I started a new thread for this project.
I have been thinking more about a face frame and cabinet
doors for my project.
In my newbeness, I have assumed that a face frame was just another piece
of plywood with holes cut out (and I suspect that would work if it was
going to be painted), but I am beyond that now. I just recalled that I
could go browse all of Swingman's pictures again, but since I got this
far I will ask my question:
I am gaining the impression that a good quality face frame is typically
make out of pieces of genuine solid wood even when the rest of the
cabinet carcase may be made from man-made materials. Is this the way
that you would proceed? Admittedly, this makes me ponder whether wood
expansion/contraction could weaken the glue joints holding the face
frame to the carcase.
BTW, I tried out my new Milwaukee jigsaw in an unrelated house repair
yesterday (cutting a few planks of Ash), and got very smoothe cuts--the
best I've experienced from a jigsaw. However, my experience has been
limited to the use of several of vintage Craftsman sabre saws, each of
which had disuaded me from the use of such saws. I found the little LED
light on the front to the Milwaukee saw very convenient too!
More often than not, absolutely correct. There are many valid methods to
skin that cat, and we all have our favorites.
Still have that Sketchup?
Here's one way to make a solid wood face frame (I use pocket hole
joinery for the rails and stiles in all cases), and how the face frame
and casework go together:
Here's a face frame only model that can be re-sized:
There are many variations on this theme, as well as many advantages for
doing it as modeled, as it is a method that has stood the test of time.
BTW, these are dynamic models, which can be re-sized to make it easier
to fill linear distances in a kitchen or built-in areas for both
planning, bidding, and building.
Often when you are building furniture that is casework based, it is
beneficial to use face frames on both sides of the casework ... I use
this method frequently, and I know for a fact that Leon uses it to good
advantage on those beautiful tall cabinets he builds.
FF's rails and stiles are generally 1 1/2" - 3" wide, so for most
species that you would use to build face frames there will not be enough
cross grain instability to cause that problem.
If I understand the diagram, you have grooves along the backs of each of
the rails and stiles of the face frame. That is a marvelous way to
increase the gluing surface, if it fits! Note to self: Make sure the
grooves fit over all 4 of the outer faces of the carcase.
I assume that you use dominos where the rail and stiles meet (besides
pocket holes)? Without tenons, I can see that one could trim the
lengths for a perfect fit prior to assembly.
You've given me lots of good ideas to borrow from!
No dominoes or tenons on the face frames as a rule. Not necessary when
using pocket joinery to make face frames.
Since the face frame will be attached to the casework, pocket hole
joinery supplies more than enough joint strength necessary for the face
IOW, both components, face frame and casework, end up with more strength
and rigidity than they possess individually.
Remember what we previously preached about "square" being the holy grail
of cabinet making?
Want to understand how cabinets in factories and large scale cabinet
shops are made consistently square, where BOTH efficiency and square are
of paramount importance?
FACT: It's much, much easier to build a perfectly square "face frame",
with fewer parts, than it is to build/assemble perfectly square,
multiple part casework, and then attempt to add the face frame to the
So, use the same methods that the big boy cabinet shops and method
engineers in the factories use to insure their products garner the
multitude of benefits and value from building square products:
Build your face frames first, complete with grooves and dadoes ...
taking care to build it perfectly square (batch cutting FF parts,
Only then do you assemble the casework parts (end panels, floors and
partitions) ... directly _on top of_ that perfectly square face frame
... and the grooves/rabbets/dadoes make it virtually impossible to go wrong.
Results: a perfectly square cabinet, with all the many benefits therefrom.
Results: a perfectly square cabinet, with all the many benefits >> therefrom.
>> > > This should be in a FAQ somewhere. I agree; it's great stuff! > >
And do a final dry fit of all parts, before committing to glue-up?
You posted a SU drawing of assembled rails and stiles a short while back
(from your DC-WallCabinet).
I assume you knock down a wall in each of the stiles (so that the groove
is not obstructed by the side of the stile).
I assume you do this with the TS, carefully, while you're cutting the
as your machine will already be set-up for it after you cut grooves in
the respective rails.
If I understand your suggestions, I think a reasonable sequence of
operations (omitting the cabinet doors) is:
1. Glue faceframe parts together.
2. Cut the sides, top, and back of the cabinet to fit the face frame.
3. Glue the pieces from Step 2 together and into the face face
Please correct me if anything looks amiss! Your drawing will certainly
result in my making the "lip" on the bottom smaller
(and more sophisticated-looking)--1/8", then I would have made it. A
By the way, to my surprise I found I can get a 1/4" Cherry dowel at
Rockler for a few bucks. If I slice some notches (to avoid
glue-squeezeout) on the bottom 5/4" of a length of a dowel, will this
give me a suitable dowel for my casework joinery? I intend them for the
top and bottom in addition to the dado. I'm not sure it I need dowels
to secure the faceframe. I would prefer not to put dowels down the
front of the work unless it is suggested to help support the (heavy?)
cabinet doors. The impression I have is that glue is up to the task.
