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Thread: Face frame

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    GTA Ontario Canada
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    Face frame

    Yeah i know this is a bit like closing the door after the horse has bolted, but i wanted to see if there was a better way.

    Yesterday i made a face frame for my new router table. Nothing fancy and according to plans really just to finish of the face of the 3/4 plywood used for construction. So the thickness of the face frame and its width was 3/4". I used cherry.

    So i lay this out on the cabinet with the cabinet face horizontal and got all the pieces nicely square and cut to appropriate lengths.

    Then came the joining them together, That sent me inside to check on how to do it. Had always thought of pocket hole screws but was worried about the thickness and width. So Kreg jig specs said 3/4 no problem.

    Got the Kreg jig out and proceeded to set up to put pocket holes in the rear ends of the essentially 3/4" square pieces.

    Thing is the Kreg jig is not really setup for a narrow piece like 3/4 width. I know most face frames would be wide enough to take two holes to keep the wood square to the face. I made a plan with the Kreg clamp and "got by" but it was a battle getting the holes in the center of my 3/4 wood. Had no rotation of the pieces because i used the Kreg clamps and it all worked out even put a dab of glue on the ends as insurance.

    But it got me wondering how would the pros have done it.

    I did not want pin holes all over my nice cherry face frame. Its going to be glued to the front face of the cabinet given i van get clamps on it.

    I recognize i should have had this in mind during my planning of making the unit but it is what it is. When i am retired I may have a different approach.

    So how would you have done this.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Kansas City, Missouri
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    13,462
    It's not very elegant, but for joints that were "floating" dad used to cut pieces of 1/4 ply, glue the joints, then glue/staple the ply from the back side to tie the two piece together. Didn't show any holes and always held. The stiles and top rail were glued/nailed to the case, so they weren't going anywhere.

    On my vanity and dresser projects to attach the face frame to the case, I used pocket screws, drilling into the case so the face frames wouldn't show any nail holes. All of mine were done from the outside (where the walls covered them) or on the side where a drawer would cover them.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    I've made quite a few face-framed cabinets using the pocket screws to assemble the face frames, then using biscuits to affix the face frame to the cabinet. I've never had one come loose or separate.

    A single pocket hole in the ¾² rail shouldn't be a problem, since once it's glued to the carcase it won't be able to twist.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Thomasville, GA
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    Sounds like a good application for the Kreg Micro-Pocket Guide. It's made for narrow and/or thinner stock.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Independence, Kentucky
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    1,355
    I do the same as Jim stated, never had a failure. (so far)
    I'm supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    Thanks all Bill that seems like a good addition and Jim i thank you for the biscuit solution its a duh moment for me. I was about what to use to keep it aligned, and i have a biscuit cutter but the grey matter was MIA again. Biscuits will solve any alignment issues given i am covering exact thickness of ply. FWW strikes again. Now the job will get done sooner.
    cheers

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Escondido, CA
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    5,175
    Not to dump a bucket of water on your parade but you didn't ask first what to look out for. And frustration with lack of success can be paralyzing.

    But.

    Plywood is not flat.

    When adding your face frame to the front, you may find that your exact 3/4" width may not cover all the way in spots. I like what you are trying to do, but I found a few problems. I came up with two solutions. One was to use a much thinner facing so I could tweak it around the wavy plywood. Not fun at all! (And will not accommodate biscuits.) The second was to cut the face frame material a bit wider, like an 1/16 of an inch, and then trim it with the router and a trim bit. Much easier and perfectly flush edges. I still like that look, but had to learn to plan ahead a little.

    Again, but.

    YMMV. I certainly hope so.

    Well, I reread this and decided I didn't tell the whole story. First of all a face frame was originally an integral part of the structural integrity of the box. European style cabinets provided that an unnecessary concern with the sheet goods available to us today. All you are doing here is covering the edge of the plywood. That is called trim. So, no fasteners between the pieces at all. Cheaper, too. Fasteners are getting pretty pricey.

    Think about this then. Mill the biscuit slots for the slightly oversized styles and glue them on. Then carefully fit the rails between them, slot them, and glue them on. (I have a trick or two with the carefully fitting part, later.) Trim rout all sides. Clean up the inside corners with a paring chisel. Bob's yer uncle and your done! Perfect fit every time.

    But then I got smarter. Making things harder is easy. Learning from mistakes is really good. Now I trim the edge before I put the box together. Also eliminated the biscuits as clamps alone work well here and biscuits ain't cheap either. Saved the time for the 'carefully trim' part.

    Getting craftier in old age.

    And cheaper.
    Last edited by Carol Reed; 09-22-2014 at 05:10 PM.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    +2 to carols trim to fit with the router. Even if the plywood was straight that's how is do it just because my setup usually ain't quite as much as of like

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
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    That's FUNNY

    Yesterday - I ALSO - made a face frame for a cabinet I am working on.

    I also wondered how the pro's would do it with "proper" joinery.

    Personally - I was not really trying to be "traditional" or pro - but I wondered anyway.

    In the past I have done biscuits and gravy (glue) - but Yesterday I did pocket screws for the first time.

    This cabinet is a utilitarian sort to eventually become my CNC cabinet.

    The pocket screws were adequate - to above adequate.

    I plan to drill screw and bung the face frame to the carcase.

    It's not furniture - it's a cabinet.

    Ohh - and I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination a "pro".

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    5,323
    Well... I disagree with Carol. The face frame pieces - rails and stiles - need to be fastened to one another. If you glue the ¾² rails to the plywood, and don't fasten them to the stiles, then there might be a noticeable gap twixt them during seasonal changes.

    Trimming a ¾" rail with a trim router is also pretty risky. There's a good chance the router will tilt due to being inadequately supported, and put a divot in the rail. If the rail were wider, it'd be less of a problem. I'd make the rail fit a bit proud of the plywood, then use a block plane or a #3/#4 smoother to adjust the fit.

    Biscuits are actually pretty cheap, and they allow for some slight adjustment. The big advantage is that they don't show on the cabinet's face. They also provide some extra rigidity to the stiles, which may be needed on the hinge side.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

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