Dining room crown molding, Fine Woodworking, Matt Bickford, SketchUp
Comments 4

Crown molding for my dining room – the design process

Incomplete. My next project will be adding unique crown molding to my dining room. I took the old crown molding down a few years ago and never completed the job.

For years now, I have been thinking on and off about the crown molding for our dining room; contemplating what to do. I didn’t want to just go down to Home Depot and pick up some stock crown. I certainly don’t mind doing this, but for a dining room, probably the most formal of rooms, and for the home of a woodworker, I decided the crown molding should be something special.

My woodworking magazine of choice has always been Fine Woodworking. I recently picked up a copy of Popular Woodworking which is a fine publication, but as a fan of graphic design, I view Taunton’s products as top notch graphically, full of useful articles, and every now and then they feature a furniture project that just blows me away…

Inspiration. For me, a very influential article. A great story – four large breakfronts which have great classic details. I especially like the extra heavy cornice moldings.

Such was the case with their September/October, 1989 issue and an article titled “Handling Large Commissions” by Douglas Schroeder. This article detailed the process of winning and then building a commission that encompassed four large mahogany breakfronts. The project took 18 months to complete at a cost of $74,000 (in 1989 dollars, I wonder what such a project would cost 22 years later). I have repeatedly visited this article for design inspiration and for the dining room crown molding profile, I will be borrowing heavily from the cornice of these breakfronts.

A little much. I don’t like the look of this very busy profile.

While transforming the cornice profile into something that I could easily fabricate, I wondered if I would actually like the look of it. My concern was that this profile which is made up from a variety of 3/4 inch boards would have the look I wanted. After extruding the profile in SketchUp, I decided there was simply too much going on visually, so I scrapped my first design.

I then began considering an exact copy of the cornice molding; wondering at the same time if this design, while nice on the breakfront, would even be a good profile for crown molding.

A first. I import into SketchUp a photocopy of the cornice molding from FWW’s exploded drawing of the breakfront. I then trace the outline.

The profile. The drawn cornice profile. Note the size: over 82 inches wide. I re-size it to 6 inches in height and ultimately settle on 5 inches for the height of the molding.

This illustration challenged me in two new ways. First, I imported a scanned copy of the cornice detail for the purpose of tracing the outline of it’s profile – a first for me. This enables me to have an exact copy of what was applied to the breakfronts. The process was pretty simple, but I had a few work arounds: I don’t have a copier or a scanner.

Then, I had never re-sized anything in SketchUp before. Once I drew the profile, I was surprised to find just how large it was – 82 23/64 inches wide! My SketchUp for Dummies book provided all the steps needed to bring this drawing down to the correct size and it worked on my very first attempt.

What it will be. Note the beams and the unique crown profile The beams will simply be 1x stock with quarter round molding applied to the edges.

A corner. You can get a better look at the profile in this corner view.

Wrapping. Note how the molding will wrap around the columns.

I am pleased with the look of the breakfront cornice design used as crown molding. This SketchUp project was all about extruding molding – a task that I am getting pretty good at. It will now be a challenge for me to reproduce this profile with my router. I hope to visit Woodcraft today and look at their router bits and formulate a plan to cut the individual profiles. I really wish I had a supply of Matt Bickford’s molding planes for this project. I hope to begin purchasing some of his planes later this year.

I also will begin removing the textured popcorn ceiling in my dining room – a process I have never attempted before and one which I will do some internet research before I start. So, no woodworking is actually scheduled until next weekend.

To see the next post in this series, click here.


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  1. Nice design. Afraid it is way to complicated for my small shop and personal skills right now. '

    Look forward to your posting on the work.

  2. David, this shouldn’t be real hard if the project is approached a little at a time. Achieving an exact copy of the cornice molding will be the challenge. I spent just a few minutes at Woodcraft looking at the various router bit profiles and will have to work that out in my head. I foresee using a variety of bits on this and I may have to change the profile slightly, but we’ll see.

  3. Jeff,
    That's going to be one nice crown moulding when you're done. Nice.

    Also, you're sketchup skills are growing by leaps & bounds. Nice images.

  4. Thanks Dyami – I am excited about the crown profile since it is taken from such a nice piece of furniture.

    I have plenty left to learn with SketchUp, but I am much more comfortable with it.

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