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Crown Molding to Hide Speaker Wires. On a Budget.

Unhandy Steve from Near Baltimore Writes

how to install crown molding for entertainment center

Crown molding is a great way to hide surround sound speaker wires.

Happy 4th! (if you celebrate that)

Thanks to you both for putting up and keeping this site going.  My name is Steve and I’m near Baltimore, MD.  I found your site and did a little reading on it tonight, and though it may be a rush to judgment, it’s already my favorite molding help site on the web.

The show & tell format is perfect for me, and I’ve basically learned enough here (on top of other sources) to try asking a few questions. BTW, I found y’all when I gave up trying to research my Google hits ending up on “wood” sites and text-only articles/forums assuming too much and using lingo, and instead resorted to a Google Images search on splicing molding, which I think is going to be my big issue. I was naturally attracted to your pix with the arrows and words and stumbled upon a gem.


Who You’re Dealing With

Perhaps we should begin with who you’re dealing with (and why I hesitate to ask anything of a true craftsman like you): I’m a computer guy by trade and by hobby; when doing “handy work” in this realm, I’m often heard muttering (or shouting), “I’d rather be doing computers.”

My Tool Collection

As such, I own practically no power tools (I can only think of the drill permanently borrowed from my father-in-law) and my skills are limited to middle school shop class barely remembered from the early 80s. However, I do own several hand tools, as I have to buy new ones for the home jobs I end up with. And with a recent job change, money is very, scary tight.

Therefore, I have recently purchased a plastic miter box with saw, a hack saw, a coping saw (before I knew what coping was), common & finishing nails, a set of 3 metal “sticks” that should let me hand-tap the finished nails flush/below my molding, and several clamps to attempt to hold the miter box to the deck (b/c I don’t plan to drop $100 on a folding work bench I can’t foresee using again/much).

The Project

That said, here’s my project:

  • An 18′ x 10′ 8″ simply rectangular family room in a run-of-the-mill townhouse.
  • Need to cover speaker wire tacked to the wall with the promise to my wife that we would be able to cover it and make it look pretty rather soon via plain, simple, white, $9.50/8′ crown molding, of course.
  • We learned enough to realize that corners were going to be a big pain, so in order to avoid whatever pain that might be, we spent more cash for 4 blocky corners that we thought looked good and would be worth the time/effort/failure saved.

The plan WAS just to connect everything together flat and only cut 1 or 2 moldings (and in very straight lines). I mean, we have to connect the molding to these block corners flat so why not connect 8′ to 8′ to 2′ along the 18′ wall the exact same way?

Ken’s Answers

finish trim joiner carpenter kenWell happy belated 4th back at you!  (Yes indeed we do celebrate that around here.)

We’re so glad you found our blog helpful.  You and I, Steve, are exact opposites.  Computers make me pull my hair out.

I have no computer mojo for software or hardware, but hand tools and materials to use them on put me in a Zen like state of mind — except when my miter saw blade comes loose for the umpteenth time, then I’m not so Zen-like.

So let’s see if we can help you through your one-off molding project.

Using basic hand tools and really simple techniques you want to hang crown molding in your rectangular family room before your wife makes you sleep down there until it’s finished.  Gotcha’.

Question 1  Can I just nail the moldings side-by-side on the ceiling with caulk as I go and fill it in with more paint later?

Answer 1  Sure you could do that.  It might be pretty messy, but if you have a plan before you get in there and start working, I don’t see why not.  My own preference if for installing all the moldings first, and then when I’m in the right frame of mind go back and do the caulking.

Caulk Trick of The Trade:  When working with caulk, it’s always easier to run your fingers over the caulk to shape it with a very wet finger, or a wet finger wrapped in a slightly wet rag, like an old t-shirt.  Rinse the caulk out of the rag often.

Question 2  Do I have to use a scarf joint to splice the moldings together?  If so, how would I cut them manually?

Answer 2  Trying to cut scarf joints with a miter box might just drive you over the edge.  So I’d stick to butt joints for sure.  If you have some Liquid Nails Heavy Duty (the one with the blue label) to apply to both contact surfaces, that would help a bunch — the stuff is strong, I mean, really strong.  (Check out this fun post at One Project Closer to see Fred and Ethan put the strength of that stuff to the test.)

crown molding installation methods

Here’s one of Steve’s proposed butt joints. Pre-drill holes for finish nails every 18″ or so.

Question 3  Do you foresee 2 people being able to just hold up the crown to the ceiling, hand-tap in a few nails to barely hold it up and then tap in the rest (every 16″)?

Answer 3  You can pre-drill holes in the crown molding that are just big enough for you to stick your finish nails into them.  Then one person can hold the crown in place while the other taps the nails in.  Don’t forget to add some Liquid Nails to the upper and lower contact surfaces of the crown.  That’ll hold it.

Thanks for taking the time to read so much and for any assistance/ideas/warnings/smacks-in-the head you can offer.

Unhandy Steve

2 Responses to Crown Molding to Hide Speaker Wires. On a Budget.

  1. Unhandy Steve July 28, 2012 at 1:57 PM #

    Thanks for your help, Ken. I’m back from vacation, looking this over, and have a few follow-ups.

    A1: My thought for the caulk was to put it on the faces of the but joints before I connect them (then wipe it up; thx for that tip). If you do it later, you’re obviously thinking differently. Are there significant pros/cons to either approach?

    A2: I’m very thankful to hear this is possible with a butt vs. a scarf (without significantly sacrificing quality) given my situation. But it sounds like you’re suggesting it’s better to butt-connect all 18′ (minus corners) of moldings and put it all up at once. True? Sounds good for getting perfect matches at the butt, but also sounds difficult for the install. Here again, please offer any significant pros/cons.

    A3: My concern about the Liquid Nails on the upper & lower contacts is the permanence … the “what if” of needing to get back to those wires someday or what have you. Wouldn’t using LN do serious damage to the walls if I do want/need to take it down sometime later? I originally thought this was going to be nails-only, but would replacing LN with caulk work? Or is nails-only w/o glue just not recommended for some reason?

    Q4: Part of what I thought might also come up is what I’ve seen here and elsewhere about putting up a backing first, to nail into, which I don’t think I have room for (and would rather not do anyway). Since my initial send, it occurred to me to just try and find the studs and only nail there. Given my other pix (specifically of the “drop-down” in the open part of the room; I don’t know what’s in there), does that sound like a good plan? Otherwise, I figure I’m only nailing into drywall (bad). This sorta dovetails w/ A3 above.

    [BTW re: July 4th, I was allowing for the possibility you might be Canadian since I couldn’t ID your location. :^{D ]

  2. Ken July 31, 2012 at 1:10 PM #

    Hi Steve, Well I hope you had a relaxing vacation. So let’s see if we can get you back into your crown project.

    A1: I only caulk after all of the moldings are installed, spackled, primed and sanded again. Caulking, ideally, should be the very last thing you do before you paint.

    A2: I didn’t mean to suggest you glue all the crown together and then install it as one unit. What I meant is install it one piece at a time joining them with butt joints.

    A3: I have no experience installing removable crown — quite the opposite, in fact.

    Q4: I can’t really answer this since you want the crown to be removable. Perhaps you could screw the crown to the studs so you can remove it later?

    I’m not Canadian, but come from partial Maritime stock. We are in quite the opposite clime, the Sonoran Desert.

    Good luck!

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