How To Cut Crown Molding With A Compound Miter Saw

A lot of DIYers and contractors are looking for the quickest and easiest way to cut crown molding. For most, using a compound miter saw is the best option. The way to do it is a little complicated if you try to learn on your own.

In this guide, we’re hoping to uncomplicate things. We’ll answer all your questions and provide you step-by-step instructions for how to cut crown molding with a compound miter saw.

Why Do People Use a Compound Miter Saw for Cutting Crown Molding?

The “compound” part of a compound miter saw has to do with the angles you can achieve. Rather than a standard saw, a compound miter saw can articulate and achieve the perfect angle for your cut.

Why do people use this tool? It’s because both pieces of your crown molding have to be cut at the right angle to form a corner piece. This form of miter saw works the best due to the simplicity of the whole process.

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Positioning the Crown Molding

First and foremost, make sure that you’re positioning the crown molding correctly. The molding will be patterned or textured on one end and flat on the other. You want to lay the molding with the flat-side-down. This ensures the piece doesn’t buck and move as you cut it.

Make Sure You Know Your Saw’s Capacity

Before firing up your miter saw, make sure you know the biggest piece of crown molding you can cut. For example, a DeWalt DW718 can only handle crown molding up to 6-5/8” wide. Wider pieces can’t be placed on the table of your saw.

If you’re not sure, measure the bed of your miter saw before buying material and getting ready to cut.

Do You Need an Outer or Inner Angle?

The process below will cut angle pieces for your home, but you need to understand whether you need an inner or outer angle.

An inner angle will create a point away from you when you hold the molding together. This is used for angles on the interior of a room. If you have a single, enclosed room with four walls, you have four inner corners.

Outer angles are cut when the wall is protruding towards you. In this case, the molding will create a point towards you as you hold it. This is used when one room opens into another room. It’s a little confusing, but it makes perfect sense after you cut two pieces and hold them.

The Two Types of Miter Saw Setups

The next section will give you step-by-step instructions, but you need to make sure you set up your saw correctly.

In some configurations, the miter saw itself will rotate as well as pivot. In other configurations, the saw will only pivot.

For reference, when the saw has the ability to rotate about itself, that’s called “beveling”. If the saw can pivot from the rear of the table clockwise or counterclockwise, this is called “mitering”.

If your saw can rotate and pivot, you’ll follow the instructions for a “flat” piece of crown molding. If your saw only pivots, read the instructions for the “vertically nested” method.

Safety First

Regardless of your table’s setup, you need to remember to stay safe. You should always wear protective glasses when using the saw to cut. Additionally, make sure you wear a mask that filters out dust. Your older self will thank you.

Cutting Crown Molding with a Compound Miter Saw, Flat

This set of steps is created for people who have miter saws that rotate and pivot.

Step 1: Set Up the Saw

For 90-degree corners, you can follow the preset angles that are on your saw. Most saws offer this to speed up the process.

If you’re not sure what they are, then you can set the angles yourself. Rotate the saw in the counterclockwise direction and set the miter at 31.6 degrees. Tilt the saw to the left and set the bevel angle. It should be 33.9 degrees.

You now have the appropriate miter and bevel to cut a corner.

Step 2: Inside or Outside Angles?

Earlier we talked about inside or outside corners, and this is where it comes in handy. The style of the corner will determine which piece you’re saving with each cut.

For an inside corner: Save the left piece of the first cut and the left piece of the second cut.

For an outside corner: Save the right piece of the first cut and the right piece of the second cut.

Step 3: Place and Cut the First Piece

Put the molding on the saw’s table. Remember, the flat side should be the one in contact with the table. The edge that will be in contact with the ceiling is considered the “top”. It should be pressing against the saw’s fence.

Slide the piece of molding to the right side of the saw. Hold the molding firmly with one hand and make the cut in a smooth motion.

Now you’re left with two pieces on your saw’s table. Refer to the previous step to know which you should keep, and which is scrap.

Step 4: Repeat the Process for the Other Piece

Now you need an opposite piece to complete the corner. Rotate the saw clockwise and keep the bevel. Make the next cut and refer to step 2 to understand which piece to keep.

Now you have two pieces of molding that are ready to go together. Hold the pieces in your hand and confirm that you correctly made an inside or outside angle.

Cutting Crown Molding with a Compound Miter Saw, Vertically Nested

These steps are for saws that only pivot.

Step 1: Set Up the Saw

The setup is very different for this style. The “bottom” of the crown molding should be resting against the fence. Remember, the bottom is the piece that doesn’t come in contact with the ceiling.

The “top” of the molding should rest against the table. The rear of the molding (the flat side) should have angled pieces that rest squarely. This will achieve the correct orientation for the cuts.

The molding will be held firmly with one hand while you operate the saw with the other.

Step 2: Inside or Outside Angle?

Refer to the guide earlier if you’re not sure about inside vs. outside angles, but this is the step where you determine how many and what types you need.

Whether you’re cutting an inside angle or outside angle, be sure to save the right piece of the first cut and the left piece of the second cut. The only difference is which direction the blade is facing.

Step 3: Cut the Two Pieces

At this stage, your molding is sitting on the table of your saw and that’s it. It’s time to set the angle of approach for your saw. You’re going to be mitering 45 degrees, but the direction depends on the type of corner.

For an inside corner: First miter 45 degrees to the right, then 45 degrees to the left.

For an outside corner: First miter 45 degrees to the left, then 45 degrees to the right.


A miter saw is a great way to quickly and repeatably cut crown molding. You just learned different styles to cut depending on what kind of saw you have and what type of corners you’re looking to make. Be sure to explore the rest of our blog to learn more about tooling.

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