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Squaring cabinet openings with face frame

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Forum topic by one60fourth posted 06-22-2017 02:15 AM 610 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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one60fourth

29 posts in 1432 days


06-22-2017 02:15 AM

I’m about ready to attach face frames to new bathroom cabinets I built. The cabinets are 1/8” out of square. Three out of four corners in each are square but one isn’t. I want to attach the FF’s so that they correct for the misalignment. (I’m making fully inset doors and drawers so squareness of openings is very important.) Should I cut FF’s so their outside edges exceed the outer dimensions of all four sides of my cabinets and then flush trim all four? Or should I make the FF’s so that the upper and bottom rails are flush with the top and bottom of the cabinets and leave excess only on the sides of the cabinets to be cleaned up later with a flush trim bit? If I did cut the upper and bottom rails a bit oversized could I flush trim them successfully? Since the router would have to pass through the end-grain of the stiles I’m worried there might be tearout. Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks.


10 replies so far

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Loren

9643 posts in 3488 days


#1 posted 06-22-2017 02:34 AM

Generally I square the front of the box
using a bar clamp and then staple on
the back to hold the front square.

I’ve found that in general this makes
for a face frame cabinet that can be
butted up nicely against its neighbor.

If you get into leaving overhangs on the
sides and flush trimming you’re going
to get gaps between cabinets since you
can’t trust the cabinet side you’re using
to guide the bit to be straight. You can leave
a little overhang if you want, 1/4” or so,
but don’t trim it except with a hand plane
to fit its neighboring cabinet. When you
screw the substrate for the countertop on
top of the of the cabinets it will all lock
together nicely.

If the cabinet is to have one or more exposed
sides, then the frame should overhang just
a hair and then flush trim. You don’t want to
trim off so much one part of the frame looks
narrower than the rest. When scribing to a
wall, I leave up to 1/2” of overhang and
I rabbet out the back to make it easier to
scribe the frame with a plane.

If you’re using euro cup hinges think carefully
about the mounts. You can buy face frame
mounts but some are kind of awkwardly
designed compared to the carcase-mount
plates.

You can also make the left and right edges
of the face frame flush with the outside
of the cabinet if you like, but make sure
you’ve thought through how the screws
are going to pull those face frames tight
against each other.

Generally I like to chamfer the edge of the
cabinet deck slightly, maybe 1/64-1/32”
and try to get the face frame below the
level of the deck by just a hair so it’s easy
to sweep debris out. I make the top
of the face frame flush with the cabinet
top.

Routering the end grain of stiles will most
certainly cause blow-out. I approach any
fine fitting with a hand plane working
inwards so the end grain is supported
by the adjacent long grain piece. You can
also “climb cut” or use the trimming bit
backwards to avoid tearout.

If this all seems confusing just try to approach
the issues carefully and you’ll likely find
the results work out ok.

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one60fourth

29 posts in 1432 days


#2 posted 06-22-2017 04:15 AM

Thank you Loren. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Some things you discuss I’ve mentally worked through but other things you mention I don’t quite comprehend due to my inexperience. Overall, so far, I’m happy with how things are turning out. I’m trying to approach all the details I’m encountering in a methodical way. So far so good. FF construction and attachment is crucial. With your suggestions I think I can swing it. Fortunately, I built “banks” of cabinets, i.e. three cabinets at a time all joined together with single birch ply panels between each cabinet. Thus, I will not need to screw cabinets together, except at one corner where two banks of cabinets meet at 90 degrees. I was very careful in cutting and assembling these banks of cabinets so they appear to be dead flat level with each other. Any shimming will be due to floor issues and not because the cabinets are not level. BTW, I’m using Blum 110 degree partial crank euro hinges for inset doors with face frames. They have a mounting plate that is screwed onto the face frame.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2612 posts in 2137 days


#3 posted 06-22-2017 11:20 AM

Three out of four corners being square is mathematically impossible. If your face frames are slightly wider than the carcass itself you should be fine and no one will ever notice.

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

994 posts in 2690 days


#4 posted 06-22-2017 11:39 AM

^^ what he said

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2719 posts in 1321 days


#5 posted 06-22-2017 01:26 PM

I think you’re going about it opposite.

If your back is square the box will be square. That’s the first place to start.
The second thing to check is to see if the sides are straight. If you have one corner not square this is most likely the problem.

Once you know the back is square, then attach FF adjusting for square and straightness of sides.

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

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8037 posts in 2417 days


#6 posted 06-22-2017 01:38 PM

Check your diagonals:

I think you’re good to go. The face frame is independent of the cab being out a little bit, if I understand
the situation correctly.

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one60fourth

29 posts in 1432 days


#7 posted 06-22-2017 01:39 PM



Three out of four corners being square is mathematically impossible. If your face frames are slightly wider than the carcass itself you should be fine and no one will ever notice.

- dhazelton

You’re right. The eight inside corners (measuring both front and back, top and bottom inside of the box) are mostly out of square a small amount. Less than 1/16th. (A few corners do seem perfectly square though.) But the front opening when measured on the diagonals is 1/8th out of square. I guess the front opening reflects the cumulative out-of-squareness of the sides of the box. Slightly oversized FF’s should fix it per suggestions above.

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waho6o9

8037 posts in 2417 days


#8 posted 06-22-2017 01:43 PM

If you’re using plywood for the sides it might be bowed a little.

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one60fourth

29 posts in 1432 days


#9 posted 06-23-2017 01:58 PM

One more question for everyone before I begin my final face frame cuts and assembly. Is there any reason that I should not make a stile (running from bottom of cabinet to top) so that it overlaps a drawer opening by only 1/4 inch? I have a drawer bank adjacent to a door. I’m using inset shaker style (panel and frame) drawers and doors. If the stile overlaps by 1/2 inch instead of 1/4 it would be only 1/4 inch narrower than the 2 1/4 inch door frame. So I thought a 1 3/4 inch stile would look better next to the 2 1/4 inch door frame. But this results in only a 1/4 inch overlap into the drawer opening. Is this OK?

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one60fourth

29 posts in 1432 days


#10 posted 06-23-2017 02:02 PM

Sorry, I forgot to add to my previous post that I am using under drawer slides so I don’t need to worry about clearance on the sides of the drawers. Also, my overlap on the door side of the stile would be 3/4 inch. All total I would have 3/4 overlap into door opening + 3/4 to cover front edge of ply panel + 1/4 inch overlap into drawer opening.

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