Frameless cabinets vs. face frames -- Is one truly better than the other?

I want to try and make a few cabinets for things in the garage before attempting to make some for my kitchen but I keep going back and forth trying to decide between face frames and frameless cabinets.
Are face frames THAT much stronger? Even if you made the frameless with dowels? And maybe strengthened the corners?
It seems to me that this is probably true, to an extent, but does it make that much of a difference in the long run??
Does it simply come down to which look you prefer? I see advantages and disadvantages to both. Frameless seem so much easier to build and probably cheaper, too. In addition, the door openings are a lot bigger and the hinges are more forgiving.
But the framed cabinets seem so much stronger and I think I may like the look of a frame better--but that may be because that is what I am used to seeing.
I wonder: Is there a way to marry the two styles so that is would look good? Can one build a carcass like a frameless cabinet but put a frame on the front? Seems to me that would work but maybe I am all wet.
Opinions?
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Dowels are not a strong connection. I would use pocket screws in deference to dowels.
You have no idea how difficult it is to adjust the doors in a frameless cabinet and make them look good.
Actually, face frames are attached to boxes to make the framed cabinet. I would definitely use pocket screws for the face frames.
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LMAO! No kidding. Man do the look great on the assembly table. But put them on that POS they will be on and any little bump in the wall or out of level corner will make your life miserable.
And then.... the deadly warped door. Instant agony. Nothing will line up around it, and it will never sit right on the frame.
I have never seen a cabinet without a face frame that was anywhere near as strong as a cabinet with one. And if you are willing to sacrifice some adjustment for a stronger cabinet, put a permanently positioned rail as fascia on a fixed shelf.
I have seen some cabinet construction lately that is doing the old half lap doors mounted on a regular rail/stile frame. Those could do a pretty good job of meeting you half way on the designs you are wanting depending on the door face you choose.
Robert
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And let's face it. A cabinet with face frames just looks better.
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That's sort of the way I feel, too, if I am honest. One thing i really wanted to hear was how difficult it was to keep the doors lined up on a frameless cabinet. The cafeteria where I work has frameless cabinets and the workers are continually grumping about the doors and the fact that they constantly need adjusting.
I have been just trying to rationalize that those cabinets get an unusual amount of pounding (and they do) that would never be matched in a household. But I think I have been straightened out pretty good thus far and will go with face frames.
I guess I was just being lazy because the frameless concept seems so fast and easy...I just knew there had to be a catch.
Thanks.
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For the home builder I would suggest going with face frames. The flexibility to get all the doors and drawers lined up to the most exact requirements and also have eveything look perfect when you open the doors. FF construction is still used in many of the very top cabinet jobs in the country so you aren't making any sacrifice in quality, just going a little more traditional.
On Oct 29, 6:14 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

1. Face frames are stronger
2. Door openings with face frame are very little smaller. I use 1 1/2" width stiles which means the box is 1 1/2" narrower than frameless (1 1/2 - 3/4 overlap on sides) *2
3. Easy hinges for face frame that are strong and inexpensive? http://wwhardware.com/catalog.cfm/GroupID/Cabinet%20Hinges/CatID/Cabin et%20Hinges%2C%20Amerock%20Decorative/SubCatID/Half%20Wrap%2C%20Self%2 0Closing%2C%20Overlay Those are a damn sight easier than the inset (35mm hole) hinges for frameless. Had a friend that had a large custom millwork shop - he built frameless boxes and used the insert hinges for his kitchen cabs. Spent the next 10 years cursing the hinges.
4. Face frame are actually easier to make and install because they don't rack. Many commercial frameless cabs are poorly made of stapled together MDF - look at them hard and they want to fall apart. IMO, YMMV
5. Face frame boxes *are* made like frameless. Essentially, depending on how well you want to do it. I do mine by gluing and screwing tongues on tops and bottoms into dadoes on the sides. Backs are inset into dados all around and glued. I glue/screw the face frame to all cabinet edges (ditto back nailing boards), face grain plugs in screw holes.
I always make face frames with half-lap joints (easy and strong). That means the end grain on the rails shows. If it is an end cabinet, I just glue on a strip of veneer along the show side of the face frame.
--

