Anyone using dados to attach face frames to cabinets?

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Forum topic by scott_v posted 11-03-2009 05:00 PM 8644 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 3163 days

11-03-2009 05:00 PM

I’m looking for input from folks that use dados to attach face frames to cabinets. What technique do you use? Basically, I’m looking for construction details on how you do it. I’m new to cabinet making and like the idea of using dado’s to guarantee alignment.


14 replies so far

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3779 days

#1 posted 11-03-2009 05:06 PM

Last one I built, I tried biscuts and glue. Worked OK.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3846 days

#2 posted 11-03-2009 05:45 PM

Scott, I use biscuits and glue like Lew for my cabinets and bookcases. Biscuits do not add a lot of strength to the assembly but their main purpose is to ensure alignment.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3224 days

#3 posted 11-03-2009 05:50 PM

Biscuits and Glue. I use the continuos groove around the box edge, then it makes no difference on biscuit alignment. They always line up.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#4 posted 11-03-2009 06:20 PM

Hey Scott
Norms uses a techniques were he puts grooves down the front edge of the cabinets and biscuits in the face frames looks like it might work well. sorry looks like I missed Unionlabels post that says the same thing.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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13 posts in 3163 days

#5 posted 11-03-2009 07:41 PM

I’m looking for best practices on dadoing face frames to cabinets and so far I’ve only gotten inputs on biscuit joinery. Is anyone out there using the dado method?

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 4016 days

#6 posted 11-03-2009 07:55 PM

hey scott i think the main reason no one has givin you any input on it is cuz no one uses dado’s to connect face frames but if i were to try doing this i would have to do my home work to make sure the dado’s were centered and then on any areas where my top and bottom rails met the sides of my carcasses i would imagine the easiest way to do that would be with a good sharp chisel. hope this helps

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4012 days

#7 posted 11-03-2009 08:07 PM

I use the Sommerfeld Offset Tongue & Groove System. The bit set had a few problems with dimensions when he first introduced it, but I believe it’s been corrected in his China-made house-branded stuff. Woodline USA has a set on Amazon for about $40 + free shipping .. .. that’s about a third of Sommerfeld’s price, and they tend to have pretty good stuff.

The thing I do like about this system is that there is almost NO setup time. Drop in the tongue cutter .. adjust for the amount of offset you desire for this session .. rout away. The two bits are ground in such a way that you simply remove one cutter & drop in the other without any adjustment .. .. which is nice because you’ll be swapping them back & forth quite a bit.

All in all, it’s a VERY convenient & efficient method .. AND it is about foolproof.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 3278 days

#8 posted 11-03-2009 08:58 PM

I must be confused, again, or I’m having another dyslexic moment (a yes I am dyslexic). Are you asking about adding dados to the cabinet or to the face frame? I would think that you would want the face frame flush with the edge of the cabinet a dado certainly wouldn’t do that. A dado would leave a bit of stock sticking out around the edge of the face frame.


-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View jerryz's profile


164 posts in 3303 days

#9 posted 11-03-2009 09:25 PM

Actually dadoes can be used when making kitchen cabinets to join the face frame to the carcass.
I rebuilt my kitchen and used this method mainly because the face frames I had that where Oak where joined to the carcass that way and I was able to reuse several face frames.
I rebuilt all the carcasses using 1/2” Plywood the face frame has a dado about 1/8” in from the exterior side, the bottom side has a rabbet instead. You use glue and some brads to join the 2 components.
I also used some short wood pieces ( a 1/2” piece cut on the diagonal making a triangle piece) to reinforce the joints.

The reason you leave a gap between cabinets is that if there are any imperfections on the wall and you need to adjust the cabinet to make sure it is square with the others you will have some play by having the side wall of each cabinet 1/8” inside the face frames. You join the cabinets with screws by their frames and then fix them to the wall by using shims and screws

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3182 days

#10 posted 11-03-2009 10:00 PM

Contractor grade cabinets are typically a hardwood face frame grooved to fit laminated particle board sides. The grooves are typically in the stiles only, 1/4” offset from the edge of the face frame (face frame is 1/2” larger than box width). Top and bottom of the box butt into the rails, affixed by glue and brads/staples. So, the sides of the box project out to slot into the grooves. The groove is wide enough to accommodate the entire width of the side boards, usually 1/2” in such a cabinet.

Groove construction is hardly necessary when you have others ways of connecting the face frame, but it works well with particle board whereas bisquits and brads aren’t practical.

-- jay,

View cbMerlin's profile


100 posts in 3445 days

#11 posted 11-04-2009 05:06 PM

I used dadoes on my recent kitchen cabinet rebuild for exactly the reason you stated. As Jay stated, only on the stiles. I set up my router table to cut the dadoes with an under-sized 1/2” bit to accomodate the 1/2 ply I used for the carcass. I inset the cut 1/8”, as Jerrys stated, for the same reason, I already knew my wall were not exactly square. I wanted raised panels on the end panels so I inset the dado 3/4” to account for the width of the stock I was using for the raised panels. I only cut the dado 1/4” deep, but still made two passes to get there. I wasn’t completely comfortable going the full 1/4” in one pass. Took me more time, but I sure felt safer with small cuts. I used some 90 degree jigs I built in all the corners to hold square, glued it up and used bar clamps to hold it all together while the glue dried. Worked perfect and ended up dead square. While installing the cabinets…......well that’s when I discovered how far out my floors were. Shimms to the rescue!

-- Sawdust looks better in the garage than cars, explain that to your wife!

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3495 days

#12 posted 11-04-2009 05:37 PM

Dado face frames sound like an excercise in unnecessary complication to me but if you are set up to manage such part tracking I guess its doable. I have heard of people building cabinets this way but their systems were managed with CNC production and elaborate parts manufacturing equipment. I suppose if you aren’t doing very many cabinets and care to spend the extra time developing the method to insure reliable fitting including any misc. parts interior of a finish box, side panels, cutting optimization of sheet goods, drawer side panels lengths, drawer yoke lenghts (if used) then…go for it. However this method wouldn’t work well for built-in style cabinet fronts where a single front is to be added to a long bank of contiguouos cabinets, which would further complicate the method.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3571 days

#13 posted 11-04-2009 06:00 PM

I have done this when refacing existing cabinets. Stock cabinets from China or other countries I have found use this type of joinery for face frames. To stay within existing parameters I just replace face frames using the dado method. I don’t like doing it but I do think it is stronger. I just suggest measuring extremely accurately and carefully planning out your project. You should have no problem. When we build cabinets from ground up, we use a hybrid frameless/face frame technique I have tweated here and there. Just my 2 cents.

-- .

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3182 days

#14 posted 11-04-2009 09:44 PM

For a standard cabinet with face frame, it’s actually not hard to rip a couple of grooves in the stiles to accomodate the cabinet sides. A good table saw makes easy work of that, and it seems faster to me than bisquits. I also think it would be much more stable. Likewise, if stock for the box is 1/2”, bisquits aren’t really practical.

-- jay,

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