Face Frame for base cabinets

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Forum topic by MrStyle posted 05-02-2014 03:02 PM 1723 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MrStyle's profile


82 posts in 1726 days

05-02-2014 03:02 PM

Folks – I am working on a set of built in shelves that have 4 side by side base cabinets that are just about 7.5 feet in total length.

My question is regarding creating the face frame(s)

Wondering which is a better approach

1. Create a face frame for each cabinet and then joining them all together at installation


2. create a single face frame rail for the top/bottom

Any advice would be appreciated especially if one approach presents a fair number of challenges.


12 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2805 days

#1 posted 05-02-2014 11:52 PM

Seems like four individual units for that span is a bit much, but I don’t know your situation.

But if I were building them they would each have face frames . But note that it would be in such a manner that after installation it would appear as one unit.

I have however in rare situations applied a face frame after the boxes were installed.

Don’t have enough info on your situation to give you a straight answer.

Enjoy! JB

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2681 days

#2 posted 05-03-2014 12:15 AM

I built my wall oven cabinet “in place”. It looks nice but would certainly have been easier to have had the face-frame pre-assembled in the shop (I’m a fan of the Kreg system). If you set the boxes and can get accurate measurements I’d build the face frame as a unit. Full length outside stiles, full rails to bridge the span between them and shorter stiles to cover the box edges in between.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1274 posts in 1630 days

#3 posted 05-03-2014 12:41 AM

Either way will work. Bt you will certainly have an easier time doing individual. It’s pretty nomal.
Most cabinets get joined at the face frame with screws.

It’s up to you. Just make sure they are all the same height.

-- Jeff NJ

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 1525 days

#4 posted 05-03-2014 12:44 AM

I’m a glutton for punishment.
Without knowing the details, like where it’s going and whether you can get it there in 1 pc.
I would be building 1 cabinet with the face frame already attached.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3281 days

#5 posted 05-03-2014 01:01 AM

I’m with everyone else not knowing all the details, but 4 units in 90” seems like a lot of cabinets.

If you’ve already built the four cabinets, then I would probably build two face frames ( each covering two cabinets).

You mentioned they are built-in’s, will they be going from wall to wall? If so, I hope you made the cabinets less in width then the opening itself to allow for a scribe on each end. the face frame themselves should be made the size (actually a little larger) then the opening so you can scribe on site to get a good tight fit.

You can attach the face frames before installing, just make sure they align perfectly to each other when mounted to the cabinets. You can make the two stiles that will butt together in the middle narrower then the outside stiles, so when connected together they will be the same width as the outside stiles.

There’s no right or wrong way, so whichever feels better for you. Looks like you have 3 or 4 options.

Good luck.

-- John @

View ducky911's profile


237 posts in 2785 days

#6 posted 05-03-2014 01:05 AM

I would make the base units in 2 parts. Make sure you make the face frames a bit bigger(1/8 inch) than the casings so you can get a tight fit.

View guitchess's profile


85 posts in 3705 days

#7 posted 05-03-2014 03:20 AM

Any cab unit in my shop less than 8’ gets built as one unit. This criteria usually applies to the face frame as well. If the cab is to sit between two walls(or other immovable object), I attach the face frame on site to allow for scribing/fitting.

View MrStyle's profile


82 posts in 1726 days

#8 posted 05-03-2014 02:21 PM

Thanks for the input folks-

To answer a few of the questions.

1. These cabinets are inside a hobby room ( my wife is a scrapbooker) and do not span the entire wall.
2. I have made the base cabinets already ( 4 boxes basically) which are 3/4 plywood.
3. I have no access issues at all – I am placing them on a 2×6’s platform an MDF top that I will build in place so that I can level everything pretty easily. Additionally this platform approached simplified the base cabinet build since the platform creates the toe kick area for me – I just had to make boxes.
4. I will be using pocket screws for the face frames and in fact I have used pocket holes for all of the joinery so far on this project with the exception of the shelf inserts which I used biscuits to join the edging stock to the plywood shelf
5. Everything is/will be painted white.

I think it would be easier to make the face frames for each box in the shop – the only issue is that these are going to be open( no doors) so I will like to not have visible mechanical connections on the face frames.

I don’t think I should rely on glue alone – so I will make the face frames, and make sure I have plugs ready to cover the screw heads.

I probably spent more on materials than I absolutely had too – but since this is a hobby – if I could use additional material to save me a lot of headache and work – I went that way..

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3474 days

#9 posted 05-03-2014 05:52 PM

Given what you said Style I would do a unified faceframe.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View MrStyle's profile


82 posts in 1726 days

#10 posted 05-19-2014 05:32 PM

Well I went ahead and got these cabinets mostly installed this past weekend ( 3.5 day effort) and made a single unified face frame.

This being my first crack at this – here is the current progress at the end of day 3

But after creating my first face frame I ended up with a little gap in one of the base cabinets that I cant not close up with glue/nails/ or even the force…...

So to my understanding and limited imagination my options are:

1. Silicon caulk and paint
2. I saw a video where the guy was praising window glaze of all things as a filler – anyone tried this ?
3. Pull it off and start over—not going there !!
4. Anything else?


View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2805 days

#11 posted 05-20-2014 12:36 AM

No no no no! If your gonna paint don’t even think about silicone caulk! The magic word here is siliconized!

Siliconized latex caulk is what you want my friend that is if your painting with latex paint.

And I wouldn’t praise it but yes glazing compound does pretty well just has a large dry window.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1865 days

#12 posted 05-20-2014 01:32 AM

I second using paintable caulk, unless you’re not confident in it’s use. Use a decent caulk gun to help avoid mess, and cut the tip so the hole is as big as the gap you’re caulking. Go easy. Put down paper to protect Mama’s carpet.

Have a wet rag with you, like an old t shirt to wipe any spots that you went too heavy.

I think one cabinet might have gotten set back a hair further than the others. Live and learn… Caulk and paint…

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

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