dadiOH
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You will not get a definitive answer because what you have asked is basically a religious question ... try'em both, then pick your favorite.
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Swingman,
I agree with you from things I have seen at other sites. But I have to admit: Thus far, all opinions seem to be strongly toward face frames.
I also took a look at your website and the cabinets you made are beautiful. I saw you, too, built face framed cabinets. There must be a reason in there somewhere, even if it is simply that you like the looks (which I cannot believe is the *only* answer!).
Any way you slice it, I have to believe a face frame almost has to make the entire unit stronger and more rigid. And, like I said previously, the hinges are what scare me the most about frameless construction. From what I have been seeing here at work in the cafeteria, they constantly need adjusting and when a door is even the slightest bit out of alignment, it messes up the entire room.
I like the fact that there is a much wider opening in a double cabinet with frameless cabinets but I don't want to sacrifice the long- term solidity of the cabinets because I want them to last at least until I croak. I have read in other forums that one of the wonderful tings about frameless construction is that the cabinets sort of last through a fad when colors and appliance sizes change and it makes it easier to toss everything out and start all over again. I ain't of that mindset.
I don't know if I am right or wrong but I am going to start by building some cabinets for the garage in the form of a base for a new workbench, for a tool cabinet, for a nuts-n-bolts-and-other stuff cabinet, and as a tablesaw base. I figure this will give me more than enough practice. And if the wife *STILL* insists we purchase, I will make some more for the laundry room and maybe a bathroom or two. I gotta figure a way to wear her out........
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Not necessarily. You can put a faux stile attached to one of the doors. This requires that you close the door the door with the faux stile first. It's a bit of a nuissance but it does give you the double-opening. IMO it's worth it in cabinets where you regularly store wide items.
I did this on the lowers in my kitchen. If I could do it again, I think I would just do it in some key places. For instance, under the sink, the inconventience of "close the faux stile door first" is easily offset by the increased access to plumbing.
-Steve
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I am not following you here. Are you saying that because you think there has to be a center partition against which the door closes? If so, not true. You can mill the center edges of the doors so that one door closes against the other. True, if you want to open the "back" door you have to open the "front" door first. No big deal.
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I'm partial to face frames, but I'm my main client since I build most of the houses my cabinets go in. I prefer the rigidity, _squareness_, and look of face frame cabinets, but that's just my personal preference.
In the construction business you are always searching for a known, square, starting point to hang your hat on. A properly built face frame cabinet will give you that, IME.
Most of the folks in the cabinet business will tell you in a heartbeat that they can make more money doing frameless. So it depends on your POV and whether you are making a living on the open market as to which one you specialize in.
For those "eating their own dog food", you really need to try both to see which suits your tastes, the equipment you need, and your level of expertise.

As far as tools, if you decide to go with face frame cabinets, you will certainly want to consider a Kreg pocket hole jig ... it is a big time saver for making face frames with just the right amount of joinery strength, and it allows you to batch cut your rails and stile, which goes a long way to insuring uniformity and _square_.
And, with regard to reference material:
John Paquay's "Building Your Own Kitchen Cabinets" and Jim Tolpin's "Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets" are two good sources of information.
I personally like John's basic kitchen cabinet construction method, which focuses on hardwood face frames, routed to accept the cabinet sides and floors (READ that again!), which, if you concentrate on making your face frames to high standards of square, will insure a square cabinet that is easy to install, and easier to fit doors, drawers and door fronts to.
AAMOF, once you build one cabinet using John's method, the light goes on and no cabinet is then too tough. The last time I looked his booklet could be ordered at:
http://home.insightbb.com/~jpaquay/shop.html
While John's little book is geared to the construction of the basic wall and base cabinet, Tolpin's book is a fairly good reference for different types of cabinet construction, drawers and, in particular, installation.
If I had to do with just one, and had never built a cabinet before, I would go with John's self-published booklet... but both of them together will give you what you need, and the confidence, to get the job done."
Good luck ... and feel free to ask any questions.
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Thanks--I actually have John's booklet. He almost makes it look too easy! :o)
I figured his direct, no frills approach was probably all I needed, especially since I was not going to be a production shop. His explanation about frameless cabinets made sense and he strongly encourages FF. I was sort of bias before I read his booklet and probably even more so now...but I still wanted some more opinions. As for the other book suggestion, THANKS! More explanations about drawers and installation would be very helpful.
I am glad you pointed out that some shops make only frameless because it is more profitable for them and that is the one best reason. Another may be because they are easier for a one-man shop, especially when it comes to hanging the cabinets. And it is from this POV that they say that frameless is better.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
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You're most welcome.
It is also a good thing to keep in mind that the European "frameless" cabinet system is as much a philosophy of efficiency with regard to time, materials, equipment, and portability, as it is a design choice.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

Face frames.
More importantly - Buy John Paquay's booklet.
- jbd
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I've done quite a few of both and consider the decision mainly one of style, not strength. A face-frame cabinet may be stronger, but a well- made frameless is plenty strong enough for most domestic purposes, so who cares?
If the box material is not solid wood, the exposed box edges need to be covered with something, and a face frame is one alternative.
On face-frames, I usually assmble them with mortise & tenon and then glue to the box using biscuits for alignment.
On faceless, accurate adjustment of the doors is more critical for a crisp look, and I find the 3-way adjustable hinges a blessing, and not difficult at all to adjust. They do wear though, and can need occasional readjusting or replacement.
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Agreed. When the customer says they like face-frames, then so do I. When building 32mm European frameless cabinets, you compete with guys who do it cheaper faster better... so there is a competitive edge to offering face-frames. "It's more furniture-ish"

Yup, you need to do 'something' anyway.

Pocket screws to assemble the frames, which then hit the paint-booth the same time as the doors. Nails and glue onto the carcass. (The back of the frame is taped to keep lacquer off) Sometimes I will strategically use biscuits, it all depends.

I use the 'cup-sunk' 3 way adjustable hinges designed for face-frames. Easy as pie. ?
r
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