Messages Archive

Making and installing mitered molding *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Wrapping mitered molding around a piece is a common woodworking operation. Any lack of perfection here shows. I am not confident I have the best way of doing this task. There are two problems to overcome to achieve a perfect fit. The corners or what is to be wrapped may not be perfectly 90 degrees such that the miter requires adjustment from 45 degrees. And, the lengths of the pieces must be cut accurate to just a few thousandths of an inch to achieve a miter that meets perfectly with no gap or overlap. Compounding the stress, a lot of time may have gone into preparing just enough molding for the job. What follows is what I do, which may not be the best way. The result is shown in PIC 1.

My molding making philosophy is to waste out all of the desired profile that I can with router and table saw and then file, scrape and sand to refine the profile to its final form.

The two bits shown resulted in the profile on the right side of PIC 3. The transition hump visible on the right side was then filed, scraped and sanded to yield the final profile on the left of PIC3.

I install the molding by sequentially wrapping it piece at a time. In this case I cut the left and right side and front molding a bit long, then brought the left and front together at the left case edge to test the miter angle. In this case 90 degrees was ok. But if it was not the saw could be adjusted at this point to cut the angle needed for this corner on the left side miter, and left miter of the front molding. The length of the side moldings can be cut to length before installation or after. I usually cut it after installation.
The side and front molding pieces are wiggled around until the miter meets perfectly at the corner and then the front molding is temporarily clamped into this position. The side molding is removed, glue applied, and wiggled into alignment with the miter on the front molding. It is then fixed in place with my handy pin nailer. Clamps are added to secure the piece until the glue dries as seen in PIC 4. (clarification, in the PIC the clamps are temporarily holding the front molding in position. The side is pin nailed but not yet clamped in this PIC.)

Next I miter a short piece of scrap molding on the right side. As previously described I use this scrap to test the miter for the right front corner and adjust the miter saw angle as needed to get a good fit. Then I use this piece to fix the position of the right side piece which is then temporarily clamped in place. The front molding is cut to length. This length needs to be perfect or the miter will either overlap or gap. Glue is applied and the front is pin nailed and clamped as shown in PIC 5. Finally, the right side molding is installed.

This process is slow and tedious, but it usually results in near perfect miters and lengths. It would be useful to know what someone that knows what they are doing does to accomplish wrapped mitered molding and trim.

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