how to terminate a crown moldingFederal Style

A finial return is an excellent way to terminate a crown molding in a room with vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan.

In this expample I used it to terminate a flying crown molding, but you can use it on a regular crown molding as well.

It’s pretty easy to make once you know the parts that go into it.

Here we go.

About this Crown Molding Pattern

I based this four-piece crown molding pattern on one I found in the most excellent book, Federal Style Patterns 1780-1820 (external link). It’s almost an exact replica.

flying crown molding finial return

The crown molding, door surround and baseboard were all based on Federal style molding patterns.

The picture below shows the extent of the vaulted ceiling in the small living room.

You can see how easy it is to create seperate rooms in an open floor plan using the flying crown molding and the finial return.  They give your eye logical start and stop points.



flying crown molding on vaulted ceiling

This molding pattern allows you to create an intimate space below the flying crown molding and at the same time keep the lofty, airy feeling the cathedral ceiling gives.


Materials Needed to Make the Crown Molding

From Top to Bottom:

crown molding finial return

Here you see the individual moldings I used to make the crown molding and the finial return.

Materials Needed to Make the Finial Return


How to Make the Finial Return

Step 1.  Make a Model of Your Crown Molding

This should always be your first step before installing any crown molding.

Making a model gives you the opportunity to work through your final design before you start gluing and nailing moldings to the wall.

Step 2.  Scribe the Model Profile on the Wall

Hold your crown molding model against the wall where you want it to terminate.

Then draw the profile of the model against the wall using a fine point pencil.  I always use a #5 mechanical pencil.

Step 3.  Make the Finial Block

You can make your finial block out of whatever material you want.  I made this one from mdf flat-stock scraps of MDF-300.

It should be square with an open back where it will fit onto the nailer.

It should be tall enough so that your abacus (that’s the upper flat-stock piece with PM-003 wrapped around it) sits right on top.

How long your finial block is up to you.  But be careful not to make it look clunky.

Step 4.  Scribe the Finial Block Location on the Wall

Hold the finial block against the wall where it will intersect with the crown molding, and then scribe all the way around it inside the “U.”  These inner lines mark the location where you will attach your nailer to the wall.

Step 5.  Cut and Install the Nailer

The nailer should be just big enough to fit easily over the “U” of the foundation block.  You can make it out of any flat-stock scrap you’ve got sitting around.

Glue and nail the nailer onto the wall.

Step 6.  Install the Finial Block on the Nailer

Liquid Nails works well for this.  Tack the finial block in place with a few micro pins or 18 gauge brad nails.

Step 7.  Make and Install the Finial Tip

Make all three pieces of the finial tip from CM-005 or equivalent, and then glue them all together.

After the glue hardens, glue and nail the finial tip in place at the bottom of the finial block.

Step 8.  Install PM-008, Crown Molding Lower Detail

Butt your crown molding lower detail up against the finial block, glue and nail it in place.

You can install it around the rest of the room at this point, or just install a long piece to get you started and finishing up later.

Step 9.  Wrap CM-002 Around the Finial Block

Now for the really fun part.  Wrap your crown molding all the way around your finial block and on top of PM-008.  It’s really starting to look like something now!

Step 10.  Install the Crown Molding Abacus

Now you can install the upper piece of molding (if you have one on your design) on top of your finial block and continue on down the wall.

how to terminate a crown molding

An elegant and simple solution for terminating a crown molding in a room with vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan.

And that’s all there is to it.  The hardest part is visualizing, for your first time, all the parts that make up the finial.  After that it’s all pretty obvious.

If you need any clarification on these steps, please use the comment section below.  Good luck!

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