Laminating a Face Frame

Advice on joinery and lamination techniques for a laminated face frame. April 20, 2011

I don't do a lot of laminate work, so I haven't encountered this situation before. I need to make a laminated face frame for the front of a large entertainment center. What's the typical sequence? Build the face frame, then laminate it? Seems like trimming and getting the seams right where the stiles and rails meet would be a bear. If you laminate the stiles and rails before assembling the face frame, how do you handle the joinery?

Forum REsposnes
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
From contributor P:
Laminate or have laminated a sheet of MDF or lumber core and then cut your parts.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. Part of the face frame will have exposed inside edges (around a big TV screen) that also get laminated. If I laminate the edges after the faces, I'll end up with the wrong orientation of the trimmed edge. Or am I over-worrying that detail?

From contributor P:
I guess I would edgeband the edges. Then cut the edgebanding with a utility knife where the members meet in order to glue the pieces together.

From contributor B: has a Bosch router kit with several base attachments, for all your laminate needs.

As far as the face frame goes, I would lam the inside edges over length in the exposed areas and cut at assembly time, so the rails are butted to the substrate. Next assemble your face frame. Then cut strips of lam a quarter inch over in width and a half inch over in length for your rails. Coat (all) your faces with contact, and apply your stile material to your stiles. Don't trim at this time! Next, apply your rail lam to the rails allowing one quarter inch overlap at the joint intersections.

Now comes the fun. In your router kit you will find excellent directions for attaching and using what is called an underscribe trimmer - model 1608u. Also it is very important to assemble 4 or 5 tees of your face frame material and apply the lam in the same manner as used on your unit face frame. These will come in handy for dialing and practicing with your cutter bit and guide. Follow the directions and you'll have lam joints that snap into place (make sure you clean off the burr on the underside of the cut piece, so you get an even face at snap in time; lam file works good). Been using this tool and method for years. Never fails once set up right and left alone. Have six of these 1608s (bought separately, not as full kits) that are set up and left alone for their individual jobs. Bit changing and setup time can kill you in time if you do even part time lam work.