Finishing Backs of Face Frames

Is it worth the trouble to finish the back of a cabinet face frame? Cabinetmakers swap opinions and methods. October 13, 2005

I make face frame style cabinets and have started to pre-finish my insides (plywood). After I glue on the face frames, the backs of the frames are not finished. Then I apply a finish to the exterior of the cabinets, which leaves the backs of the face frames unfinished. How does everyone treat this? Do you just leave them unfinished or do you go through the painstaking taping off and finish them? I used to deliver unfinished cabinets and the painting crews would finish them, now I am doing it myself. Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
On the cabinets and furniture that I build that have finished interiors, I leave the backs off and then while I am spraying finish on the inside of the carcass I am able to spray the back side of any facing members. I then mask around the edges of the pieces back and spray that so I can still get a glue joint when I put the backs on.

When I build cabinets with melamine or any other type of unfinished interior, I donít bother with applying finish to the backsides of face members. I think I remember reading in the finishing forum years ago that some finishers do apply finish to the back side. I donít think it would be necessary unless the face member was wide across the grain.

From contributor T:
I pre-finish (before assembly) too. I spray the face frames after they're assembled but before they're attached to the cabinet. The face frames get sprayed on the front face and the inside edges. I assemble the cabinets, attach the face frames (using biscuits) and then finish the cabinet sides. You donít need to finish on the inside faces of the face-frame.

From contributor D:
I do 90% face frame cabinets and I do not finish the backsides of the face frames. I pre-finish my face frames first then I glue and pocket screw them to the carcasses. I also do 90% of my cabinets with melamine interiors. But when I do have to finish the insides I apply the face frames first then as Contributor F said, I spray the interiors and the backside of the face frames all at the same time. Then I spray the backs separate and then apply them to carcasses afterwards.

From contributor A:
I'm currently paying $58 a sheet for C2 White UV pre-finished one side. I can't imagine going back to spraying interiors of maple cabinets. We only spray paint grade, cherry, oak interiors now. Our typical construction is pre-primed beaded face frames, inset doors.

We order the drawers, build the doors, build the face frames, spray the doors/FF, cut the box, assemble the box, apply ff, hang doors, and out the door. Not spraying interiors saves so much time and doesn't slow down the other steps of construction. UV cured pre-finish is about as hard as CV.

We use pocket screws to attach the face frames as much as possible. Who is going to stick their head inside a cabinet to check the back of face frames other than another cabinetmaker?

From contributor B:
I mask the backside of face frames where they attach to the case. I spray top coats only on the back. I donít use stain as it matches my interior better.

From contributor G:
Unless there is a mirror on the inside of the cabinet, or it is visible from the other side such as an overhead bar with doors on both sides, I never bother with the backs of face frames