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Faceframes and getting stuff square

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Forum topic by skatefriday posted 05-21-2015 05:25 PM 1243 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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skatefriday

380 posts in 949 days


05-21-2015 05:25 PM

I built two cabinets for a bathroom where if my face frame wasn’t perfectly
square to the box it didn’t really matter because the cabinets were not
going to abut each other.

I now have three kitchen base cabinets in various stages of construction.
I was attaching a face frame to one and realized my face frame was about
1/8” out of square on the diagonal. This was enough over the height of
the cabinet to create a problem as I designed this cabinet with the inside
edge of the face frame flush with the inside edge of the carcass.

I fixed the face frame to get it about 1/16” out of square on the diagonal,
which still doesn’t really satisfy my quality requirements, but in going through
this exercise I started thinking about how people install cabinets if the
face frames are not perfectly vertically plumb and need to abut each other?

I’ve been designing my cabinets with 1/4” to 1/2” exterior overlap of the
face frame to the carcass, but I can easily see putting two cabinets side by
side and ending up with a gap at either the top or bottom of the face
frame edges where they join.

How do cabinet builders ensure this doesn’t happen? If it does happen,
do installers just plane the edges to fit? (That would seem to me to possibly
leave a diagonal seam (not desirable)). Or do you all just work to 1/32”
tolerances and then ensure that your face frames are mounted perfectly
square to the box (assuming the box itself is perfectly square) and then just
hope everything lines up when you go to install them?


18 replies so far

View ChrisK's profile

ChrisK

1809 posts in 2548 days


#1 posted 05-21-2015 05:40 PM

I use pocket holes to join my frames. I just make sure the end cuts are square. i also try and work to a 1/64” o less when I do cabinets. It helps keeping the boxes square when i work that tight.

-- Chris K

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1775 days


#2 posted 05-21-2015 06:15 PM

parts cut square = square assembles, fine tune you equipment and get a reliable machinist square. Check you work often while cutting. A carpenter’s framing square in not it.

Some drafting square are nice to have also.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1159 posts in 2157 days


#3 posted 05-21-2015 06:22 PM

It doesn’t happen in professional shops or they go out of business quickly.
Build yourself a jig. Take a piece of plywood about 2’ x 3’, on one corner add two 3/4” pieces of solid stock that are glued and screwed to the plywood at a perfect right angle. From now on use that jig to line up your boxes and face frames to assure square assembly.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1836 days


#4 posted 05-21-2015 06:28 PM


I use pocket holes to join my frames. I just make sure the end cuts are square. i also try and work to a 1/64” o less when I do cabinets. It helps keeping the boxes square when i work that tight.

- ChrisK

Same here. And although I want me boxes to be perfectly square, if they’re close enough (within 1/16 on the diagonals), I’m OK with that. If this is something where I want the outside of the face frame to be flush with the outside of the box (I recently did a small bookshelf where this was the case), I’ll build the face frame 1/16 or so bigger on both sides, and flush-trim it to the box. If this is something where I’ll be joining two adjacent face frames to each other, well, I just make sure the face frames are square. That’s more important than the boxes, within reason.

Edit : Just to add, I crosscut all of my rails/stiles to length on the table saw with a sled that has a adjustable stop on it. I used a clear plastic drafting square to check my sled for 90, and make a test cut to check with a square. I make sure all of my pieces are jointed/planed true, and cut both ends of each piece referencing off the same edge. In other words, cut one end, flip it endo, but keep the same edge against the fence, and cut the other end.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7179 posts in 2043 days


#5 posted 05-21-2015 07:14 PM

+1 for Sams’ suggestion, works well on the drill press and in making a
saw handle for the LJ swap meet. :)

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#6 posted 05-21-2015 10:36 PM

I agree with AlaskaGuy. I would start out by checking all my saws and squares.

I’ve glued up my share of f&p doors and as long as the joints are square, the door is square.
Rarely do I need to tweek them anymore.
I usually employ the frameless technique, but even if you don’t, using Euro hinges will simplify alignment.
If using traditional hinges, then you fine tune the gaps with a hand plane.

Jigs are ok, but you shouldn’t need them unless you’re a production shop or something.

I know there are a lot of proponents, but personally I wouldn’t use pocket screws on any kind of furniture.
They are a weak joint and if you’re using them with glue then all you have done is drill a hole in your project to replace a clamp. And then you have all the extra work filling the holes…...

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

View Daruc's profile

Daruc

459 posts in 599 days


#7 posted 05-21-2015 11:07 PM

1/16 is no big deal. When putting 2 cabinets together screws will pull them closed if there is a gap, and European hinges have enough adjustment to align the doors up where they need to be. Most of the time when you screw the cabinets to the wall you will rack the cabinets anyway no matter how square you make them.

-- -

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1592 posts in 890 days


#8 posted 05-22-2015 10:04 AM

I can tell not many have done custom kitchens with real hardwoods or old homes. They are rarely perfectly square, no matter how much care you take. The face frames always need adjusting at installation. I use planes and sanders to make the edges match.

