Face Frame Edges and Cabinet Ends

Cabinetmakers discuss the detail where a face frame edge meets the exposed end of a cabinet. November 6, 2007

For a finished end on cabinets, I have usually sanded the face frames flush with the side of the cabinet. However, on some furniture, on occasion, I have to leave the face frame protrude because of construction issues. How do you handle the position of the face frame, and is there any industry standard? I can see the benefits of having the face frame overlap 1/16" or so, but I just can't convince myself it's okay or right. What say you?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
I just recently had to use applied skins/panels, 1/4", and I used a 1/8" slot that was 1/64" farther from the edge than the thickness of the panel. After I finally got them assembled, I was very pleased at how they looked, and better yet, how they felt. From a vision perspective, it was hardly noticeable. I was pleased. I usually do construction like you seem to, sanded flush. And this is what I like best. I don't like cabinets that come with 1/16"-1/4" overhangs. Looks like a box store cabinet.

From contributor J:
I don't do a lot of face frame cabinets, but when I do, I build them with the face frames wrapping around the sides for wall cabinets. And for bases, I attach a separate panel, since you have to cover the toekick area. At least for kitchens, for pieces more furniture like, I'll sometimes sand the face frame flush to the panel, then route (or saw, depending on size) an eighth inch groove down the line where they meet. Leaves a nice clean look for when you can't fit a panel.

As for general construction, I leave an eighth inch on each edge of the cabinet. This can be used for scribe if needed. I also try to eliminate having 2 vertical stiles contact each other in the same plane. I'd rather make a longer cabinet with multiple openings, or design in changes in the cabinet depth. I think it adds to the custom feel.

From contributor T:
If the side of the cabinet is exposed, I make the frame flush with it. If the side is going to a wall, I generally make the inside of it flush with the inside of the face frame (to make hinging easier) and add whatever I think is necessary for scribe over my normal 1 1/2" frame width.

From contributor D:
If we're scribing to a wall, we make that side of the face frame extend maybe 1/8", maybe 1/4", depending on what kind of a mess the wall is. If it's a visible end, we make the carcass and face frame stiles flush... what we usually do then is make a very tiny chamfer cut on the back of the face frame and the front edge of the carcass side panel. When it comes together it makes a very nice tiny "V" channel - a nice crisp detail, plus it hides any minute imperfection in that seam coming completely flush.

From contributor B:
If the cab is not exposed, I leave a 1/8 to 1/4 inch scribe. If it is exposed, I cut the face frame flush to the panel. I use a flush cut router bit that cuts a nice little v groove where the box and face frame meet.