or faux finish. Polyurethane is not an option.

From contributor T:
Leave it to an architect to design something that's not only highly implausible, but will be hideous as well - 17 inch wide red oak crown! I guess if the ceiling is 30 or more feet high, it won't look so bad.

From contributor U:
The design will indeed need to be modified a bit to make a product run easier on a moulder. You will need special hold downs to run on a moulder and a way to spline it or T&G to make assembly easier. Tooling cost could be up there depending on how you decide to break it apart.

From contributor M:
I bet the chances are very high that the designer/architect said they wanted a 12" crown and whoever actually drew it up doesn't realize that crown is measured across the face for its "call out" size, not the dim of projection out and down?

From contributor B:
That would make more sense. Unless this is going on a 50' ceiling it's going to look ridiculously out of place. I wonder if the architect/designer specified 10" stiles and rails for the doors for this space.

From contributor D:

I have made this type and size of crown on two occasions. Both uses were exterior, at the cornice of 3-5 story buildings, under masonry cap, and above other molds - some in stone and some in wood. One building had 140 dentil blocks that were 9" x 9" x 18" long. Both buildings had miter returns where the molding proceeded down the side of the building.

We did them in clear sugar pine, 3 shaper runs ("we don' need no steenkin' molder"), laminated for thickness and width, assembled with resorcinol glue. We cut the miters in the shop so the corners could go up first. Did that with a modified Skilsaw and handsaws. We glued and screwed the corners together.

That was in 1983 and they both look fine today. We all call it woodworking, but it is problem solving first. However, you can call the design professionals crazy if you want - that just throws the work to me.

From contributor U:
Yes, contributor D, I am sure you can do this. My reference to a moulder was because I was approached to give a tooling quote so this could run through a moulder. But any skilled craftsman such as yourself can do this however they wish to do it.

From contributor O:
I am dying to see the picture of the trim guy trying to cut that crown on a saw. Where is that crown going? In Paul Bunyan's house? Isn't he from Canada? You are going to need his axe to cut that 3 3/4 x 17" crown on a 45 degree. For that matter, each length would weigh about 200 pounds. What is the trim guy going to hang it with? A forklift and a framing nailer?

Now that I am older and wiser, I just tell the architects/designers that they will be responsible for sourcing ridiculous items like 17" crown molding. That way they can waste hours and hours trying to track down something that probably won't work in the end.

From contributor L:
The largest crown I have ever seen was at Weinig USA at their Expo in April of 2007; this is a 12" crown.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From contributor A:
To the original questioner: It looks like there were about 22 shops that bid this to the successful GC. We sourced the large crown in both oak and then poplar as per the addendum. We found it in 2 pieces. We included all the casework, millwork and tops, delivered and installed. We were beat by about 30% but they awarded it out to about 5 subs. Were you the lucky winner? (I didn't see your name on the lost list.) For the curious, it was used in a funeral home.

From contributor J:
17" crown in a funeral home - I haven't seen many funeral homes with ceilings over 9'. This architect/designer must love designing cartoonish and ridiculously out of scale interiors. I've seen some wild designs, but this one takes the cake.