I do not allow anyone to install my cabinets but me and I insist on being there while the counter tops are being installed. All the care in the world making the cabinets can be screwed up by someone who does not care or take the time to make the necessary adjustments during installation.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 697 days


#9 posted 05-22-2015 12:20 PM

Ensure the faceframes are square via pocket holes.

Install them the the box where all is square.

Cabinets that but a wall have a faceframe overhang so you can plane them to fit the wall.

Find the highest point of the floor where the cabinets will be installed and pop a level chalk line at the top of the cabinet there.

Install to the chalk line from the wall corners out. Plane the faceframe of the first cabinet in the corner so everything is level and plumb.

Start by making the cabinets square and then the big problem will be with the house construction.

My old boss told me a story about installing a corner wall cabinet once that was so bad he had to cut the sheetrock and a bit of the studs (non load bearing and with the owners approval). The house is usually a problem when you make the cabinets well. If you dont make the cabinets well the house will make it worse. Its a murphys law of cabinet making.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View barada83's profile

barada83

76 posts in 652 days


#10 posted 05-22-2015 04:32 PM

I wouldn’t sweat it. One thing I have learned is not to sweat imperfections, just figure out a lot of great tricks to hide them. It doesn’t matter how incredibly precise you might make your cabinets, like woodust said, your screwing them in causes racking. I use pocket screws so if things really go bad, I can make some pretty drastic changes quite easily by removing a few screws and shifting things.

-- Mike

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1775 days


#11 posted 05-23-2015 02:49 AM



I can tell not many have done custom kitchens with real hardwoods or old homes. They are rarely perfectly square, no matter how much care you take. The face frames always need adjusting at installation. I use planes and sanders to make the edges match.

- timbertailor

What?????

I’m not a professional installer but over the years I’ve built and installed 15 face frame kitchen. If the cabinet are square and are installed plumb a level the only face frames that need adjusting are the ones that butt to walls or other objects. The rest simply butt to each and are screwed together.

I use detached toe kicks which make better use of sheet good and simplify the base cabinet install. Install the ladder frame toe kick that been maliciously leveled. Upper cabinet will fit together nicely if they too are square and installed plumb and level. Same thing here you only have to deal with ones the butt into the walls and the end panel at the end of an “open run” (cabinets stop before butt anything).

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1775 days


#12 posted 05-23-2015 02:58 AM



1/16 is no big deal. When putting 2 cabinets together screws will pull them closed if there is a gap, and European hinges have enough adjustment to align the doors up where they need to be. Most of the time when you screw the cabinets to the wall you will rack the cabinets anyway no matter how square you make them.

- woodust

Yes 1/16 out of square is a big dead and so is racking them out of square by screwing them hard to the wall. When you screw a cabinet to the wall and it racks you’re supposed to “shim” them so they are plumb, level and not racked out of square. If you’re racking your cabinet and then pulling the face frames together with big screws you introducing a lot of stress on those cabinets. Just not the proper way to do it.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Daruc's profile

Daruc

459 posts in 599 days


#13 posted 05-23-2015 03:15 AM

1/16 is no big deal. When putting 2 cabinets together screws will pull them closed if there is a gap, and European hinges have enough adjustment to align the doors up where they need to be. Most of the time when you screw the cabinets to the wall you will rack the cabinets anyway no matter how square you make them.

- woodust

Yes 1/16 out of square is a big dead and so is racking them out of square by screwing them hard to the wall. When you screw a cabinet to the wall and it racks you re supposed to “shim” them so they are plumb, level and not racked out of square. If you re racking your cabinet and then pulling the face frames together with big screws you introducing a lot of stress on those cabinets. Just not the proper way to do it.

- AlaskaGuy

I’ve installed hundreds of cabinets. I know about shimming, screwing to walls and racking. I’ve dealt with many a hump in the wall, Out of level floor and not plumb walls. It’s not a perfect world and you have to know how to manipulate cabinets to work for each situation. Introducing stress on the cabinet made me chuckle, thanks.
Your not going to tell me anything that I haven’t already done from experience.
So No, 1/16” out of square is no big deal…

-- -

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1775 days


#14 posted 05-23-2015 04:00 AM


1/16 is no big deal. When putting 2 cabinets together screws will pull them closed if there is a gap, and European hinges have enough adjustment to align the doors up where they need to be. Most of the time when you screw the cabinets to the wall you will rack the cabinets anyway no matter how square you make them.

- woodust

Yes 1/16 out of square is a big dead and so is racking them out of square by screwing them hard to the wall. When you screw a cabinet to the wall and it racks you re supposed to “shim” them so they are plumb, level and not racked out of square. If you re racking your cabinet and then pulling the face frames together with big screws you introducing a lot of stress on those cabinets. Just not the proper way to do it.

- AlaskaGuy

I ve installed hundreds of cabinets. I know about shimming, screwing to walls and racking. I ve dealt with many a hump in the wall, Out of level floor and not plumb walls. It s not a perfect world and you have to know how to manipulate cabinets to work for each situation. Introducing stress on the cabinet made me chuckle, thanks.
Your not going to tell me anything that I haven t already done from experience.
So No, 1/16” out of square is no big deal…

- woodust

Are you a home depot installer?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Daruc's profile

Daruc

459 posts in 599 days


#15 posted 05-23-2015 04:06 AM

Are you just old?

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