Should I Make My Own Crown Moulding?

Is it worth investing in a moulder for the convenience of making your own crown moulding sometimes? April 20, 2008

I have a 2 man cabinet shop and am considering making my own crown molding. Is the Williams and Hussey a good choice, or am I better to keep buying it from somewhere? The idea has come from doing frameless cabinets and I can't find the crown I need. It has a place for dentil in it and a lip to nail to the top of the cabinets to eliminate the separate backer, and is 90mm tall when attached so it will work with our 32mm system.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor G:
Have you tried the available ones from Walzcraft? Call them and ask for a fax of page 232 from their catalog. In addition, True32 sells a one-piece crown suitable for adding dentil, but it is the type that has a horizontal lip on the bottom for seating atop the carcass, then fastening down. These crowns are typically applied to cabs before they are hoisted up on the wall.

From contributor M:
If you decide you want to mill your own, the Hussey is a good machine. I bought mine two years ago after getting fed up trying to find a source to buy mouldings from in whatever species I was looking for at the time. I did find a couple of sources that sold it, but I didn't like that they all shipped max 8 ft for UPS deliveries. And these places are pricey. Walzcraft is a decent source for crown, however they only guaranty 93" usable length of material per piece.

I often have runs that are longer. In fact I am milling up some crown next week for a job. I need stain grade maple, and it needs to be 12' length. I recently did some mahogany mouldings for another job, and it was great to mill it from the same lot of lumber that I built the rest of the parts from. I really like having my moulder. Although I don't use it often, I wouldn't want to be without it again.

If you decide to buy a W&H, I would recommend spending up for the variable speed model. I don't have one on mine, and I am planning to add it. The reason is, if you are milling up a deep profile like a larger crown or casing, you sometimes get tear out if the grain of the wood is wild or if you use a very hard wood. The variable speed would be nice to slow it down for those types of jobs.

From contributor J:

I have a W&H molder and I use it all the time... However, is it cheaper to make your own crown or buy it? I would have to say that it depends on what you are milling. For instance, I can buy paint grade crown for 59 cents a lf. If I make it, I have to buy rough stock for about $1/lf and rip it to width, then mill it into crown. So it's cheaper for me to buy paint grade crown. On the other hand, stain grade crown is cheaper to make. Go figure.

From contributor Z:
I have the W & H and agree 100% with what contributor M said. The biggest advantage I find is being able to do my own molding without wondering if I can find it on the shelf or have to wait for a special order and pay a bunch for shipping. It's not so much a cost savings to have your own molder as it is a convenience. I find it satisfying to know that I can make what I need if I can't get it elsewhere.

Contributor M, let me know how you like the variable speed feature when you get yours.

When I run large molding, I pass it through twice, lowering the cutting head about 1/16" on the last cut. That usually takes care of tear out but not always. Mostly, though, tear out is minimal if the knives are sharp and you watch the grain direction when feeding the stock in. But I know the grain can change along the length of the board and you hear that nasty grinding sound.

From contributor K:
We have the variable speed as an add-on. In my opinion it's the only way to go. We don't have the multi-pass system. If I were buying new I would seriously consider it. I think it can be added; I just haven't gotten around to it.

From contributor I:
Also there are many sources for custom knives. Then you can sell a truly one of a kind trim. I would not want to run thousands of feet a day, but small runs I love mine.