How to Cut Crown Molding with a Miter Saw


Cutting crown molding is no easy task. You’ve got to cut inside corners and outside corners and you’ve got to be able to get your angles just right to make the cut! Cutting crown molding is not overly challenging but you do need the proper way to set it up and make the cut.

We would describe cutting crown molding with a miter saw as an intermediate level task. It does take a little bit of getting used to and might take some practice runs. Once you get the hang of the process, you should be able to handle it fine.

Follow this guide to help learn how to cut crown molding.

Know the Angles

There are different ways to cut your crown molding based on whether or not you are making an inside or outside corner cut.

The good news is that your angle is pretty much always a 45-degree bevel. If you can get your machine and your markings to 45 degrees, the rest is pretty easy.

In most cases, you will cut on one side of your board and then flip it and cut the other side. However, if you have a dual bevel miter saw, you can just flip the direction of the saw instead of flipping the board. It’s pretty helpful.

45 degrees is your angle measurement so just keep that number in the forefront of your mind.

Pro Tips to Get You Started

a miter saw set up at 45 degrees cutting molding crowns
Photo by Gary Fultz on Unsplash

Before you get started, let’s go over all of the little details that will help you be successful. Often, it’s those little details that will make a big difference when you are trying to successfully make your cut on the crown molding.

Here are some of those tips.

4 types of cuts

When you are ready to make your cuts, there are four different types of cuts. They actually go in pairs so if you know how to pair them, you will be just fine.

  • Inside corner left side
  • Inside corner right side
  • Outside corner left side
  • Outside corner right side

Each angle is always 45 degrees, no matter which side you are on or which corner you are on. We recommend that if you have never actually cut crown molding before, you take a little bit of time to practice with scraps.

Practice measuring and marking the board, practice inside and outside corners, and practice the left and right sides for both of those as well. Learning is a process so do several practice runs until you feel comfortable with crown molding.

Proper form

One of the most important elements of making your cut on the crown molding is going to be getting the molding placed right before you make the cut. There are some best practices for this and they are pretty simple.

You won’t place the crown molding the same way. It’s an unusual aspect. Did you know that most experts actually recommend laying your crown molding upside down to make your cut? This is because it makes the flat side up for you so you are more likely to make an accurate cut.

The flat edge is easier to work with because your crown molding holds its position but you also don’t get distracted by the curves and details on the other side, which can easily throw off your measurements or your cut if you aren’t careful.

One more thing here about the form when you are setting up your cut. The top edge of the crown molding (not the top side but the edge at the top) will be horizontal along the base of the saw. You will place the bottom edge of the molding against your fence. This may also seem backward to some people but it’s an important element of the cut.

Inside corners & outside corners

When you are cutting inside corners on crown molding, if you can figure out the placement techniques on the left and right sides, this will help you out as well. This graphic comes from Home Depot’s best practices guide and is very helpful to keep the elements of each corner and side straight.

Inside corners & outside corners
Image from Home Depot

This makes a great reference piece. Here’s a quick overview.

  • Inside corner left side: Miter right at 45 degrees and save the right end of the cut
  • Inside corner right side: Miter left at 45 degrees and save the left end of the cut
  • Outside corner left side: Miter left at 45 degrees and save the right end of the cut
  • Outside corner right side: Miter right at 45 degrees and save the left end of the cut

If you can imprint this picture or these details in your mind, it will help you out a lot!

The Process to Cut Crown Molding

Short "return" of crown molding back-cut with a coping saw
Image by Wikiuser100 via Wikimedia

Alright! Now, it’s time to get to the cutting process. We’ve done our best to stock you up with all of the tips and tricks to help you be successful. If you keep the little details in mind, you will be a pro at cutting crown molding in no time.

While we mostly focused on corner cuts in our overviews, you should also know that there are square cuts and scarf joints as well. These are not as common but you may need to familiarize yourself with them at some point.

For now, we’re focusing on the typical 45-degree cut. We will touch on the others just slightly in a moment.

Follow these simple steps to make your cut.

  1. Measure and mark the crown molding to accurately cut in the appropriate spot. It might be best to mark the cutting line and then mark the “scrap” side of the material if that is helpful for you.
  2. Line up your crown molding on the miter saw. Remember that you want your top edge on the horizontal base and the bottom edge up against your fence for this part.
  3. Set the angle of your miter saw appropriately.
  4. Without turning the saw on, pull the blade down just to double-check that it lines up with the crown molding as it should.
  5. Make any adjustments as necessary.
  6. Power on the saw and let the blade come to full speed.
  7. Pull the blade down slowly, holding your crown molding steady until the cut is complete.
  8. If needed, flip the molding to get the other side. You can also adjust the bevel side if you have a dual bevel miter saw.

That should be it! Once you’ve made the cut, you can get your crown molding in place and enjoy.

Square cut

A square cut is actually much easier on a piece of crown molding because you don’t have to worry about the angle. In this case, you are simply going to cut a straight line basically where the edge needs to meet the wall.

The molding will just fit right against the corner. Be sure to just set your miter saw to 0 degrees and square up your crown molding to make the final cut.

Scarf joints

Then, you also have a scarf joint. The scarf joint is basically when you need to connect two pieces of crown molding because the wall you are working on is longer than a single piece. In this particular practice, you will make cuts on the ends of both pieces.

The cuts are 45 degrees and opposites. So one will get a 45-degree cut to the right and the other a 45-degree cut to the left. Then, your pieces will fit together almost like a puzzle piece.

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Final Thoughts

The hardest part of cutting crown molding is getting your angles right and knowing which side of the piece to cut when. If you take a look at all of these tips and follow our instructions carefully, you shouldn’t have issues learning how to cut crown molding.

Go ahead and do some practice cuts while you get used to the details.

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