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Cutting a Face Frame in Place - Cabinet Above Refrigerator

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Forum topic by HandyFrank posted 11-02-2015 06:34 PM 1045 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HandyFrank

35 posts in 2230 days


11-02-2015 06:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinet face frame wood saw

I am refreshing my kitchen and painting my cabinets white. My fridge arrived and I knew it was going to be just slightly taller than the cabinet above so I need to decide on a way to cut down the face frame a bit. The face frame on the bottom of the cabinet is just over 1/2” and my hope is to take nearly all of it off. I am painting the cabinets white so I don’t have to worry if it needs sanding or light patching.

I considered taking the cabinet down and ripping it on a table saw, but there is a cabinet to the left and right, and trim on top and I’d rather not take it down hoping to spare the chance for more problems. I figure try to cut in place and if that goes bad then i’ll be forced to take it down.

What would be the best tool and technique to use for the job to attempt cutting in place? I was thinking of a few scenarios:
-Put a level clamped down on the face as a straight guide and use a circular saw slow and steady
-Use a Jigsaw, but I’ll risk a wavy cut, but I can sand it as needed
-Use an oscillating tool. I’m just dreading it since it takes so long and straight cuts aren’t always easy
-A router with a flush cut bit, but I have minimal experience with a router.

The side parts i’ll be forced to use either an oscillating tool with a flush cut blade, or a Dremel with a spinning head.

Any wisdom and ideas will be great!


9 replies so far

View nkawtg's profile

nkawtg

204 posts in 718 days


#1 posted 11-02-2015 06:54 PM

Screw a straight edge to the cabinet frame and use a circular saw to cut the portion of the face frame you need cut.
Finish the ends with a hand saw.
Since you’re painting the cabinets, filling and sanding the screw holes won’t be a problem.

View HandyFrank's profile

HandyFrank

35 posts in 2230 days


#2 posted 11-02-2015 07:25 PM



Screw a straight edge to the cabinet frame and use a circular saw to cut the portion of the face frame you need cut.
Finish the ends with a hand saw.
Since you re painting the cabinets, filling and sanding the screw holes won t be a problem.

- nkawtg


Thanks for the vote on using a circular saw ,this is what I am leaning towards. Any better ideas on cutting out the sides? Such a tight space I don’t think I have many options other than the Oscillating tool or a dremel/grinder.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

1807 posts in 605 days


#3 posted 11-02-2015 07:37 PM

For the sides, using the same straight edge you use for the circular saw, scribe a knife line as deeply as possible to the ends. Use a hand saw as far as you can and finish it up with a chisel. A deeply scribed knife line will give the saw something to follow and will keep you from getting tearout on the face with the chisel.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View HandyFrank's profile

HandyFrank

35 posts in 2230 days


#4 posted 11-02-2015 07:44 PM


For the sides, using the same straight edge you use for the circular saw, scribe a knife line as deeply as possible to the ends. Use a hand saw as far as you can and finish it up with a chisel. A deeply scribed knife line will give the saw something to follow and will keep you from getting tearout on the face with the chisel.

- HokieKen


Thanks for the tips. The cabinet has an installed cabinet on both sides. The face frame extension wraps around the bottom of the cabinet (I know i’m not using the right term here since it isn’t technically a faceframe, but it has the same piece that goes around the bottom, sorry) so I need to trim those off as well underneath, and they butt up against the cabinets beside this cabinet I am cutting. If I take it down I can definitely table saw it, but since i’m attempting to cut while installed I guess the oscillating tool may be my best bet.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#5 posted 11-02-2015 07:44 PM

I would look at a way to remove the bottom of the face frame entirely and replace with a new strip of wood.

Don’t know what to tell about the sides.

A pic would help.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View jusfine's profile

jusfine

2405 posts in 2393 days


#6 posted 11-02-2015 09:37 PM

Had virtually the same issue when our old fridge died. New ones are 2-3 inches taller and even a bit wider. I had to take down the cabinet and build a shorter one complete with modifying the doors, then jam the new fridge in.

Taking it down is not as hard as it seems, and as it is paint grade finish, easy to touch up.

