Actually, and I have done this to get a consistent lip, using the same
method you mentioned to make the FF flush, cut a 1" rabbet across the end of
the plywood that you clamp to the inside base and let the depth of the
rabbet index your consistent lip.
In some parts of this country you wouldn't believe what
passes. What I was referring to was factory help, as in
factories where cabinets are made for places like Home
And you wonder why their prices are soooooooo low?
The subject "lip" has always apperared to be a "traditional" design element
of sorts to me. The question is whether its genesis is based on "skill" or
some other factor?
Many custom cabinetmakers attach the FF to the carcass with a groove.
Whether the top of the bottom FF rail is flush with the top of the floor of
the cabinet is just a matter of cutting either a rabbet or a groove in said
rail. The "skill" is the same to cut either with a power tool, and a lot
more skill to cut the groove which insures the "traditional" lip, by hand.
IOW, if there was indeed a "skill" factor involved in the days of yore, it
seems that the lip could have taken a tad more skill to produce.
I've rarely seen a face frame cabinet without this "lip" ... even the
Mexican 'cabinetmakers' around here who "build-in" monolithic units use it
when doing the traditional face frame cabinet.
In short, if you see a face frame cabinet with the subject lip, don't
automatically assume that it is somehow inferior and made with "less
I think the "lip" is a matter of preference, which can be made into anything
you wish it to be ... and, in many cases, justification for the label "less
skilled" labor involved ... but not always.
Actually, with a subtle lip, like the kind I prefer, a bit of 220 grit to
"break/ease the edges" (as DJM is fond of saying) before assembly is
generally all it takes.
AND, for all the naysayers, there is at least one benefit to the "lip" in
the cleaning controversy:
Anything spilled in the cabinet stays in the cabinet ... instead of dripping
all over Mom's apple pie, or that roast that just came out of the oven, and
sitting on the countertop.
Oh, I agree. Was being a bit flip. I should have just said that if
one WANTS the lip for whatever reason, then it could be chamfered to
aid sweeping out crumbs/spills/messes/whatever. Of course it adds to
production time, and more special handling of specific pieces.
I recently built a whole house full of cabinets, using 3/4" birch ply and
common #2 pine lumber. They aren't "fine craftsman" quality, but they're
certainly nicer than anything we saw at the home centers (and a lot less
I made the face frames by ripping 1x6 and 1x8 pine boards into 2" strips. I
then cut selectively between the knots to end up with mostly clear lumber
for the face frames. I cut the frames to size and assembled them with
I made my face frames the same height as the cabinet sides, and the cabinet
bottom is flush with the top of the lower rail of the face frame. Despite
my best efforts, I didn't always achieve "perfectly" flush joints between
the cabinet and face frame. But, a few minutes with a palm sander resulted
in perfectly smooth joints. Much easier to clean the shelves than if the
face frame stuck up a bit.
One advantage to having the face frame hang below the cabinet bottom is the
ability to mount undercabinet lights on the bottom of the cabinet.
I didn't do any fancy joinery with my cabinets. The carcass is simply glued
and nailed together with an air nailer. I also glued and nailed the face
frames on. The glue provides the strength, the nails just hold everything
together till the glue drys. Yes, we had nail holes to set, fill, and sand,
but that was a minor issue and just adds to the character of our cabinets.
The carcasses were made of the 3/4" birch plywood, except where the sides
of the cabinet shows. For those I glued up pine boards into panels that
would match the cabinet doors and fronts.
I finished the cabinets with Minwax "preconditioner", followed by a coat of
Minwax "Windsor Oak" stain, and two coats of Olympic Oil Based Satin
We were aiming for a "rustic" look and are very pleased with the results. I
tried to leave a select number of tight knots in the pine panels and
whatnot which further enhanced the rustic appearance.
The only item I wished I had done differently was to stain the door panels
before assembling the doors. We built the doors first, then sanded,
stained, and finished them. However, a few weeks after moving into our
house, the heat and dryness from our woodstove allowed the door panels to
shrink away from the door frames. So, there are small unfinished lines
running along the insides of the door frames. No biggy, but it wreaks of
inexperience... :) Live and learn...
By the way, my favorite book on cabinet building is "Building Kitchen
Cabinets" by Udo Schmidt. It's part of Taunton's "Build Like A Pro" book
series. I learned a lot from that book...
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