Dress up your plain cabinets by installing crown molding to cabinet tops to make them more sophisticated! A beautiful upgrade, today’s tutorial is for adding trim to a cabinet.
I promised a few weeks back while installing laundry room cabinets that I would show you how we added crown molding to the top. Molding is an easy way to make cabinets look expensive and upscale. Much like crown molding makes walls look more classy, crown molding does the same for cabinets.
You use the same methods for cutting crown molding on cabinets that you would use to install on your wall. I have shared a couple tricks to make cutting and installing crown molding as easy as possible in this post.
Tools needed to Cut Crown Molding for Cabinets
- a compound miter saw (it can be done with a miter box, but I don’t recommend it)
- tape measure
- angle tool (really helpful, but not required)
- straight edge
- brad nails or finishing nails
- wood filler patch
- wood for framing (if using a frame)
- scrap wood
- L-brackets and screws (if using a frame)
- crown molding
First, we start with a plain ‘ole stock cabinet from Home Depot.
Step 1a: Mark where the Crown Molding will sit on the cabinet
Use a straight edge (such as a long level) to mark where the crown molding will sit on the cabinet facing. I recommend at least 1 inch of space above the line to attach the molding.
Step 1b: Build a Frame if necessary
If you have cabinets that don’t have enough room to attach the molding directly to the cabinet, we have a solution for that! In fact, this also works well if you have gaps or cabinets that aren’t perfectly square.
We built a frame that would sit on top of the cabinet and that we could attach the trim to the frame above the cabinet. The frame measures the exact same size as the sides and front of the cabinet. We used L-brackets to put it together. The cross brace (center of the board) keeps the side boards from bowing out.
See how it just sits nicely up there? It isn’t even attached! I did mention that this was the easiest way to install crown molding on cabinets, right? The frame meant that we could add the molding without having to do all the work precariously balancing on a ladder.
Note: Our cabinet has almost no lip, so the molding is placed higher on the frame. You can move the molding as low or high on the frame as you like.
Once painted, this will look perfectly natural. It’s a bit trickier with stain, but you can match the wood species and stain.
Step 2: Measure and Cut
The thing about installing crown molding is that you can’t assume that any angle will be perfectly 45 degrees. I find that holding the piece of crown molding up to the cabinet and marking where it needs to be cut or using an angle jig is the most effective way.
Use pieces of crown molding that are generously longer than each piece needs to be — giving you enough to work with but allowing you to work with manageably sized pieces.
- Start on one end where the molding meets the wall and work around one corner at a time.
- I find that inside corners should be prioritized (see below for what an inside corner is).
- Cut both pieces before attaching.
- For outside corners, I make the first cuts usually about 1/16 inch longer than my pencil marks. This allows for room around the curve and gives a little room for testing the angle.
How to Cut Crown Molding
To cut crown molding, you can either use a compound mitre saw or a crown molding box. I am currently working on a post (and video) to show how to cut crown molding, but for now, this is one of the better videos that I could find demonstrating the technique.
A few tips for cutting crown molding:
- Never assume your angles are perfectly 90 degrees. Mark them before cutting.
- For outside corners, I cut about 1/16 longer than the measurement. It just works better that way for me.
- If you have trouble holding the crown molding against the fence, cut a scrap piece of wood in a triangle that is the size of your gap.
- Generally speaking, I don’t do the “cut the leading edge” trick. I usually cut the inside corners first (one at 45 and then mark the opposite piece for the leftover angle), then work outward from that corner.
The video below gives some handy tips for how to cut the corners on crown molding.
To attach the molding after cutting, we used wood glue and nailed across the bottom where the boards meets the frame.
Since the top corners are floating (i.e. not nailed to a wall), we keep tight corners by stapling them and nailing the opposing pieces of crown molding into each other. Be careful to aim the nail correctly so it doesn’t pierce through the visible part of the crown molding.
I then patched the nail holes with my favorite wood filler and painted to match the cabinet.
It honestly looks like it came like that. Adding the molding to the cabinet is a simple project and you don’t have to be a cabinet maker to add some class to your cabinets.
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