How to Install Kitchen Cabinet Crown Molding with a Hardwood Frame
By mounting the crown to a hardwood frame, you can install the whole assembly in one go
Q: I want to install crown molding on my kitchen cabinets. What's the best way to go about it?
—Brian Spears, St. Louis
A: A lot of upper kitchen cabinets these days don't have enough material above the doors on which to mount crown molding. To get around that shortcoming, I build a hardwood frame that sits on top of the cabinets and use it as a base for fastening the crown.
Using a frame allows me to do the detail work on a bench—much easier than from a ladder—and I can attach the crown from the back side, so there are no nail holes to fill. Once the frame and crown are attached, you install the whole assembly in one go.
If the ceiling isn't level, as was the case here, then you have two options above the crown: Leave a gap or scribe-fit a filler strip that follows the contours of the ceiling. Whatever you do, avoid scribing the crown itself or leaving a small gap of ½ inch or less. Either one will draw attention to the ceiling's unevenness and undermine all your careful work with the molding.
Pictured: Here's a clever way to add crown to cabinets: Mount the molding on a frame and install it as a single unit.
Make the Frame.
Measure each leg of the cabinets' run from wall to wall. Cut and screw together an L-shaped 14 frame that follows the cabinets' top edges, but leave each end ⅛ inch shy of the wall. Butt and overlap the corners and countersink the screws. Screw reinforcing blocks to the back of the frame, as shown, then check to make sure it sits flush with the cabinets' faces.