Squaring the Notch for a Toe Kick

Cabinetmakers describe different approaches to the troublesome toe-kick cutout. April 6, 2007

What do you do for toe kick notches? I am starting to do cabinets on a production scale and was wondering if there is a better way than cutting short and finishing with a router. I am working with melamine and have the panels cut on a CNC. The CNC leaves a rounded corner that needs to be squared to accept the kick. I would love to hear any ideas on how to do this quickly.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor P:
I just bypass the whole problem. We make a squared case sitting on either a frame or adjustable legs. Then we make end panels that match the doors or are flat that covers the entire end. In the notch, we glue a curved piece that I make either on the bandsaw and spindle sander or on the shaper.

I was brought up to notch the panels using a jigsaw, a real pain in the butt. I see a lot of cabinets that look as though they were made on CNCs and have end panels that aren't squared, but curved.

From contributor K:
I use a template and cut with a router using a 1/4" spiral cutter and a guide bushing. I just run a round over on the backside of the kick to match the rounded corner that the cutter leaves.

From contributor F:
Contributor K's way has always been a favorite of mine to cure the problem of round inside corners left by a router bit. Another good trick to use in non-show areas is to fashion your routing template to cut deeper in the inside corner and remove the obstruction. When I first started making cabinets, most makers ran the finished end to the floor and notched for toe space. I now see that as a bad idea. It makes for water damage to the finish on finished ends due to floor mopping and creates the extra work of notching for a toe space. My finished ends now terminate at the bottom of the face frames.

From contributor H:
We also make our end panel for a typical base cabinet 30" high and we use the Camar legs with separate toe kick. I find it faster to miter the end and use Fastcap glue to attach the return to the wall. This return has a 3" strip attached at the top so that this L shaped return can be screwed in place from inside the cabinet. We also screw long toekicks in from inside the base cabinet. We use the self-countersinking screws and cover with a matching self-stick cap. This is the fastest way I have found to do a return toekick that is strong and fast. It works for angled or 90 degree returns.

From contributor L:
When I make toekick cutouts (which is rare with my style of cabinet), I don't make them square; I make them with a 2" radius where the inside 90 angle would be. I think it looks better and I can use my edge sander to get a nice smooth sanded surface with ease. I worked for a company that used this and they used a router and template to cut it out. I just use a jigsaw and edge sander.

From contributor T:
Why not buy a toe kick notching machine? They have been made for many years by a few manufacturers. Most companies that make double miter saws make these machines also. Basically, the machine has two blades that are set at a 90 degree angle to each other. You set the stops to the cutout size you want. All you have to do is put the end in the machine and hit the treadle. The machine will cut out the notch in one stroke and it will be square. Depending on the machine's motor hp's, you can even stack multiple ends and do them at one time. Very fast and accurate.

From contributor J:
I used to cut out toekick notches with contributor K's method, quick and simple. Now I use ladder frames for most of my work - quicker, simpler, and much faster to install.