Masking and Spraying Face Frames

Tips on how to finish wood face frames without damaging their melamine cabinet walls. August 23, 2006

My kitchen cab boxes will be constructed of almond melamine particleboard. I fasten the face frames to the boxes with either splines or biscuits. The problem is, face frames are maple to be stained cherry with ML Campbell pre-cat over. How can I finish face frames without damaging melamine? Do you finish frames first and then mount them to cabs? If so, how does the glue adhere to a finished piece of maple where it butts up against the particleboard box?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor R:
I always finish the face frames before they are installed. No masking, no mess. Do not finish the backs of the frames and you will not have any problem with the glue.

From contributor G:
Have you ever had any warping issues due to the backs not being sealed?

From contributor R:
No problems. We glue and pocket screw the face frames to the boxes so even it there were warping, it will lay flat when attached to the boxes.

From contributor O:
I use the European 32 mm system, so I only occasionally use frames, usually on furniture style add-ons. I'll usually just rip sheets of stiff cardboard the height of the inside of the boxes plus 1/16", rip for width and pop in snug and spray, then cleanup overspray with thinner.

From contributor T:
I don't use melamine, but most of this would work. I pre-assemble the face frames and finish the front and inside edges only. Then I attach to the case using biscuits. I then sand the sides of the cabinet and face frame flush, ease the sharp edge and then finish the cabinet side/face frame edge. Since I'm spraying from the side, the inside doesn't get sprayed. I don't think it's necessary to finish the face frame backs, but if they were finished, it wouldn't affect the biscuit joints.

From contributor M:
When we did face frame cabs, we assembled the frames, staining all edges before assembly, then stapled brown paper bag stock to the back side of the face frame using an Arrow electric stapler. The brown paper stock can be purchased from any paper product distributor and comes in 1000 ft. rolls in convenient widths (24, 30, 36 and 42"). After finishing, just punch hole and run a razor knife around the edge of the box and remove paper. It only takes a couple of minutes to line the back of each frame. Don't get bogged down with too many widths of paper, as it can be folded back to accommodate the needed size. I typically stocked 30" and 42" to handle most applications.

From contributor S:
Contributor G, you glue *and* pocket screw? Aren't pocket screws secure enough on their own?

From contributor R:
Pocket screws are strong, but we glue and screw. In pre-finishing the frames, they get handled a lot, but the joints will not open up at all if glued with the screws. Otherwise, the joints will open some.