I think you will find it easier to work on once it is down.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View HandyFrank's profile

HandyFrank

35 posts in 2230 days


#7 posted 11-02-2015 09:51 PM



Had virtually the same issue when our old fridge died. New ones are 2-3 inches taller and even a bit wider. I had to take down the cabinet and build a shorter one complete with modifying the doors, then jam the new fridge in.

Taking it down is not as hard as it seems, and as it is paint grade finish, easy to touch up.

I think you will find it easier to work on once it is down.

- jusfine


Amazing how much taller they all are. My fridge had room above it, but most popular fridge models were just slightly too tall (From .125 to about .5 inches” so we just chose the one my wife liked best because I already had to modify. Same for above the range, we need to shorten that cabinet to make room for the larger above the range microwave.

My cabinets are solid wood and old construction, and nails are used everywhere so i’m dreading trying to take it down. I had to take down the one above the microwave and that was an end cabinet and it was murder with those nails holding it up. The cabinet above the fridge is in-between 2 cabinets so I think i’m going to take a stab at cutting in place first. Worst case I have to take it down if I mess up.

Think my plan is to try to circular saw the front, and multitool the sides/back. If anyone has a better idea please do share.

I’ll be sure to post back and let you all know how I make out if I get to it today/tomorrow

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

8126 posts in 1918 days


#8 posted 11-02-2015 09:55 PM

I took mine down, not very hard. Working on it from below runs the risk of tired/sore arms letting the saw slip.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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HandyFrank

35 posts in 2230 days


#9 posted 11-04-2015 10:03 PM

Thanks again everyone for the input. I responded on a different forum to someone asking about cutting the face frame, and potentially the bottom shelf so I wanted to post my response here so others can benefit from the experience in the future.

Depending how much height you need to gain will determine if you can just cut the bottom face frame flush with the bottom of the shelf, or need to cut out the shelf itself. In my scenario unfortunately I had to do the more involved process and needed more clearance. I first cut the face frame down and the fridge fit, but there was this metal plate on top that housed electronics and the cord came out of, so I had to rip it down even further with the blade extended as deep as it would go. I re-ripped with a circular saw and left only about 1/4” of the bottom face frame. I then jig saw cut out the majority of the bottom of the bottom shelf. Now everything slides through nicely and I have gained all the space I need. My plan now is to simply put a new piece of wood that covers the entire bottom of the shelf inside and screw it down to give the thin face frame rigidity, and make the cabinet still usable.

Some quick tips to think about:
-If you can easily take your cabinet down, do it. I couldn’t because mine was nailed every which way so I had to do it the hard way in place, but if it was held in place only by a few screws I would have taken down and did the job outside on the table saw.
-If you can get away with only ripping the bottom of the face frame, try that first and see if you gain enough clearance without messing with the bottom shelf.
-The oscillating tool made easy work of ripping the sides and back of the face frame. I have a Dremel oscillating tool and Porter Cable oscillating tool. Porter Cable cuts is bigger and much faster but for the front finish work, and near the side cabinets I used the Dremel oscillating tool since it is smaller and easier to maneuver in tight spaces.(Not a spinning disc Dremel, just wanted to make that clear).
-Think about your door and how much height you have to leave it hinged where it is, or if it needs to move up a bit. I was prepared to rip the bottom of my door just slightly if needed, but I don’t think I have to after all.
-The circular saw was not as bad as I thought t would be after all, I used a 4’ level and attached it with 2 clamps from the top leaving clearance for the saw to slide along the bottom of the level.
-If you are doing the job inside, tape yourself a plastic tent all around so you cut down on dust. The circular saw makes such fine dust that it WILL get everywhere. I have a roll that is 12’ tall by whatever length needed. Think the roll was around $20 and is 12’X250. I use that roll so much for so many things and it helps keeping dust to a minimum. Trust me on this one, tape yourself in unless the house is under construction and you don’t care about the dust. Even taped in it still managed to get across the room.
-I used a 60 tooth Diablo blade on my circular saw, not a standard 24 tooth framing blade. Gave me a super smooth cut.
-Respect the circular saw and its potential dangers, and practice holding the guard open before making the cut. It is a bit awkward but once you figure out how to hold your hands you can do it.
-Wear a respirator and ear protection, and even goggles. I skipped the goggles and paid the price with all that dust flying around.
-Take your time, and pray while making the cut.
-Good luck, you can do it.

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