"Continuous" face frames

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Forum topic by tooold posted 03-03-2011 08:37 PM 3055 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 3861 days

03-03-2011 08:37 PM

I’m working on my second kitchen, trying to remember everything I learned doing the first one.

I’ll try to attach a Sketchup picture of it – it’s basically a 12-foot island, plus some floor and wall cabinets flanking the stove on the wall.

My question is about “continuous” face frames – ones where stiles overlap and you might have rails running the length of the cabinet. Does anyone have any tips on assembling these? I’m using a pretty standard plan with 18mm (3/4”) carcases, maple face frames with inset doors. Face frames are attached with pocket screws. After scratching my head a lot, it seems like you’d start at one end, attach rails, then one end of the long stiles. Then, get your second carcase into position, level it, square it, then attach it to the overlapping rail from the first cabinet, and the stiles. Then, repeat until you run out of cabinets.

I should mention that this is my kitchen, so it’s not a case of a client demanding it. It’s more me weighing the option.

Trying to figure out pros and cons, seems like it comes down to:


No breaks in the face frames on a long cabinet. I’m sure it would look nice, but nice enough to justify the trouble? Put the other way around, no ugly gaps between face frames to irritate me.

The whole assembly might be a bit stronger, and would hang together better over time. Maybe.


Can’t finish cabinets in the shop.

Much more of a pain to assemble, reaching around to drive screws.

Can’t do pocket screws from outside the carcase on at least one side of every cabinet, so there’s added finishing work (plugs), or screw holes if I get lazy.

Given that I’d have to level this as I assemble, I lose the opportunity to level the whole assembly of individual cabinets before joining them up with a few wood screws through the sides.

I’m pretty much thinking out loud about something I don’t know enough about, so anyone who can throw a few brain cells my way would really be helping me out!



EDIT: Obviously, the picture doesn’t show the continuous face frame…!

7 replies so far

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3229 days

#1 posted 03-03-2011 09:15 PM

Maybe another option would be not to use continuous face frames and finish it off with some decorative molding at each joint. Just a thought.

As far as continuous frames, I don’t think I would do it, with an island that big, but, that would be a personal preference.

--, Making design and application one. †

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3822 days

#2 posted 03-03-2011 10:55 PM

I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re using inset doors unless you’re
really looking to challenge yourself. You may find it’s easier than
I’m anticipating, but I just thing getting those 12 foot long rails
milled straight, true and free of twist would be a hassle.

I may be thinking too much like a pro. I would avoid introducing
that into a paid job unless I was charging more for it, but for
your own stuff you might want to see what you can do.

View tooold's profile


56 posts in 3861 days

#3 posted 03-03-2011 11:26 PM

Thanks for the replies. The toe-kick platform is an idea I’ve thought about; the only thing that makes me a little wary is that it’s a stone floor – it’s level overall, but varies from piece to piece. I’ve used adjustable legs successfully before (they’re rated at 80kg/170 lbs each) and thought they would give me a better ability to level, especially as they can be adjusted once everything is in place. But it’s worth thinking about.

Sounds like we have no takers for the running face frames, which is helpful.

View HighRockWoodworking's profile


182 posts in 3154 days

#4 posted 03-03-2011 11:46 PM

If you are set on this I would probably dado the back of the rail and stalls. Once you get the cabinets set you will have to mark the box intersections on the back of the rail to dado that out as well. By having the dado on the rails and stalls you can pin nail from the backside to secure them. The only problem with this way is you will have to custom cut each stall to make sure it is tight and it would harder to sand the face smooth with the cabinets already in place.

Good luck and I would love to see pictures after you are complete.

-- Chris Adkins,

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3005 days

#5 posted 03-04-2011 12:37 AM

I did a project with face frames with no butt joints on the stiles.


I did not have any lengths like what you want to deal with but it is possible if you have enough man power to muscle the units into place. Putting some steps into the design will alleviate some of the bulk like my sink base area. The island in the pics is all one unit with no visible seams all the way around. But it was a beast to move to the site and install.
Face frames were assembled with pocket screws.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3243 days

#6 posted 03-04-2011 12:57 AM

Like Barry says, separate toe kick boxes make the job WAY easier. I can build and install a kitchen full of the toe kick boxes in 3-4 hours, and have a dead level paltform for my cabinet boxes.

Find the high spot in your floor and snap a level line at the toe kick height wherever you’re putting your cabs. I screw the toe kick box to the wall at my line, and use shims to level them front to back. On a stone floor, I would probably use a dab of construction adhesive to hold the shims in place.

Once the toe kick box is in place, it’s real easy to set the base cabs.

If you’re planning on inset doors & drawer fronts, you’ll probably create a real nightmare if you try to build and level a large, single, box. It will almost certainly “tweak” some and mess up the fit of the doors and drawer fronts. (BTDT, Got the tee shirt)

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3243 days

#7 posted 03-04-2011 04:53 PM

Myles -

I do quite a bit of work for a GC who likes to put in the flooring before I set the cabinets. It’s not my preferred method, but it works. – lol Here are a couple of pics of some cabs I did in ‘09 using a separate toe-kick box.

The second pic shows two “boxes” sitting on a simple plywood toe kick box. The first pic shows the back after the tile “baseboard” was installed. On other jobs, I size the the height of the toe-kick boxes to work with whatever he plans to use for baseboards.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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