I’ve tried all sorts of methods fro attaching face frames to furniture and cabinetry. In this little blog I will list the various methods I know of, along with my 2 cents on each method. Most of these example show a plywood case, but the principle is the same when working with a solid case.
Disclaimer- I realize pictures are helpful, and I don’t have picture for every method…...so many are borrowed from the interwebz. I’ll be sure to pass on some of my royalties to the sources;-)
A note before I start, don’t forget the glue! Every one of these methods are vastly strengthened with wood glue. The front edge of any case provides a fair amount of glue surface, use it.
1. Pocket Screws Reasonably strong. This quick method is mostly used on kitchen cabinets because one has to find ways to hide the pocket holes.
2. Biscuits Also reasonably strong when combined with gluing the front edge of the case. Unlike pocket screws, they are completely hidden when joined.
The thing about biscuits, edge joining is a snap. However, butt jointed can takes some more figuring if the face frames have an offset or overhang, like this:
I always seem to run into alignment issues. They work, but they’re not my favorite for this task.
3. Dowels Actually, I like using dowels for face frame quite a bit. I don’t have a dowel jig. I just freehand drill the holes I want on the front edge of the case. Then I place dowel centers in each of those hole, place the face frame on the case, tap it with a mallet….and I have all the marks to drill mating holes on the face frame. Pretty slick.
4. Splines Now we’re getting into the methods one would see in nicer furniture. Strong and straight forward.
5. Rabbets, Dados and Grooves Now this is my preferred method on a quality piece of furniture. No doubt the strongest mechanically. They take some planning ahead while making the case. Often the sides of the case need to be a little wider to form the joint.
Matching rabbets can be milled on the case and face frame, creating a flush side like this:
Or the rabbet can be inset with a groove, sorta like this:
Notice with the above diagram, most folks only make these joints on the two outer edges of the case. I suppose a guy could mill rabbet on every piece of the case, but that would be overkill. If I’m worried about the case bottom or shelf being supported, I will combine the rabbet method with a couple biscuits(or whatever) like this:
Another thing about the rabbet method I like- building the face frame with the case as a pattern! See what I’m doing here:
The two outer stiles of the face frame are resting on the case, then I can fit the rails precisely. Makes for nicely fitted face frame.
Whatever you choose, glue it, clamp it, and start or your doors and drawers;-)
Hope it helps. Now go make some furniture, Red
-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer