Video: Adding Face Frames to Frameless Cabinetry

Field-building face frames

Here’s a typical kitchen remodel dilemma

Let’s say you’re shopping for a kitchen remodel and you find a cabinet look that makes you happy, but there’s a problem.

You’re wanting to have some open, doorless cabinetry but the cabinet style you’ve chosen is frameless.

Why is that a problem, you ask?

Well, frameless cabinets look great with doors on, but without the doors they look like this. Yuck

So, what can you do? Well, how about having your installer field-build face frames for you. They can make something like this… end up like this.

Cabinets with face frames are the traditional look that says strength and durability, and done properly, the face frames will actually add those benefits.

So now lets look at how simply this can be done and how to do it right.

First of all, the installer will need sticks of pre-finished solid wood known as fillers. Accept no substitutes here. Nothing but solid, real wood will do for face frames.

One benefit to field-building face frames is that the face frame can be design to cover an entire complex of cabinets with one single frame rather than each cabinet separately as cabinets come from a typical shop or factory.

Here’s the frame I built, nearing completion…

and ready to go up…

I recommend that these sticks be joined together using pocket screws, but other installers may have a different prefered joinery method.

One little trick to make these look good is to bevel the joined edge ahead of time with a very light sanding. This keeps the joint from needing to be perfectly flush, which is nearly impossible in the field.

It’s also nearly impossible in a shop, but they have the benefit of being able to sand the entire area down to smoothness and flatness after joining. We can’t do that because the finish has already been applied to these pieces.

Once the frame is finished, the entire frame receives adhesive and is face-nailed to the cabinetry. Face nailing means… I recommend 18ga. brads for this.

Once the trim is on, the net effect is to have a much beefier and quality look to the piece.

One little addendum: I wondered how will this adhesive would really do at joining solid wood to edgebanding, so the afternoon I started this project I conducted a little test…