Face Frame Problems now....

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Forum topic by RobH posted 08-11-2007 04:22 AM 2241 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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465 posts in 4251 days

08-11-2007 04:22 AM

These blasted bookshelves have been giving me problems from day one. I now have all of the carcases together (minus the backs) and I am trying to get the face frame constructed. I have run into another problem. Of course, in the garage the bookcases are not attached to the wall so things are a little flimsy. This is further complicated by the fact that the backs aren’t on yet. Since nothing is attached, the sides are slightly out of plumb over the eight foot height. By slight I mean the top and bottom are AT MOST 3/8” out over the eight feet. Of course this means I need to move the top of the unit 1/8” or less to get things to line up.

I have yet to get the face frame rails to work out right. I really do not want to have to wait till installation to get the face frame built, but right now I am running out of options. Because of the out of plumb issues, when I mock up the face frame, nothing is laying out right. Right now with the backs off I think I can pull everything into good alignment. However, once the backs and the back frames are attached I am afraid that things will be too stiff to move it any at all thus causing problems at the time of install.

I am considering making the back frames tomorrow, making the face frame fit correctly and then screwing the back frame to the shelf unit. This should hold things together and should get the screw in the right place for the back frame.

Is this the best approach or should I go about this in another way? I cannot install thes shelves until the hardwood floors have been finished, and it will be way too late then to make the face frame and get it finished before the move-in date for the house.

Please help me. I need some options here. This is driving me crazy.

Thanks in advance,
Rob Hix

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

13 replies so far

View edp's profile


109 posts in 4162 days

#1 posted 08-11-2007 05:15 AM

I ,have never/would never, consider building these units the way you have described. Nearly 100% of the structural integrity of the finished assembly is achieved through the integration of the backpanel. Not to mention the other function of maintaining squareness and you seem to be completely overlooking this important issue. As for the faceframe, there is no reason it shouldn’t be constructed and attached before the unit makes the trip to its new home. Perhaps some pictures of these units would be in order.


-- Come on in, the beer is cold and the wood is dry.

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4163 days

#2 posted 08-11-2007 05:15 AM

Without being able to see what you are doing I’m at a loss as to how to help you. A book case is just a cabinet with out a door. So if you build the carcase square or there abouts and FOR sure make your face frame square then you can pull the carcase into square with the face frame. This is why we usually make the face frame 1/4 to 1/8 over size. Then we can scribe the face frames to match what ever we find in the house. If you cut everything with stop blocks and make one setting for the stiles and another for the rails it should be easy to pocket screw the frame together. If you are pocket screwing the carcase to the face frame the is when you can get it square. I don’t know if this helps or hinders but it is the best I can do from here. Something you might think about for next time; i use 1/2 inch ply for the cabinet backs. It will square up the case and add a lot of strength.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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1466 posts in 4289 days

#3 posted 08-11-2007 05:24 AM

What they said, but I’d still stay with 1/4” ply due to weight. If it is square it will square up the case and if the face frame is square it will fit, too.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View RobH's profile


465 posts in 4251 days

#4 posted 08-11-2007 06:06 AM


There is one very good reason that the face frames cannot be attached. There are four carcase units 39” wide for a total of 13 feet of shelf. The customer wanted the integrated look of a single face frame (no joints between the units). This is what I have built. Kinda hard to move 13 feet of cabinet at the same time. Especially into the room this is going in to.

I realize that one function of the backs is to keep the whole unit square. I also realize from a previous post where I discussed my plywood bowing problem that I should have used 1/2” ply and this whole thing would have been a lot simpler. Just chalk those two up to experience. Since I cannot go back at this point and do 1/2” thick backs, I must do something else. So, I am basically making a face frame that will go on the rear of the cabinet. It’s job of course will be to hold the cabinet square and true out any bow that I have in my sides.

Now that I am here though, I am at a point that I have to make do with what I have.

I have been measuring diagonals tonight and I am a little out of square. I think tomorrow I am going to go ahead and cut the face frame pieces the way I think they should be cut. I am going to get the face frames as square as possible.

When it is time to put the backs in I will square the units up, put in the back, screw on the back stabilization frame, and then go for the installation. With the 1/2” reveal around the face frames, maybe everything will look alright. I guess time will tell. If worst come to worst I will need to redo the face frame and build it in place. I can do that, it just may run me a little late.

Thanks for the encouraging words,
Rob Hix

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View RobH's profile


465 posts in 4251 days

#5 posted 08-11-2007 04:48 PM

Final Decision…

I have decided to build the face frame and get is as close to square as possible. Assembling one section at a time and being really careful on my spacings should help out a lot.

When I get the polyurethane on the backs, the carcases will be squared, the backs will be inserted and then stapled the carcase every 2 or 3 inches. Then I will put on the back frame (added strength) and go for the install.

If the face frames are not working out for install I will fix it there.

There, finally off of my mind.

Rob Hix

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View Christopher's profile


576 posts in 4121 days

#6 posted 09-03-2007 05:28 AM

Let us know how it turns out!

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4094 days

#7 posted 09-29-2007 06:40 PM

Probably to late to comment but I have to concur with some of the above comments.

I fail to see why you need a face frame in the back of the cabinet but that is your option.

Keeping the cabinet square without the back is pretty simple. Use scrap plywood/melamine/PB/MDF wide enough to get two nails in across the width….nail it (without burying the nails) on one side…....square your cabinet and nail the opposite side ona diagonal.

It is entirely possible to face frame the entire unit and get it into the room, you simply dry fit the shared stiles and apply those at the job site…..........and there quite a few ways to do the “shared stiles”

Good Luck

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View squaretree's profile


160 posts in 1773 days

#8 posted 04-15-2014 01:18 AM


-- if you can't find me, just follow the extension cord

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3432 days

#9 posted 04-15-2014 01:47 AM

I don’t know what you are doing but when I build a face frame, it is dead on. Mainly because I use Kreg pocket screws to build it. Clean accurate cuts go together square.

Good luck. I hope all works out for you.
Time to switch hats and put on your trim carpenter/installer hat.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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2387 posts in 3748 days

#10 posted 04-15-2014 02:11 AM

The one thing that drives my passion for this stuff is the challenges and lessons I have learned along the way.

So I am not certain I totally follow your reasoning for using a FF on the back. However I will give my process and how my process likely would have worked for you on your project.

I build out our FF first. I apply finish to our FF next. Since it is an open bookshelf, it should have matching stain on the carcasses. So I would stain and lacquer 1 side of my plywood sheets I needed to build this with. I would cut a 3/4” dado in my left and right vertical FF members. Laying the FF down on a protected work space face down, I would then build my 13’ cabinet around my 13’ long FF (the FF becomes the map/guide to building our cabinets). I would plan on utilizing screws and no glue. I would then be forced to dis assemble the entire cabinet and neatly preparing it for delivery (only real way of transporting a 13’ cabinet would be as a RTA). Of course, I would leave the 13’ FF assembled. Our cabinets are all dado and groove for 1/4” ply back, they can be broke down and rebuilt quickly. Doing it this way would have allowed for the customer to have a 13’ long book shelf cabinet with no seams. Assembly of cabinet on site would go smooth. Installation and then trim out and done, and done.

-- .

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Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2149 days

#11 posted 04-15-2014 09:10 PM

First and foremost. Put the level in the corner and leave it there. You are building a square. not level.

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12431 posts in 2581 days

#12 posted 04-15-2014 09:24 PM

Thread is almost 7 years old.

-- Rick M,

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2149 days

#13 posted 04-15-2014 09:29 PM

Well is it done? How did it turn out.

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