Alignment of Face Frames

The decision on making face frames flush versus leaving a reveal. February 10, 2004

Do you make the face frame flush on the inside of the box? I use 2" ff and leave a 1/4" reveal on the outside of the box (more if it is a scribe) and the rest on the inside. With this method I have to use drawer slide hangers on the back and they can be a pain to align properly in a short period of time. If it was flush on the inside, I could attach the drawer slides directly to the box. Should save time and money. Any suggestions or cautions?

Forum Responses
From contributor A:
We leave 1/32" on each side of the cabinet on the inside. This allows for some minor misalignment, but still allows for the attachment of hardware directly to the verticals. If you use the undermount slides by Blum or another similar slide, there is virtually no risk of conflict. If you use a side mount slide such as Accuride, you may want to leave less room on the inside. We attach our face frames with pocket screws, and they tend to distort the side/frame alignment ever so slightly. That is why we leave the 1/32". Using this method, most of the Eurobox style cabinet construction can be incorporated into your design.

From contributor B:
Contributor A, how do you deal with finished end panels? With a 2" face frame, 3/4" box material, and 3/4" end panel that leaves about 1/2" of FF extending beyond the end panel.

From the original questioner:
Great question… should I reduce the ff down to 1 3/4? I have always used 2" for two reasons. Easy math and I like the look of the wider frame. Customers don't seem to have an opinion.

Another possible benefit of the flush insides? Can I use the Blum inset hinges used by the frameless guys to install inset doors? I hate the barrel hinges because they are easy to adjust.

From contributor A:
Yes, you can use the Blum Euro style hinges with the 1/32" spacing, just watch your hinge plate setback drilling as you probably want your doors to set in a bit from the face of the face frame. You then also need to watch the relationship of the frame thickness, door thickness, and where the face of the carcass and shelf parts are.

I would design the cabinet/face frame relationship for aesthetics and then apply whatever thickness of packer is necessary to bring the side panel about 1/16" to 1/8" setback from the edge of the face frame on the side. The setback makes the scribe to the wall easier as perfect on-site installation alignment is not necessary. If one uses a 1-1/2" stile over two pieces of material that are 3/4" allows for no delineation of face frame and side panel. In that case I would put a v groove at the face frame panel junction to make it look better.

From the original questioner:
On the v-groove… are you talking about where the two ff meet or somewhere else?

I have used the block method before for inset doors. I don't mind them… I don't get calls for too many, anyway. But I don't like doing the drawer slides much. I can't find any jigs designed to help install them on ff cabinets. There are some for frameless but none that I know of for ff cabinets. I didn't know if the flush method would eliminate my hassles without compromising the looks or creating other hassles.

From contributor A:
The v groove would be at the front edge of the side panel and the back edge of the face frame. One other trick is to use a decorative astragal between face frames to hide the joint.

From contributor C:
We use 1 1/2" FF, with 1/8" reveal on outside. Using 3/4" sides gives us 5/8" inside from edge of FF to inside edge of side. We make our stiles 2" against any wall or wider if we need to clear multi-profile baseboards. We use Blum Tandem Full extension with the rear brackets for drawer slides. We use a jig to reference the rear brackets; should be the same on every cabinet. Once you set up to do this, it really goes quick and I feel these are the best drawer slides around (somewhat pricey). We do strictly high end work so I don't offer any other slide to cut the cost. Add the blumotions on the doors and drawers and your customers will be very happy.

From contributor D:
My preference is to keep the face frames flush where visible and leave an appropriate scribe reveal where they butt into walls. With pipe clamps drawing them together and a flush trim router to trim the excess and a bit of sanding there will be no seam that needs to be hid or filled. As far as the easiest, use 1.5 inch ff stock as was said along with 3/4 inch case material and then use 3/4 inch spacers inside where needed for drawer slide mounting.

From contributor E:
1 1/2" stiles, flush with interior, 3/4" finished panels sit flush with FF. Frames attached with pocket screws. Hardware is installed before construction because I got tired of getting stuck in a cabinet since my old body won't bend the way I need it to.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor F:
The original poster mentioned using frameless hinges for inset doors. We rarely use frameless hinges, even on frameless cabinets. The standard faceframe hinge works perfectly and mounts exactly as it would on a faceframe, so there's no measuring or jig for setting the setback.

Also, Salice has a faceframe plate for inset doors. It works beautifully. It requires that the faceframe overlay the inside of the panel by 5/8".

We set up our interior panels to sit flush to one side of a drawer opening whenever possible, and simply add fillers of the interior material where it's not.

As an alternative you can use 1" plastic "distance blocks" to get the slide clear of the faceframe. I think there's another company that makes stackable blocks like these so you can make pretty much any thickness you want.

But the simplest is to use fillers made of the interior material to bring the panel flush with the faceframe.