How to Design and Install an Improvised Kitchen Crown Molding
Today we’re featuring a guest contribution by Ken from The Joy of Moldings.
This kitchen crown molding project was an exercise in making do with a room, materials, and tools that were less than ideal.
Call it improvisational finish carpentry if you like, but between Paul and I we got the job done — in our own amateurish way — in spite of the chickens.
Here were the major issues:
- The kitchen has two ceiling elevation changes that will interrupt the crown
- The ceiling bulges and sags
- The crown molding he bought was too big to fit above the cabinets
- His tools are so rickety that they’re sure to set off DEFCON 1 alarms at OSHA headquarters
- There are chickens on the miter saw
The Coffee Nook Project
Paul found this neat idea for a kitchen coffee nook that was the reason behind his need for crown in the kitchen. By the time I showed up, his nook, made from salvaged material, was almost finished, and all that was left to do was install the crown.
At some point in this home’s history the kitchen had been extended leaving an elevation change on both sides of the room. The addition side also tilted up quite a bit. There were many bows in the ceiling.
Cabinets on the far wall were mounted nearly flush with the ceiling, so we could not wrap crown around them.
The double-sided, ogee crown Paul bought was way too large to fit above the cabinets.
Oh, and the chickens fell in love with the miter saw, so it was hard to work around them. They were very persistent.
How We Solved the Problems
We had to find a crown design that would help us deal with the problems we had and that also fit the home’s decor. Our answer to that was this design — a bed molding profile with a flat-stock cornice.
We ran around town looking for a bed molding, but we couldn’t find any in stock. So we trimmed this crown down, leaving us with a bed molding profile.
The flat-stock cornice repeated a simple design element on the original upper and lower kitchen cabinets. The cornice would also help us minimize the inconsistent ceiling.
We also found the reverse bed molding profile in the home’s original archways.
As for the chickens, we led them away from the work area with the promise of an afternoon’s supply of feed.
Installing The Crown
We ripped all the crown we needed down to this profile.
Then we sketched out the cornice layout and our crown molding return locations, the places where the crown had to stop and then start again.
Building a crown molding model not only helps you make adjustments to your design, but you can use it to help you layout the projection across the ceiling and the drop down wall.
Outside and inside corners are easy to layout when you use your crown model as your guide.
We had to back this return up a few inches so the cabinet door would open all the way.
Installing the Flat-Stock Cornice
This is a pretty easy part of the installation. Install the cornice using your layout lines as your guide. Don’t forget to use construction adhesive.
Wrapping the cornice around these cabinets and the coffee nook took a little time but came out well enough.
This is one of the warps in the ceiling I mentioned. We fill them with joint compound and then sand them flush when it’s dry.
The above and below pictures show the two elevation changes in the kitchen we had to deal with.
Installing the Bed Molding
Now for the really fun part. We installed the bed molding in the blind corners first and then assembled the wrap for this section so we could install it as one piece.
Cut and install the right-hand return cap first.
Apply some molding or wood glue to both faces and then smear it around.
If you’re going to work with small pieces of moldings like this, then having a 23 gauge micro pinner will make your life a lot easier. Senco or Accuset are good choices.
Hold up the long piece and then mark where the outside miter will go. Then cut an inside miter at the end of another piece of bed molding. That end will need to be coped.
Now I have to make the short piece that wraps around the above corner and ends in a cope joint.
It really helps to cope small pieces of the molding rather than tying to follow the entire profile at one shot.
Do you see how easy it is to cut a small piece of molding with a cope joint on the end?
Now I’ll scribe the back of the molding where the outside miter starts, make the final cut and then glue the small piece to the end of the wrap.
While I was making the above wrap Paul was filling the gap at the return with scrap molding and glue.
Installing the wrap as one piece is faster and easier than trying to install it one-piece-at-a-time when there are so many irregularities to deal with.
We repeated this same installation process on all parts of the kitchen until we were all finished.
By the time we had the crown prepped for paint you could hardly notice any of the issues that we were dealing with.
I used the exact same sequence for prepping and painting this crown as outlined in my previous One Project Closer guest post How to Paint a Three-Piece Crown Molding.
I think the project came out pretty nice in spite of the limitations we were up against. Paul was able to put his kitchen back together, and I could go home and start working on my own kitchen.
Oh, did I mention that Paul owns a grass-fed beef ranch and that he sent me home with a bag full of steaks and roasts? That sure made up for the dangerous power tools and chickens on the miter saw!
The Joy of Moldings
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