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Methods of attaching finished sides to face frames

Mike Fuson

Wondering how you guys that build face frame cabinets attach the finished sides to the face frame? I've always milled a dado down the edge of the frame that sits 1/4" over from the edge. I'm happy with it just exploring different options. Thanks

4/30/16       #2: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Nick Cook Member


We glue and clamp, using combination core 3/4 ply. Just a butt joint. Then flush cut the edge of face frame.

4/30/16       #3: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Mike Member

I'll also glue and clamp but where it will be butted by another cabinet i will use pocket holes. If its a painted cabinet i sometimes will pocket hole all around and skin the sides that show. I do not do production work so this works for one of a kind jobs.

4/30/16       #4: Methods of attaching finished sides ...

I did integral finished ends for years (I presume this is what you're talking about). I switched to applied finished ends a few years back and would never do it differently after seeing all of the advantages.
I build all of my boxes out of prefinished 3/4 ply and screw the complete box to the faceframe. I leave the box back from the edge of the faceframe 3/4 when I have a finished end and apply the ends on site when installing.
One of the biggest advantages to building this way is loading and hauling the cabinets as you have not finished ends that can be damaged when lugging those boxes in and out. The end panels are seperate and never get damaged.
Finishing is also much easier as your box is prefinished and you can spray your finished end laying down separate from the box. Makes everything much easier and cleaner.
You don't have any clamp marks on your faceframe or glue or other hassles to deal with.
Give it a try.

4/30/16       #5: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Nick Cook Member


A consideration in doing applied ends is that
you will have an intentional seam between the end and the face frame. We build all our finished ends with an extended stile to the floor so in our case the stile would be vulnerable in transporting. I personally like the look of a seamless end to face frame look. We also bevel or round over the corner from the bottom of the top rail to the top of the bottom rail to give a furniture like end.

5/1/16       #6: Methods of attaching finished sides ...

I guess if there is a drawback to applied end panels, It could be the small joint between the back of the face frame and the panel edge.
However, if you detail the joint correctly most of my customers prefer the look and the benefits far outweigh any personal preference for not seeing the joint. My guess is 95% of homeowners could not pick out the difference if shown the two side by side.
I put a small 1/8" round over on the back of the ff and the front edge of the panel. When they come together, it looks very clean and professional.
Like I said in the earlier's much easier to transport a box with plywood sides that will be covered that trying to protect the finished ends when loading, unloading and installing. They can be banged together, rubbed together or even put a huge gouge in the side of them when moving and none of it matters because the finished end will cover it.
Just my 2 cents after 25 years experience.

5/1/16       #7: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Kevin Jenness


5/2/16       #8: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Adam Spees

Yeah, what he said

5/2/16       #9: Methods of attaching finished sides ...

since the late 70's I've used biscuits to attach frame to boxes. And where the finished ends are plain I use a chamfer joint. not with paneled ends.I like them tight.

5/2/16       #10: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Mike Fuson

Kevin, what are you calling a miter fold?

5/2/16       #11: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Kevin Jenness


I miter the edges of the face frame and end panel and use packing tape to hold the seam together as I glue and fold the joint. No clamps required except to hold the panels square to one another. It's not the most wear resistant corner with a plywood return, but the joint is very strong if the angles are correct and is clean in appearance and easier to accomplish than clamping a butt joint with frame and panel ends.

5/2/16       #12: Methods of attaching finished sides ...

I do the same as JeffM. Biggest benefit for me is being able to scribe a loose panel vs the panel attached to a cabinet. I tend to build cabinets as big as I can, and often need a few attempts to get a perfect scribe. Easier than dealing with the whole cabinet when working by yourself.

5/2/16       #13: Methods of attaching finished sides ...
Mike Fuson

Jeff, how do you attach the applied end? Screws from the inside?

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