Connecting Face Frame Cabinets

Ways to pull adjoining face frames tight when setting a run of cabinets. April 18, 2006

We always drill pilot holes in our face frames on the job site and use three inch screws to connect our cabinets to each other. The problem is getting all the crack out and getting them even. We have used the pony face frame clamps and didn't like them. I am thinking about making a jig for the drill press and drilling a 1/4" hole and using a bolt to pull out the crack. This would line it up, too. Anyone tried this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor D:
The best and most professional way I have found is to build the entire run as one unit. It takes less materials, always ends up perfectly straight, and installs faster. Other than that, there are threaded inserts that you can drill into the opposing stile and use a 1/8 inch flat headed bolt to draw them together.

From contributor G:
You need to drill the pilot hole larger than the screw shank. If you can't pull it out, your face frame is not straight.

From contributor B:
This is another reason I question face frame use. But anyway... Last time I had to do a face frame on adjoining cabinets, one had 2 rails and 1 stile, the other had 2 rails and 2 stiles. The stile of the one cabinet slides over the other cabinet's side, hiding it. Then I attached them with cabinet connectors through the sides. That way, there are only two 1 1/2" long seams at the top and bottom (mostly covered by the doors) instead of those huge and ugly seams the whole length of stock cabinets.

From contributor T:
This is what they make tight joint fasteners for. A tight joint fastener is a clamp that is mortised into the panels via a simple jig and router. They are used at non-visible areas where two panels need to be pulled tight. Most common areas are at the sub top where the boxes come together or at the top and bottom rails of adjacent cabinets. The jig and cut-out takes a few extra minutes, but the clamp pulls and aligns the boxes like no screw can ever do. Contact your hardware supplier.

From contributor I:
If the edge has been rolled over or softened by sanding, you might not get a perfect joint.

From contributor N:
Try putting a half degree back cut on each abutting stile. Old school applicators would do this in the field with a hand plane as long as there isnít an ability to nick. I think this could have something to do with where you may be choosing to start putting your boxes together. If you do not size the pilot hole in the part you're trying to pull together larger than the receiving pilot, the screw will always try to unscrew the two pieces. An old rule is the pulling pilot same as the outside diameter of the threads on the pulling screw. Run the screw in once not penetrating the second stile, then pull it back out, then pull both pieces together. I guess you're using buttons to conceal or something. Screw heads donít do much when you open the doors.

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Comment from contributor R:
What about fastening the faces of base cabinets together when the corner cabinet face is at an angle and not lined up with the wall cabinet? The screw will go in at an angle in the corner face and not have a very thick face to pull together. It looks like it is susceptible to cracking. Now you have to worry about how you will deal with that.