Almost no other upgrade adds some class like crown molding at a room's ceiling. It looks tasteful and elegant, although any DIYer who's tried it will admit that it’s a pain to install. Even if you own a coping saw, it’s still hard to cope with this process! Making miter cuts in crown molding requires both patience and skill: does it go in the miter box upside down or right-side up? Does coping the angles improve the fit? Can you afford to buy about twice as much molding as it would take an expert?
If you're smart, you'll forgo mitered corners and use these cunning corner blocks. With the necessary inside and outside corner blocks (they’re necessarily quite different) you don’t cut a single miter – all the cuts are straight, and the molding butts against the corner block from both sides..
At first glance, the blocks do seem a little expensive side, but if the molding costs a buck and a half per linear foot, one bad cut can cost more than a set of four blocks. The blocks also help square corners that aren’t quite square, which is common in older houses.
For my project, a small room with an L at one end, I used five of the inside corners and one outside corner. I didn’t need any of the middle boxes. All configurations are made of "whitewood" that needs to be primed and painted. The company makes their corners in several sizes to fit the common sizes of crown molding. They’re pre-sanded and any fastener holes are plugged. You’ll need to drill holes for nailing them in position. The wood is soft enough that you can shape them with a utility knife where there are irregularities in the ceiling or wall, though the open back avoids the corner where it’s usually messiest.
Admittedly, a shortcut like this isn't authentic for restoring your 1840 plantation house. On the other hand, the boxes make installing crown molding much easier and faster, especially for first-timers. And when you’re done, only a savvy carpenter will be able to tell the difference – real estate agents are fooled every time!