Thicknessing Face Frame Stock

Cabinetmakers discuss how they dimension rough stock for face frames. October 13, 2005

I am wondering if anyone has any ideas about how to get face frame thickness. Do you start with rough, skip + miss (15/16), or 13/16? Do you ever face joint to make sure of flatness or just glue/nail/pocket-screw them so that they are? Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
I buy hit or miss lumber at 15/16" and straight line one edge, then clean up the worst side to 29/32" and wide-belt to 7/8" finish thickness after assembly. Buying hit or miss is very common, but I know that 7/8" finish is not.

From contributor W:
Way back when we were building face frame cabinets we would use 13/16 lumber. When we got the ripping done we would then wide-belt the lumber to 180. Once the frames were assembled using pocket holes with screws, we would orbital 180 then 220. The face jointing on face frame stock seems to be a bit overkill, not to mention time consuming. If the stock is not flat it will be pulled to the case during assembly or if it is bad, will end up in the trash pile.

From contributor B:
I buy 13/16" lumber. It gives me plenty to work with and pretty much the same process as Contributor W.

From contributor F:
To the original questioner: As you can see, there are numerous ways to prepare the thickness of face frame stock. My method is rough rip .9375" hit or miss stock to .1875" over width followed by rough cross cut when the stuff is extremely bowed, crooked, and or twisted.

Then I flatten one face on the jointer, and transfer that flatness to the other face with the planer. Although it is true that the carcass will be a straight surface to pull the face bow out of the face frame, I prefer to flatten it first. Also, if you make you own doors - flat, straight material makes for a nice true door. Then after the stuff is straight face wise I joint one edge of all stock and rip it to .040" over width and edge plane to finish width. Then it’s crosscut and put on the horizontal boreing machine for dowelling.

From contributor G:
We used to use the method that Contributor F describes. After we did a time study of our processes we found that it was taking much too much time processing face stock. We went to a wide-belt assemble with face screw and orbital sand. We discovered that there was some loss of material, but the material does not cost as much as labor.

From contributor R:
Contributor F’s method is basically what I use when using air dried stock. I would think using premium pre-planed stock could eliminate some of that.