Face-Frame Scribing Ideas

Various ways to scribe for a snug fit where a cabinet butts to a wall. October 9, 2006

Anyone have tips on installing wall to wall face frame cabinets without using scribe molding? We build frameless cabinets and scribe everything to the wall and were hoping to do the same thing for a face frame job we are doing.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I am really confused by this one...

From the original questioner:
Scribe cabinets to wall, meaning cut them to the profile of the wall, not adding scribe molding.

From contributor L:
I'm confused, too. Why can't you scribe like you do the fillers on the frameless cabinets?

From contributor J:
The hole where the cabinet is to sit first needs to be examined to see if it is possible to even set the cabinet with both outside stiles attached. Often a door casing will be in the way. Sometimes the outside corner bead under the rock will be flared out so that to get the cab into the hole, the stiles need to be cut down too much to fit once it is in place. Sometimes the hole is narrower in the front than where it is when the cabinet is in place. In those cases and sometimes when the cabinet is huge (as with many entertainment centers and bookshelf units), it may be necessary to remove one of the outside stiles in the shop after fitting, sanding, machining, etc. and apply it on the job, after scribing to the wall. If you are scribing into stonework, you will probably want to do it that way with both outside stiles. If the cabinet will fit into the hole, I scribe both sides so the outside stiles will be as close to the same width as possible, using a level and scrap masonite or whatever I have that's easy to cut and transfer to the stile if that is even necessary.

I too am a little unclear on the question. How do you scribe frameless cabs?

From contributor P:
This is usually accomplished with a loose stile. The stile is doweled in place, but without any glue and not nailed into the cabinet. At the installation, the installer taps the loose stile off of the rails. The cabinet is put in place and scribed on the side opposite of the loose stile. The cabinet is then installed. The loose stile is then placed against the wall and parallel to the ends of the rails. Scribe off the correct amount. Then cut the dowels back some at an angle and tap the stile in place with a dab of glue. That is all there is to it. It is helpful if you undercut the stile quite a bit to allow the stile to easily be tapped in. Does this make sense?

From contributor T:
Like above, only I use biscuits

From contributor B:
I build my face frames so the stiles overhang the boxes at least 1/4" where the cabinet meets the wall. Installed one today where two runs were wall to wall, and used no scribe moulding. I've got a portable handheld planer I use to trim the stile so I can slip the cabinets in with a snug fit. I usually back cut it a little, as it tends to slip into place a little easier.

From contributor R:
If we ever do frame cabinets, we normally use a 42mm stile. One way that has worked well for us: On a unit fitting between two walls with a chance for the width at the cabinet location to be wider than the opening (as it usually is), I calculate the frame size to use a 64mm stile. After the stile is cut, we rip it at 42mm and fasten the falloff back on with screws. Go ahead and put the frame together as usual with pocket screws, dowels, whatever. Leave the frame overhang at least the width of the removable strip (about 22-24mm). At installation remove the strips, install cabinet and scribe strips to fit wall and fasten with the screws used at assembly.

From contributor D:
I do the same as contributor B, except I bevel the stile at 30 degrees and use a block plane to get the fit just right.