Fastening Pilaster Moulding Over a Face-Frame Seam

Cabinetmakers trade attachment tips and tricks for an afterthought moulding placement. March 20, 2006

Can anyone explain how to install a pilaster molding over the seam between two face frame cabinets? The cabinets are already finished and now the customer wants to add the pilaster to hide the seam.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
Will crown run across the top of the pilaster? How about base mould? You can fasten the pilaster with screws at the top and bottom and then cover the screws with the moulding. I would probably use a few screws from the back side of the face frame if there is a lip to do so. Otherwise, you may have to use a few brads and fill the holes with JE Mosers or Masters fill sticks.

From the original questioner:
Crown will run across the pilaster on the uppers with no base moulding; the lowers are set on platforms. There is a void left by the face frame tongues between cabinets, but it is only 1 1/2" (3/4" each) and not big enough to get a tool into to fasten from behind.

From contributor G:
Try using hot melt and polyurethane construction adhesive. Put the adhesive on first. Put enough hot melt on so that it will hold until the adhesive sets. Hold firmly for about 30 seconds. Done. This is also a neat trick when you need to add a corbel.

From contributor B:
Smart clips work very well for this. Most of my jobs have several onlays (pilasters, turnings, etc.) and they'll provide a tight fit. A simple template made from 1/4" MDF to locate the screws and matching pieces make on-the-job installation quick-n-easy.

From the original questioner:
What are smart clips?

From contributor J:
It is a plastic clip and a screw that snaps into the clip used to attach backsplashes down to the countertop.

From contributor F:
Screwing the pilasters on from the back side of the face frame is the most solid and cosmetically correct method. I understand there is no room between cabinets for a tool. I have screwed them with angled screws through the stiles from the insides of the cabinets. Hindsight is 20/20, but they can also be attached to a single stile of one cabinet before the cabinets get installed.

From contributor M:
High strength double face tape works great here. I use it often for this application.

From the original questioner:
Contributor F, your suggestion of attaching to a single stile prior to installing sounds like a good idea to me. If you are pre-finishing the face frame, then it all gets finished together. Would you then just pin from behind at the top and bottom (where you can get a nose in) to secure it to the second stile, or does it even need to be secured to the second stile?

From contributor F:
I guess it depends on the size of the pilasters. Mine were 1.25" thick by 85" long. I am also leery of brads for certain applications. I just did some repairs to a kitchen where the cabinetmaker seemed to think brads were about as good as any ole' fastener. (They weren't.) To answer you, If you need to close a gap off, if you think it will rattle when the door closes, I would toe screw it from the back of the stile from the inside of the carcass, top of the face frame, etc.