A question about face frames I need comments on....

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Forum topic by RockyTopScott posted 08-10-2009 03:14 AM 1761 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1186 posts in 3503 days

08-10-2009 03:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Greetings from Tennessee.

I am building new custom kitchen cabinets for my house. 16 in all. The boxes are almost done and soon I will be on to the face frames and doors/drawers.

I am using 3/4 cherry ply for the boxes and cherry stock for the face frames and doors.

I have been thinking about the 2 options for face frames.

Have one frame per cabinet or have one face frame for a series of cabinets tying them all together in a seamless look.

I have essentially 4 sections in this “U” shaped kitchen and was considering 4 face frame sections.

I am not concerned about how to attached the frames regardless of which way I go on this.

My question is does one method have an advantage over the other?

Thanks and God Bless.

-- “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

14 replies so far

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3310 days

#1 posted 08-10-2009 03:32 AM

If you align your run of cabinets and fasten them together and build one face frame for the entire run, then it makes it easier to level when you go to install, instead of trying to align each face frame seperately. The only draw back is handling the entire run of cabinets fastened together, but if you are doing them for your house, then that should be easier then transporting them to another location and man handling a 6ft run or so of cabinets. If they are wall cabinets, again, handling a long run of cabinets can be pretty heavy and awkward, but it is easier to align the cabinets and build one face frame for the entire run.
I’ve always been a one man band, so I’ve always had to build my cabinets and face frames separetly so I could handle them by myself, and always had to deal with aligning each faceframe with the other. If your walls are not perfectly flat (and most are not), aligning each cabinet can be frustrating. No right or wrong whichever way you decide, just what works best for you and your situation. Good luck and look forward to some pictures of your new kitchen.

-- John @

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3496 days

#2 posted 08-10-2009 06:39 AM

There are several issues to consider. You already built the “boxes” as modules. The advantage of modular cabinets is finishing them prior to installation. I assume you arent prefinishing the cabs if you are going to start assembling them as built-ins half way through the project. Typically when building on site I would build the cabinet bottoms with endpanels located at only the points required, like either side of the sink bases, dishwasher or the end of a cabinet run. Modular cabinets have two end panels on each module because they are modular. So you have basically built the most expensive method but are now abandoning that method thereby abandoning the advantages of modular cabinets which is being able to finish them with time/mess saving methods like sanding and spraying outside the living space in which they are to be installed. I usually put one piece faces on built-ins which are usually built onsite. I usually put separate faces on modulars which are usually built in a shop and brought onsite. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I can’t think of any advantage of mixing the two methods.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3496 days

#3 posted 08-15-2009 04:52 AM

But then…I could be wrong.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#4 posted 08-15-2009 05:13 AM

I am just finishing a haunched face framed project

the biggest and most complicated project to date

it scared me and still scares me and has convinced me why, .......................most pros use “Euro” hinges…..........4 a reason?

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

View RobH's profile


465 posts in 4075 days

#5 posted 08-15-2009 06:17 AM

I would go with the four separate sections. As for installation, I would install the boxes without the face frames and then apply the face frames after the boxes are installed. I built some bookshelves this way a couple of years ago and it worked out great.

I wish you luck in your project.

Oh yeah, I may live in Virginia, but my blood runs orange, Go VOLS!

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#6 posted 08-15-2009 06:38 AM

Chippindale died a long time ago and so did Ducan Phyphe?.......the Adams brothers are now gone as is Sheriden and as sure as the pool of the Vatican, carved from a single piece of marble or the “Pieate”?

Queen Anne and King Louis, Henry the VIII?

I cant stand face framed cabinetry that looks like it was made in china only to find out it was made here… offence meant.

Ikea is hard to beat?

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

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#7 posted 08-15-2009 06:58 AM

I make HUGE pieces of furniture for a living…...........the customer calls them kitchens

I call them the “impossible dream”, wall to wall custom built ins with no lack of respect for methodogy, which rail follows through, which stile starts and stops from where to where and how wide, what proportions work?..........what an endless question and what answer is most right and what answer is least wrong?

tough question…......................often a tough answer

personally I think most Americans and most Canadians might take a lesson from the other side of the pond and start listening more to our European cousins and until then, might better give up and use a “Euro” system and stop trying to re-invent a wheel thats ancient!................and in the end…........when you rock the boat, try and reinvent the wheeel … looks shitty!

face framing like a hack is easy

a “Euro Hinge” makes you look “Pro”..................on the cheap!!!!

Gods Honest Truth

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

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4115 days

#8 posted 08-15-2009 07:14 AM

To the original poster:

One advantage about making longer runs of cabinets is that you might use less plywood. If you are building a two module cabinet you can use three pieces of plywood in a single run instead of four. (I am talking about the sides).

You might want to price out pre-finished maple ply. It is durable and might save you a lot of time on finishing. If I could do mine again, I would go that route.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View sdmref's profile


15 posts in 3232 days

#9 posted 08-15-2009 07:23 AM

I also built my kitchen cabinets out of cherry and made all my faceframes as one piece. It was a challenge with door and drawer openings in one unit but the clean look of having no stiles that are doubled up because of two units side by side was well worth the hassle of the added math and measuring.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#10 posted 08-15-2009 07:24 AM

To the original poster

I can and do buy “Ikea”


because I cant buy the sheet goods and material for less then

and do a better job?

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

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3503 days

#11 posted 08-15-2009 04:07 PM

RobH is time to get on the Lane train!!

I plan to do just that install the cabs then build the FF in place.

Since my shop is downstairs and my kitchen is upstairs I should be able to pull this off.

thanks to all that replied RTS

-- “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 Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4426 days

#12 posted 08-15-2009 05:08 PM

Lee Jesberger, a lumberjock who builds kitchens extortioner, convinced me to build my kitchen European. I like it better than the face frame that I used in my prior kitchen. I’m still building but I have blogs of my build so far.

I realiaze you are probably already past that point. So I’d hank the cabinets and then put the face frame over the top of them.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3503 days

#13 posted 08-15-2009 05:45 PM

thanks Karson

I am beyond that point on the boxes

It is not a complicate layout so I think I can make it happen

-- “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 Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4013 days

#14 posted 08-15-2009 06:20 PM

Personally, I like the appearance of the one-piece face frame. I would prefer it in your application, although it does make things more difficult if you have to transport & install this style. Modular cabinets, to me always look a bit cobbled up since the stiles are double up .. AND if there is drastically different grain on two adjoining stiles, it just looks like crap. I’ve built them both ways .. .. for my own installation, I went with the 1-piece frames .. for others, I usually go the modular route,although I do normally explain the differences and give them the option. Surprisingly. most folks don’t even realize there is a difference, and when you take the time to explain it, they don’t much care.

Do what YOU like .. it’s your kitchen, and only you have to deal with the outcome. If you’re in East Tennessee, drop me a line and I’ll see if I can be of any help .. .. I’m in Cleveland .. just North of Chattanooga.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

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