No, and AFTER assembly of the faceframe ... I almost always use my
laminate router to join the grooves in the rails with the grooves in the
stiles, and I almost always do it by hand, simply marking the lines with
a square as extensions of the existing dadoes, and routing to that line.
You can make a jig, and, IIRC, that is what Leon does, but I find I can
do it much quicker with almost the same accuracy (this operation doesn't
have to be the picture of perfection unless it is visible, in which case
I will use a chisel to mark the edges of the joining groove, then either
chisel it out or use the router by hand ... this latter method keeps the
edges nice and crisp if they are going to be visible, which they rarely are)
Not "suggestions" ... this is a concise method/methodology, just as a
"method engineer" would dictate in a factory setting as a sequence of
events for fabrication of any part, including the whole. :)
Cut your dadoes and grooves in the face frame stiles and rail BEFORE you
assemble the face frames (with the exception of the above).
When making a "cabinet", you will find assembling the cabinet's face
frame's with pocket hold joinery provides more than enough strength, and
is a quick and elegant method.
Cut ALL your end panels (sides) and floors (top and bottom, usually the
same dimension) at one time. Then
Cut all dadoes/grooves in your end panels, then
Lay the face frame face down on a suitably flat surface. Glue and
assemble the end panels and floors to each other, and to the face frame.
Clamp, nail, screw as needed.
4. Once the above casework is assembled (without the back), double check
your measurements for the back; cut backs to size; and glue, screw, nail
in place as desired.
I like having that 1/8" "lip" between the top of the bottom rail and the
floor of the cabinet, and I use it all the time, in every cabinet I
build, but it is optional ... some folks don't like it. I do.
Why? That "lip" forces the floor of the cabinet to be perfectly flat,
which can be difficult to do without the lip ... and, no matter how well
you choose your stock, plywood is not always flat, and Murphy guarantees
that the only non-flat part of the cabinet will end up where it looks
That will work, but it is unnecessary. A properly sized, glued and
clamped dado joint will suffice. Most of the time, where you may need
some other type of mechanical fastener (screws, dowels, nails, brads),
it may well be in area that will covered by trim on the outside of the
cabinet ... in that case use an appropriately sized finish nail or brad.
Another trick to reinforce a dado joint in a cabinet is to toenail a
brad though the horizontal piece and into the vertical piece in such a
manner that is almost invisible, and being careful to not breakthrough
to the other side of the vertical pieces.
Gluing the face frame to the casework will usually suffice.
That said, I am one of those folks who, after handling, viewing and
observing some beautiful antique furniture from both the US and Europe,
have NO problem whatsoever using a strategically placed mechanical
fastener (finish nail/brad) in a visible part of a piece of furniture
... what was done by the old masters is good enough for me.
I do take great care, as they did, in orderly, even placement of any
fastener, respecting the direction of the grain, and using an
appropriately colored filler that will make it almost indistinguishable
for other elements of the natural wood.
So be it ... in sixty years of making things out of wood I've not had a
single remark in that regard
And,for your Faceframes, by all means, spring for a Kreg pocket hole kit
... you will be glad that you did.
I am using a router fence/guide now to complete the unions of the
grooves on the face frames. Clean accurate cuts on this process are
more necessary for me as I commonly use "back" face frames on my
cabinets now. If the back of the cabinet is visible it is important
that the completed grooves look good. For front face frames with out a
mirror back the hand guided router is the best choice for me.
I may wish I did. How about my new plate jointer? I'll be using it,
at least, for my panels in my cabinet doors.
I can see, however, that gluing biscuits may not be as quick and
convenient as making pocket hole joints.
By the way, I did buy the 2" blade to cut slots for the FF biscuits
(encouraged by your recommendation, IIRC), but I'm not sure (yet) whether
biscuits of that size have a role in this project. Noticing that the #20
biscuits are 1" wide makes me think I would better
use the #10 which are 3/4" wide to make a butt-joint using 3/4"
plywood. I need to revisit my book on plate-jointers.
As long as my angles come out "true" (90-degrees) everything should be
okay! At least, that's the way I heard the preachin'! : )
I wanted to share the drawing I did tonight with the kind folks here who
help make my progress possible, so I put it on my web site (the
earlier version is there too, just for the sake of comparison).
It's always rewarding to get feedback. And, it needs feet--how many I
don't know! :)
It's crucial for higher powered amplifiers and such. If you have lots
of hot items enclosed, think about mounting one or more muffin fans in
there, too. Suck cool air in from the bottom or push hot air out the
I started out with nothing and
I still have most of it left!
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