Durable Joints For Crown Molding

The fine points of gluing and pinning crown molding copes and miters. February 25, 2005

I would like to get some ideas on how other people are installing pre-finished crown molding. I have been doing this for over 30 years and I still hate to install crown on cabinets, or on walls for that matter. On outside corners, I glue and pin. Sometimes the crown splits from the pin and my pinner leaves a big hole that, even with filler, looks bad. On inside corners I cope, but I have never liked the way that joint comes out. I always wonder if the crown will warp and come away form the cabinet at some later date if I don't pin the devil out of it, which is more holes. How do other people do it?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
Throw the pre-finished trim away and start using real wood. You will have less problems with miters and it copes much better.

Use an instant glue instead of pins.

Instant glue... that is an interesting idea. Tell me more about what you use and how. I would love to get rid of the nail holes.

The glue I'm talking about is any CA quick set glue. You can get it at any woodworker's supply or catalog. I was told that the hot melt polyurethane glue like Hipurformer by Titebond works good, too.

Fastcap glue works great!

I have used the Fastcap CA instant, but didn't like it as the bottles will gum up at the tip and dry out in a hot truck.

Truth is, I have found the best results using an Omer 21 gauge nail gun, which will not split the wood, and being careful with the cuts. It still is a time waster - some guys do the crown in the shop and mount the whole thing on-site.

Don't think there is any magic way to do it. I spend way less time than some of my friends and don't fuss with glue, etc., which they think is a no-no, yet I've been doing it this way for many years with never a callback.

By the way, the Omer gun leaves tiny holes that are very easy to fill. I lately have been using wood filler in a tube and simply coloring it with powdered colors I use for my finish touchup work.

On the last entertainment center I finished, the crown was perfect. I did have to use a tiny bit of filler in the corners and nail holes, but after I finished with coloring, it was beautiful. I put wood filler in and sand right away, wait a bit to dry and quickly color and spray sealer, sand, then finish. It all takes me just a few minutes. I have the sealer and finish I use in shop put into spray cans by Sherwin Williams.

The powdered colors take quite a bit of training to use. You could also use wax or those small jars of color.

Omer makes a 23 gauge pinner as well. It's the weapon of choice for me.

I have a 23 gauge nailer, but I would not think that the nails would have enough strength to hold up the crown. I do use it on the miters to hold them until the glue dries. Any others installing the crown with a pin nailer?

From the original questioner:
Thank you all for your ideas. I had no idea that other people were having the same problems that I am having. I am not sure how you can use glue without getting it on the cabinets, though. Your ideas have been a great help.

I like my Senco 23 ga headless pinner with yellow glue, which allows some time for fussing and won't glue your fingers together, but will make a strong joint. One hardly even needs to fill the 23 ga holes.

The reason I use a 21 ga. Omer is that the 23 ga. Omer and P/C only fire 1" pins (or maybe 1-1/4" - I'm not sure) but the Omer 21 ga. fires a full 1-9/16" headless pin which is more than enough for any finish cabinet trim work.

To my knowledge, the Omer 21 ga. is the only gun made that will fire that large a pin in that small of a diameter.

You're right - the Omer 23 gauge only goes to 1 1/8. I was going to buy it but I would have needed the 23 gauge anyway, and they are very expensive. The 23 gauge is more than good enough to hold kitchen crown if you're not trying to bend it in.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
They make 23 ga. guns now that will shoot 1 3/8". 23 ga. doesn't leave a visible hole to fill in hardwoods, but in some of the alder wood or poplar, it does. TiteBond makes a good glue for trim work that will hold outside miters just fine. No drip. Fills gaps, etc, and use a couple of pins to hold the joint.

Comment from contributor B:
If you want perfect crown, the first thing you will need is an angle finder. Never trust that your cabinets are exactly square. Once you find the angle simply divide it in half. Then you will want to use Quick set glue. I get mine from a local hobby store, (never use hot glue your joints will show the glue since this kind of glue is heavy and thick). The glue I use has a two step process -spread glue on one side and spray a catalyst on the mating peace, and quickly align the two pieces. Then you just need to attach the crown to the cabinets. I use a Grex 23 Gauge pinner to accomplish this.