Making Furniture Crown Molding

Crown molding provides a beautiful finishing touch to fine casework such as a chest-of-drawers, bookcase, or a secretary desk. Like all complex furniture moldings, crown molding is simply a combination of basic profiles, such as coves, beads, and ogees, joined to create a dramatic effect.

While architectural crown molding is made from flat stock with beveled edges, many furniture crown moldings must be made from large, triangular stock. Here’s the reason: when architectural crown molding is applied to a room, the wall and ceiling provide support for the molding and hide the large void behind the molding. However, in many furniture applications, such as a chest-of-drawers, the crown molding may be viewed from the top and, once it’s applied, the molding becomes a part of the top of the casework.

Making large crown molding for furniture can be a challenge. To simplify the shaping process and avoid using thick expensive stock, the crown molding can be divided into smaller, simple profiles.

Large coves can be shaped on the tablesaw and the table-mounted router can be used to shape the smaller profiles.

Making large, triangular crown molding for furniture is a three-step process: bandsawing the stock to create a triangular profile, shaping the cove on the tablesaw, and shaping the smaller profiles that flank the cove.

Start at the Bandsaw

The first step is to saw the stock at an angle. Crown molding is typically at an angle so that it faces downward towards the viewer and provides a visual terminus to the casework. Although you can tilt the table on the bandsaw I prefer to use a vee-block; this makes the setup fast and accurate each time I construct the piece. A 1/2", 4 TPI, skip-tooth saw blade cuts the stock efficiently and cleanly. Remember to use a push stick to distance your hands.

Shape the Cove on the Tablesaw

Shaping a cove on the tablesaw is a useful technique that has been around for many years. The stock is pushed past the Prestige PR1040 sawblade at an angle; the greater the angle, the wider the cove. To visualize the effect pivot a sawblade slowly at arm’s length. The blade first appears as a narrow, elliptical cove. As you continue to pivot the blade the cove appears wider. The key to shaping a cove on the tablesaw is to find the correct fence angle.

Begin by marking the parameters of the cove on the end of the stock. Next, adjust the height of the sawblade to equal the depth of the cove.

Then position the fence at an angle so that the blade enters at one side of the cove and exits at the opposite side. It’s that easy. Once you’ve found the necessary angle clamp the fence securely in position. Although one fence positioned at the back of the blade is enough to provide the necessary support for the stock, you may opt to add a second fence parallel to the first one.

For your personal safety it’s important to take light cuts, feed the workpiece slowly, and distance your hands by using push blocks and push sticks. Multiple light passes at 1/16” are much safer than one or two heavy cuts. Continue raising the blade and making successive cuts until the cove reaches the layout lines.

Shape the Smaller Profiles

Once you’ve shaped the cove the next step is to shape the smaller profiles. For this example I’m using the Amana Tool no.57138 round under bit. Although this bit is designed for shaping solid surface countertops the inverted profile is ideal for shaping this crown molding.

Next, shape the two small profiles at the top of the molding. As with most profiles, I shape wider stock and rip it to size afterwards. This method provides more mass for a smoother cut and the additional width works to distance my hands from the spinning bits.

Router bits used for smaller profiles. 49206 & 49506

The last step is to stack the profiles to create the large molding.

Sidebar Safety Guidelines for Sawing Coves on a Tablesaw

Sawing coves on the tablesaw is a time-honored technique with many applications. But as with any advanced technique, there are important safety guidelines to follow. Here are the rules that I follow when cutting coves:

1. Clamp the fences securely —make certain that the fences are locked firmly in position before starting the cut.

2. Take light cuts —as with any woodworking machine, heavy cuts are prone to kickback. Take light cuts, feed the workpiece slowly and take your time. There’s no need to rush when using any woodworking machine.

3. Use safety devices —push sticks and push blocks are important because they distance your hands from the blade

4. Use a guard —place a barrier between your hands and the blade. If the guard on your saw will not work for cove cutting purchase an aftermarket guard that will work.