How to cut crown molding with a compound miter saw

Crown molding can make or break a room. This variant of decorative trim is used to smooth over the transition between the wall and ceiling. So how do you cut crown molding with a compound miter saw? 

What is crown molding

Crown molding is a decorative trim that originates all the way back to the 16th century, in Ancient Greece where it was used to enhance the homes of the noble and wealthy. Back then it was most often used for high-ceilinged dining areas and ballrooms. These early variations of crown molding were made from plaster and granite. 

Lately, the use of crown molding in homes has been increasing in popularity again. In contrast, it isn’t made from plaster or granite at all. Present-day our crown molding is most commonly made from soft or hardwoods and MDF. 

Ways to cut crown molding

There are two ways to cut crown molding. First, we have the coping method, this is the only way that doesn’t require you to have a compound miter saw. This method requires two steps. First, you need to use a regular miter saw or miter box to make an angled cut and then you need to use a coping saw to undercut the miters. 

The second method is to use a compound miter saw. This is a miter saw that comes with a tiltable blade to create bevel and compound cuts. The former is a cut that combines the miter cut and bevel cut and is done by adjusting both the saw table and using the bevel angle to tilt the blade. This is what you’ll be using to cut your crown molding in one simple step. This solution provides more accurate results than the coping method.

How to cut crown molding with a compound miter saw

If you have a compound miter saw, you can use both the bevel and miter angles of your saw to create the compound cut – the most accurate way to cut crown molding. 

For the sake of making the example as simple as possible, we’re going to assume that the corner is a perfect 90 degrees, this is not always the case in real life. 

There are two kinds of corner joints with crown molding, the inside, and the outside corner. If you work in a square or rectangle-shaped room, you will only need to create inside corner joints. However, if the shape of the room is more elaborate, you will likely have to place at least one outside corner.

Inside and outside corner of crown molding

Outside Corner

The left side of an outside corner: bevel the saw head to the left and set the angle to 33.9 degrees, your miter saw will have this marked for your convenience. Swing the table angle to 31.6 degrees left. Next, place the bottom edge of the crown molding piece against the fence and make the cut, this gives you the left leg of an outside corner. 

The right side of an outside corner: leave your bevel angle at 33.9 degrees, swing the table over to the right side and once again lock in the 31.6 miter angle. Next, place the top edge of the molding against the fence, this gives you the right leg of an outside corner. 

Inside Corner

The inside corner is a little different, to make the inside corner, the bevel remains at 33.9 degrees but the rest is reversed. This might sound complicated but it really isn’t.

To make the left side of an inside corner: the table swings right and the top of the crown molding piece goes against the fence. 

To make the right side of an inside corner: the table swings left, the bottom of the crown molding piece goes against the fence.


Hopefully, this quick article was helpful enough to help you cut crown molding using a compound miter saw. The compound cut is definitely not the easiest way to do it but it is the most accurate way, so go buy some cheap MDF and get practicing! If you don’t yet have a good miter saw, my brother wrote a buying guide just for that!

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