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Assembling Face Frames5/2
We are at a point in our business where we need a better strategy for face framing as we are doing more of it these days. I'm looking for two solutions in particular - one for beaded face frames and one for quick assembly of normal face frames. I've been looking at the Hoffman system and, while it is expensive, it looks like it could possibly be the quickest and most accurate system (in my research so far) for the beaded side of things. I know I could get set up with a face frame table for all the normal stuff but don't really want to buy both systems if I don't have to. Could you use the Hoffman system for "normal" face frames as well? Does anyone here have experience with this? I'm a little worried about getting all the rails registered to the stiles in the right locations and would love to not have to make spacer blocks for every project like what I see guys having to use on face frame tables. Please weigh in!
I would think that it would be very time consuming to build face frames without having a face frame table and a pocket hole machine. Unless you make tons of beaded frames I would buy a table now and make your own bead. Run the bead inside the openings as soon as you build the frame. Then in the future look into one of the other systems. In the past we did a lot of beaded inset and never had a fancy machine it was all done by nailing baed on the inside of the openings. As far as cutting spacers it helps a little but as long as you can read a tape then you are good. Once you lock the rail to the style on the table then you can knock it a little one way or the other with a hammer.
I built our frame table, no vertical arm with cylinders on it. 8/4 soft maple around 4 by 8 with dog holes everywhere for post type clamps if needed. We use vice grip clamps with wide jaw pads on the bottom rail. We have the castle pocket screw system, do the frames so you are screwing down, not sideways and I can do around 50 plus frames in a day including multi opening vanity or giant fridge boxes. Beaded frames are something we rarely do so no opinions there.
The Hoffman system can do all types of face frames , very quickly and accurately.
From a cost perspective its hard to beat a Castle machine for square edge ff.
It all depends on the quantity of beaded cabinets you produce. We have done them many ways over the years. Tablesaw, router jig, handsaw, sliding mitersaw.
We will not do nail on beads. They are a waste of time. All the cutting, glueing, nailing, filler, extra sanding. Total waste of time. The quality is definitely lower as well. On clear finish the color grain never matches. You have visible putty holes when you open the doors.
Now there is a Kreg router jig available. I would look into that. Personally, I can cut piles of frames quickly with slider, tablesaw, and a chisel. You need a wee bit of skill.
I may still end up just doing a face frame table but I have to look at all sides first. I like the idea of the Hoffman being able to precisely register the rails to the stiles (when used with a Razor Gage) but I'm not sure yet if CV can output what I need to make that happen. Dennis, when using the Hoffman, do you have any squaring issues? In one of the product videos, it just shows a guy pounding the dovetails in the back with the frame laying loose on the table - no squaring clamps like a FF table. Also, what kind of tolerances are you able to get? I'm always looking to stay within .004" no matter what process we are doing. I'm also assuming that you would glue each joint or maybe just the dovetail piece? How does it compare time wise to assembling on a FF table? Thanks for all the help!
If the FF pieces are cut square and straight the dovetails will pull the assembly together square. The dovetail machine needs to be set up properly to cut tight joints but this is an industrial quality tool and can hold the setting even with constant use. I don't build many FF these days (outsource mostly) but when I do the occasional frame I just place face down on a flat glue up table and apply some glue to the ends of the rails and hammer the dovetails home to pull the joint tightly together. I don't build face frames to 3 decimal place accuracy, happy if I can keep it to a 64th of an inch.
The thing I don't like about the Hoffman is that it indexes off of both ends which creates double the error in distance for aligning the bowtie cuts
TBH I think the Hoffman machine is overrated other than the most basic one
The pocket screw will create a small amount of creep but is easily fixed in the drum sander.
What is your time worth? What are your clients willing to pay for your time and knowledge? My Lawyer can't afford me... and I pay that over-educated dirtbag $300 an hour...
Good one Red.
The decorative keys are thinner and used on top of the plastic ones
You can index the same edge but it is still indexing off of the opposite end
The decorative keys come as long strips that you cut as needed.
It would appear you are talking about picture frames?
I thought the OP was talking about face frames.
2 different things or am I missing something?
Yes, this was originally to deal with face frames. I see Pat's point about having to index off of both ends. Has this been an issue for those of you with this machine or do their stops prove to be accurate without a lot of fussing?
Hoffmann sells long stop bars (or buy 8020) & I'm guessing you could easily adapt electronic stop systems. I haven't made a face frame cabinet in 30+ years so maybe I no longer understand the problems. I like to cook so I avoid kitchen designs that make it difficult to keep clean.
I don't know about the stops that Hoffman has for the machine you are considering.
The machine I had was for doing bevel miters, the stops were terrible as in could not have been worse.
In any case when you are indexing off of the ends you double the error of the stops.
I see the problem with using the castle or similiar with the face not being flush.
OTOH are you not going to run the frames though a drum sander?
But using a castle machine would solve the indexing problem, if it is one on the machine you are considering
Not to mention that the castle type machine is half the boring time and has been the go to for face frames for decades.
I am considering their bowtie machine, however, it appears that you have to get into the stop set-ups which is what I would like to avoid for the very reasons Pat mentions. I was hoping it could be set up in conjunction with razor gauge for auto positioning but I am seeing that only their notchers can do that...bummer! Using a face frame table, I would pre-sand the individual "sticks" and then assemble hoping to barely have to touch the joints with a random orbit for final sanding. I'd rather not send them through the drum sander if possible to avoid the cross grain scratches.
I asked a friend who has done a lot of beaded inset kitchens he said that he uses the castle machine.