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
Dowels are not a strong connection. I would use pocket screws in deference
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.
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.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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?
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,
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
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
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
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
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........
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.
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
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.
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
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
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
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.
Thanks--I actually have John's booklet. He almost makes it look too
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.
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.
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
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.
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. ?
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