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Frameless cabinet questions

John B Member

I do almost exclusively face frame inset door cabinet construction. Recently my daughter bought a new home (fixer upper) that needs a new kitchen on a tight budget. I am thinking we will build frameless cabinetry for the kitchen using maple 3/4" melamine, with doors made from some ash that I have on hand. Questions are....., are confirmat type screws the best method of assembly as I have no case clamps and boring setups to use dowels? For finished ends, veneer or 1/4" plywood skins, or just use 3/4" ash plywood at those spots? Want to keep it as simple as possible but solid and nice looking. Doors will be full overlay. My normal box construction is 3/4" prefinished maple, dadoed and screwed, with 1/4" skins at finished ends, and beaded face frames, too pricey for this project.

12/6/16       #2: Frameless cabinet questions ...
D Brown

John, my thought is to build your Daughter a kitchen they way you normally do, it may cost you slightly less to build frameless but the extra time you spend building a different way may be a push, in the end your Daughter will have a beautiful kitchen.

12/6/16       #3: Frameless cabinet questions ...
John B Member

I had considered that but this may not be a home she stays in long, so we were trying to save on some material costs and my time is pretty tight. Might still come to that.

12/6/16       #4: Frameless cabinet questions ...
D Brown

For resale value a nice kitchen can sell the house even without going overboard .

12/6/16       #5: Frameless cabinet questions ...

Agreed. Frameless can come out a lot less expensive and faster IF you are setup for and have experience with it. I would not expect your 1st go around to be cheaper, faster or the design to work out exactly as you intended.

12/6/16       #6: Frameless cabinet questions ...

...of course you could look at it as a foray into a new angle on your business. Nobody is as forgiving of learning mistakes as family - especially when they are getting a deal!

12/6/16       #7: Frameless cabinet questions ...
Leo G

Predrill and use normal screws and use end panels to cover up those sins.

12/6/16       #8: Frameless cabinet questions ...

John, try frameless. You just might end up liking this style of construction. If you have the time & materials, make your end panels the same as your doors. Just make them 13/16" wider than the boxes are deep so the doors & drawers will look like flush inset. Another easy thing is adding 1" or 1.25" thick fillers finished to match the doors between the boxes, also protruding 13/16" like the end panels. This also helps give you a flush inset look with minimal extra work.

12/6/16       #9: Frameless cabinet questions ...
Matt B

I highly recommend confimats. The step bit costs $25. You will find other uses for it. On finished ends, I just lamello or pocket screw. Or just fastcap over your confirmats, if you want to go super cheap. The FE panels set proud are good suggestions too.

If you don't have a bander, probably cheapest to have a shop CNC and band your parts, then you just assemble in a couple hours and you've got a kitchen completely done.

12/7/16       #10: Frameless cabinet questions ...
rich c.

If she's not going to be there long, and your time is short, take her to IKEA. She'll come home with a flat pack kitchen that day. You'll only invest a couple days at the most, you'll learn about frameless, and can get back to making money quickly!

12/7/16       #11: Frameless cabinet questions ...
james e mcgrew Member


Rich and leo both have good ideas heck they are all good,, I can tell you are sincere and i love that,, send me your dimensions sketches and i will draw you a shop drawing with methods. easu enough as Frameless is all we do,,

you can veneer an end or panel, when panel we use a .75 thick and extend to cover door edge. look classy and thought out

be glad to help if you need email or call

12/7/16       #12: Frameless cabinet questions ...
Chris Hofmann


All good replies here. If you think that this project could kick off doing more frameless cabinets for you, take a look at the Lamello P-system. We have a lot of guys using these for frameless end panels, among many other applications - shops typically have tons of other things they use them for too. The video shows the Tenso P-14, which is an invisible clamping connector that can be used on any angle and pulls with 35 lbs of clamping force - plenty for glue squeeze-out. We also have demo loaner tools if you want to try it out.


12/7/16       #13: Frameless cabinet questions ...
John B Member

Wow, thanks for all the input guys! So many choices, now I have to make a decision. We're looking at a door style of vertical plank with back battens as she wants a rustic country feel and the ash I have on hand is more of a character grade with some knots and color changes. For this reason I don't think I want an inset look anyway, but overlay. Not really looking to go to frameless in my business model but curious to try one and yes, family makes a good guinea pig.... I'm also thinking that separate toe kicks makes the most sense here. The floors are very uneven (and ugly) plus better yield from sheet goods. Most of my cabinetry has "feet" in the design so I usually don't do separate toe kicks but like to when possible. I may do finish ends with t&g ash to match door look too, depends on how much ash I dig out.
We may incorporate some of my son's artwork into a set of doors for a focal point too. Depends on his time and willingness to donate to the project. Here's a sample of some of his work.

12/7/16       #14: Frameless cabinet questions ...
Pat Gilbert

The art work is awesome.

I agree with the above pots, I wouldn't screw around with the setup for frame less

12/7/16       #15: Frameless cabinet questions ...
rich c.

Another option with the IKEA. Just use their boxes and install your doors. Price them out, not difference between your material costs and their fully machined cabinets if you include all the hardware. Brother helping sister? Yeah, I bet he hustles right at it! LOL

12/8/16       #16: Frameless cabinet questions ...
Jim K


Look into Hafele. They have a setup that attaches to a traditional drill along with a drill bit designed to drill shank hole and pilot hole in one step. Before cnc and edgeborer this worked great for us. Tack the box together with staples and use the jig. You can drill random with any amount of holes based on cabinet depth. The screws pull the box together for excellent strength. We used applied ends 3/4" thick and extended the end 7/8" past the box face. 3/4" door + bumper thickness brought the door flush to the end.

Good luck.

12/11/16       #17: Frameless cabinet questions ...
Dan Sadler Member

For quite a while I did exclusively inset face frame style construction. In my business, not every job can afford that type of cabinet. I eventually realized that by sticking firm to this "standard", I was either turning away clients that could not afford me or I was cutting my prices and giving them too much. I ended up starting to mix in overlay cabinets as a compromise. I adjust the overlays to get minimal and consistent reveals throughout, and think it can produce a fine looking cabinet. Never got into frameless as I'm just not setup for it. Just my experience, if it helps

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