After completing all the doors for my upper kitchen cabinets, the next step is to add crown molding (see all the posts in this series here). This is a step in this project I have been looking forward to because crown instantly improves the look of a project. Plus crown molding is the last step in construction for the upper cabinets.
This cabinet design has a very specific requirement for crown molding. The available vertical space is only 1-1/2″ which is a tiny, tiny area. The first design called for a larger crown and smaller doors, but the doors seemed too small making the storage space behind them less effective. So, larger door openings means smaller crown molding.
Most small crown molding available at the home center is too big for this space. I did find a potential crown at the Home Depot, but something I learned from my coffered ceiling project is this: a small crown molding looks less small if it can extend outward more than normal. After looking at the options, I decided to make my own crown molding.
To obtain the broad cove seen in the upper half of my crown design, I would have to form it using my table saw, a task I have never attempted. I researched methods for creating this type of cut and found examples where a special jig was used. I chose not to use a store bought jig, or to make a special jig for this step. I simply clamped two boards to my table saw adjusting the angle a little. I made repeated cuts taking just a little material off with each pass. The first attempt yielded a good result and I used this test piece to make a sample of what the crown would look like. And it looked good.
Notice in the photo above, the crown moldings are in short lengths. This is due the need to make diagonal cuts across my table saw and the limited outfeed area. If I had more space, I’d be able to create longer lengths of molding. Each upper cabinet will require two lengths of molding.
Mounting the first row molding
I had to determine the best way to attach this wide molding. I could have come up with a way to drive nails or screws from behind the upper cabinet face frame, but this would have been very difficult and also error prone. And I was concerned the crown would sag a little as it extended outward. I really needed a way to keep it tight to the ceiling. I decided to attach this first row molding directly to the ceiling using sheet rock anchors.
The mounting process went like this: first, position the crown and drill a small pilot hole through the molding and into the sheet rock which marked the needed screw location. I then added the sheet rock anchors. The molding itself then received enlarged holes, much larger than the diameter of the screws. This enabled me to move the molding slightly and adjust its fit if need be. Each screw got a washer which fit into a counter sink. As I tightened the screw, the washer helped pull the molding tight against the ceiling. This worked well. There were a couple of instances where I was able to align a screw with a ceiling rafter eliminating the need for the ceiling anchors.
Above, you can see the left part of the miter got a screw driven directly into a ceiling rafter. In this example, it took two attempts to get the crown positioned correctly. Note also that there is a pocket screw in the cabinet face frame (barely visible above the door). I positioned all the face frame pocket screws so they would not be visible. The second row of crown will completely hide these pocket screws.
Second row crown
Next, I had to create a broad round-over on some square stock. This was a simple process of taking square stock cut to final size and then rounding over one corner.
After making the 45 degree cut removing a lot of material, I zeroed in on the final shape using my block plane and sand paper.
The completed custom crown
Installing the second row crown molding was achieved using my pneumatic brad nailer.
This completes the construction of the upper cabinets. I still need to prep the cabinets for paint and I am thinking about adding a small piece of molding to the lower edge of these three runs of cabinets. Some of the lower edges have gotten banged up over the years and I am playing around with the idea of covering this slight damage with a slender piece of molding.
Next will be doors and drawers for the base cabinets. Significant work lies ahead before this project is completed, but at least roughly half of the project (construction) is finished.