Face frame for built in cabs


Old 12-31-08, 07:08 AM
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Face frame for built in cabs

Hi all –

I’m making a built-in bookcase in my office, roughly 11’ 6” wide by 7’ tall. It will consist of 4 18” deep base cabinets with 12" shelves above, each about 34” wide. 2 of the base cabinets will have doors, 2 will have drawers. The entire thing will be in an alcove. My question: Regarding the face frame, is it better to:

1] build and attach the face frames separately to each cabinet, then install them [as you would with purchased cabinets], or

2] build/install the carcasses first, then construct one big face frame for all of them, in place. In this case, the top and bottom rails would be about 11’ long, and the 28” vertical styles would go where they need to be for each of the 4 cabs (probably using dowel joinery). Then I would attach the whole face frame using glue/nail/pocket screws (it is paint grade).

The second method seems easier in some ways. (I’m an amateur and, frankly, the less cuts & joints to be made, the less chance of problems). However, the face frame must be precise because it needs to hold drawer slides. My considerations are: 1] should look good and be strong, 2] should be simple to construct so everything is square, and 3] speed/ease of construction (it’s my house – not like I’m on the clock).

Any thoughts will be much appreciated.
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Old 12-31-08, 08:54 AM
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Plan and measure carefully, then build the face frame as a single unit. Build the face frame before the drawers, then build the drawers to fit the drawer openings making allowances for the drawer slides. Pocket screws and glue make excellent face frame joints.
Old 01-15-09, 03:12 PM
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I second the motion.

Building the face frame is the right way to go with the pocket screws. This assumes that you're building the carcass the way you've described. Just make sure you've got the frame pieces clamped well so that the faces stay aligned. You want them to be nice and flat across the face, when you're done.

With the drawer glides, you'll need 1/2" on each side so make sure your overlap of the frame doesn't exceed that or you'll be working harder than you need to. I usually attach a piece of 1/2" plywood inside the cabinet where the track runs and it comes flush with the edge of the frame. It makes it easier to screw the tracks in, and is hidden by the drawer. Be sure your drawer boxes are ONLY 1" smaller than the opening or you'll be rebuilding them or fighting them all the way. (Voice of experience here).

Good Luck.
Old 01-23-09, 02:41 PM
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Ditto to both responses.

One thing to add which decreases the margin of error. Use story sticks. When cabinets are all tied together make your sticks. No measuring means no errors. It is a tried and true method that works very well.

Good luck
Old 01-27-09, 01:01 PM
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Cutting to a stop

This may seem obvious, but a corallary to the story stick (which is excellent advice) is to make all cuts to a stop. If you start measuring each cut and you have 8 identical rails or stiles to mill it is guaranteed you will fail. Get the first rail or stile precise using the story stick and then clamp a stop (I assume you're using some sort of cross cut sled or maybe a chop saw) so the next piece of wood you get ready to cut will be exactly the same size as the piece before it. Cut all of them and then move on to the next set of identical pieces. If you're using pocket screws, sometimes the face clamp won't quite hold it in perfect alignment as you drive the screw (esp. if you are also gluing since the glue tends to make the mating pieces slip) - take the time to add another clamp so things don't move. If you haven't built a cabinet with a face frame, door and drawer before, do a practice one first out of pine or some other cheap wood. You will probably make some mistakes and you can hang that one in your basement!
Old 02-17-09, 01:58 PM
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definately seperate face frames. its a good idea to screw them together first before filling and sanding. in other words, sand it as one. then disassemble and finish. do u have plans? i work at a cabinet shop and we just built a couple built-ins that sound alot like what u r doing.....i could send u some plans to give you some ideas.
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