I am putting up some crown molding on top of some existing cabinets, but I only have about 12 inches of clearance. In the past when I have done projects like this, I have used a finishing nailer or brad nailer, however with this space, the tool won't fit.

What options or tool can I use to attach crown molding in this limited space?


You can also use a nail spinner on the end of a drill. It's a small tool that chucks into the drill. Put a nail into the end of it and it spins it into wood. A final tap with a nail set puts the nail below the surface. It's a cabinetmakers tool and it prevents splitting the wood when driving finish nails into moldings (particularly oak).


I wouldn't recommend using the palm nailer.... They're not easily controlled and you risk damaging the molding itself.

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  • In this case, to get the crown molding on top of the cabinet, I used a 90 degree drill (only needed 4 inches of clearance) and screws to get it in. I did this before I knew about the nail spinner and will add that to my list of things to try next time. – Tim Koscielski Mar 19 '12 at 6:15

You could use a good construction adhesive to glue it in the areas you cannot drive a nail through. Make sure to use a scrap piece of molding to wedge the piece against the wall until the glue dries.

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  • I was putting crown molding on the top of a cabinet and not attaching to the wall, but thanks for the idea. – Tim Koscielski Mar 19 '12 at 6:18

A palm nailer might work for this.

Palm Nailer Image

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  • 1
    I did try the palm nailer, but as someone mentioned, I ran into problems. First I bought a cheap one which had its issues. I then bought a Rigid that worked much better and I had some better control, but the wood was too hard for nailing. I kept bending nails. In the end a 90 degree drill and screws did the trick with pre drilled guide holes. – Tim Koscielski Mar 19 '12 at 6:16

I have the Rigid JobMax multi-tool with the Auto-Hammer head, which works in tight spaces. You'll have to set the nails below flush by hand though.

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