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Cut Clean Miter Joints on Dentil and Other Ornate Moldings

March 27, 2017

Split a detail with the first cut and then inch up to the second cut. Slowly.

Dentil, egg and dart, Federal, Swag and Bow, rope moldings—all can spice up a trim package, but if the joints do not highlight the pattern, you will look like a rookie. And you will waste a lot of molding because if you are off by 1/32 of an inch, you have to waste the rest of the pattern just to get back to the right spot.

Do not do that.

Pick a detail and split it

For clean joints that highlight the pattern, choose a detail to split with the two sides of the miter. This will make the detail look three-dimensional.

For the first cut, aim for the center of the target. For the second cut, "work your way up to what you already know," Jonathan advises—meaning, cut it long, and nibble away at it rather than cutting it too short and throwing it away.

"It's real easy to waste material with this stuff."

For example, in the video, when Jonathan tries to cut the second piece way too long, it turns out to be a pretty good fit, needing only a shave.

Tip for shaving the length:

  • Lower the blade.
  • Butt trim piece to blade.
  • Push trim tight to blade.
  • Lift blade and cut.

"The number one thing, when you're working with these, is to ease your way up, because you'll end up wasting a lot of material and this stuff is a lot more expensive than your typical moldings."

—Richard McMurray, of dfw Crown Molding, has a good pile of videos on YouTube.



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